Friday, November 18, 2011

Panasonic Creates an LED with Amazing Similarities to Incandescent... Even the Look

CFL Bulb.jpg
As a member of the Eco-Dentstry Association's Advisory Board, I'm concerned about the well being of our planet and what we're going to leave for our kids.  Over the past few years I've begun to become more and more concerned about that issue and I'm trying to do all I can to help make our world a better place when possible.
To that end, today's post is a geeky one (big surprise there, I'm sure), but this is a topic that can affect not only a dental office, but your home as well.  So even if you are reading this blog, not as anyone involved in any aspect of health care, but you're just here because you re a geek, read on because I think there is something in this post for everyone.
Now we all know a few years ago we began to see a push to move away from the traditional incandescent bulb.  The reason was a simple one.  ICB's are pretty inefficient when it comes to utilizing electricity.  The ICB that we are all familiar with use electricity that is passed through a metal filament.  As the current passes through this filament (thin wire), it heats up until it glows.  This glow is what we call "light".  The bad news is that this "light" is a byproduct of the resistance of the current passing through the filament.  As I said before, the current passes thought the filament until it generates enough heat to make the filament glow.  What this means is that while the ICB does generate light, that light is a small byproduct of the heat.
Most ICBs are terribly inefficient using only 10% of the energy to generate light.  The remaining 90% is given off as heat to the surrounding environment.  This heat causes air conditioners to work harder which, in turn, creates more demand on the power grid.
Because of this inefficiency of the ICB, there was a push to move to a type of bulb that utilized fluorescent technology (pictured above).  These bulbs are called "Compact Fluorescent Lamps" or CFLs for short.  These bulbs are very bright, very energy efficient, and operate at a much cooler temperature.  They tend to use 3-4 times less power than ICBs and last 8-15 times longer.  When one considers those numbers, it's easy to see why there was a push to move away from ICBs and toward CFLs.  However, CFLs were not without their drawbacks.  They tend not to have as "pure" a light at ICBs with many people stating they look "yellow" to them.  They also do not come on at full strength when in a cold environment.  The tubes are filled with a gas that must warm before full illumination can occur.  This means that when first turning them on in a room that is cold (or outside in winter) it may take several minutes for the bulb to reach full brightness.
However, those drawbacks were minor compared to the fact that fluorescent lights, including CFLs, contain mercury.  This means that while they help save the environment with energy usage, they are much more expensive to dispose of properly.  Mainly because of this, there has now been a movement to discontinue or decrease the use of CFLs.
So.. what do we do?  Read on!
Panasonic Edison LED.jpeg
To the rescue comes the LED.  For those of you who have been to one of my lectures, you've probably heard about my love affair with the LED.  They are amazingly energy efficient, instant on, last for years, and are easy to dispose of.  The photo above is a bulb from Panasonic that just won a Good Design Award.  The "bulb" is actually an LED but it looks and acts very much like a traditional ICB.  This particular model is said to last 40 years before needing replacement and it will operate at a minimal cost.  It is not on the market... yet.  However with the looks and efficiency it's only a matter of time before Panasonic or another electronics manufacturer steps up and begins to mass produce something like this.
When they do, I'll be at the front of the line.  This type of product will make the world a better place for our children and after all isnt' that what it's really all about???
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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