In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” WWII American troops putting their lives on the line to seek Private James Francis Ryan sarcastically comment that he had better invent a better light bulb someday, or their effort is not worth it.
Well, somebody is.
Stores in Northwood, Woodville, and Oregon are responding to meet the demand for compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED lighting.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, throughout the United States and Canada, incandescent light bulbs must meet more stringent lumens/watt requirements.
In other words, the bulbs must meet the same amount of lumens (brightness) for less wattage (energy). The changes begin with the 100 watt incandescent light bulb, which must now use no more than 72 watts to produce a comparable brightness. Additional bulbs will be affected over the next several years.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was signed into law by then-president George W. Bush in 2007. The law provides for a three-year phase out schedule that will start in 2012 with 100 watt light bulbs. The 75 watt light bulb will go away in year two, and the 60 watt and 40 watt light bulbs will go away in year three.
The law also sets minimum standards for general incandescent bulbs, making it necessary for consumers to replace the popular incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient versions.
“There are several options for more energy-efficient bulbs,” said Joe Rey-Barreau, consulting director of education for the American Lighting Association and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design. “One is the 72-watt halogen-incandescent that is available today, and looks and performs like a standard 100-watt incandescent.”
Rey-Barreau stated in a press release provided by Gross Electric that a 26-watt, medium-base CFL offers the same amount of light as the 100-watt incandescent, but uses one-quarter of the electricity. It will last 10 times longer. If the 100-watt bulb you are replacing is dimmable, Rey-Barreau advises selecting a dimmable version of the 26-watt CFL.
“Peculiar” look, saves money
Even though some customers say CFLs look “peculiar” and are generally more expensive, Ron Gladieux, co-owner of Gladieux Lumber and Supply on Navarre Ave., Oregon, advises purchasing them. He says, so far, people are.
“Anything that can save people money and energy in the long run, they are all for it and looking to do that,” Gladieux said. “The bulbs will last longer. We’ve been selling them for a couple years now, and I think sales are almost 40 percent compact fluorescent.”
Phil Trumbull, owner of True Value Hardware, Water Street, Woodville, said, “Once you explain to people the cost savings, then it starts to make sense and the prices are starting to come down on the CFLs as well.
“We’ve been selling the compact fluorescent bulbs for at least five years now, and over the last two to three years the sales have picked up on those. We currently carry a pretty full line of the compact fluorescents in various shapes and sizes, including the ones that go into recessed fixtures like the cam lights that people have.
CFLs have achieved a level of performance that matches incandescent in color and far exceeds incandescent in energy efficiency, according to Rey-Barreau and Trumbull.
“By and large, the compact fluorescents are available in different color temperatures, so if you like the soft white look instead of the harsh white, you can get it that way. There are other people that prefer the whiter light, and those are also available if you look at the bulbs carefully,” Trumbull said.
Rey-Barreau adds, “Therefore, CFLs are a good choice for replacing incandescent light bulbs in task lighting, table lamps, or ambient lighting fixtures.”
There are still some issues people run into when purchasing the CFLs.
“(Some) brighter (CFL) bulbs cause a problem because, for example, if you were comparing a standard 100 watt incandescent bulb to a 100 watt outputted equivalent CFL, the bulb is physically bigger — it’s longer,” Trumbull said. “So, in certain types of lights some of the enclosed ceiling fixtures you run into a problem because you can’t get the compact fluorescent of the light you want into that fixture.
“The same happens with table lamps and floor lamps where they go around the bulb and its held inside the shade, so there are still some situations where people are stuck. With the 100-watt bulbs being the first ones to disappear, that is going to cause some people problems.”
Laurie Gross, president of Gross Electric, which has a store on Woodville Road, in Northwood, says there is a caveat when it comes to recessed lighting.
“One issue is to identify whether or not the recessed fixture is designed for a general service bulb or a reflector version. If it is designed for a general service bulb, then medium screw CFLs will work well,” states Gross. “However, if the fixture is designed for a reflector-type bulb, most CFLs that are in reflector shape will provide much less light than incandescent versions.”
LEDs turn next
There is another new product becoming available, which may make CFLs obsolete.
“LEDs are coming, too, so eventually the LEDs will be available,” Gladieux said. “They are just not completely perfected yet, but I think that’s the next step in technology. There is some availability. There is a lot of big wattage output still for the light they put out.”
Trumbull adds, “We’re starting to carry LEDs, but the current problem with those is they are so expensive. Over time the cost will probably come down like it did with compact fluorescents, but the other problem I’m seeing with the LEDs that are currently available is they don’t put out enough light.”
LEDs as replacement bulbs are currently only available as 40-watt equivalents. They are much more efficient than incandescent and have a life that is 20 times that of an incandescent.
“Most likely LEDs will be the overall winner in a few years to come,” Brian Brandes of light bulb manufacturer SATCO Products said. “Right now LEDs are as efficient as CFLs, but their efficiency is predicted to surpass CFLs within the next two years. LEDs have a much longer life — approximately three times or greater than CFLs.”
Brandes and Trumbull say LEDs will have the edge over CFLs when it comes to dimming and color.
“The one place where CFLs seem like they aren’t quite up to par yet is, there are some who claim they are dimmable, but they are not dimmable in the full range that people are used to in the incandescent,” Trumbull said.
Brandes said, “They (LEDs) dim well, have greater color rendition, better light control, and work well in cold temperatures (all a bit challenging with CFLs), but LEDs come at a higher cost. However, as with any new technology, the early introductions have a higher price tag, but prices will drop as volume increases.”