Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bulbs and ovens

About two years ago, we began switching all our bulbs to CFL. Everytime a bulb popped, we'd replace it with one considered more environmentally friendly. Today, the first CFL bulb flickered and died. Two years seems like a pretty good run, but considering these lights are seven times the price of normal ones, I doubt if it makes economic sense to use them.
Having said that, I was very annoyed by the frequency with which the standard bulbs had begun to blow. I thought there was an issue with the wiring, which is why the CFL test was important; it proved it was the bulbs and not the wires that were dodgy.
Did light bulbs always die so early? Or are they just not making them as well as they used to? There are just so many products now that seem built to malfunction in short order: printers, DVD players, washing machines, not to mention small things like faucets. Then there are services that keep breaking down: satellite TV, broadband, stuff like that. There seems always something in the house that isn't working the way it should do.
I suppose I shouldn't be nostalgic about the old days; partly because one simply didn't notice things going wrong when one was a child, since that was someone else's responsibility; partly because there were far fewer appliances in homes, and that's not a state to which I wish to return; and partly because government services were poor enough to leave indelible memories: telephones that went dead at crucial times, gas cylinders that didn't arrive for weeks after they were ordered.
There are, however, some products that force one to exclaim, "They just don't build them like that any more". My favourite is the Belling oven. Tens of thousands of Indians travelled to England after independence, and every single one of them returned with a Belling.

One sees them in a number of homes fifty or sixty years later, still working, though perhaps not as efficiently as they did when brand new. Our Belling was replaced by a BPL Sanyo over a decade ago, but sits in a corner of the kitchen, used to brown pie crusts which don't acquire the perfect colour in the newer machine; and for simple tasks like grilling cheese toast.


Anonymous said...

We bought a microwave oven in Muscat around 1987, and it is still being used, albeit with intermittent visits by the repairman.

The best part is we originally got it at half-price because the door had a scratch somewhere (not visible to us yet). I really do believe electronic or other items don’t have the same longevity they used to.

manish nai said...

Nice Quote :)

jaimit said...

possibly we dont build them as we used to... possibly it doesnt make sense and the technology is going to become obsolete...possibly we wont pay such a high price for longevity. the prices of appliances always have downward pressures. possibly we use them with far less care then before. i remember handling appliances with respect as a child and simply banging them shut these days. who knows... but they sure seem to die out faster than I can earn (old jungle saying)

Girish Shahane said...

I totally agree with your list of causes. The floppy drive comes to mind as a perfect example of the confluence of falling prices and looming obsolescence. In the last days of the floppy one was lucky to be able to use a disk twice before it got corrupted.
It's still nice to think of sturdy appliances built to last and last.

nash said...

you are a sharp eye on things, don't you? printers, DVD players, washing machines, faucets. you have rightly pointed out the short lived culprits. Nowadays, even fridges aren't long lived as they used to be. Being from computer field, you can imagine how much frustration floppy drives have caused to us. And even DVD writers in computers don't last long. After some months,they usually are capable of just reading and not writing. Pen drives, some work for long, some don't. Its all on fate :)

Unknown said...

Great article.