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July 8, 2009


NY Times - When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed. But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature. Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison's light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

"There's a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly," said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. "There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades."

The first bulbs to emerge from this push, Philips Lighting's Halogena Energy Savers, are expensive compared with older incandescents. They sell for $5 apiece and more, compared with as little as 25 cents for standard bulbs.

But they are also 30 percent more efficient than older bulbs. Philips says that a 70-watt Halogena Energy Saver gives off the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and lasts about three times as long, eventually paying for itself. . .

The line, for now sold exclusively at Home Depot and on Amazon.com, is not as efficient as compact fluorescent light bulbs, which can use 75 percent less energy than old-style bulbs. But the Energy Saver line is finding favor with consumers who dislike the light from fluorescent bulbs or are bothered by such factors as their slow start-up time and mercury content.

"We're experiencing double-digit growth and we're continuing to expand our assortment," said Jorge Fernandez, the executive who decides what bulbs to stock at Home Depot. "Most of the people that buy that bulb have either bought a C.F.L. and didn't like it, or have identified an area that C.F.L.'s don't work in."


Anonymous Mairead said...

"Halogena"? What makes me think they're a repackaging of the finicky, expensive halogen technology

July 8, 2009 12:51 PM  
Blogger John said...

In August, Clear-Lite, an environmental friendly lighting company, will introduce its Green ArmorLite bulb, which helps prevent Mercury from spreading if or when the light bulb breaks.

The ArmorLite bulb appears like a standard store bought incandescent bulb. In fact, it is a CFL bulb hidden inside an incandescent light bulb. A silicon, unbreakable balloon-like skin is wrapped around the outer light bulb so if it breaks, the Mercury will be contained.

The silicon skin safeguards Mercury contamination, by not allowing the vapor to permeate the air, an ever-present threat when a regular CFL breaks. Also, its silicon skin not only prevents Mercury contamination, but avoids glass splintering when the bulb breaks.

More information about the ArmorLite bulb is at: http://www.clear-lite.net

John Goodman

July 9, 2009 1:11 PM  

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