Ready for the big switcheroo?

Been down to your local hardware store recently to replace several of those annoying 60 W bulbs that seem to pop off without warning? “Sorry, sir, we’re out of regular bulbs, but here’s some potential replacements that will cost you a little more and, we hope, will last you longer.” The bulbs offered come with a guarantee and a booklet of instructions that will take you a full hour to read.

So you try again at the nearest Home Depot store. But this time, you are confronted by a huge wall of bulbs in bubble packs that require special tools to open. This time, you read the fine print and consult with the “sales associates” and succeed merely in bending the box cutter. Welcome to the death of the incandescent light bulb and the birth of the brave new world of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Just in case you were unaware, most industrial nations are intending to ban the venerable incandescent light bulb developed by Thomas Edison in 1879. Although inexpensive to manufacture, incandescent lamps are very inefficient—90% of the energy consumed is lost as heat. Legislation in most countries will phase out incandescent bulbs by 2014 (including in North America and Europe).

Compact fluorescents cost $2 to $5 per bulb, depending on the lumens emitted, and LEDs cost $10 to $50, depending on the light output. However, CFLs have a typical lifetime of 8000 to 10,000 hours and LEDs typically last for 25,000 hours, and come with a guarantee. CFLs are likely to be an interim product that will gradually fall back as more powerful LEDs appear.

Prices of LEDs are expected to fall sharply before the end of this decade. LEDs are expected to be the dominant product in domestic and business office lighting by 2015. Energy savings in US households are projected to total $5 million in 2015.

The US Big Three incandescent light bulb makers (General Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Philips Electronics North America) are busily building manufacturing facilities and developing more powerful LEDs for worldwide markets. The marketplace is also attracting smaller LED makers such as Cree (Durham, NC), Lighting Sciences Group (Satellite Beach, FL), and Switch Lighting Co. (San Jose, CA).

New 100 W LEDs were much in evidence at the lighting industry’s booming trade show, LightFair, held in Philadelphia at the end of May 2011. According to the US Department of Energy (DoE), 450 lm lamps (40 W incandescent equivalent) and 800 lm lamps (60 W incandescent equivalent) are already widely available. LEDs outputting 1000 W may be available by the end of 2012.

So what can you do as the market for incandescent bulbs disappears and along with it your favorite bulbs? Well, you could make like one European consumer and build your own stockpile. This desperate individual has filled his basement with more than 1000 brand-new traditional bulbs. Reportedly, he plans to store even more as long as his local hardware store permits bulk purchases. But as the English medieval king Canute found out, it is not possible to turn back the tide. So you will have to adapt your needs to the widely available CFL and LCD lamps.

That should not be too difficult. You can already buy 60 W equivalent LED lamps with a physical form factor that corresponds to the original incandescent bulb. The same form factor modifications can be achieved with fluorescent lamps. The major complaint about CFLs and LEDs is that they do not have the “warmth” of a conventional incandescent lamp. However, LEDs can be “tuned” to almost any visible light frequency, so a group of LEDs can be tuned to suit the specific application.

So you should start a plan to replace incandescent lamps in your home and business well ahead of the legislated deadlines. That way, you can avoid shortages in particular lamps. In my view, this switchover will be beneficial for the lighting designers and the lighting users, despite the initially higher prices for lamps.

Just in case you were unaware, most industrial nations are intending to ban the venerable incandescent light bulb developed by Thomas Edison in 1879. Although inexpensive to manufacture, incandescent lamps are very inefficient—90% of the energy consumed is lost as heat.

Click to EnlargeJeffrey Bairstow
Contributing Editor
inmyview@yahoo.com

 

More Laser Focus World Current Issue Articles
More Laser Focus World Archives Issue Articles

50 YEARS OF SOLID-STATE LASERS


A long way from the ruby laser

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Laser Measurements Critical to Successful Additive Manufacturing Processes

Maximizing the stability of the variables going into any manufacturing process is what ensures ts consistency and high quality. Specifically, when a laser is...

Ray Optics Simulations with COMSOL Multiphysics

The Ray Optics Module can be used to simulate electromagnetic wave propagation when the wavelength is much smaller than the smallest geometric entity in the ...

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...
White Papers

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Optical Isolators Improve Engraving Performance of Pulsed Fiber Lasers

The deleterious effects of back reflections on pulsed fiber lasers used in marking and engraving ...
Technical Digests

ADHESIVES, SEALANTS, AND COATINGS: Solutions for optical technologies

A vast array of optical systems of various types and degrees of complexity require the use of adh...

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in photonic materials research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS