Green Lighting’s Rich Pageant: Hoarders, LEDs and New York’s Lighting District

As 2012 nears, there has been a torrent of media reports about light bulb hoarders snatching up every old-school incandescent not already screwed into a socket. That’s because, in January, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will have to become about one-third more energy efficient, followed in succeeding years by similar standards for 60- and 40-watt bulbs. Incandescent bulbs won’t be “banned” but try telling that to these latter-day cousins of those who clung to their rabbit ears in 2009 even as television stations switched to digital.

The two groups share the belief that technological progress has gone into reverse and instead of making our lives better, it will now make them steadily worse. The defenders of Edison argue that compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, the technology poised to take over, are full of toxic mercury (in reality, there are only trace amounts) and radiate cold light. They further argue superefficient light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are too expensive for widespread adoption. It’s a feeling that spans the political spectrum, uniting Michele Bachmann and The Village Voice. (For an informed back on forth on incandescent hoarding, check out this thread on Candle Power Forums.)

Fortunately for the Edison brigade, they can do something about it.

The wonders of the lighting district. Copyright Chris New/Txchnologist

Seeking some of these hoarders or some intelligent discussion on the topic, I went to Manhattan’s lighting district – a delightfully retrograde assemblage of retailers on Bowery bordering Chinatown with display windows packed with custom crystal chandeliers, garish rainbow lamps and the nostalgic “Edison bulbs” with their long, skinny filaments.

At B.P. Lighting & Furniture, salesman Joe Louis brushed aside my questions about light bulb hoarders seeking incandescents.

“Right now, people are crazy about the LEDs,” said Louis, who insisted that was his real name. “Maybe in 10 years, you change one bulb.”

Next door, at Lendy Electric Equipment and Supply, I found a hoarder, of sorts: Tim, a general contractor who does installations for artists and galleries and didn’t want to divulge his full name for fear of offending his clients. For obvious reasons, his clients are particular about the kind of light they shine on their works. They demand incandescent bulbs for their sunlit quality, but they’re increasingly hard to find.

“Six months ago,” said Tim, “I came up Bowery looking for 120-watt incandescent lamps. But people have already migrated away from incandescents.”

He eventually found several dozen of the 120-watt bulbs he was looking for, even though he may have squeezed every last one out of the district. Increasingly, he will use halogen lights for his clients.

The new face of light? Copyright Chris New/Txchnologist

Tim also disliked CFLs for their uneven light and fretted over their mercury content. The way he explained it, people are resistant because they don’t like CFLs.

But it turned out that he, too, is drawn to LEDs, which use about 20 watts to generate the same light as a 100-watt incandescent and can last for tens of thousands of hours compared with an incandescent bulb’s hundreds.

CFLs will ultimately prove to be a technology that can be skipped, he said.

“It’s like Africans will cell phones,” Tim said, noting the continent’s widespread adoption of mobile technology without ever embracing landlines.

“People will leapfrog,” a clerk behind the counter added approvingly.

In any case, there will be no need to hoard light bulbs.

Source: TXCHNOLOGIST  OCTOBER 6TH, 2011 BY MATTHEW VAN DUSEN

Written by greenlivingguy

The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from: # Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions) # Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman # Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel # Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky # Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley # Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke # Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley # Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea # and more green living books to follow.