A Thousand Points of Light

I don’t comment on politics much, although I express my libetarian leanings on the “About” page.  I want to briefly put a view out there about energy policy.  For the most part, the US doesn’t have one.  It relies on market forces to determine price: although taxation, transportation subsidies, infrastructure spending, and general pork barrel allotments seem to favor cars and SUVs.

One area where the government does appear to have taken an overt stand is with lighting.  Based on the premise that florescent lights are more efficient than incandescent, there are subsidies available to promote the production and marketting of compact florescents; and there will soon be requirements to phase out incandescents altogether. 

This has created somewhat of a firestorm.  On the right, people are complaining that the government shouldn’t mandate what type of lightbulbs we use; and on the left people are complaining about the care and disposal of the trace mercury that goes into producing the new bulbs.  For the record, we have about half a dozen CF bulbs in our house.  We would have more, but many of our lamps are either decorative, like the ceiling fan fixtures, or they are on dimmers.

But the point is that my quest for a bike lamp has enlightened me to current advances in technology, and it seems that florescents are ancient history.  With bikes, the almighty halogen is a dinosaur, quickly being replaced by LEDs.  Yes, there are still issues like heat disapation and cost; but tremendous strides have occured in just the last year.

I’ve pretty much decided to go with a self contained LED unit because of the advances in both light and batteries; but I’ve also been told that I should wait until this fall, because that’s when the “really good” LED lights will be coming out.  I have to admit, it seems a new threshold is surpassed every other month, similar to how it used to be with computer processors.  I would venture to guess that I’ll hear the same comment this fall…”wait until next spring because…”

So here is my point.  Without the help of subsidies, it sure looks like LED technology has already surpassed florescents as a viable domestic light source.  Yes, there may be issues with line voltage and heat and initial cost; but the lumen per dollar ratio is quickly catching up, and we haven’t even begun to talk about lifespan.  I predict that we’ll soon have luminescent paint that will adjust its light output based on or entry into a room, and/or controlled by a handheld remote that interfaces with a PC driven control center.  All without government intervention.  In the meantime, my tax dollars are paying to deploy a technology that is already outdated.

We need to step back, because there is no way that government can stay abreast of technology.  The implementation of a specific policy usually results in a diametrically opposite effect than the one intended.

The next time I buy a light fixture, I wouldn’t be surprised to find its made by Cree, Dinotte, or Busch and Muller.

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One response to “A Thousand Points of Light

  1. Here’s a link which is fresh off a new post on one of my favorite blogs of late, velorution.biz in London. http://www.doocey.net/moultonbuzz/?p=101 I haven’t seriously considered professional lighting systems, but it sounds like you are on the right track.

    On the subject of government stepping back from technology, my friend from work who lives in Frederick, Md told me about a program Allegheny Power rolled out where they mailed people compact fluorescent bulbs as an ‘energy saving initiative’. Then they quietly posted a small surcharge on their bill so customers would in effect be paying retail + for them. http://www.gazette.net/stories/030608/busiflo53840_32356.shtml
    Sure, it’s business this time, but everybody’s at it…

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