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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Light Bulb of the Future?

I was completely baffled when the power company in my city mailed me 2 free CFL bulbs. Why am I baffled? Those are supposed to be good right? Save energy - longer lasting - better for the environment...right? Sure - whatever. Along with the CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) - in the "free" box from the power company (for which I will surely pay somewhere in my monthly bill) came two green plastic bags for use in the disposal of the CFLs when they burn out. It turns out these "green" bulbs pollute the environment with mercury when they break! So I am supposed to hang on to these plastic bags for several years so that I can safely dispose of these "environmentally friendly" bulbs - these "green" bulbs??!

Oh - that's the other thing - I should not have put green in quotes there. The color temp of these CFLs is no different than that of any other fluorescent bulb (think library, bleak hallway, prison, school, place of 1000 cubicles) - literally GREEN. Ugh. It is the ugliest quality of light imaginable. Give it a coating like a Reveal Bulb to closer resemble daylight and perhaps we're getting somewhere but that still hasn't happened and certainly doesn't change that little mercury issue.

So what options do we really have if we're not supposed to use incandescent bulbs and these CFLs BLOW? A friend of mine brought up the idea that LEDs should be the standard. I agree with that - for now. They last longer, give off less heat, and save money and resources across the board. For the time being, LEDs make the most sense of anything widely available on the market.

However, I recently stumbled upon Luxim's new technology - the plasma light bulb. It is the size of a Tic Tac, has the color temp of daylight, lasts far longer than anything else - and apparently can be powered wirelessly! It is a brand new technology and cannot be expected to be in every one's home overnight but if the public can move to LED technology and then to plasma technology, skipping the fluorescent stage altogether, we shall see some real progress in energy efficiency and quality as we venture further into the new century.

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