Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ghostly Glow:

I hope the world's not rushing too fast to replace standard light bulbs by compact fluorescents. Aside from the mercury issue (disposing of the mercury in hundreds of millions of CFB's is not trivial), the world has to change to accommodate these new bulbs. Unless, that is, the world truly has to change to accommodate LED lights, or to accommodate some other technology to be named later. Here's a case in point:

We just bought a new lampshade for the nicest lamp in our house. We choose a thin, light-bearing shade with plenty of style. The previous shade was falling apart from the inside. The store lady told us the problem was that we were using hot bulbs (the lamp takes 50-100-150 bulbs), and she suggested we keep the wattage down to 100. No problem! I put a 36Watt CFB in the lamp, the equivalent of about 120 watts in standard. (I don't think there are multi-wattage CFBs. You can't "dim" them either.) Now let's face it: there may be an equivalence in Lumens, but the CFB light is just different, and some bulbs are better than others. (My favorites, for brightness, are the expensive CFBs that are color-balanced for daylight. I wouldn't want to pay to buy a lot of them.)

Today's real issue is that the CFB clashes with a hundred years of lampshade technology. A lampshade can look beautiful and transmit a lot of light. Not necessarily CFB light. In the daytime, our beautiful lamp with its new shade gives off a barely visible, eerie glow. At night. It gives off a stronger eerie glow. How many year will it take to develop nice lampshades for CFBs?
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