Q: It used to be easy to replace a light bulb; now there are so many options, I don’t know what to choose. What do you recommend?
A: It’s hard to imagine a household commodity that has changed more in the last five years than the light bulb. The incandescent bulbs we all grew up with wasted a lot of energy and have been phased out. Government mandates ushered in the brief reign of the more efficient, but widely despised, compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, which emit terrible-quality light and are difficult to dispose of because of their mercury content. The public’s loathing of CFLs accelerated the development of light-emitting-diode bulbs known as LEDs, which now rule the lighting world. These use up to 80 percent less energy than the old incandescents and can last for decades. LEDs are improving all the time and their prices are coming down. However, the quality of light they produce varies significantly, so it’s helpful to understand some lighting nomenclature before you buy.
Most LED bulb boxes have a Lighting Facts label that indicates brightness (measured in lumens), color temperature (labeled K for Kelvin temperature), energy use, estimated energy costs, and expected life. Since most packages also specify the type of incandescent bulb the LED replaces, you don’t need to pay much attention to the brightness measure. Instead, zero in on color temperature: 3,000K is my recommendation for a universally flattering, warm-white light. Anything higher is going to have a cooler, bluish-white cast. Another good measure is the Color Rendering Index, or CRI, which tells you how accurately the bulb renders colors compared to an incandescent bulb, which has a CRI of 100. For LEDs, a CRI of 80 or higher is best.
To ensure an LED will fit in your fixture, bring your old bulb with you to the store and compare the bases. The splayed fins that LEDs have to dissipate heat make them larger than other bulbs. Make sure the bulb is dimmable (you may need to replace your dimmer switches with LED-friendly ones to avoid annoying flickering or buzzing). And if you plan to use the bulb outdoors and/or in an enclosed fixture (some LEDs require more airflow than these lights provide), check that these applications are noted on the box.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to embrace this new technology — unlike previous innovations, this one is here to stay.
|Alan E. Salzman
the chief executive officer and managing partner at VantagePoint Capital Partners
On LED lighting
“By 2020, you’re not going to be able to buy a light source other than an LED. You’re on a learning curve of cost reduction, quality improvement and efficacy improvement. Today, 2013, is the first year you’re going to be able to buy an exact clone of a regular 60-watt incandescent bulb at a reasonable price point—meaning a one-year payback to consumers. This year it’s a $10 product. We’re looking at it being a $5 product within 24 months, $2.50 within 48 months. So, by the time you get to 2020, it would be the equivalent cost to today’s regular light bulb, last 25 years and use 85% less energy.
But probably the more interesting thing is, after you digitize the light socket and you switch to LEDs, there’s a second and third wave coming. Changing the color temperature. Changing the ambience of the room. Being able to integrate other functionality—it’s your Wi-Fi hot spot, it’s your alarm system because it detects presence coming into the room. You’ve got a raft of functionality that just has to be integrated into the bulb itself.”
Interesting stuff! The fact is that you can buy an LED light bulb today that you can control from you PC, smart phone or tablet. It is expensive, but it is available. So it is only a reasonable extension that within the near future you can place these “solid state lighting devices” anywhere and monitor them or have them monitor you. I hope the politicians don’t find out about this!!
Questions about lighting? Ask me. If I do not know the answer I will get an answer for you. Be sure to visit FoggLighting.com for lighting products.