LEDs to the Rescue? Not So Fast – NYTimes

Energy & Sustainability

LEDs to the Rescue? Not So Fast – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com

There is an industry consensus that solid-state LED lights will play an increasingly important role in energy reduction programs. Light-emitting diodes use as little as one-tenth the power of an incandescent bulb, produce pleasing light and last for up to 20 years of normal use. So the prospects for light sources powered by LEDs looks to be, well, bright.

LED lamps are already used in street lights, office buildings and, less frequently, homes. Inventor Dean Kamen recently lit an island and the structures on it solely with LED products.

But even as strong an LED booster as the Department of Energy, which maintains its own Web site on solid state lighting, cautions that the road to the LED revolution will be rocky, littered with products that don’t perform as advertised and delayed by an inability to surpass the output of today’s conventional lighting sources.

Simply put, many of the LED products now available are not worth buying.

That’s evident even to the most casual observer who can see off-brand and poorly assembled LED replacement bulbs for sale in the nation’s largest home improvement chains.

8 thoughts on “LEDs to the Rescue? Not So Fast – NYTimes

  1. Simon says:

    LEDs and other energy efficient lighting will be a good thing when they are working properly but one simple fact is people can help a lot by being more conscious about the lights they use now and how often they use them. Most people are generally lazy and wasteful unfortunately.

    A lot of power could be saved by simply using lower wattage incandescent bulbs (I prefer 60w bulbs to 100s, except in the bathroom – sometimes I shave with a straight razor :) ) and by simply turning them off. I got into the habit of turning off lights as I move out of the rooms and now would only ever have 1, or at the most 2, on at any one time.

    Unfortunately the cost of power keeps going up (the state of the electricity generation/distribution and power billing in NZ is atrocious) so I can’t say if it saves me any money or not. The main lamp I use is one I built myself that uses a dimmer too so it is running the incandescents at very low power levels.

    Interesting the previous government in NZ was going to totally ban incandescent light bulbs as some other countries have done. The new government that came in late last year reversed this. CFLs won’t work that well for me as I would never have them on long enough to run efficiently and they certainly wouldn’t work in my dimmed lamp. And I like the soft orange glow of a well dimmed incandescent :)

    I am currently working on a new lamp to simulate firelight using a low wattage bulb and a PIC controlling a TRIAC for the switching.

  2. ChicagoNerp says:

    I’ve had trouble with LED bulb replacements since I bought a few Exit sign bulbs for my shop over a decade ago. They burnt out, quickly. The problem? Mostly bad design and perhaps voltage spikes from the power company. I’ve had numerous compact fluorescent bulbs die prematurely too. The bulbs didn’t go bad, it was the electronics regulating the power.
    Most led bulb products simply run a string of LED’s in series to drop the voltage. This may be the simplest and most power thrifty way to utilize them. Yet if one fails, they all fail much like cheap x-mas lights. I have yet to see a decent spike protection circuit integrated into one of these.

  3. Gerry says:

    I have gotten a number of cheap Chinese-made LED automatic nightlights that have failed within a year. Yet the ones with standard Christmas-bulbs in them keep going.

    ‘Ya can’t do the right thing if they’re going to make us junk…

  4. Depot says:

    What National Hardware chains?

    The only place i can get LED bulbs is from mail order ofr hacking them with parts from the MIT flea market.

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