For our money, one of the easiest ways to transform a problematic space is with good lighting. Many of the spaces we have consulted on suffered terribly —as have their inhabitants— from dim, murky lighting. This is largely due to the pressure to move to energy-saving lighting such as CFL and LED’s, many of which cast a cold, “dirty”, low-wattage light akin to a slumlords 15-watt hallways. We’ve discovered that many people don’t realize that lighting is the reason for a room being unpleasant to be in, and if they do, they’re not sure what to do about it.
Now that manufacture of the classic warmly glowing incandescent bulb has been banned, the question “what to do?” is even more pressing.
The chart above shows the range of options available. (You’ll find even more info here.) A lot environmentally-friendly CFL bulbs are, to our eye, untenably ugly and dim. (Check out our review of the high-style Plumen bulb…and CFLs pollute with mercury.) While
we wait for LED’s to be developed that we’re checking out LEDS that have a truly pleasing light with good light intensity (any day now), our compromise is halogen incandescents. Seventy-two watts yield the equivelent of 100-watt incandescent, the amount of light we consider essential, and easily dimmable for other moods. You’ll find some good basic info for navigating both fixtures and bulbs at our big light bulb post we did some time ago. Philips 423525 22 watt (100 Watt) A21 LED Soft White Light Bulb looks promising as does the SWITCH Lighting A2100CUS40A2-R Classic A21 LED Light Bulb with 100-Watt Replacement and Clear Lens, Neutral White). (We’ll report back on them soon.) Another option for getting more lumens out of 60-watt equivalent bulbs is to use two-bulb lamps, to cast 120-watt equivalent light.
If you really hate to current light bulb offerings, there is a workaround to getting old-fashioned incandescent lights, reported in the Dish. Larry Birnbaum is manufacturing “rough service bulbs”, a loophole in the anti-incandescent law. He calls them “Newcandescents”.
We’re glad that Birnbaum is allowing Thomas Edison’s unique bulb to continue to live in the world, albeit in a limited way. It would be a shame to forget its look altogether.
We can’t look at an Edison bulb anymore without thinking of his singular philosophy: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
2 replies on “Light Bulb Strategies: Halogen, LED, Newcandescents, More”
Longtime subscriber Helen Voris sent this email in reponse to our light bulb post:
Dear Sally, I have very much enjoyed subscribing to The Improvised Life, but this morning’s post on the “work around” to avoid new light energy efficient bulbs and find old incandescents, is very irresponsible, and ignorant too. Get up to speed–there are new, warm-colored LED bulbs which are quite wonderful in appearance, color of light and energy consumption. To encourage people to try to find and use old style incandescents is a shame because this amazing planet and its creatures are disastrously impacted by the choices we have made–we have so little time left in which to try to reverse their effects, and in spite of our best efforts (were we to make them) we may already be past the point of reversibility. We need people with intelligence, creativity and influence to use every bit of each of these qualities to solve the problem, not pretend that it doesn’t exist or will go away on its own. Thomas Edison’s most lasting contribution was his willingness to look ahead and see what might be possible when others could not. That’s how we honor him.
I very much appreciate Helen’s email and headsup: I should have been clearer in my intention and do take her words to heart. My point was that low lighting in the name of environmental correctness is often causing people to live uncomfortably. Pleasing light has always been part of the ambiance created in a room, part of what we humans need; its origins lie in fire light, which Edison’s bulb emulated.
Until Helen’s poke, I had been unable to find LEDS that would give more than 60 watts of brightness, either because I was moving to fast or blind. I HAVE found some promising LEDS that I am in the process of testing and have included them in the post. I suggest that readers also go on the hunt.
But I would like to be clear that I was not encouraging people to stick with the old-style incandescents. I was offering them as an option for readers for whom the news style lighting just won’t work, as some people are extremely sensitive to different kinds of light. I do think its important that this option continue to exist.
I’ve amended the article to present more of this balance. In the meantime, I would especially like to thank Helen for her very eloquent words (which are at the heart of Improvised Life):
We need people with intelligence, creativity and influence to use every bit of each of these qualities to solve the problem, not pretend that it doesn’t exist or will go away on its own. Thomas Edison’s most lasting contribution was his willingness to look ahead and see what might be possible when others could not. That’s how we honor him.