Versatile lighting for the dark nights
For decades after Thomas Edison introduced the first successful light bulb it did not significantly develop, but in recent years the drive for energy efficiency, and a more discerning consumer has pushed through technological development at an increasing speed.
The demand from businesses to reduce energy costs, the growing concerns about climate change and the push of legislation has all led to an explosion in energy efficient lighting. The traditional light bulb is an incandescent light, where 90% of the energy used produces heat rather than light; however, newer technologies can produce the same light output but using less power. From 1st September 2011, the classic 60W GLS light bulb can no longer be imported or manufactured in Europe and by 2013 even a 40W bulb will no longer be produced.
At present, the main replacement is fluorescent light, which has been the basis of commercial lighting for many years, but can now also be seen in the home. Fluorescent lighting is not only energy efficient but also the light bulbs are cool running and have a long life. The incandescent lamp lasts 1,000 hours, categorised as 1 year of residential usage, but a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) can last up to 15,000 hours. However, the main environmental issue is that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and should be recycled at the end of life.
The newcomer on the market and what many see as the future of lighting is the LED (light emitting diode). This has undergone rapid development in the last decade and its cost is falling as economies of scale grow. A good quality LED has a life of 100,000 hours or up to 100 years of residential use. On top of that, the power required is minuscule and the environmental benefits of reduced power are supplemented by reduced overall production of light bulbs.
From humble beginnings the LED is revolutionising lighting in the 21st century.