Hit the switch for the modern light bulb


Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

The wow factor of the light bulb dimmed more than a century ago so a column that reignites your electrodes might be an uphill battle. I am still going to try.

Meet the LED light bulb. It’s the future and the future is now. Cue wild applause.

OK, so that didn’t take your breath away, did it? No worries, it didn’t exactly light me up right away either.

Try this. Do you know how much money LED bulbs can save you? Let me start by reminding you of a dirty little secret about the original light bulb. It was never meant to burn out. In fact, a 113-year-old bulb is still burning bright today in a firehouse in California. Of course such a bulb is not good for business so they have been manufactured in a way that ensures we have to replace them every couple years.

Voila! The LED bulb lasts way beyond two years, actually more like 20. Can I get an amen! Such technology does not come without a catch. They are expensive, like $20 and above per bulb. The good news is that just a couple years ago they were $80 and the trend is a continual decrease.

Those high costs are easily recouped on your power bill. Since LED lighting does not require heated filaments, the price to run is drastically less. For example a 7-watt LED bulb will cost $2 per year to run for 8 hours a day. An equivalent 60-watt traditional bulb will cost about $20. Count the bulbs in your house and do the math.

Icing on the cake, you might ask? They are environmentally friendly unlike their compact fluorescent cousins that not only emit ugly light but also are filled with harmful Mercury gas. Don’t get attached to CFL lights as they are just a stopgap.

What are the technological implications of LED, you might ask? Imagine a home where smart lights can reflect the mood you crave or the task you’re trying to accomplish. Such technology exists today and is controlled from your smart device. Phillips Hue is one such solution.

We are talking about light that dims as you sleep and gradually brightens as you naturally become awake. Want a romantic dinner? You can emulate the dim but moody light of the finest restaurants. Having movie night at home? Red or blue accents bring alive the theater experience from the “Terminator” to “The Notebook.” In fact, color temperatures from such a system are easily adjusted to set the mood in a way never experienced by most. Imagine a setting that gives you the scientifically proven light to help you read better or study more clearly. Coming home late at night? Just hit a button in the driveway and a fully-lit home will be awaiting you.

Truth is, technology is about to hit our homes in a powerful way. Smart lighting is one of the first waves to come. LED bulbs will soon displace the standard bulb in an equally powerful way just as the standard bulb displaced the oil lamp long ago.

Excited now?

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top