Christopher Moulder’s Shade in All of Its Halogen Glory?

Okay, before I say anything about this fixture that Christopher Moulder has designed, just remember that I love halogen and incandescent sources, and I know their places.  Meet Christopher Moulder’s Shade lamp:

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First and foremost, the Shade fixture uses 28 of the 10W halogen Festoon lamps, for a total of about $83 bucks in lamps alone.  I am sure that this lamp also isn’t a “value-priced” piece, either.  It does come in three shade colors, and it only needs the single lead down from the receptacle for power.

It’s a very interesting design, I mean that!  If you’ve ever burned the crap out of yourself on a little halogen minilamp, you can imagine how much heat this thing must output – and since it’s got 28 lamps at 10W each, and if you can add or multiply, you know that the Shade fixture has a 280W power consumption.

Chris, this is a darned cool lamp.  Why not utilize something other than halogen?

FYI, check out Christopher Moulder‘s other works, because they are all extremely lovely designs.

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Thanks, DVICE!

The Whole World v. The Incandescent Lamp

We’ve been reading over the last year or so about the war on incandescent lamps – people preach hate for them but people buy them in droves.  Why is this?  A good reasoning is money, money, and money – To buy a 6-pack of regular incandescent lamps (not Reveals or energy efficient models) costs about as much as a stick of beef jerky at the gas station.  When you’re living month to month, week to week, or unfortunately day to day as many of our fellow Americans are doing, a six pack of light bulbs for $1.12 seems a lot more cost efficient when looking at a $4.00 compact fluorescent or even a $40.00 LED replacement.

Your next question should be something along the lines of “but you’ll save so much down the road if you buy something energy efficient!” and you’d be right – but when you’re staring down debt in the face and trying to fight to stay in your home, generic peanut butter sounds better than none at all, know what I mean?

But never mind all that – what about those of us designers who think that the incandescent lamp should be an available choice?  A lot of us feel that “banning” the incandescent lamp is a bit rash of a decision – including the IALD.  There is no good replacement product for them yet.  It’s a poor decision, in my very humble opinion – and the public still wants incandescent light.  Whether it’s cheaper, people prefer them over the cold and sometimes green light that CFLs bring into homes, or lighting designers want to have incandescent choices, incandescents are certainly popular.  But that’s like saying margarine is popular.

When the US Congress passed the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221), and the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act (H.R. 2776), lots and lots of people wrote, and I’m paraphrasing here:

Oh, lordy lordy, the incandescent lamp is so dead it’s mummified!  Viva la 2012!

*Ahem*

Other folks realized that these new standards that just got passed virtually make it so that no current incandescent lamp on the market would meet the standard requirements.  Seems like an obvious concern, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive or stupid with respect to this subject.  What we need is something that is way bright, gives us the color temperature we want, isn’t a zillion dollars per unit, and consumes as little electricity as possible.  What we have right now, in a feasible, sellable form, are incandescent lamps, which give off heat and consume lots of electricity; LED lamps, which have great color, output is improving, and consumption is ridiculously low with a long lamp life; and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) sources that can put off really terrible color, contain mercury, and are difficult to dispose of properly.  They also rock the consumption rate, but they have their problems.

Well, the bills passed by the Congress certainly put new standards to meet, that is no lie.  What this has done, as things always do when pushed to meet a deadline, is force companies to take the regular ol’ incandescent lamp and turn it into something that acts efficiently, people like, and is cost effective.  GE put out an improved version of the incandescent, the HEI – or High Efficieny Incandescent, which is lacking in title creativity but not good intentions.  Philips just put out an energy saving incandescent, the halogen Energy Saver line.  It’s 70 watts and emits the same amount of illumination as a 100 watt lamp.

Ok, that’s a start! However, at this new 70 watt efficiency, the CFL world is still consuming 75% less than it.

Scientists are starting to see growth in the really horrible (comparatively, of course) incandescent output of 15 lumens per watt – they’re up to twice that now.  There’s tough competition in the LED and CFL categories for consumption levels for incandescent lamps, but we’ve just started.  It is a real shame though that it took some competition to get a train of thought started on improving incandescent lamp efficiencies, isn’t it?

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Please post in the comments below!

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5

Ushio’s Synergy LED MR-16 Lamp

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Ushio is claiming that they have made the first truly usable LED MR-16 replacement product – the Synergy LED MR-16.  The Synergy product claims an 80% savings over halogen MR-16s, a 50,000 hour life – as well as being fully dimmable, cool, UV and IR free.  Those are some pretty big claims!  There are several beam angles to choose – basically from 12° to 50°, all with a 4W consumption.  Color temperatures for the series run between 3100 and 6500°K.

Gosh – can you imagine MR-16’s that you could actually handle without leaving an MR-16 burn tattoo on whatever touches the lamp?  It kinda makes me want to have a fleet of MR-16 Mini-Strips loaded with these LED MR-16 lamps for testing!  Check out the Ushio product page for the LED MR-16 replacement lamp.

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LEDTronics’ High Power PAR 20 Replacement Lamp

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LEDTronics out of Torrence, California has released a new LED PAR 20 replacement lamp for incandescent and halogen lamps.  The new source puts out close to 200 lumens at a little more than 5 watts and a tenth of an amp.  The LEDTronics LED PAR 20 gets about 38 lumens per watt, and provides light at 3,000°K.

What do you think of these numbers?  The LEDTronics product page has IES files and full data.

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Thanks, Flashlight News and LEDTronics!

A Big Post About Compact Fluorescents

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I’ve been collecting information about CFLs for a few months now, and I’ve kept from writing this post for some reason until now.  There is so much back and forth out there about compact fluorescents versus incandescents, compact fluorescents versus using halogens at a lower intensity via a dimmer, and the economy versus compact fluorescents.

There is a fact of life that impacts the sale of CFLs right now – Americans, as well as people all over the world, are freaking broke.  A dollar difference in a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk is a big deal when everything else is costing more.  We’re in a crapstorm, and when you’re dealing with a 3-4 times price increase between incandescent lamps and CFLs, what do you think people are going to buy?  Most people are not versed in looking towards the long-term benefits of anything; a good example is the fact that McDonalds is experiencing record growth and profits in this economic downturn.  Hmm.

There are some major factors that play into compact fluroescent market share – cost vs. cost savings, output quality, manufacturing quality, application, and yes, aesthetic preference.

Maybe it’s easiest to start out with the most subjective issue – aesthetic choice, and how most people feel about the light emitted by CFLs.  It’s not hard to find pretty harsh criticism on compact fluorescent lamps, all you have to do is look nearly any review of the matter.  A lot of people do not like the quality of light that comes from compact fluorescent sources.  Sometimes this is an understatement – some people downright hate CFL light.  A New York Times article on the subject of CFLs versus incandescents had some people quoted on their feelings towards CFLs:

My experience with the new bulbs has been dismal. The quality of the light is bad until they warm up. They cost 3 to 5 times as much as an incandescent, and if you have old-fashioned energy-saving habits like turning off the lights when you leave the room, they don’t last any longer than the tungsten bulbs (sometimes less). And they’re more difficult to dispose of properly because of the toxic content. Maybe L.E.D. lights will be better if the price can become reasonable.

And:

There’s a difference between a low-flow toilet (which, if it performs properly, shouldn’t be an obvious change) and light bulbs that make your entire family look like cadavers.

And my personal favorite, leaving my opinion out of it altogether:

The amount of whining and the unwillingness to make small sacrifices of aesthetic preference in order to support an effort to save the habitability of our planet is disgusting. No wonder this country is such a mess.

At least we know how people really feel – and it’s not hard to see what people mean about looking like corpses.  The fluorescent lighting does have a tendency to make people look pretty crappy.  I’m a lighting designer, so light quality is something that gets a lot of attention in our home.  However, we do use a lot of CFLs in our home, too – the cost savings do add up.  We use a compact fluorescent anywhere that is what we consider a “medium-use space” – the laundry room, the back porch, the front porch, the garage, and in lamps that get turned on infrequently – like the one in the room with our television and video games.  However, I use incandescents in the kitchen and in the dining room.  The kitchen gets a lot of use, but the dining room does not.  I just like to make the food I prepare look good.  Could I do this with a CFL, or a few CFLs?  Sure.  But I have some incandescents I like for their color temperature, light output, and quality, and they are four of very few incandescents still in the house.

Now to be fair, there are “cool white” and “warm white” CFLs.  As a a matter of fact, most CFLs have both the lumens and the color temperature stamped on the package somewhere, in most cases.  There are certainly some cheapos that are in packaging with as little info as possible, and these are usually pretty crappy quality CFLs.  It’s also a fact that a large portion of the population could give a damn about what any of those numbers on the box mean – as long as it screws in, turns on, and doesn’t burn out this month, they’re happy.  Buying the right color temperature for the right application and feel is a principle that is not lost on those of us who know light and its idiosyncrasies.  However, this is lost on most people.  Buying cold CFLs and putting them in the living room might just make your whole family look like dead people.  It’s not a terribly difficult to understand concept – incandescents (generally) are warm, towards the amber end of the color spectrum – like a face flushed from the first Scotch of the evening.  Compact fluorescents generally sit on the blue end of the spectrum, high color temperature, and seem to take the blood out of a person’s face.

The interesting aspect of the aesthetic argument is that tests have been done that suggest that people on average cannot tell the difference with modern CFLs and incandescents unless they see the actual lamp.

Looking at cost, CFLs range between about $1.75 and $5 each – and incandescent sources (except maybe the Reveal lamp) being around 25 cents at the cheapest and a dollar at the most.  Operating costs are just as dramatic of a difference, with an average of 70% savings over incandescents.  It’s hard for people to see this long term, but look at some numbers:

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There are efforts to ban the incandescent lamp all over the world.  I realize this is just to force the population to exhibit a little energy savings, but I personally hate the thought of not having incandescent sources at my disposal as a lighting designer.  I am all for energy savings and being good to Mother Earth.  However, there are certain applications where we just don’t have a comparable quality source.  This is a fact.  Companies are working on it, so we’ll see how that goes.

Manufacturing quality of CFLs is like anything else manufactured – there are some superior brands and types and some very, very bad brands and types.  Some have a lot of mercury, some have little mercury.  There are also a lot – a lot – of Energy Star rated CFLs that actually do not meet the standards.  A lot of CFLs failed 2008 standards – there are more than 3,000 CFLs that meet the 2003 Energy Star standards, but 1,100 of these lamps fail the 2008 standard.  It might also be noteworthy that the Department of Energy has given a grace period until July 1, 2009 for those companies whose products failed the 2008 standards to sell about 100 million lamps that haven’t sold because of the economy.  It might also be due to the poor quality of some of them, too.  But that’s just a guess.  A company called the Environmental Working Group has published this ridiculously long list of FAIL lamps.  The report from EWG lists CFLs that are stamped with the Energy Star logo, but failed 2008 standards.  How do you like that?  167 brands, give or take, failed.

I’d check out that list.  You’ll be surprised who is on it.

Now on the other side, there are CFLs who have a low mercury content and a high longevity.  Treehugger posted a “cream of the crop” list of CFLs:

  • Earthmate’s Mini-size bulbs-13, 15, 20 and 25 Watt
  • Litetronic’s Neolite-10, 15, 20, 23 Watt
  • Sylvania Micro-Mini-13, 20 and 23 Watt
  • Sylvania DURA-ONE-reflector bulbs
  • Feit EcoBulb
  • MaxLite
  • Philips with Alto lamp technology

Energy Star has a standard equivalent wattage chart:

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One of the big contentions of CFL haters is the mercury issue.  Mercury is a poison.  Mercury poisoning doesn’t sound like anything I want to take part in at all, nor do I want anyone else to have it.  I’ve read stories about a woman breaking a CFL in her home and acquiring a $2000 clean up bill.  Why that happened, I do not know – but clean up experts say that hazard removal services aren’t required for breaking a lamp in your house.  I wouldn’t be freebasing the broken lamp or sucking on the broken tube, but you probably don’t need five guys in full hazmat gear trapsing through your house, either.

There are some guidelines for cleaning up a broken CFL.  You should take a few precautions, you know, to be safe.  Most of these are common sense:

  1. get children and your newborn baby out of the immediate area of the broken lamp.
  2. air out the room for 5-10 minutes, if possible.
  3. put on some gloves and a mask to clean up the broken lamp.
  4. put the pieces in a glass jar of plastic container, and seal it all up.
  5. wipe up the floor and clean your hands and such.
  6. recycle, don’t throw away, the busted CFL.

Seems pretty painless, maybe inonvenient.  It is a pain to dispose of CFLs, but don’t toss them in the garbage.  Take a few moments, find the recycling program for CFLs near you, and take them there.  If you don’t have time to take them there, seal them up in the garage or other out-of-the-way place and wait until you can.

Nothing is without its negative aspects.  Take tiramisu for example.  Delicious, but it makes my ass big.

Thanks to the EWG, Treehugger, EcoGeek, and NYT!

Old Halogen Torchiere Conversion to Compact Fluorescents

It’s not like these things have disappeared, but do you have any of those halogen torchieres hanging out in your house?  For some reason when I was single, I always had three or four of these things hanging out.  The light is indirect, it creates a soft glow in your house, and they’re usually fairly bright – the halogen lamp inside is typically a couple hundred watts, maybe three hundred.  The bummer of these fixtures – besides the power consumption of the halogen, is that if you knock one over, you might catch something on fire as it shatters, even with the guard in place atop the lamp.

Instructables user “bben46″ has posted an Instructable about converting one of these fixtures from halogen to two compact fluorescent lamps, for under ten bucks’ worth of parts, and with an energy cost savings of $260 using both lamps.

Check it out – Bben46’s Halogen Torchiere Retrofit to CFL on Instructables.

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Thanks, Make and Instructables!

CFLs or Dimmed Halogen Lamps?

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Dimmer maker Lutron says that by dimming a halogen lamp by 30% will give you many of the same benefits as using a compact fluorescent lamp.  Lutron also says that a 3,000 hour halogen lamp will last 12,000 hours when dimmed by that 30%.

What do you think? I know that I love incandescent light – CFL light quality often tends to be sickly, and often isn’t very flattering.  Now it is getting a little better, but in my designer eyes incandescent light still renders better.  It’s also free of mercury, and I can recycle it easier.  However, CFLs do have a lot less heat exchange, and are a bit safer, especially when my cat knocks them over.  Over a longer period of time, you’re going to save more money using compact fluorescents – but it is undenyable that halogen/incandescent light looks better – at least right now.

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Thanks, DVICE and Lutron!