Apr 27, 2011

Incandescent Light Bulb Update

Here are points from a good USA Today article 4/27/11 on the future of incandescent light bulbs:

-On Jan. 1, nationwide, a new federal law means the 100-watt incandescent will start disappearing from store shelves. Instead, an expanding line of alternative bulbs will be sold bearing new nutrition-like labels on their boxes. The labels will tout a bulb's lumens, a measure of brightness, rather than its wattage, a measure of energy use. They will also estimate its yearly energy cost.

-In 2007, the U.S. Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, requiring light bulbs to use at least 25% less electricity for the amount of lumens, or light, produced. So, come January, manufacturers will have to produce the equivalent of a 100-watt bulb using 72 watts of power.

-(Incandescent) bulbs won't meet the standard, but the mercury-free halogen incandescent will. So, too, will the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and the LED (light emitting diode), each of which is at least 75% more efficient.

-The front of the labels will list energy cost and lumens, which can vary widely even for bulbs consuming the same amount of energy or wattage. Lumens already appear on bulb packaging, but consumers often overlook the fine print.
The back will list the bulb's expected life span, energy consumption and its "light appearance," or color, which is measured on a temperature scale known as Kelvin (K). Lower Kelvin numbers mean the light is more yellow; higher Kelvin numbers mean it's whiter or bluer.

-The traditional incandescent, which gives off a warm, soft and almost yellowish light, has a temperature of about 2,700 to 3,000K — similar to most halogens. LEDs' temperatures range from 3,300 to 5,000K while CFLs can be quite warm (2,700K), neutral or cold (6,500K).
For kitchens and workspaces, where a brighter and whiter light is desired, look for bulbs marked 3,500 to 4,100K. For a cooler, bluish light akin to daylight, good for reading, look for bulbs with 5,000 to 6,500K.

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