Although compact fluorescent bulbs have migrated solidly into the mainstream, they are not without controversy. Although significantly more efficient and longer-lasting than their incandescent equivalents, they do contain trace amounts of mercury, which have brought them under criticism by environmentalists and climate skeptics alike.
The "next big thing" has been LED lightbulbs, but until recently, it seemed it would be many years in the future until they became commercially viable for the majority of consumers.
But a breakthrough at Cambridge University in the U.K., led by Professor Colin Humphreys, may finally bring LED bulbs into the mainstream. The most significant breakthrough was the medium in which the LEDs themselves are made from gallium nitride on silicon wafers, rather than the more commonplace (and much more expensive) sapphire wafers. More...
The researchers claim a bulb made from these new LEDs would only cost about $3.00, putting it in price parity with most CFLs on the market today. It would have a 100,000 hour lifespan (nearly 12 years if left on continuously).
Sure, if you're really determined, you can buy an LED screw-base light bulb today, but you'll pay anywhere from $40-100.
As an aside, I also found an interview online with Professor Humphreys from a few years ago, and found out that he's a Christian! Who says you can't be on the cutting edge of science and innovation and be a believer?
Already there's chatter against LEDs because they don't fit into our current, frequent-replacement consumeristic mentality. Certainly, the increased longevity and lower replacement frequency will have to be factored into the overall business plan. But even at $5-7, I would be more than willing to give them a shot. Even at $10, I would be willing to buy a few to try out at home.
What do you think? Are LEDs the next consumer lighting revolution, or still a ways off on the horizon before becoming a reality?
Behind the Orange Curtain, Left Coast, United States
I grew up in the liberal hotbed of the San Francisco Bay Area and currently reside in the Left Coast conservative enclave of Orange County.
I hold a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in communications, both from universities in the South. I enjoy Korean BBQ as well as Southern BBQ. I'm more conservative than Republican, more libertarian than liberal.