Thomas Edison…It was nice knowing you, but the days of the incandescent light bulb are numbered! Ok, so here’s my scenario. I’m definitely not your classic Al Gore save the spotted clam type. So when I tell my friends about this purchase, at first they don’t get it.
I often work out of a home office that is about 12 feet by 12 feet and is located in my basement. Due to that, it is a naturally cool area to work. We do have air conditioning that was piped in from the main system via a thermostatically controlled gate so during very long hot spells in the summer, it can be cooled from about 75 which is the norm in July down to my preferred 72.
However, in this office, I have an AMD 4400 based PC, a Core 2 Duo 3ghz Hackintosh (just using for learning purposes:), a Xerox Phaser Printer that melts wax as its mode of printing, a Core 2 Duo laptop, my wife’s AMD 3800 based PC, and 10 50watt PAR20 Halogen light bulbs to light the place up.
With the door closed (4 boys under the age of 8 are home during the summer) and all equipment on, within about 20 minutes, well let’s just say, working in your shorts isn’t just a figure of speech.
So, since my wife is rarely in the room during the workday, I keep her PC in standby, I try and keep the printer (which runs very hot when ready) in stand by, and I keep only half the lights on. Let’s say, it’s “bearable” this way and somewhat dark.
When my AMD 4400 hits it’s 3 year anniversary this December, I’m replacing it with another Core 2 Duo. It’s absolutely amazing how much cooler (and faster) the new 45nm core 2 duo chips are compared to the older AMD X2 chips.
But for now, I’ve discovered the ultimate solution that doesn’t require me cooling a 1200 sq foot basement for 8 hours just to keep me from melting.
LED Light Bulbs.
I purchased one from www.ledwaves.com.
It was the most compatible and least expensive I could find for my needs. They carry a very broad variety of LED lights, and the one I needed was a PAR20 120v 50 watt bulb replacement.
Yes, they do make CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) in this size. However, CFL lights put out odd “colors”, use about twice as much power and have a life of about 6000 hours. They cost about $15/each. CFL’s have a lot of downsides though. In this size, they use about 14 watts. A lot less than the 50 on the halogen, but almost double the 8 of the LED. CFL’s have mercury in them which makes disposal (or breakage) very hazardous. Many (not all) CFL’s take a couple of seconds to turn on when you hit the switch and many take as much as a minute to reach full brightness.
Not a big deal in a room in which you leave the light on all day, but for an on/off scenario like a hallway, its really annoying. CFL’s also put out a very “harsh” light that can appear to flicker at 60hz (or 50hz if your in Europe).
Using new coatings, this doesn’t seem as bad as traditional office florescent lights, but still noticeably different light from the halogen. You won’t find any jewelry stores using CFL’s in their display cases, that’s for sure. In addition, all florescent lights have a ballast that can wreak havoc with electronic signals that run over power lines like X10, Ethernet over Powerline devices (such as LukWerks cameras), and audio equipment (hum…)
Traditional Halogen’s that I’m replacing are about $10/each and claim 4000 hour life but I’m seeing about half that at best.
This LED bulb, claims a 50,000 hour life (love to know how they test this since this technology is only a year or two old.) So theoretically I won’t need to replace this bulb until my 6 month old baby is graduating high school assuming I leave the bulb on 365 days/year 8 hours a day.
The amazing part is you could almost light a cigarette on the traditional halogen.
Touching this LED bulb after it being on for an hour and you really have to concentrate to notice it is a few degrees warmer than the ambient room temperature.
It consumes 8 watts of electricity versus 50 watts for about the same light on the Halogen. The light it throws is pretty much identical to the Halogen. This is why jewelers are starting to use these bulbs. Heat buildup is a huge problem in display cases, a the difficulty of changing bulbs is also a problem. Using these, a chain can install them and not worry about high maintenance costs in staff to replace low voltage halogens (which need to be handled very carefully in order to avoid possible rupture). When a bulb blows, you have to turn off the whole display and wait about 30 minutes for things to cool down enough to handle. Not great in a retail environment.
Ledwaves.com has an interesting ROI calculator on their site that takes into account halogen bulb replacement, electricity, and time value of what it’s worth getting a ladder out (9 foot ceilings) to change the bulbs. With 10 bulbs in the room, this seems to happen about every 2 to 4 weeks at the worst time).
The bulbs currently cost $55 with a 5 unit minimum purchase. This works out to an ROI of about 11 months. This does NOT take into account the SIGNIFICANT reduction in heat which in the summer allows your air conditioner to work much less. The air conditioner draws massively more power than any of the bulbs.
My guess is either financially minded people like myself, or environomentaly conscious people will start snapping these up. The masses probably won’t when it costs more than 5x as much as a conventional bulb. However, recent breakthroughs claim they will be able to manufacture these for half the cost in less than 2 years. When they hit about $25, I think you will see a mass exodus from Thomas Edison.
Cost – $ 55 per bulb
What I liked:
– Significantly lowered room temperature compared to halogen lighting
– Cool to touch
– Longer life (advertised)
What could be improved: