I’ll get to the energy and lighting revolution in just a bit – first a little about the weather today and for the upcoming weekend. Some light snow showers are possible yet during the afternoon today. A few spots could end up with a dusting up to a half inch. After the weak storm system moves through it looks like another blast of cold and wind for tonight and tomorrow. High temps on Thursday and Friday will struggle to reach 20 degrees. The next storm on the horizon should arrive Saturday night and continue through the Midwest on Sunday. If it tracks through Wisconsin, it could be our biggest snowstorm of the season so far. A couple inches or more is not out of the question. We will keep a close eye on the evolution of this storm and provide updates over the next couple of days.
As you know, I have been following the alternative energy and efficiency story for many years now and one product in particular that I have been anxiously awaiting is an LED lightbulb that screws into a regular light socket. It appears the era of LED lighting is upon us. Last week I posted pictures of a prototype LED bulb from Polybrite International. It is projected to be in major retail outlets early next year. It works and it works well. Not only that, it has many advantages over other types of lighting. There are so many I have to create a list:
1. It uses much less energy than compact fluorescent (CF) or incandescent (IC) bulbs.
2. It lasts much longer than CF or IC bulbs. Typically over 50,000 hours – which if you use it in normal household operation would mean more than 10 years.
3. It operates at all environmental temperature ranges. From over a hundred to 40 below.
4. It doesn’t get hot (anyway, the Polybrite bulb doesn’t)
5. It is environmentally friendly. CF bulbs contain small amounts of mercury and other heavy metals. The Polybrite bulbs does not contain any toxins.
6. Specific to the Polybrite bulb – it degrades naturally. According the the inventor of the bulb, if you bury it underground, the bulb would dissolve/degrade in 5 to 7 years.
7. LEDs typically don’t burn out. After their stated lifetime (50,000 hours) the bulbs slowly get dimmer.
8. Most LEDs (and the Polybrite bulb) are sturdy and not prone to breaking. The bulb I tested is made of plastic, so you could drop it on the ground without glass shattering all over the place.
9. They come in many colors. The bulb I tested was bright white, but they come in soft white, warm white, yellow, etc…
1. LED bulbs cannot be used with a dimmer switch. This is a capability that might be developed in the near future.
2. Cost. I heard rumors that the Polybrite LED bulb would retail between $10 and $15. That is 2 to 3 times more than CF bulbs and almost 20 times more than IC bulbs. However, the LED bulb is easily worth the purchase considering how long it will last and how little energy it uses. You will earn your money back in savings in no time.
I was lucky enough to interview the CEO and President of Polybrite International Carl Scianna yesterday. He is also the inventor of the bulb. Here is the interview:
Here is a little demo of the bulb I conducted on the morning show:
I titled this "A True Revolution in Lighting" because it is the truth. There has been a big focus on energy efficiency and compact fluorescent bulbs over the last couple of years but the LED bulbs represent a quantum leap forward over and above what can be achieved with CF bulbs. I kind-of feel sorry for all the companies that ramped up production of CF bulbs with the intention of selling them for many years down the road. If people find out about LED bulbs and mass production brings the price down, it won’t be long (a year or two) before most other lighting is left behind. It is a win for the consumer and a win for energy efficiency and the environment.
While I am on the topic of energy, Google has announced and initiative to go ‘green’. They want to invest in alternative energy and eventually bring the cost of solar, wind, and geothermal down to and below the price of coal – within the next decade! I think it can be done and Google has a good chance of doing it (along with many other companies working on alternative energy).
Another piece of good news when it comes to alternative energy: A new hybrid battery has been developed that will allow electricity to be stored and used more efficiently and used for a wide range of loads. One achilles heel of wind and solar has been the storage of electricity during times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Now that piece of the puzzle is falling into place.
Lastly, how about a nice greeting from the second graders at Lincoln Elementary school in Wausau:
I am off on vacation for the next couple of days so see you back here on Monday. Please feel free to comment or ask questions about anything in the blog, such as the LED bulb. Go Packers! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
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This post was written by jloew on November 28, 2007