It's that time of year again, when we look back on lighting as so much more than just what we use for seeing, but as something that offers beauty and opens up avenues for new technologies to improve our lives. Let's take a look at lighting in the year 2016.
An Incandescent Bulb Comeback?
Just a couple years after the most common incandescent household bulbs were phased out by efficiency legislation, lovers of incandescent lighting cheered the news of technology that could make these light bulbs even more efficient than LED bulbs. Researchers at MIT developed this technology to "recycle" photons with a coating on the glass envelope of the lamp.
Early tests showed results 2-3 times more efficient than standard incandescents, which is still not as efficient as LED bulbs. This would mean replacing an old 60 watt incandescent with one using just 20 to 30 watts, while an LED can do the same job at around 9 watts. But this would be good enough to allow the new bulbs to be manufactured and sold under current legislation.
Yet the potential is for them to become far more efficient than this.
Unfortunately, if they ever do produce bulbs like this, they're probably some years off and their retail costs and rated life are unknown.
Still, there is a great affection for the warm look of incandescent bulbs, and no one seems to question their impact on human health the way they do with LEDs and especially fluorescent bulbs. (Probably because they've been around for more than 100 years.) If you had a chance to use incandescent bulbs again and they were just as efficient as LEDs and cost the same ... would you go back to light bulbs that only last about 1000 hours?
It will be interesting to see whether these bulbs become available in time.
UV LEDs Purify Water Off Grid
Electric lighting has certainly transformed the world. Lights are so common today, it's hard to think of a world where nighttime was controlled only by candles. But we love that today, light isn't just for seeing; it's frequently used to promote human health.
Enter the story of a new water filtration system designed for getting clean drinking water to communities all over the planet without the need for electricity. Using solar panels to power the system and UV LEDs to purify the water, this system can be inexpensively run, creating a job for the operator and cheap water for the community.
When you understand that children and adults alike are up long before the sun in many parts of the world, searching for water; hauling it; facing dangers along the way; and often getting polluted water in the end ... this is the kind of solution that can seriously save time and lives, allowing these communities to focus more of their energy on education and other productive activities.
A few years ago, getting an A19 LED bulb to replace common household and office light bulbs meant spending $10 to $15 per bulb. In the last couples years, generic LEDs have fallen under the $3 mark and, in some cases, under $2.
But we've written before about avoiding generic LEDs because of their potential problems when compared to trusted brands. Which is why we were excited earlier this year to announce that we had A19 LEDs from the trusted Satco brand (a US brand that's been around for decades) for under $3 (when bought in a 4-pack).
Since then, we've also broken the $5 mark with Sylvania BR30 LEDs, and continue searching for the right combinations of quality and price to give customers a good lighting experience on budget. You can see some of our best values in home and office LEDs here.
Mood Lighting for Animals
Converting Near Infrared to Visible Light
20,000 Watt Light Bulb Test
300th Anniversary of America's Oldest Lighthouse
The T12: an Electrician's Halloween Poem
Light Used to Purify Air
DarkLight Lets LiFi Work in the Dark
Enter this new development called DarkLight, which is designed to let LiFi work in the dark. Effectively it would cycle lights on and off so quickly, you would never see the light. This might beg the question ... would we still subconsciously recognize it, and would it therefore still have an impact on psychology or health?
Milk Tastes Better with LEDs
Niagara Falls Lighting Upgrades to LED
And with that, we conclude our review of lighting in 2016. Did we miss some of your favorite advances in lighting? Feel free to leave a comment, and if you liked this review, remember to share it with others!
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Your Guide To Finding the Right Bulb
Replacing Your Fixture's Glass Shade
LS Case Study: Washtenaw County Road Commissions Upgrade to LED Lighting
How to Light Your Warehouse Effectively