German engineer sells mini-heaters that light up rooms | From the Fringe | DW | 17.10.2010
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From the Fringe

German engineer sells mini-heaters that light up rooms

A German entrepreneur has found a way to get around a European Union ban on bright, incandescent light bulbs. He's selling them as mini-heaters, whose side-effect happens to produce light.

A light bulb

The 100 watt heatball emits more heat than light

Siegfried Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law have found a way to skirt around an EU ban on incandescent light bulbs brighter than 60 watts by importing them from China and selling them as "small heating devices" called "heatballs."

The mechanical engineer from the city of Essen began marketing 75 and 100 watt bulbs as mini-heaters since he calculated that just 5 percent of the energy they use creates light while the other 95 percent is turned to heat.

A hand unscrewing an incandescent bulb and screwing in a energy efficient one

Not everyone in Germany was pleased at having to change light bulbs

According to the sales website, the devices are "the best invention since the light bulb" and are "technically very similar to the classic light bulb except they are not made to produce light but rather heat."

At a price of 1.69 euros ($2.38) each, Rotthaeuser sold the first batch of 4,000 in three days.

Describing the bulbs' sale as "action art," the website questions whether changing to mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs would really improve the state of the plant for generations to come. The site, however, says that 30 cents of each sale are donated to projects to protect rainforests.

In efforts to encourage energy efficiency, the European Union is progressively phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs. The first step, taken in September 2009, called for bulbs 100 watts and brighter to be more efficient. The bloc aims to have all incandescent lights off the market by 2012.

Author: Sean Sinico

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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