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 Compact Fluorescents, Light Emitting Diodes and traffic lights that suck    
 Dated:  Wednesday, July 30 2008 @ 05:03 PM PDT
 Viewed:  846 times  

Before we start, I should say that I've got CFLs installed everywhere in the house except the socket that's on a dimmer, and the antique fixture where a CFL won't fit. But I don't have any illusions about them.

The issues with compact fluorescents are well known -- they contain mercury, are bad for your own personal environment when they break, have to be recycled carefully, and now that they've had a decade of Value Engineering, (a buzzword for "made more cheaply") are no better value than incandescents. (The first two CFLs I ever purchased, over 10 years ago, work fine. I've had a couple dozen newer CFLs burn out since then, including those dead on arrival.) They don't work well in the cold (for outside lighting), lose most of their energy-saving value if turned off and on frequently, and take a minute or two to reach full brightness.

LED lights have the potential to solve most of these issues. They come on immediately, work fine over temperature, potentially last a very long time, and are very energy efficient.

But but but... I have a secret fear that once LEDs become popular, manufacturing corner-cutting will also screw them up.

Case in point -- there was a move awhile back in my home town to replace all the traffic lights with LED arrays. On the surface this sounds like a great idea, but now that they've been around for awhile, it's hard to find a traffic signal that doesn't have a bunch of LEDs burned out or wildly flickering. Mind you, that's a pretty harsh environment, but it looks like the products aren't up for the job.

Click here for example

I'm still looking forward to LEDs in the home, for a number of reasons (I really want to get rid of these silly CFLs, but I don't want to give any more money to the electric company than absolutely necessary) but I'm worried that after LED consumer lights become mainstream, they'll start to suck, as they already do in traffic lights. I guess time will tell.

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