CFLs and LEDs. Thomas Edison would be amazed.

The inventor who made significant improvements in the incandescent light bulb would be pleased that his work continues today with technology that hasn’t changed much in over 130 years. His amazement would come from seeing the next generation of bulbs to invade the market; specifically compact fluorescent lights  and light emitting diodes.

According to Energystar.gov, the website for the government’s Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, a compact fluorescent lamp is an energy saving light designed to replace an incandescent lamp and can fit into most existing light fixtures formerly used for incandescents.

LED bulbs are lighting alternatives that use extremely low wattage, produce 30% less heat than traditional lighting, and provide a very highly efficient light source that is safe to the touch.

The main appeal of both of these bulbs has one thing in mind—cost savings to the consumer.

“Replacing a 60-watt incandescent lamp with a 13-watt CFL has an estimated savings of $47 over the lifetime of the lamp,” said Ron Dumais, store manager for Lighting Concepts in Lewiston. “The CFL lamps last more than 10 times the life of standard incandescent which means fewer trips to the store which also saves time and money.”

Dumais added that aside from the energy cost savings, and up to 75% less energy used, the CFLs help the environment by producing less greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming.

Energystar.gov notes that while CFLs have a higher purchase price than incandescent lamps, the lighting efficiency pays off in time.

Dumais said that along with changes in bulb technology, the way to measure illumination capacity is about to change in the industry and consumers will be introduced to a CRI rating (color rendering index) that will determine how well a light source renders colors of people and objects.

“Bulbs have been purchased on wattage with common ones at 25, 40, 60, 75 and 100 watts,” said the lighting expert, noting that soon consumers will purchase bulbs using the industry standard of lumens for light output.

“In buying CFLs, you will need to decide how much light you need for a task,” said Dumais.

For instance, a 100-watt incandescent bulb and 23 to 32 watts for a CFL bulb are both considered 1600 lumens. A 60-watt incandescent bulb or 13 to 15 watts for a CFL will be 800 lumens.

As for coloration, CFLs are available in soft white, bright white and natural light.

“I recommend soft white for living areas, dining spaces and bedrooms and bright white is good for general lighting, work areas, and office spaces,” said Dumais. “Natural light is a good reading light and good for displays as it shows colors accurately.”

Dumais continues to be excited about the arrival of LEDs in the marketplace noting that product selection and benefits are putting these newcomers on a fast track to competing and eventually taking over the CFL lighting source. Higher pricing is a current concern for some consumers but it will eventually be more competitive with a higher payback on cost savings.

“The benefits of LEDs are many. They reduce energy up to 80% when compared to standard incandescent, and last up to 50,000 hours or 30 times longer than the equivalent,” said Dumais. “Less heat is produced from LEDs, reducing energy costs.”

CFLs are most beneficial in high-use areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, hallways and even outdoor fixtures. Consider using them in hard to reach areas because their long-lasting life reduces the need to change the bulb often. Unfortunately, CFLs cannot be used on a dimmer switch.

Similar to the CFL’s locations, LEDs are a viable lamp source. Because of their low profile and cool burning, they should be considered for under-cabinet lighting, in glass kitchen cabinet lighting, and lighting that covers a specific, targeted area in the home.

For more information on lighting, go to www.energystar.gov, www.lightingconcepts.com or www.gelighting.com


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