Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New go-to resource for lighting info in town

I've blogged occasionally about lighting in the past, as I have a good deal of interest in the subject and in seeing better, and more efficient, lighting used.  (Yes, it is possible to be in favor of efficient lighting while simultaneously thinking that portions of the environmental movement are over the top, and also occasionally hypocritical.)

However, with the addition of a blog to the Four Point Lighting Design website, local (Austin) lighting designer Deborah Frankhouser has, in this blogger's opinion, become the go-to resource for lighting information you need to know, presented in a way that people who are not lighting designers can understand it.  Her blog is worth a read for anyone interested in lighting their home, office, patio, or whatever else.

Take, for example, one of Ms. Frankhouser's latest posts, "Outlaw Lamps!!!"  This, as I told her, is the best explanation of the current state of what laypeople (not lighting designers) call "light bulbs" but lighting designers call "lamps" that I have ever seen.  In it, she discusses the fact that lamp wattages have dropped in order to meet efficacy requirements.  While this still allows consumers, at least for now, to pick up their standard "light bulb" at pretty much every store everywhere, things will get even more stringent, thanks to tightening government regulations:

One of the things that the Lege did was give the Dept. of Energy a great deal of power to continue to ramp up efficiencies and requirements and every time they do that, things get harder.  In addition,  manufacturers are no longer placing any R&D money into improving the incandescent Argon based or the standard Halogen lamp.  All money is going into LED.  Eventually, incandescent lamps of all types simply won't meet requirements and we will have to turn to a different alternative.  The lamp manufacturers are banking on LED and there is a HUGE incentive push by the DOE to develop LED technology for general service applications.  

Now, I firmly believe that in five years, LED will be the mainstream light source.  It has the potential to produce a better quality light than the compact fluorescent spiral-type lamps that people either love or hate now, and unlike spiral lamps, you don't have to worry about some sort of environmental disaster just waiting to happen, as it did in our house when one of the kids got rowdy and managed to take out a table lamp (or "light fixture", as they call it in the lighting world), breaking the spiral lamp in the process.  (Don't tell the EPA, but I picked the pieces up in a paper towel and tossed them.  CFL spiral lamps have a lot less mercury in them than the fish you probably consumed the last time you went to Red Lobster.)

Continuing with the topic of LED lamps, Ms. Frankhouser explains the different types you can buy these days, in the process answering the question of why there are some people who think LED is a lousy light source...that would be because they bought a lousy grade LED light, and for those people, I'll simply point out that "you get what you pay for" is an axiom for a reason.

But given that the quality LED lamps are still rather cost-prohibitive, at least for now, what is Ms. Frankhouser's recommendation?  That would be halogen lamps.  They produce excellent quality light, and they're dimmable.  (Just watch out for the cost and the heat they generate.)

Again, if lighting interests you at all, or if someone's about to force spiral lamps on you and you want some rebutting information, the whole article is worth a read.

(Disclaimer:  Yes, the author knows Deborah Frankhouser.  That doesn't take away anything from her substantial lighting knowledge.  So read the thing already.)