AShotAndaBeer's Blog

Politics, Firearms, and things that amuse me

$50 Light Bulbs

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New Technology light bulbs, the LED (Light Emitting Diode), are starting to make some headway:

Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January.

There is, at this time, a little bit of a drawback, which will make things a bit tricky:

The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs.

That last line is certainly true; in my garage there is a whole load of 100w and 75w ‘regular’ bulbs, and I am planning on getting many more before I can’t.

Now, contrary to what it may seem, I am not against this sort of technology. I’ve actually been using LED lights, in the form of pen lights and flashlights and such, for approximately twelve years. They come in quite handy in my line of work, being an automotive mechanic where there are tight quarters and dark crevasses to look in. Incandescent “trouble lights” are bad news; the heat generated from a 100w bulb, if there is leaking gasoline, can light up your day very quickly. And burn you when you try to turn it to be able to see better.

As the article states, having multiple LEDs has been the problem, and that is also true in my experience with the flashlights. A single element will last much longer than those with multiple. Several of the (up to) 9 LED units I’ve had have very quickly started to malfunction; a couple of them don’t light up, then a few more, eventually, the light is useless. The weak point seems to be the circuit board they are mounted on. On the other hand, the single units hold up much longer; weak points end up being the connections from the battery, or the switch itself.

But, as with all new technology, the cost of those has come down dramatically. Originally, I recall paying upwards of $25 or $30 for the AAAA-cell pen lights. Very rugged, pretty reliable, but the cost of replacement and the batteries themselves often frustrated me. Other styles, using more standard batteries have hit the market in droves, to varying success, but I find the cheaper the cost, the quicker they quit working, requiring me to get another one. Yes, I’m hard on them, dropping them on concrete, slamming a car hood on them, etc.

I’ve stated, though, I will never purchase another compact florescent. They don’t work good, there are hazardous materials in them, and I just plain don’t like them. Early on, we purchased several of these, and they do not last as long as advertised, and of course do not make good light.

Recently, we did purchase a couple of LED bulbs, though not of the style listed in the article I link. These seemed more suited for accent lighting, things like that, but the cost was comparable to a CFL. One of them is installed in our attached garage ceiling fixture. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and will sometimes make multiple trips in and out through the garage. The bulb itself was rated at 80 Lumens (I think). In my estimation it seems to be about the equivalent of a standard 40-watt bulb. Not enough to perform detailed tasks, or reading (especially with the high ceiling the fixture is located in), but very much enough to walk your way around the car, shelves, and the like so as to not trip.

As more of these hit the market, the options will increase, production costs will drop, and competition will bring down the end-user prices. Just think, a plasma television set used to cost upwards of $10,000; now, LCD flat screens can be less than 1/20th of that. I don’t recall any government mandate (aside from forcing television signals to new frequencies and digital broadcasts, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax) forcing consumers to give up their CRT sets the way they are with light bulbs.

I am totally in favor of new technology, and yes, if you want to call it that, “green” technology. And device or appliance that uses less energy and/or is more reliable is almost never a bad thing; cheaper electric bills each month, less often replacement of old or broken units, leads to greater wealth for everyone. My issue is the mandates.

Plain and simple, if people like a product, they will buy it. The more it is used, the cheaper it becomes for everyone as industry moves to satisfy a market desire and turn a profit. A good product does not need the government to step in and force everyone to choose between cheap poison and high-priced alternatives, leaving a perfectly reliable, safe, cheap, and plentiful product illegal for one to purchase or use. Especially in the name of phony baloney hoaky-malarky like “global warming.”

So Washington, please quit trying to force your choices (likely, connected with campaign donations or promises of future employment) on the rest of us. We are smart enough to choose options that work for us, and the market will choose the winners and losers, not you.

Written by James Lee

May 16, 2011 at 21:44

Posted in Uncategorized

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