Energy Safety defends fluorescent bulbs

Government agency Energy Safety says it has no concerns over the safety of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL).

Today the Dominion Post reported Energp[y Safety had sent a memo to the Fire Service saying some bulbs had melted, blown up and blacked surrounding electrical equipment.

Fire Service national fire investigation manager Peter Wilding said staff had been warned to be "aware of the issue and pay particular attention to these faults".

But Energy Safety, part of the Ministry of Economic Development, said the bulbs were subject to a New Zealand Standard that included fire safety performance requirements that exceed international guidelines.

There were around 13 million bulbs in use in New Zealand and to date Energy Safety had received no significant complaints.

Mr Wilding said while the Fire Service was aware of some issues surrounding the bulbs, to date there have been no confirmed structure fires involving them.

"We've added CFLs to our incident reporting system simply to get a better understanding of any issues around them."

Blackening of the bulb had been raised as an issue, but Lighting Council chief executive Richard Ponting said discolouration in any type of fluorescent lamp was normal at the end of its life, and should not usually be a cause for concern.

"The plastic at the base of a CFL also contains fire-retardant plastic so if it does char for any reason, it may produce smoke but should not burn."

Mr Ponting said people needed to take care not to over-tighten the bulbs when they're putting them in, as it was a common cause of bulb failure.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders are split over support for the Government's move to make eco bulbs compulsory.

Research New Zealand surveyed 500 people over the compulsory plan, to be implemented from next year, and found 46 percent agreed with banning incandescent bulbs while 47 percent disagreed. A further 7 percent were not sure.

Research New Zealand director Emanuel Kalafatelis said while there had been vocal opposition to banning the bulbs, the poll showed there was an equally large but less vocal group who supported the ban.

People aged 15-29 were most likely to support the ban (67 percent) while those aged 50-59 years were least likely to support it (31 percent).

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