The Light Bulb Wars – Can We Just Work This Out on Our Own?

The Light Bulb Wars – Can We Just Work This Out on Our Own?

I had to chuckle when I read the story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about two men who had quite different views of the regulations that are effectively phasing out Thomas Edison’s familiar incandescent light bulb. It mirrors the difference in preferences right in my own house — with my wife moving in one direction, and I in another.

Unsatisfied with the slow start up and yellowish light of CFL’s, and the cold blue light of the LED’s, my wife took to stockpiling the tried and true incandescents. Although not a way to stave off the inevitable, it did serve to buy some time until the newer lightbulbs could be improved in the early going.

I, on the other hand, plunged right in with an “early adopter” mentality. CFL’s we’re installed first in my office lamps, and then replaced with LED’s, which I find to be more attractive – immediate startup, cooler burning, and without the traces of mercury that I have found a bit disconcerting. The remaining CFL’s in my inventory have been transferred to the outdoor porch lights, eventually to be replaced by LED’s there as well. In the recessed lights over the kitchen counters, the LED’s I initially tried certainly were bright enough, but too directional – the new halogen floods seem to work fine, now dispersing the light more effectively and attractively onto the counter spaces.

Regarding economics, I do take into consideration the higher initial costs vs. the longer life of the newer bulbs, but it is all of a piece — light color, startup time, costs, coolness, etc.

Hey, this gives me an idea. Why can’t our federal government let us decide what kind of bulbs my wife and I each want to buy? We certainly have a lot of choices, as we do in cars, computers, clothing, and toasters. I know, I know, this was all necessary for the greater good of energy conservation, banning those antiquated bulbs that threw off more heat than light. Now I’m no light bulb expert, but I think these attractive new options would have come our way anyway, as digital technology takes its place in almost all parts of our economy. Consumers will reward manufacturers who deliver the best products at the best price, as they always have. Why pay bureaucrats to spend time on things that the free market can handle quite well?

When I think about the millions of gallons of fuel being used to constantly fly our government officials around the world, and the lack of much apparent positive result from all of those trips, I certainly think an incandescent or two in our house will hardly bring down our economy. Goodness knows there are more powerful forces threatening to do that.