The Replacement Contenders: The Incandescent Phase Out, Part 4

This post is part of our week-long series about the upcoming incandescent phase out as a result of the EISA 2007.  If you haven’t been reading so far, check out Parts 1, 2, and 3!

One of the biggest misconceptions among the public and news media is that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the only replacements for incandescent light bulbs.  It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

There are currently at least three widely-known technology options that can replace incandescent light bulbs and deliver the required higher efficiency, and more innovative technological options lay just around the corner.  Three other light sources that are lesser known and not discussed below are cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), induction lamps, and electron stimulated luminescence lamps (ESL).

  • Halogen light bulbs are actually a type of incandescent.  They deliver the same color of light, they are dimmable, mercury-free, and they use about 30% less energy than standard incandescents.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are available in a variety of color temperatures (warm white, cool white, neutral white, etc.)  They use about 75% less energy than standard incandescents and last anywhere from 6 to 16 times longer.  CFLs have a rated life between 6,000 and 15,000 hours.  They do contain a small amount of mercury (the amount approximately equal to the period at the end of this sentence); however, if we account for the mercury that is released into the atmosphere from coal-fired electrical generators, incandescents cause more mercury to be released into the environment.
  • Solid State Lighting (SSL) sources include Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), which have very recently hit the shelves of home improvement stores.  LEDs use about 80% less energy than incandescents and they are mercury-free.  The real savings with LEDs, though, comes from their incredible rated life.  Depending on the particular light fixture, an LED can last between 25,000 and 50,000 hours before needing a replacement.  That means an LED can light a room for about 17 years!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

2 thoughts to “The Replacement Contenders: The Incandescent Phase Out, Part 4”

  1. would disagreee on some of these…

    RE Mercury
    I agree that CFL scares are overblown,
    unfortunately a scarte tactic used by those who, like me, are against the ban on incandescents
    – in my view, all lighting has advantages, all safe lighting should be allowed

    CFL mercury is a bigger problem than any incandescent related coal
    power plant mercury release

    The coal plant argument keeps doing the rounds,
    but USA EPA administration themselves are not now pursuing that
    argument (whatever about old diagrams floating around), following the
    90% mercury emission reduction mandate under Lisa Jackson.

    It never was true anyway, for the extensive referenced reasons here:
    (Of course, to the user, a broken bulb in the home is a likely greater worry than a distant chimney emission release anyway, again with reference to EPA in their clean-up mandates, even if they of course err on the side of caution, on legal grounds if nothing else 🙂 )

  2. As for the savings with CFLs and LEDs,
    those figures are disputable for many reasons, as on the ceolas,net site
    A rundown of misconceptions about lighting regulations here

    RE Halogen replacement bulbs,
    they have a whiter light and other differences,
    and are not popular due to a much higher price for small savings,
    and will as covered earlier be phased out too, albeit not immediately.

    RE LEDs they are indeed promising,
    and RGB types have excellent light quality,
    but all are very expensive and difficult to make both bright and omni-directional
    the white LEDs essentially mimic CFLs, with their phosphorescent coating

    There are also LED safety issues from recent extensive cross-campus
    Univ of California research referenced, quoting the research:

    “Consumers should be aware of the potential harm from contaminants
    found in LED bulbs:
    Toxins like lead and arsenic are linked to various cancers, brain
    damage, hypertension, skin rashes, and other illnesses.
    Measures that could be put in place may be to wear personal safety
    protection when cleaning up a broken LED bulb
    Under today’s law, LEDs are disposed of in typical landfills and are
    not classified as toxic, but the researchers are hoping that their
    study will change that”
    (again, like with CFLs, the home breakage issue may seem exagerrated, but there it is!)

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