L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

18 March 2007 Blog Home : March 2007 : Permalink

Get the LED out

In addition to the farming nightmare this week's Booker column is one of many columns and bloggers pointing out the idiocy of the EU proposal to ban regular lightbulbs. What I find interesting is that everyone assumes that the only alternative to incandescent bulbs are the "compact fuorescent" ones because as Booker points out CFLs have a bunch of problems:

They are larger and uglier than normal bulbs. For a wide range of purposes they cannot be used (as with dimmer switches or as security lights). They contain toxic mercury, which the EU itself is trying to ban. To run them efficiently means leaving them on so long that any energy savings are minimised.

And, what he doesn't say but his colleague Richard North did, is that they flicker at 50hz which can cause safety problems in some scenarios as well as headaches or irritation for some people.

Now having said that in our house we have a number of CFLs but we do not have them everywhere. The main place we use them is in the dim corridors where we wish to leave the light on most of the time but do not spend a great deal of time, although I have also put them in a number of rooms but not everywhere because they are indeed bulky, ugly and slow to come ot full brightness.

Fortunately though there is an alternative: white LEDs. LEDs are even less power consuming than CFLs - so much so that we have a number of solar powered garden lights like this one which stay lit most of the night on a single AA Nicad battery that has been charged up during the day. I have not yet installed the interior versions, because they are still rather expensive, but I may well do so in a couple of places where the CFLs aren't suitable. The LED lights are not a snap in replacement for incandescents yet (you need a transformer and rectifier similar to that for some halogen lights) but they do fix a number of the drawbacks that CFLs have in that they can be dimmed to some degree, are suitable for security lights and don't flicker.

The real benefit of LEDs is their extemely long life - something like 16 years according to this article - so despite the initial expense they should provide significant savings over time because they will use far less power and not need to be replaced for a very long time.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin