As you probably know the standard incandescent light bulb that most of us grew up using has now been phased out by the EPA and most homes have started replacing their lighting with more efficient compact florescent bulbs.
Unfortunately there are a number of drawbacks with compact florescent designs.
The first problem most of us find is the ability to dim the bulb. Florescent bulbs can be dimmed but the cost of building a dimmable bulb makes them less attractive to purchase.
Florescent bulbs also do not work well in cooler conditions… not just below freezing but cooler conditions of 50 F or less are likely to cause your florescent bulbs to flicker and sometimes not even turn on but if they do then you can expect decreased output of light maybe as much as 30% in cool conditions.
You also have a fixed wattage or Lumen Output this means they do not make great replacements for desk or floor lamps you may use for general lighting and also for reading.
Finally florescent bulbs contain mercury a toxic metal that can cause long term health risks. Unlike many other toxins when you ingest Mercury it stays with you for life or at least for an extremely long time.
LED Bulbs To The Rescue
If you have looked for a flashlight in the past year or so you likely came into contact with multi-led models that use less power to provide a similar output you may have been use to in a incandescent design. Florescent bulbs just can not provide the same power in a hand held design. If you have tried one of the 12 D sized battery Florescent Lanterns you may have felt holding up a single match would be better.
Engineers needed to find a replacement and the LED was their best option.
By grouping a number of small bulbs together they were able to use the same approximate battery input and have a reasonable light output. But there are drawbacks even with a LED Flashlight design. First you are likely to find LED flashlights have less output for their size and the bulbs are not housed in a telescopic reflector meaning you can’t adjust between a wide beam and a pinpoint beam as you may have come accustomed to with the Mag Flashlight designs that use a halogen bulb.
Can LED Technology Translate To Standard Home Use?
Well with the final US based incandescent light bulb factory closing down in the fall of 2010 the problem of lighting our homes with a product that can provide the utility we need without being a toxic hazard needs to be found. So have we found the solution in LED technology?
LED Technology can provide many of the feature that we are use to when using incandescent bulbs. They can be dimmed which is important and they can provide an approximately equal output if the bulb is built correctly unfortunately the price for these new bulbs is outrageous.
All of the large manufacturers have begun their first mass distribution of LED Bulbs and the technology is being pushed by GE, Sylvania and one of the largest Retailers for Lighting Products Home Depot.
With the ability to last over 10 years a standard size bulb producing that of a similar 60 watt bulb costs as much as a 8 pack of Compact Florescent bulbs … and most likely a case of standard 60 watt bulbs at a discount retailer.
GE actually proudly announces that their new dimable bulb introduced at a retail cost of $40 per bulb is a great value for customers. This type of pricing makes you wonder if they are selling bulbs only to the government because in this economy they are the only ones with Trillions of dollars to waste.
Yes, maybe, eventually LED technology will replace standard lighting but when a family can go to a dollar store and pickup a four pack of bulbs today how are they expected to justify the cost of buying a home full of bulbs which may equal or surpass what they make in a week.
In all respect these companies who are marketing light bulbs at such inflated prices while pulling from the market affordable options seems unfair to consumers.
The total savings in electricity costs that a family may see in a year or even three years will not come close to the initial cost of the bulbs. For this reason I can not suggest that you make the switch until the bulbs reach a reasonable price of $2 or less.