Heatballs: one idea I\’m glad we didn\’t pursue

So back a while we thought about (and actually had worked out how to do it) how we might take advantage of a gap in the law regarding light bulbs.

Call them heatbulbs.

As Richard records today, it wouldn\’t have worked.

We wrote recently about what appeared to be an ingenious attempt by a German entrepreneur, Siegfried Rotthäuser, to circumvent the ban on selling incandescent light bulbs. His answer was to market them as personal heating devices, on the grounds that 95 percent of the electricity used is converted into heat, with the product branded as the \”Heatball\”.

However, a brief report tells us that the attempt has failed and Rotthäuser is to lose his stock. German customs are to seize and destroy 40,000 bulbs imported by him, and they will then be destroyed.

A pity, but glad that we didn\’t take our own implementation of this any further than just thinking it through.

14 thoughts on “Heatballs: one idea I\’m glad we didn\’t pursue”

  1. Perhaps Tim’s Portuguese experience could bring light to this issue:

    Looking on the shelf at my spanish ‘brico’ I espied lots of 100W incandecents. Didn’t look particularly old stock & this is a big chain.
    Is this another of those EU rules gets ignored by half the countries.
    I’ve already had to deal with french items quoted measured in feet in France. ( Yes french do still use feet after 200 years & lbs). Sure that’s now banned UK side, yes?

  2. “German customs are to seize and destroy 40,000 bulbs imported by him, and they will then be destroyed.”

    Fahrenheit 5000?

    What an absurd situation to be in – customs destroying lightbulbs. Absurd, and yet Totalitarian.

  3. i think that’s thinking it up rather than thinking it through. Like calling cigarettes personal litter and stink devices (you don’t even have to inhale to give the full obnoxious effect to everyone else, just burn them in an ashtray and then scatter in parks and along roads) and see if they can be duty free…

    bloody silly.

    And “are to seize”? tipping their hand a bit, isn’t it.

  4. Perhaps he should have sold ‘heaters’ to go with them (some sort of enclosed lamp device that didn’t let the light out). That way he could have argued that the bulbs were just the replacement heating elements for the heaters. Its not entirely unfeasible – a bulb left on in an greenhouse or garden shed will prevent water from freezing at night. He could have marketed them as a gardeners product.

    One suspects that this is the sort of case that the authorities are on rather legally suspect grounds, but go ahead anyway as they’re pretty sure that a) the bloke hasn’t got the money to fight it and b) it’ll put off other from trying it too. The law becomes what those in authority want it to be, not what it actually says.

  5. You can still buy 200 watt incandescents on Ebay.

    The whole ban thing is ludicrous. I have lights on the farm that need a standard bayonet 150 or 200W bulb. If I can’t get them, I’ll have to change the entire fitting. Will probably swap to a 300 or 500 watt halogen floodlight. Thus creating more carbon emissions making new light fittings and using more electricity as well.

  6. “Thus creating more carbon emissions making new light fittings and using more electricity as well.”

    Someone ought to write a book about how counterproductive eco measures are.

  7. It’s unfortunate that:

    1) the Telegraph article is so badly written and researched that it provides no clue at all into *what’s actually happened*, as Richard North’s piece points out.

    2) Tim’s selective quoting of Richard’s piece doesn’t make clear the point that even that he concedes, that *it is still completely legal to buy, sell and import incandescent lightbulbs everywhere in the EU*.

    “I have lights on the farm that need a standard bayonet 150 or 200W bulb”.

    How come you can’t use a bayonet high powered CFL, like this one?

    Even if there’s some reason why you need it to be a 200W incandescent rather than a 65W CFL, that still isn’t a problem, because *it’s still legal to import and sell incandescent bulbs for non-domestic use*.

    KT: Perhaps they could fill it with misinformation and whining about laws preventing people from doing things that they don’t, in fact, prevent people from doing. Then it’d be an ideal tribute to this thread (and yes, I know you were joking about Tim’s book – I haven’t yet had time to read my review copy so I’m certainly not saying this is what it does…)

  8. @JohnB: because that size of CFL won’t fit into the fittings I have. That bulb is 10″ long. The enclosure is too small. A 200W incandescent bulb isn’t much bigger than a 100W one.

    And while the import and sale of incandescents for industrial use isn’t banned, even the electrical wholesalers have stopped selling them, presumably because they are afraid that if they do, they have no way of proving who is a business user and who isn’t. So they would be open to Trading Standards doing a sting operation on them, just like they do on corner shops who sell cigarettes to minors.

    Would you continue to sell a product to people if you had no way of telling if each sale was breaking the law or not?

  9. I reckon they’ll be on eBay for several years longer than they’re on Amazon. So you’re probably safe until the wiring degrades, it being an outdoor industrial installation and all (also, by 201x, LEDs that are of a sensible size and light output will be thoroughly available, and CFLs will be half-forgotten…)

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