Thursday, June 14, 2012

Japanese government to call 'lights out' for energy-intensive bulbs

The government is expected to call on major electronics retailers and home appliance makers to voluntarily halt production and sales of energy-consuming incandescent lightbulbs to save power this summer, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The government plans to submit a written request under the names of Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano and Environment Minister Goshi Hosono to an industry group, probably sometime this week. The industry side has indicated it will oblige.
The move is aimed at helping avert a power shortage this summer by encouraging people to use light-emitting diode bulbs, which consume less energy than incandescent bulbs.
It is extremely rare for the government to ask retailers and manufacturers to refrain voluntarily from selling and producing specific products.
The two ministers plan to send their request to Sho-ene Akari Forum (energy saving light forum), an industry group comprising major electronics retail stores and home appliance makers.
LED bulbs consume about 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last about 40 times longer. While they are expensive, they are cheaper in the long run.
Bulb-type fluorescent lights also have a similar power-saving effect and are cheaper than LEDs. However, they have a shorter life span than LED bulbs.
According to an estimate by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, if all incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lamps currently used nationwide were replaced by LED bulbs, the total annual power saved would be 9 percent, the equivalent output of 13 nuclear reactors.
Toshiba Corp. has already stopped producing incandescent bulbs, while all bulb manufacturers have shifted to producing LED bulbs.
Under the nation's current basic energy plan, all lighting products for sale will be replaced by LED or organic electroluminescence (EL) by 2020. As these types of lighting help reduce greenhouse gases their promotion has been stipulated in the law to promote measures against global warming.
Source: SACBEE

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Which energy saving light bulb is best for sensitive skin?

Which energy saving light bulb is best for sensitive skin?

UK researchers have compared the UV emissions given off by different types of energy saving light bulbs so that people with photosensitive skin can reduce their exposure to UV light. The team found that LED lamps give off the lowest UV levels.
The European Union has legislated that traditional incandescent bulbs should be phased out by the end of 2012 to be replaced by energy saving alternatives. All bulbs produce some UV light and there are guidelines on exposure limits for healthy individuals. However, no limits have been set for people with photosensitive skin conditions.
This lack of data inspired Leona Fenton and her colleagues from the University of Dundee to analyse the UV emissions from different types of energy saving light bulbs. ‘Many individuals are stockpiling incandescent lamps due to worry over there being no alternative that will not put their skin at risk,’ says Fenton.
There are three main types of energy saving light bulb: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs; both double and single enveloped), energy-efficient halogen lamps and light emitting diodes (LEDs).
The team found that there was considerable variation amongst CFLs, not just between different models and makes, but also within a single box of supposedly identical bulbs! ‘It is impossible for us to recommend the use of any CFLs for photosensitive individuals to use in the lamps [which are] close to the skin for prolonged periods,’ Fenton says.
Double enveloped CFLs give off lower levels of UVB and UVC, making them a safer alternative for some photosensitive people. However, the team found that CFLs, along with halogen lamps, still emit UVA light.
Newly developed LED lamps produced much lower levels of UV (and UVA in particular), making them suitable for people sensitive to any UV wavelength. Chris Edwards, a consultant medical physicist at the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, UK, is impressed by the results. ‘This work is the most comprehensive survey of currently available lamps, and will allow photosensitive patients and their dermatologists to choose suitable lamps for task lighting at home and in the workplace,’ he says.
Catherine Bacon

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The End of the Light Bulb as We Know It

The End of the Light Bulb as We Know It

The incandescent light bulb, one of the most venerable inventions of its era but deemed too inefficient for our own, will be phased off the U.S. market beginning in 2012 under the new energy law just approved by Congress. Although this will reduce electricity costs and minimize new bulb purchases in every household in America, you may be feeling in the dark about the loss of your old, relatively reliable source of light. Here's a primer on the light bulb phase-out and what will mean to you:

Why are they taking my light bulbs away? 

Moving to more efficient lighting is one of the lowest-cost ways for the nation to reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases. In fact, it actually will save households money because of lower utility bills. Ninety percent of the energy that an incandescent light bulb burns is wasted as heat. And yet, sales of the most common high-efficiency bulb available—the compact fluorescent (CFL)—amount to only 5 percent of the light bulb market. Earlier this year, Australia became the first country to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs. The changeover in the United States will be more gradual, not mandated to begin until 2012 and phased out through 2014. However, don't be surprised if some manufacturers phase out earlier.

How do I save money, when a CFL costs six times as much as an old-fashioned bulb?

Each cone-shaped spiral CFL costs about $3, compared with 50 cents for a standard bulb. But a CFL uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months. A household that invested $90 in changing 30 fixtures to CFLs would save $440 to $1,500 over the five-year life of the bulbs, depending on your cost of electricity. Look at your utility bill and imagine a 12 percent discount to estimate the savings.

I've heard that CFLs don't really last as long as they say. 

Turning a CFL on and off frequently shortens its life, which is why the government's Energy Star program says to leave them on for at least 15 minutes at a time. Also, if you have dimmable light fixtures, make sure to buy CFLs labeled "dimmable." All CFLs that carry the government's Energy Star label are required to carry a two-year limited warranty, so contact the manufacturer if your bulb burns out prematurely. The Energy Star website has a good FAQ on CFLs.

I don't think that I like the color of the light from CFLs. 

When they first hit the market, CFLs had a limited range of tones. Now, manufacturers offer a wider variety, but there is not an agreed-upon labeling standard. The Energy Star program is working to change that. But for now, look for lower "Kelvin temperatures" like 2,700 to 3,000 for "redder" light, closer to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, while bulbs with Kelvin temperatures of 5,000 and 6,500 provide more "blue" and intense light. A good photograph illustrating the difference is shown here.

I've heard that CFLs have mercury in them—isn't that bad? 

Consumers are rightly concerned about the toxic substance mercury that helps CFLs produce light. Even though the amount sealed in each bulb is small—one old-fashioned thermometer had about 100 times as much mercury—contact local trash collection for disposal instructions. Environmentalists agree that more work must be done on bulb recycling programs. Right now, you can return any CFL to any Ikea store for recycling, and theEnvironmental Protection Agency and Earth911 have sites you can search for other recycling programs near your home.

But if you break a CFL, you'll have a toxic spill in your home. 

Maine's Department of Environmental Protection has developed the best advice on theprocedures to follow if a CFL breaks. Don't use a vacuum. Maine officials studied the issue because of a homeowner in that state who received a $2,000 light bulb clean-up bill from an environmental hazards company—a story that has circulated around the country and increased consumer concerns about CFLs. It turns out that the company's advice was overkill, and a subsequent analysis showed no hazard in the home. But the bulbs must be handled with caution. Using a drop cloth might be a good new routine to develop when screwing in a light bulb, to make the clean-up of any breaks easier.
Popular Mechanicsrecently crunched the numbers to find that even if the mercury in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute almost double that amount of mercury into the environment over its lifetime.

Isn't there efficient lighting without mercury? 

Yes. By 2012, the chances are good that consumers will have many more options to replace incandescent bulbs. Manufacturers already are deploying advanced incandescent bulbs that are efficient enough to stay on the market after 2012, although they are not yet as efficient as CFLs. Even more exciting are the developments with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are jazzing up holiday lighting. The European electronics firm Philips this year acquired several pioneering small technology companies and plans a big push to make LEDs practical for ordinary lighting purposes. The lights on the New Year's Eve Times Square Ball could one day brighten your home. LEDs last even longer than CFLs and will make bulb buying more like an appliance purchase than a throw-away item.

Is Thomas Edison turning over in his grave? 

Perhaps, but the incandescent bulb has had a good run, with the technology little changed since 1879, when Edison produced light with a carbonized thread from his wife's sewing box. The breakthrough that ushered civilization out of the candle era was so revolutionary that the light bulb itself became the culture's iconic image to illustrate any thought, brainstorm, or idea. But energy-efficient bulbs are a better idea, says Andrew deLaski, director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. "It's hugely important," he says. "A 60 to 70 percent reduction in light bulb energy use will save as much energy annually as that used by all the homes in Texas last year." That's a big savings.

SourceUS News

Wi-Fi Connected Light Bulbs

Wi-Fi-Connected Lightbulbs, Coming To Smart Homes In 2012

A Wi-Fi connected lightbulb that'll cost you just an extra buck a pop may sound crazy, but it's a soon-to-be reality that promises to transform your house into a mood-lit, low-power, eco-friendly smart home. That's the suggestion from NXP, a Netherlands-based semiconductor company that invented the Greenchip technology that will be in many Wi-Fi connected lightbulbs on sale by early 2012.
Why on Earth would you want a lightbulb with an IP address? It's not obvious until you realize we're not talking regular incandescent bulbs here. The tech will go into advanced compact fluorescent units as well as LED light bulbs, both clean low-power replacements for Edison's aging invention. These lights already incorporate a few chunks of silicon in their bases to help control them, and it's this tiny circuit board that enables all sorts of new things--adding NXP's tiny Wi-Fi system to the board is relatively easy and cheap. And then you can turn your lights on and off from a computer hooked up to your home's wireless grid.
We spoke to Jim Lindop, NXP's general manager of low power RF, and he
explained "one thing is to lower the energy consumption of the bulb, and
the other is to make them smart" and this smart-making really is the "next stage,
the evolution of lighting." Home automation has long been able to do
some of this sort of thing, but the advent of LED lighting in particular
(which can even include color variation lighting) and ubiquitous home
networking means it's now much simpler to do. "You can now connect
burglar alarm systems wirelessly to your can cycle your
lights so it looks like someone's around.
Amazing, no? You'll also be able to control mood lighting "states" with a remote control, or via your iPad, as if you were a theater lighting designer; you'll be able to quickly and easily incorporate movement sensing automated lighting, that could even turn on dimly if it detects you're stumbling to the bathroom at midnight; and you'll be able to download apps to hone and polish your home's lighting energy needs so that you end up with a smaller power bill.
smart lights
"It's part of the smart home" Lindop explains. NXP's tech actually enables the "Internet of Things," connecting literally everything to the Net. And lighting could be just the gateway to getting the average consumer excited about smart homes, which carefully manage how power is consumed to improve performance. By the end of the year, you may be able to buy a pack of "five light bulbs and a remote control" for just $50 from stores like Home Depot. Lindop says one of the breakthroughs of the new bulb and the apps that run it are that "it's simple to use, something I know my mother would've been able to use."
Greenchip uses 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signals (over an 802.15.4 short range wireless protocol that won't compete with your normal home 802.11 g/n computer network). They use the new Ipv6 protocol too, so there's no worries that your lightbulbs will use up all the world's available Internet addresses. Plus, the JenNetIP system that NXP's built to let your computers talk to your lights is being open-sourced--in the hope that other manufacturers will embrace it. In fact, Google's already doing so, with its recently revealed Android Home automation system, something that Lindop notes validates the market.
Besides geekily playing with your home lights ("Did I leave the lights on? Let me log in and check!") the Net-enabled smartbulbs will shave precious dollars off the bill, every month for their years-long lifespans. And then when you've done that, you'll probably be tempted to hook up your refrigerator, your hot water heater, and so on...until you have a smart home on your hands.
Source: Fast CoExist

Lumens & Lighting Facts

Lumens and the Lighting Facts Label

When you're shopping for light bulbs, compare lumens to be sure you're getting the amount of light, or level of brightness, you want. The Lighting Facts Label will help. This new label will make it easy to compare bulb brightness, color, life, and estimated operating cost for the year.

Buy Lumens, Not Watts

We typically buy things based on how much of it we get, right? When buying milk, we buy it by volume (gallons). So, why should light be any different? For decades, we have been buying light bulbs based on how much energy they consume (Watts) — no matter how much light they give us (Lumens).

What's a Lumen?

Lumens measure how much light you are getting from a bulb. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's a dimmer light.
Lumens are to light what
  • Pounds are to bananas
  • Gallons are to milk
Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying your new bulbs, think lumens, not watts.
The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely, so here's a rule of thumb:
  • To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

What Should I Look For On The Package? The Lighting Facts Label

Lighting facts per bulb label. The label is an example showing the brightness at 800 lumens, estimated yearly energy cost at $1.57, based on 3 hours per day and 11 cents per kWh. Cost depends on rates and use. The life is 9 years and is based on 3 hours per day. Light appearance is warm at 2700 K. Energy used is 13 watts, and the bulb is ENERGY STAR rated. The bulb contains mercury. For more on clean up and safe disposal, visit
To help consumers better understand the switch from watts to lumens, the Federal Trade Commission requires a new product label for light bulbs. It helps people buy the light bulbs that are right for them.
Like the helpful nutrition label on food products, the Lighting Facts label helps consumers understand what they are really purchasing. The label clearly provides the lumens—or brightness—of the bulb, the estimated operating cost for the year, and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue).
Download our placard Lumens: the new way to shop for lightPDF to see how to use the Lighting Facts label to buy the right light bulb for your needs.

SourceEnergy Savers