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Turning the Light On: What Bulb is Eco-Safe?

What light bulb do I get that won’t destroy the earth? That’s a question that many continue to ask as warnings about destructive products and chemicals confuse consumers. At CES 2014, I talked to EC Sykes of Switch who explained how lighting technology has evolved and is better for the environment.

Has technology evolved such that incandescent bulbs are more energy efficient?

Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb is being retired. Incandescents emit far more heat than light which makes them one of the worst examples of efficiency anywhere. That’s the main reason the US federal government and other governments around the world have effectively banned them. Beginning January 1, most 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent bulbs are no longer permitted to be manufactured or imported. This follows a previous ban on 75-watt and 100-watt incandescents.

Luckily, those of us in the lighting industry have been working on superior lighting technology for many years and we can now offer consumers a perfect replacement for incandescents: LED bulbs. Best-quality LED A-lamp bulbs provide bright, warm, omnidirectional light just like incandescent bulbs. And on top of that, LED bulbs are up to 80 percent more efficient than incandescent which means lower power bill and less power plants and they last for decades. They are also up to 40 percent more efficient than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. While CFLs are more efficient than incandescents most of us are unhappy with the performance and mercury in CFLs.

LED is a win-win-win for consumers: dramatic energy savings, 20-plus years of life and superior light quality with the right LED product.

Can consumers expect to be green, technological savvy without expending a lot of money?

A common misconception is that best-quality LED bulbs are too expensive for the average homeowner. Manufacturers have made significant recent design advances to lower the cost of LED bulbs while improving their quality of light. Our SWITCH infinia 60-watt equivalent bulb is generally available for $11.99. When you factor in utility rebates, which are available in many areas, consumers can purchase these bulbs for as little as $3.99 or lower. Many consumers can save $.75 to $1 a year per in energy alone and these bulbs will last more than 20 years when operated a few hours day in typical residential use. That’s a deal on anyone’s budget!

How is your light bulb innovative?

A fact about LEDs is that as they heat up, they become less efficient, and emit less light and fail sooner. So thermal management is critical for all LED lighting solutions. We utilize a unique liquid cooling system to manage the heat in our bulbs so they perform perfectly and last for more than 25,000 hours even in fully enclosed fixtures. That means they are also going to perform well in semi-enclosed recessed or pendant lights – really in any fixture and in any orientation. Many LED bulbs are not suitable for use in those applications and higher temperatures will affect the lifetime of those products if used in those applications inadvertently. Liquid cooling also allows the SWITCH infinia to go without the metal heat sink found on most other LED bulbs so it looks just like an incandescent and fits in any fixture just like an incandescent. We make it easy to switch to LED.

Is there a shorter life expectancy?

Best-quality LED bulbs are designed to perform perfectly for at least 25,000 hours, which is more than 20 years at three hours of operation per day. That’s 25 times longer than incandescents and 3-4 times longer than the best CFLs. Make sure you read the packaging on LED bulbs and choose bulbs that are suitable for use in the type of fixture or application you are addressing. LED bulbs not rated for use in fully enclosed won’t last long when installed in pendants or recessed either. Warranty policies are also important. For instance, we offer a lifetime warranty for residential use so you buy and install once and never worry about changing a bulb again.

What other innovations is your company making?

Switch is rolling out a full line of typical A-lamp style bulbs and is working on other bulb types where our liquid cooling system offers significant advantages in light output, quality and lifetimes. There are many bulb segments that are challenging to address with LEDs because managing heat is so difficult. Our liquid cooling system provides a distinct advantage for other LED bulb form factors.

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