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June 4, 2010

A light bulb moment

Do we have the American Thomas Edison to thank for inventing the light bulb, or British inventor Frederick DeMoleyns, who patented a similar bulb 40 years earlier? To be fair, while many before him had developed incandescent bulbs, it was Edison

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Do we have the American Thomas Edison to thank for inventing the light bulb, or British inventor Frederick DeMoleyns, who patented a similar bulb 40 years earlier?

To be fair, while many before him had developed incandescent bulbs, it was Edison and his team who perfected them. By today’s standards, however, the incandescent light bulb is far from perfect. Ninety per cent of the power used by a traditional light bulb is turned into heat, not light. With the paucity of energy today, it really is time that Edison’s creations are switched off for good.

That’s why the UK is phasing out traditional light bulbs in favour of more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by 2011, while the US is phasing them out by 2014 – perhaps giving them an extra few years in Edison’s honour.

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But CFLs are already looking dated. Light emitting diode (LED) lamps are the next generation, clustering up to several hundred tiny LEDs behind a diffuser to give light-bulb-like performance but using one third of the energy of CFLs, and with none of their hazardous mercury content. They’re 80 per cent more efficient than Edison’s babies.

LED lamps are currently expensive to purchase, but their astonishing efficiency means they’re guaranteed to save money. Best of all, with the latest LED bulbs having an average life expectancy of a whopping 25,000 hours, once you’ve switched to LED bulbs you may rarely have to change a light bulb again.

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