Monday, October 31, 2011

Companies strive to build a better (more expensive) light bulb

OMERSET, N.J. — Ed Crawford wants to unscrew 130 years’ worth of the light bulb’s history. But how many MBAs, engineers and lobbyists will it take to help him do that?

As retailers and governments begin phasing out incandescent light bulbs, lighting companies are scrambling to introduce products and change public mind-sets about how much a light bulb should cost. Crawford has a big challenge ahead of him: He’s chief executive of the North American lighting division of the world’s largest lighting company, Philips Electronics.

(Wendy Galietta) - Lighting companies are creating more expensive bulbs, such as this halogen bulb, for retailers to offer instead of the incandescent ones.

“Our marketing mix has to become more creative,” Crawford says while walking the halls of the Philips offices, past rooms where high-tech displays show how lighting affects moods in kitchens and living areas.

Philips has been hiring marketers and engineers from consumer products companies to prepare for the change. Its North American headquarters in suburban New Jersey is a short drive from the red-brick labs where Thomas Edison developed and improved early light bulb technology.

Scientists at the world’s major lighting companies — General Electric, Philips and Siemens AG subsidiary Osram-Sylvania — are creating more expensive compact fluorescent bulbs, halogen bulbs and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs for retailers to offer instead of the incandescent bulbs they have sold for more than a century.

Why now?

Starting next year, the Energy Independence Act of 2007 will require 30 percent more energy efficiency in bulbs. The legislation phases out 100-watt incandescent bulbs from sale starting in January and ends with 40-watt bulbs phased out by January 2014. Similar legislation is in place in parts of Europe.

Philips lobbied for the change in recent years. Other companies — accustomed to continual profits from selling 50-cent disposable incandescent bulbs year after year — were forced to get onboard with it. Some Republicans, including presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), have tried recently to overturn the legislation, but without success.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said that by 2020, the new law will reduce energy costs by $100 to $200 per household each year. That could eliminate about 30 large power plants, according to the NRDC. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that the new law could save households in the United States nearly $6 billion in energy costs by 2015.

Retailers prepare for switch

Light bulbs have been a major product for GE since Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879. At one point in 2008, the company tried to get rid of its lighting division. But it now sees the business as an area of growth in a $65 billion global lighting industry.

The Freedonia Group in Cleveland expects U.S. demand for advanced lighting products — LEDs, compact fluorescents, halogen lights and other products that will replace incandescent bulbs — to grow nearly 11 percent per year to $6.8 billion in 2013.

The world’s largest home furnishings retailer, Ikea, stopped selling incandescent light bulbs in January. The State of California mandated that retailers stop selling 100-watt incandescent bulbs last Dec. 31, a year earlier than federal legislation requires.

Source for this article: Washington Post

Energy-aware consumers, meet the new light bulb

NEWINGTON — For more than a century, the light bulb has stood as a symbol of innovation and human ingenuity.

Today, the light bulb is living up to that reputation by taking energy efficiency to a whole new level.

Sitting on the counter of The Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric is a display reading, “The new LED lighting from Philips is here, and it can change everything.” It contains Philips brand LED replacement light bulbs that use just a fraction of the energy of the traditional incandescents they replace.

A 60-watt incandescent light bulb can now be swapped out for a12-watt LED. A 40-watt incandescent can be replaced with an 8-watt LED.

“Saving energy is as easy as changing a light bulb,” joked Jim Pender, president and CEO of Rockingham Electric.

Consumers will soon be able to replace their old 60-watt incandescents with a new, highly-efficient 10-watt LED light bulb from Philips. This replacement light bulb won Philips the Department of Energy's first-ever Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize in August.

If every 60-watt incandescent bulb in the country were replaced with the 10-watt L Prize winner, Americans would save around $3.9 billion worth of electricity.

And incandescent light bulbs are being legislated out of existence. By January 1, 2012, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be manufactured, due to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, in favor of new more energy efficient lighting.

“The world of lighting is changing rapidly, probably more than any other category we work with,” Pender noted.

The Lighting Store also carries the next generation of incandescents, halogen light bulbs that look just like the classic light bulb, but use less energy. A 60-watt traditional incandescent can be replaced with a 43-watt halogen light bulb.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest in energy-efficient light bulbs right now,” Pender reported. “They are still more expensive, but people realize the payback.”

A partnership between the Green Alliance and Rockingham Electric is making energy-efficient light bulbs even more affordable. Members of the local consumer co-op get 10 percent off everything in the store at The Lighting Center in Newington and The Harbor Lights in Hampton.

Saving money, energy and the environment aren't the only reasons to make the switch to energy efficient light bulbs.

“LED light bulbs last a lot longer,” Pender said with a smile. “You can install one up high in a place that you need a ladder to reach and not have to worry about it forever.”

Source for this article: Forsters

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mexican Government Hands Out 6 Millionth Energy-Saving Light Bulb

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón handed out the sixth millionth energy saving light bulb as part of his administration’s Sustainable Light Program.

The purpose of this program, said the president, is to combat climate change by reducing energy consumption. He added that the severe drought in the north of the country, coupled with the recent abnormal floods in Tabasco, reflect the gravity of the phenomenon. He explained that the electricity derived from fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases.

In order to mitigate the effects of global warming, the Sustainable Electricity Program, the most ambitious of its kind worldwide, was launched in July. As a result of this program, nearly 23 million incandescent bulbs will be replaced by energy-saving bulbs by the end of 2011, benefiting six million households. To date, approximately one and a half million households have replaced their bulbs.

The president explained that the program will benefit families, by reducing their utility bills, since they will use 75% less energy, the country, since replacing these bulbs will save the Mexican federal government nearly 2.35 million pesos in electricity subsidies, and help the overall environment. In addition to reducing electricity generation, the program will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

President Calderón stated that the “Trade in Your Old One” program, as well as the green mortgages program, granted through INFONAVIT, complement efforts to reduce energy consumption. Nearly 26% of the energy consumed in Mexico is now obtained from renewable sources.

In order to receive up to four energy-saving bulbs, citizens must simply take four old light bulbs to a trade-in center, together with a utility bill, official identification or proof of residence.

Source for this article: Hispanically Speaking news

Money Talks: Bright Idea – Right Light for the Price

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 15 cents of every energy dollar you spend is for lighting.

Starting in 2012, this old friend, the traditional incandescent light bulb, will start it's long goodbye. In 2012, 100-watt bulbs will be gone. It's lights out for the 75 watt in 2013, and the last bulb - the 40 watt - will go dark in 2014.

So here's a bright idea: let's learn about their replacements. There are at least three possibilities: the LED, the Compact Florescent and the Halogen. Here's the cost breakdown...

The LED is more expensive than the incandescent bulb - they are about 50 times more expensive. This particular LED, for example, costs about 24 bucks. Next we've got the compact florescent. These are about 10 times more expensive than the incandescent bulb. This particular model right here - this costs about 5 bucks. Then we've got the Halogen, which replaces the flood lamp. This right here costs about 6 bucks and is about twice the cost of the lamp it's replacing.

But there's more to bulbs than cost: these use a fraction of the power of incandescent bulbs. And they last way longer.

This particular model right here is going to last you about 25 years, this particular model right here is going to last you about 7 years, and the Halogens right here are going to last you about 3 years.

So while these bulbs do cost more up-front, using less power and lasting much longer illuminates the savings. And you can find one to fit pretty much any fixture.

Bottom line? If you really want to cling to your 100 watt incandescents, you can still buy them until the end of the year. But sooner or later, you're going to need to replacements. The sooner you do it, the more you'll save. And we can help. We've got everything you need to know at

Source for this article: Valley Central

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Which Light Bulbs are the Greenest?

- For decades, those concerned with energy savings have been touting the benefits of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) over incandescents. CFLs use only one-fifth of the electricity of incandescents to generate the same amount of light, and they can last six to 10 times longer. But CFLs’ cooler color and inability to be dimmed have made them less desirable. Another hindrance to the widespread adoption of CFLs has been their higher cost (though most consumers would save plenty in energy costs over the life of a bulb). Also, CFLs contain mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin that is released when the bulbs break. And once CFLs do burn out they must be disposed of properly to avoid releasing mercury into the environment.

Given the issues with CFLs, LEDs (short for light emitting diodes) are beginning to come on strong. These highly efficient bulbs don’t generate heat like incandescents (which helps to keep air conditioning costs down as well) and can last five times longer than CFLs and 40 times longer than incandescents. Tiny LED bulbs have been around for years in specialized applications (such as stadium scoreboards), but lighting engineers got the idea to cluster them and use reflective casings to harness and concentrate their light for residential use. In recognition of the LED’s potential, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) set up a special “solid-state” (LED) lighting R&D program to hasten the advance of the technology.

In comparing the total cost to run three different types of 60-watt equivalent bulbs for 50,000 hours (factoring in the cost of the both bulbs and electricity), the EarthEasy website found that LEDs would cost $95.95, CFLs $159.75 and incandescents $652.50. The 42 incandescent bulbs tested used up to 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity compared to 700 and 300 for CFLs and LEDs respectively. However, despite the savings most consumers are loath to spend $35 and up for an LED bulb (even though it will save more than $500 in the long run) when a traditional incandescent bulb right next to it on the shelf costs $1.

There are other newer technologies in the works. Seattle-based Vu1 now sells highly efficient bulbs based on its Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) technology, whereby accelerated electrons stimulate a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb, making the surface glow. One of Vu1’s 65-watt equivalent bulbs retails for under $20 and uses a similar amount of energy as an equivalent CFL. And incandescents aren’t out of the efficient lighting race altogether just yet. Top bulb makers recently released new versions that use as much as a third less electricity to operate (complying with 2012’s new federal standards) and are promising newer models still that will run on even less energy.

Source for this article.

What Does a $25 Light Bulb Get You?

Get ready to say goodbye to the incandescent light bulb. If all goes according to plan, the phasing out of Thomas Edison's invention will begin next year and continue through 2014. By that time, light bulb makers hope we'll have adopted LED bulbs as our new favorite light source.

That said, manufactures have to overcome a few obstacles before consumers will be ready to make the switch.

Watt's the Big Deal?

Some people may wonder why we can't just stick with incandescent bulbs if reinventing the light bulb is such a challenge. It's a matter of efficiency.

Less than 10% of the energy running through an incandescent gets converted to light -- the rest is lost as heat. If we switch over to more efficient bulbs, we could save billions of dollars, decrease our thirst for oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, the first alternatives to hit the market were compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. The early CFLs used less energy, but that's about the only good thing you can say about them:
  • Many wouldn't fit in old fixtures.
  • They produced a flicker laden, dim, gray light.
  • They didn't work with dimmer switches.
  • And, to top it all off, they contain mercury, so you can't throw them away in the trash -- at least not with a clear conscience.

The latest generation of CFLs can produce light of the same quality as incandescents, but they haven't solved the other issues. And even if they had fixed everything, I don't think it would have mattered. With the possible exception of people who grew up watching Captain Planet, the public has generally rejected CFLs -- so much so that the Tea Party attempted to have Congress repeal the ban on incandescent bulbs.

The Next Bright Idea

Thanks to the market failure of CFLs, LEDs will have to be so good that they make consumers already inoculated against new lighting technology forget about their previous disappointments. The engineering problems alone make this a difficult task.
White LEDs give off a blue-tinted light, which isn't as pleasant as the warm incandescent light we're used to. And to burn as brightly as standard 60-watt bulbs, LEDs have to remain relatively cool.

Philips' (PHG) AMBIENT LED seems to have solved both of these problems. I picked one up recently and installed it in my living room. The thing doesn't look like a light bulb. Instead of the familiar globe shape -- which CFLs mimic to a certain degree -- the LED bulb is a fluted aluminum tube with orange plastic panels at the top. I honestly doubted it would work, but it produces warm light on par with a 60-watt bulb while only drawing 12.5 watts.

Here's the catch: The bulbs cost $25.

This hefty price tag stands as the biggest obstacle to LED adoption. General Electric (GE) expects the price to drop to $10 in the next three years, but they'll still remain the most expensive option. A four-pack of 60-watt incandescent bulbs costs $1.47, while four CFLs go for $6.47 and a halogen bulb can be had for about $4.

Granted, LED bulbs should last significantly longer -- Philips claims mine will last two decades -- and use less power than the competition, but getting consumers to overlook the higher price still poses a challenge. Philips' strategy is to convince consumers to think of light bulbs as durable goods. Its LED bulbs are packed more like gadgets rather than light bulbs. The packaging for the AMBIENT is shaped like a miniature display case. A picture of a pleasantly lit living room and boxes touting the potential energy savings frame the blister-packed bulb.

How Many Accountants Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

In spite of the challenges, the industry remains optimistic about LEDs. Home Depot (HD) believes the bulbs will account for 25% by 2014. In the meantime, commercial sales have begun to gain traction.

Many companies have begun switching to LEDs after realizing the can reduce energy costs over time. According to The Washington Post, GNC (GNC>) installed LED lights in 2,000 stores, while Starbucks (SBUX) put them in 8,000 locations. This could help bring more residential customers on board by allowing them to see the quality of LED light without having to open their wallets.

Source for this Article. DailyFinance

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forget WiFi, Connect to the Internet Through Lightbulbs

Whether you’re using wireless internet in a coffee shop, stealing it from the guy next door, or competing for bandwidth at a conference, you’ve probably gotten frustrated at the slow speeds you face when more than one device is tapped into the network. As more and more people—and their many devices—access wireless internet, clogged airwaves are going to make it increasingly difficult to latch onto a reliable signal.

But radio waves are just one part of the spectrum that can carry our data. What if we could use other waves to surf the internet?

One German physicist, Harald Haas, has come up with a solution he calls “data through illumination”—taking the fiber out of fiber optics by sending data through an LED lightbulb that varies in intensity faster than the human eye can follow. It’s the same idea behind infrared remote controls, but far more powerful.

Haas says his invention, which he calls D-Light, can produce data rates faster than 10 megabits per second, which is speedier than your average broadband connection. He envisions a future where data for laptops, smartphones, and tablets is transmitted through the light in a room. And security would be a snap—if you can’t see the light, you can’t access the data.

You can imagine all kinds of uses for this technology, from public internet access through street lamps to auto-piloted cars that communicate through their headlights. And more data coming through the visible spectrum could help alleviate concerns that the electromagnetic waves that come with WiFi could adversely affect your health. Talk about the bright side.