The incandescent light bulb has been with us since 1879. The majority of our light fixtures are currently configured for its use. The outright ban of incandescents in many jurisdictions will effectively require that we scrap much of our current stock of lighting fixtures.

Not surprisingly, people are stocking up on incandescent light bulbs before they are phased out completely. And vendors are capitalizing on the opportunity.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS, England — On a quaint lane called Camden Street, the sidewalk easel stands out for its apocalyptic tone: “100-WATT BULBS IN STOCK. (FOR HOW LONG WE DO NOT KNOW)”

“Let some government official come in and tell me I can’t sell these,” Jonathan Wright, who has owned Classic Lighting for 40 years, said defiantly as he surveyed his warren of upscale light fixtures and shelves filled with neatly stacked bulbs. “I’ll find them wherever I can get them and sell them for whatever they cost. People are buying in bulk because they want them.”

Mr. Wright says that in the last two months he has sold 3,000 of the 100-watt bulbs — the traditional mainstay of British light fixtures — more than 30 times the usual. People are buying 10 at a time, the limit per customer, even though their price is nearly 50 percent higher than it was a year ago.

Mr. Wright’s store is on the front lines of resistance to controversial global efforts to end the era of energy-gobbling incandescent light bulbs by phasing out their sale to encourage (or in Mr. Wright’s view, force) people to turn to more efficient compact fluorescents.

In Tunbridge Wells, the phase-out has brought howls of protest from people not normally prone to rebellion. This is, after all, the quintessential well-heeled English middle-class city — a place where Marks and Spencer is the epicenter of a high street dotted with bookstores and cafes, where people still wear Wellington boots and Conservatives win nearly every election.

Jenny Gale, 60, who said she had tried compact fluorescents while living in India, dislikes the new bulbs. “You can still find the old ones in stores that have some left, and for after that I’ll be stockpiling,” she said. “I’m not going to buy the new ones; I refuse. I hate the light.”

Vive la résistance.

 

Update:  A defense of the incandescent light bulb:

Now, amid a growing raft of legislation around the globe aimed at phasing out the standard incandescent light bulb (and in some corners, popular resistance to that idea), Mr. Brandston is stepping out of retirement and into the debate over energy-efficient lighting.

Specifically, Mr. Brandston accuses “energy zealots” of using faulty science to determine the efficiency of light bulbs, and he says that simplistic lumens-per-watt comparisons obscure questions of how well different bulbs do what they’re supposed to do: light up a room.

 

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