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Friday, October 9, 2009

Let There Be a New Light Bulb!

Would you pay $39.95 for a light bulb? The company manufacturer claims that if every American home switched four 40W light bulbs to the new LED bulbs, "the United States would save $113 billion in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulbs."

The Advantages

What if it used 90% less electricity than a standard incandescent bulb?
What if it didn't contain toxic mercury?
What if it cut greenhouse gas emissions?
What if  it had a 25-year lifespan (six times as long as an energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulb and 35 times longer than an incandescent bulb)?
What if it saved an estimated $280 savings over that 25-year lifespan?
What if it slashed carbon emissions, which consume about 19% of energy production worldwide?
What if it produced no hazardous waste and was fully recyclable? 
What if it produced a warm, soft glow that sets it apart from previous LED bulbs?
What if it is merely "warm" to the touch?

Energy Costs and Changes

The International Energy Agency states that seventy percent of the total cost of lighting is the cost of electricity; thus, energy efficient lighting can offer significant savings in energy and operating costs.

Warner Phillips, founder of Lemnis Lighting claims, "The average consumer can earn back their investment in just over three years, or less than one year if you top off electricity from top tier tariffs."

Azo Building believes the new bulb enters the U.S. market at a strategic time as the sale of inefficient lamps will be curbed by 2014 in accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, effectively banning the incandescent lamp as we know it.

Any Drawbacks Other Than Price?

One claim in particular — that the Pharox60 uses just six watts of electricity but gives off enough light to replace a 60-watt incandescent — caught the attention of Green Inc. The light output of the Pharox60 is 336 lumens, which falls well shy of the amount of light given off by most 60-watt bulbs, according to Leora Broydo Vestel, Green Inc., October 9 2009)

“Hopefully, consumers know that 336 lumens is low output for a 60 watt,” said James Brodrick, manager of the solid state lighting program at the Department of Energy. “Roughly, it should be 850 lumens or better.”

Mr. Philips, founder of Lemnis Lighting, continued to stand by this position, adding that if you use the Pharox60 in a directional way (“either pointing down from recessed cans, or pointing up from a relatively low position, e.g., a coffee table”), the 60-watt claim is a fair one. He doesn't want to be accuse of false labeling.The company will begin considering changes to the label right away. “We don’t want to be misleading,” Mr. Philips said. “It would be a very short term advantage.”

And, of course, it may not be practical or economical to switch out all of a home’s light bulbs to the relatively expensive bulb. Some experts advise switching out a few (especially those in light-sensitive areas) is a more accessible energy savings strategy than investing in solar power, and it makes more sense to cut down on the energy load before finding alternative energy sources.

Felix Salmon of Reuter Blogs states, "One of my major gripes about the new lighting mandate is that the new bulbs are not dimmable or three-way (ol’ fashion dimmable). …but who wants to dim a 40W equivalent bulb?" Evidently, the dimming is full range.

Some other potential issues with the new LED bulb are (1) a warm-up period to get light to full brilliance, and (2) poor outdoor performance.

Many expect the price of the bulbs to drop as they reach the mass market.

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