Incandescent lighting isn’t just ‘lighting’, it’s part of the American culture. It’s the Norman Rockwell of the lighting industry. Nothing portrays American values and ideals more than the warm, yellow glow filtering through the windows of America onto streets alive with people celebrating the joy of being. That’s hard to replace. Unless you’ve taken a close look at the alternatives.
Incandescent lighting started appearing in homes and commercial establishments in the late 1800s. There were many improvements over the years, but energy consumption was already an issue. So the early 1900s saw a lot of research into alternatives.
In 1938, the Mazda F appeared. No, it’s not a car – it was the first fluorescent lamp ever sold.
It was more efficient, but it was not white or yellow and there was nothing warm about it. For decades, fluorescent lighting evoked images of ceiling lighting in a factory – American, yes, but certainly not the warm and friendly Norman Rockwell look.
Beautiful colors were eventually developed, as was the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL), which made the lamps more practical for wide use, and less expensive when retrofitting.
But the problem of energy usage was far from over; in fact, it was getting worse. So, research continued and along came LEDs.
Development of Color in LED
LED lighting held a lot of promise. For thirty years though we had red and green LED lamps only – no blue.
Why was blue so important? Because only with the combination of red, green and blue could white light be produced. When three Japanese professors – two from universities in Japan and the third from University of California – finally invented blue LEDs in the early 1990s, the advance was so significant they were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.
But, again, the light was bright white – again, not Normal Rockwell.
More colors were eventually developed, and as the fluorescent and LED alternatives became more practical, and the environment and energy resources more endangered, incandescent bulbs started being phased out.
One country after another – starting with Brazil and Venezuela in 2005, right through to Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and the U.S. in 2014 – started demanding more energy efficient lighting.
These projects are rolling out and within a few years it will be impossible to buy incandescent lighting, possibly with the exception of some specialty lighting, and even then they’ll have to be energy efficient.
LED Lighting Solutions are the Wave of the Future
The power used by incandescent lighting didn’t produce a lot of light – 5% of the output is light, the other 95% was heat.
Fluorescent lighting was an excellent step in the right direction. CFLs, for example, use 20 to 33% less energy than incandescent lamps, but they only last bout 3.5 years when used for eight hours a day.
LED lighting, the next big advance, improved on fluorescents by orders of magnitude. LED lamps last 10 times longer than fluorescents—7 years or more even when they’re on 24/7.
The biggest objection to replacing incandescent lighting hasn’t been the color; it’s been the price. The initial cost of replacing incandescent bulbs has been expensive. Now the prices have come down and replacing old lighting is no longer the expensive task it once was.
For those of you who are still longing for that Normal Rockwell look, the color problem has been sorted out. We now have a very broad color range available to us, especially in LED lighting solutions. You can choose virtually any color you want.
If you’ve been wary of replacing your lamps with something more efficient because you thought you couldn’t afford it, don’t be – give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how reasonable the initial cost really is, and how quickly you’ll achieve your ROI.
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Featured image credit: “Light effects” by Pedro Simoes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosimoes7/3474967838. License by https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.