The Future of Light Sources…What's on the Horizon?

Warm colored LED and CFL sources are being seen more and more in California bathrooms and kitchens due to California's Title 24 requirements.

Warm colored LED and CFL sources are being seen more and more in California bathrooms and kitchens due to California's Title 24 requirements.

The GU24 lamp is small and dimmable.

The GU24 lamp is small and dimmable.

CCFL's like these from Litetronics.com can hide inside a standard A-lamp, G-lamp and B-10, with clear or frosted glass envelopes

CCFL's like these from Litetronics.com can hide inside a standard A-lamp, G-lamp and B-10, with clear or frosted glass envelopes

pillow-LED
This LED A-lamp (eco-story.com) becomes yellower in color when dimmed.

This LED A-lamp (eco-story.com) becomes yellower in color when dimmed.

Advances in light sources had been in stasis for a long time. It wasn’t until the introduction of the improved compact fluorescents and warmer colored LEDs that we really started seeing a shakeup of the status quo. Incandescent sources have been around for more than 100 years and the first fluorescents made their way into regular usage in late 1930s. Even LEDs have been around since the 1960s, although at that time they were only available in red, yellow, blue and green.

Keep Your Options Open
As I see it, the future of lighting will not be determined by one light source alone: there will always be a need for various sources to provide the types of light that we want and need. For one thing, I don't think that incandescent lamps ("lamp" is the industry term for "light bulb") will totally be eliminated as some people are predicting. I believe that manufacturers will work hard to create higher efficacy versions of the incandescents we all know and love. Maybe people who suffer from migraines, as a result of exposure to fluorescent lighting, will be issued medical incandescent cards, like medical marijuana cards.

Not your Father's Fluorescent
I see that fluorescents are evolving as well. First off, there was the introduction of the GU24 lamps. Their socket and lamp assembly fits very well into the space normally taken up by standard incandescent lamp. So now many manufacturers are offering many of their decorative fixtures that use a GU24 alternative. These lamps can be dimmed down to 70% with a standard incandescent dimmer.

Then there are the CCFLs (cold cathode compact fluorescents) which have a much fuller range of dimming than standard CFLs; and are available in warmer color temperatures than what seems to be the standard issue 2700° Kelvin. The truth is that most people do not operate their lamps at full blast which would be in the 2700° Kelvin to 2800° Kelvin range. They instead dim them down to 2200° Kelvin to 2250° Kelvin. Having lamps available that are the color of dimmed incandescent will make the transition from incandescent to fluorescent (and LED) much more palatable to the general public.

The other big change in fluorescents is the availability of a fluorescent lamp that is mercury-free. This will make a lot of people happy. I have mentioned the mercury-free dimmable lamp by the VU1 Corporation before, but it doesn't hurt put their name out there again because I think the general public and the lamp making industry as a whole should take notice.
                                                                        

Making room for LEDs

LED reading lights are one of the many inventive items coming onto the market. I am very excited about all the possibilities that LEDs offer. While they may not be quite in their infancy, they are still in the toddler stage. Every six months LED products are improving. They are providing better lumen output, better color rendering, better color consistency (a.k.a. binning) and are becoming available in a wide variety of fixture types. I think the biggest challenge for the LED market as a whole is dimmability. People do like to control their light levels. Companies that make LED components and light fixtures are only just now talking to the companies that make dimmers and dimming systems. It would be a wonderful world if all LEDs dimmed the same way and could be controlled with a variety of products from regular wall box dimmers through to home integration systems. We are not there yet, but I am hopeful.

Until very recently, I could state that LEDs like CFLs do not get warmer in color when dimmed. Now at least one company, I've been made aware of, can do just that. The Eco-Story company has introduced the Eco-Hybrid A- lamp that does actually get warmer in color temperature as you dim it. It's not perfect. The transition between colors is not perfectly smooth, but like I said before… I'm ever hopeful.