It’s pretty clear that LED is indeed the lighting of the future — CFL is an important, yet transitional technology. But LED is not ready for prime time — still too expensive, and still not bright enough, and still not suitable for many applications … yet.
But LED makers are doing everything they can to get people to buy, according to an article in the Green Inc. blog of the New York Times. Consider this point, made about a newly announced LED bulb:
…for starters, the advertised light output of the Pharox is about 300 “lumens” — the metric used for measuring the light coming off a bulb. That places it somewhere between a 25-watt and 40-watt incandescent. A 60-watt incandescent emits up to 900 lumens.
The company explained that the light output is comparable to a 60-watt bulb, depending on where one uses the bulb and for what purpose. “There are 60-watt soft tone/flame bulbs that generate less light than a Pharox 6-watt,” the company said.
Please, let’s be realistic: when we’re talking about comparing light bulbs that look like “regular” bulbs, as the Pharox does, I think it’s appropriate to compare their output to the same bulbs.
I have written several times about how CFL manufacturers and retailers seem to be their own worst enemies. The first mass-produced, inexpensive bulbs were 60W equivalent, which is pretty dim, leading people to think CFLs weren’t as bright. Cheap bulbs failed to live up to their claims of longevity, or worse, broke. Bulbs were sold as “60W Equivalent” were different in important ways — some took several minutes to achieve full brightness, and many were sold as “daylight” bulbs, which sounds great, but has a blue cast — not the warm light we’re used to in our houses. Dimmable CFLs, and other specialty applications failed (in some cases miserably) to live up to their promises.
Eventually, quality increased, and marketing improved. But it seems to be too late. CFLs were tainted already. Recently (mostly unfounded) concerns about mercury scared off people. And they are still a bit more expensive. This is a terrible travesty — in reality there are many good applications for CFLs, and they save a pretty substantial amount of electricity.
For the last few years LED bulbs for household applications have been appearing. They are even more efficient than CFLs, far more durable, more flexible in several ways compared to CFL, instant start, the chance for smooth dimming, no buzzing, and fewer issues with producing pleasing light.
But the “60 Watt” bulb above is expected to retail for $50 later this year. Sorry, but 60 Watt bulbs were one of the things that got CFLs in trouble, and paying a premium of twenty times over a comparable CFL is kind of silly. And worst of all, they are talking trash about CFLs.
I recognize that companies are trying hard to engineer a good product that can be a suitable, marketable alternative to CFL and incandescent bulbs, which means prices have to fall, and brightness has to increase. But if they follow the same course as the CFL makers, they’ll just end up needlessly disappointing us … again.