With the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 came the great light bulb debate. Phasing out incandescent light bulbs has 74% of Americans shaking their collective heads. So what’s wrong with incandescent bulbs and what’s right about compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED).
Good Bye, Incandescent Bulb
Incandescent bulbs have been banished because, compared to their cousins, the CFLs and the LEDs, they use too much energy for similar light output. Because more energy efficient lighting exists, incandescent bulbs will be phased out beginning in 2012. Some feel that such legislation is inappropriate. Others are concerned about the mercury present in CFLs. Disposing of spent CFLs could pose a risk of mercury contamination to the environment. Finally, others worry that CFLs exacerbate migraine symptoms, making them more prone to headaches.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Compact fluorescent lamps create light through a completely different mechanism than do incandescent bulbs. CFLs create light through a multi-stepped process that begins with the ballast. CFLs actually need more power than their disgraced cousin, the incandescent, to get started. Inside a fluorescent fixture, the ballast gives a nice burst of energy which creates ultraviolet light by exciting the argon and mercury gas inside the bulb. Ultraviolet light causes the fluorescent properties that coat the inside of the bulb to glow, and voila, light.
Light Emitting Diodes
Most consumers pin their hopes on these tiny little bulbs. They are currently considered prohibitively expensive for use as a common replacement for incandescent bulbs, but they are highly efficient and one bulb has a life span of about 15 years. Very simply, these little lamps are diodes that glow as electricity flows from anode to cathode.
The future of home lighting will be less a fight than an evolution. As LED technology becomes more affordable, look for CFLs to follow incandescent bulbs into the history books.