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Happy Birthday, Edison’s Light Bulb!

Hey, is that a personified version of Thomas Edison’s commercialized incandescent lamp?  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Edison’s commercialized tungsten incandescent lamp!

Technically, Edison’s patent was filed the following January 27 of 1880, but today in 1879 Edison got 13 hours and 32 minutes out of his lamp’s tests and experiments.  Regardless of Edison’s politics and behavior, you have to give it to him that he put the drive into inventing something that has revolutionized our lives.  One of my favorite quotes ever is Edison’s quote about his development of the incandescent lamp.  When a reporter asked Edison about the failures in experimentation in the process of inventing the lamp, he said “No!  I didn’t fail.  I found 1000 ways to not invent an incandescent light bulb.

It’s rumored that Edison’s incandescent lamp cost about $852,000 in today’s market to develop – about $40,000 in the late 1870’s.

I also found this great list of important relevant dates (years) in the timeline of the incandescent lamp!

1850:  Joseph W. Swan began working on a light bulb using carbonized paper filaments
1860:  Swan obtained a UK patent covering a partial vacuum, carbon filament incandescent lamp
1877:  Edward Weston forms Weston Dynamo Machine Company, in Newark, New Jersey.
1878:  Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Company
1878:  Hiram Maxim founded the United States Electric Lighting Company
1878:  205,144 William Sawyer and Albon Man 6/18 for Improvements in Electric Lamps
1878:  Swan receives a UK patent for an improved incandescent lamp in a vacuum tube
1879:  Swan began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England.
1880:  223,898 Thomas Edison 1/27 for Electric Lamp and Manufacturing Process
1880:  230,309 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Process of Manufacturing Carbon Conductors
1880:  230,310 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Electrical Lamp
1880:  230,953 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Electrical Lamp
1880:  233,445 Joseph Swan 10/19 for Electric Lamp
1880:  234,345 Joseph Swan 11/9 for Electric Lamp
1880:  Weston Dynamo Machine Company renamed Weston Electric Lighting Company
1880:  Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston form American Electric Company
1880:  Charles F. Brush forms the Brush Electric Company
1881:  Joseph W. Swan founded the Swan Electric Light Company
1881:  237,198 Hiram Maxim 2/1 for Electrical Lamp assigned to U.S. Electric Lighting Company
1881:  238,868 Thomas Edison 3/15 for Manufacture of Carbons for Incandescent Lamps
1881:  247,097 Joseph Nichols and Lewis Latimer 9/13 for Electric Lamp
1881:  251, 540 Thomas Edison 12/27 for Bamboo Carbons Filament for Incandescent Lamps
1882:  252,386 Lewis Latimer 1/17 for Process of Manufacturing Carbons assigned to U.S. E. L. Co.
1882:  Edison’s UK operation merged with Swan to form the Edison & Swan United Co. or “Edi-swan”
1882:  Joesph Swan sold his United States patent rights to the Brush Electric Company
1883:  American Electric Company renamed Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1884:  Sawyer & Man Electric Co formed by Albon Man a year after William Edward Sawyer death
1886:  George Westinghouse formed the Westinghouse Electric Company
1886:  The National Carbon Co. was founded by the then Brush Electric Co. executive W. H. Lawrence
1888:  United States Electric Lighting Co. was purchased by Westinghouse Electric Company
1886:  Sawyer & Man Electric Co. was purchased by Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1889:  Brush Electric Company merged into the Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1889:  Edison Electric Light Company consolidated and renamed Edison General Electric Company.
1890:  Edison, Thomson-Houston, and Westinghouse, the “Big 3″ of the American lighting industry.
1892:  Edison Electric Light Co. and Thomson-Houston Electric Co. created General Electric Co.

Ah, the lamp.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Edison’s commercialized incandescent lamp!  Isn’t it funny that I’m flying out to Las Vegas for LDI today of all days?

Thanks Wired, Distributed Energy, Idea Finder, and Wikipedia!

Happy Birthday, Heinrich Göbel!

Is that – no way – it’s Heinrich Göbel!  (Dude, who invited this guy?)  Happy Birthday, Heinrich!

He looks like the kind of guy who should be in movies with Emilio Estevez and Lou Diamond Phillips about the Old West.  This guy though, Heinrich Göbel (April 20, 1818 – December 4, 1893), is significant in the history of lighting, and maybe more specifically, lighting manufacturing.  You see, Heinrich here claimed to have invented the electric light bulb too, right along with Swan and Edison.  Of course, like others, Heinrich claimed that he was actually the one who invented the lamp for the first time.

The US Patent office kind of discounted everything that Heinrich said about the patent “violation” that he claimed, and at one point Heinrich even recreated the tools used to make his lamp.  Still, no one bought it.  Since the Patent courts don’t allow witnesses as proof of invention, Heinie’s stuff pretty much got tossed out.  From Wikipedia:

Judge Colt explained how he ruled based on probabilities:

“It is extremely improbable that Henry Göbel constructed a practical incandescent lamp in 1854. This is manifest from the history of the art for the past fifty years, the electrical laws which since that time have been discovered as applicable to the incandescent lamp, the imperfect means which then existed for obtaining a vacuum, the high degree of skill necessary in the construction of all its parts, and the crude instruments with which Göbel worked.”

Well, so much for that.  Unfortunately for Heinrich, he died about two months after all of that litigation took place.

Check out Heinrich Göbel’s lamp, and the US Patent below:

Crazy.  Happy Birthday though, Heinrich!

Thanks, Wikipedia and Technik Atlas!

Panasonic Says 19 Years on Their EverLED Lamp

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Stories of Panasonic’s new EverLED lamp are making their way around the intarwebs in the last week – in October (the 21st to be specific), Japan will see the release of Panasonic’s new line of household LED incandescent replacement lamps.  Panasonic is selling this new LED source as one that will last 19 years if used an average of about five and a half hours a day.  One one hand, awesome!  On the other, will there be a department to substantiate fraud claims if this doesn’t work?  And how on earth have they tested this claim?  I’m no rocket surgeon, but is this all based on mathematical estimate?

First, what does an average of five hours a day equal?  It means about 40,000 lamp hours.  Take that how you will.  40,000 hours is 40,000 hours no matter how you spin it.  But – when you claim 19 years on an average of five and a half hours a day, what happens when you run the lamp constantly for 500 hour stints at a time – or even 72 hour runs on average?

Don’t worry, I’m not poo-pooing Panasonic’s EverLED lamp.  I’m actually excited to see it in action.  We’re testing one of EternaLEDs’ HydraLux-4s in our apartment for testing, and it’s doing great, and provides a good light.  I’m a lighting designer – I am critical AND loving!

The Panasonic EverLED has some interesting efficacy numbers – keep in mind that these numbers are without a luminaire – just the lamp on its own:

  • The LDa7D-A1 model, equal in output to a 40W incandescent, has an efficacy of 82.6 lm/W
  • The LDA4D-A1 model, equal in output to a 30W incandescent, has an efficacy of 85 lm/W

These numbers are very good – they basically make the EverLED models about 40 times more efficient than an incandescent lamp (a rough number is about 12 lm/W for a 40W incandescent).  But what do you think the number one issue keeping consumers away from LED lamps is currently?

If you guessed price, you’re right on the money.  The EverLED is going to cost about $40 bucks (or 4,000 yen), and at this time is only available in Japan.  Similar LED lamps are upwards of the same price range.  When you can buy a pack of incandescent lamps for under two dollars, what’s giving the low-income families incentive to buy something that costs the same as a tank of gas?

Check out some images, and the press release from CompoundSemi:

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everled3

everled2

From CompoundSemi:

September 10, 2009… Osaka, Japan–Panasonic Corporation, a leader in electronics technology and innovation, today unveiled bulb-shaped LED (light-emitting diode) lamps, the latest addition to its EVERLEDS LED lighting products. The new line-up consisting of eight types of bulbs offers the industry’s most energy-efficient(1), lightest(2) and smallest LED bulbs(3). They also include the industry’s first compact type LED bulbs(4) and dimmable lamps. By offering a variety of energy-saving, long-lasting, environmentally-friendly LED lamps, Panasonic encourages consumers to replace traditional incandescent lamps to address climate-change issues.

The new line-up includes 4.0 W (LDA4L-A1 and LDA4D-A1), 6.9 W (LDA7L-A1 and LDA7D-A1) and 7.6 W (LDA8L-A1/D and LDA8D-A1/D) standard type (E26 base) LED bulbs and 5.5 W (LDA6L-E17-A1/D and LDA6D-E17-A1/D) compact type (E17 base) LED bulbs. Available in “Daylight” and warm “Lamp” colors, they will go on sale in Japan on October 21.

The new products use Panasonic’s own heat dissipation technology to increase the bulb’s energy-efficiency. Generally speaking, LED’s luminous efficiency increases as temperature decreases. So it is important to lower and optimize the temperature of an LED package to achieve higher luminous efficiency. By applying alumite treatment to the surface, Panasonic successfully increased heat dissipation to lower the temperate of the LED package.

Combining this technology with the design which tightly joins the LED package and the casing, the company has achieved the industry’s highest energy efficiency in LED bulbs(1).

Also, when used as a downlight, the 6.9 W standard type LED bulbs deliver the brightness equivalent to 60 W incandescent bulbs5). That means it can save up to 2,000 yen per year on energy bills. The 4.0 W standard and 5.5 W compact LED bulbs produce the output comparable to 40 W incandescents and the 7.6 W standard LED bulbs have the brightness of 60 W incandescents when used as a downlight(6).

Panasonic also made the new LED bulbs the lightest2) in the industry by making the casing thinner and reducing the amount of aluminum used in the product. The standard size E26 base bulb weighs only 100 g and the compact size E17 base bulb weighs 50 g.

Further, Panasonic employed its own thermal analysis technology to optimize the heat dissipating configuration (heat sink) to create the most compact E26 base LED bulbs in terms of length and outer diameter. The new LED lamps, including the industry’s first E17 base LED bulbs, will easily fit into existing fixtures with which other replacement bulbs did not physically match.

The E26 base LED bulbs have a long lifespan of up to 40,000 hours. That means they last for about 19 years when used for 5.5 hours a day. The E17 base LED bulbs have about 20,000 hour life span. The new LED bulbs also feature a durable glass globe using glass manufacturing technology Panasonic accumulated over the years. They emit virtually no UV or IR radiation. The 7.6 W standard type and the 5.5 W compact type LED bulbs are dimmable from 10 percent to 100 percent.

Notes:

(1) The standard type LDA7D-A1 LED bulb, which produces the brightness equivalent to a 40 W incandescent lamp when used without fixtures, has luminous efficiency of 82.6 lm/W and standard type LDA4D-A1 LED bulb, which produces the brightness equivalent to a 30 W incandescent lamp when used without fixtures, has luminous efficiency of 85.0 lm/w, as of September 10, 2009.

(2) As a standard type LED bulb, as of September 10, 2009.
(3) In terms of length and outer diameter.
(4) As a compact type LED bulb (E17 base) which produces the brightness equivalent to a 25 W mini-krypton when used without fixtures.
(5) Direct lighting when used with the LB72630Z fixture by Panasonic Electric Works (PEW).
(6) Direct lighting when used with PEW’s LB72106 (4.0 W LED bulb), LB72630Z (7.6 W LED bulb) and LB74059 (5.5 W LED bulb) fixtures.

Thanks to CNet, Inhabitat, and CompoundSemi!

Sharp Says “Here World, Have Nine Models of LED A-Lamps”

Electronics manufacturer Sharp has released a series of nine LED A-type lamps for the world to chew on – color temperatures from warm white to daylight (so that’s eight of the models) and a revolutionary color-changing remote controlled lamp that is controllable from warm white to daylight.

That’s pretty cool – my first question is obviously output, and Sharp has the daylight white model at around 560 lumens.  If you compare that to a 60w incandescent at 850 lumens it’s 35% less output, but it’s also got a lifetime of 40,000 hours (about 40 times the lifespan of an incandescent) and uses a minute fraction of the power.

Cost is obviously a factor, right?  The fixed color temperature sources are retailing around the $40 dollar mark ($42-$44) and the color changing model runs around $82 bucks.  Now theoretically if you were to use this six hours a day each day of the week, every week for a year, you’d use 2016 hours of the lamp’s life.  If you divide that into 40,000 hours of lamplife, this lamp will last you about 20 years.  If you compare power consumption costs with a 60w incandescent, there’s a clear winner, the LED source at 112 lumens per watt compared to the incandescent efficacy of around 14 lumens per watt.

Well, we will see, won’t we?  I do love these innovations!

About the adjustable color temperature and intensity source – from the press release from Sharp:

The model DL-L60AV LED Lamp features an Adjustable Color Function that enables users to change the color of the white light emitted from the lamp using an accessory remote control, an industry first for an LED lamp*1. Users can select from seven different shades of white ranging from a pleasing warm white to a cooler daylight white to match the weather, the season, time of day, purpose, or other preferences. This model also features a built-in Dimmer Function to adjust brightness. Together, these features allow users to select the illumination they like best to complement a diverse range of interior settings by using a single remote control to change the color and brightness of the light.

In addition, the model DL-L601N LED Lamp delivers a brightness of 560 lumens, among the highest in the industry for LED lamps*1 having nearly the same size and shape as ordinary incandescent lamps.

Check out some images:

sharp led

sharp led a lamp

led-lightbulb-tunable-color-japan03

Thanks Treehugger and DVICE!

A Big Post About Compact Fluorescents

cfl

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:

comparison

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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:

energystar_cfl_lightoutput_equival_chart

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!