We’re not far off from an age devoid of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. In such an age, there will be consequences. The transmogrification of the Easy-Bake Oven as we know it is one of those consequences. As it uses 100-watt light bulbs to cook the mixtures placed inside, a new heating element will be required after the ban.

The Easy-Bake Oven wasn’t the first attempt at miniature novelty cookery. Before the Easy-Bake oven there were products like the Little Lady Range from a company called Lionel. Such “toys” were scaled-down version of real appliances, which meant lots of exposed heating elements that could potentially burn little hands. The designers of the Easy-Bake Oven took a cue from street vendors’ pretzel ovens to create a modified oven where you slide bakeware full of batter or dough through the oven to cook and cool.

100-watt incandescent light bulbs above and below the bakeware cooked the mixtures and created the novelty foods. The makers of the Easy-Bake Oven plan to release a new version called the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, but they have not revealed what the heating element will be. It certainly won’t be any newer light bulbs like LED or CFLs, as they run very cool compared to incandescents.

Through all the aesthetic redesigns, the Easy-Bake Oven has used the same two 100-watt incandescent light bulbs for baking. How will the new version work? A related story is the old Creepy Crawlers oven, which used a light bulb to heat metal molds filled with plastic goop to create creatures. Will Creepy Crawlers receive a sans-light bulb update as well?

The Super Bowl XLV halftime show this year would have been lackluster without the use of LED light bulbs. It was a decent show showcasing the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Slash, and Usher, but the show was made great by ensemble dancers dressed in suits of LED lights. The band members had LEDs on their costumes as well, but nothing quite as full as the ensemble dancers.

The ensemble dancers wore pale suits with what looked like LED ribbons or LED rope lights running in vertical patterns down their costumes. The lights alternated between green, white, and red. I don’t know how the changing of the lights was controlled; perhaps by wireless commands, or perhaps by switches on utility belts worn by the dancers. Either way, they added immensely to the aesthetics of the show.

LEDs are ideal for illuminating costumes because their solid state components are very sturdy and produce little heat. Ordinary household incandescent light bulbs on the other hand are fragile and get extremely hot. The heat difference is due to the different ways that incandescents and LEDs light up. An incandescent light bulb produces light by running enough electricity through a metal filament to make it glow. The filament acts like fire, producing light through extremely hot burning.

LEDs produce light when electricity is run through a diode, exciting atoms until they produce photons for light. Relatively little heat is produced in this process. It takes way less electricity to make a diode light than to make a filament light, which is why LEDs are so much more energy efficient. One LED is also able to produce multiple different colors, unlike standard incandescents. The multi-colored aspect of LEDs was shown during the Super Bowl halftime show as dancers’ uniforms changed colors. The Super Bowl halftime show was a great example of how far LED technology has come.

A few years ago in 2007 former president George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law. The provisions in this law are intended to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions and enable the US to be less dependent on foreign sources of oil. It’s a rather sweeping set of changes, but the change most relevant to consumers is probably the phaseout of 40W, 60W, 75W, and 100W standard incandescent light bulbs.

The EISA provides for a three year phaseout schedule that starts with inefficient 100W incandescents in 2012. The next year will see 75W incandescents gone, and the third year will phase out 60W and 40W bulbs. In addition to the phaseout, the law sets minimum standards for general service incandescent light bulbs, making it necessary for you to replace old inefficient incandescents with new energy efficient lighting.

There are currently three technology options for replacing incandescent light bulbs; halogen, compact fluorescent, and solid state (LED). New halogen light bulbs will be in wattages compliant with new maximum rated wattages. The new wattages replace the old as follows; instead of 40W, 60W, 75W, and 100W, maximum rated wattages will be 29W, 43W, 53W, and 72W. You can expect new halogen bulbs to be designed to look just like old incandescents, and because halogens are a form of incandescent light bulb you can use them in any place you’re currently using incandescents.

The other two energy efficient options (CFL and LED) use a lot less energy than even halogens, but have drawbacks of their own. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are very energy efficient and come in nearly any color temperature you could want, but they do contain very small amounts of toxic mercury so they must be handled with care and disposed of/recycled carefully. LED light bulbs do not contain mercury, but are extremely expensive, limiting their use to commercial and business applications for now.

Sylvania recently released a variety of new novelty lights, and here they are in no particular order. “PalPODzzz” are portable flashlights and nighttime glowlights in various shapes such as a soccer ball, a lady bug, a rocket ship, etc. They’re great for kids’ rooms, and a perfect tool for illuminating books you may be reading to the kids. ¬†You don’t always have to use regular old light bulbs to get the light you need!

“LED Bottle Toppers” are pretty cool. They take the place of wine corks, for instance. They’re a great addition to any party and help provide a unique aesthetic. Another good party light is the MOD Light; it’s a bowl with LEDs in the bottom that illuminate and change the color of the bowl. They’ve got a sleek, modern look and complement whatever is placed in the bowl.

Sylvania has novelty lights for other areas of the house as well; for instance, the shower. Their ECOLIGHT LED water powered shower light is perfect if you need some extra light in your shower. It’s powered by the water flowing through your showerhead, so it requires no batteries or otherwise external power source.

For the dinner table, there is the LED Placemat. It’s a placemat with LEDs inside creating a starry-sky type of look. For more party novelties there are the Color Changing Coasters. Set your drink on an ever-changing aura of color, but make sure you remember which is yours! These are just a few of Sylvania’s novelty lights. Check them out, you may find you really like them!

Light bulbs do not make good heatersWhenever it gets cold, you may hear it said that incandescent light bulbs can help heat the house. That’s not quite true. While incandescent light bulbs do use 90% of their watts creating heat, it’s not heat that is useful or efficient. Heat rises, and since the vast majority of light bulbs are already installed in the ceiling or at ceiling height, the heat has nowhere to go and dissipates before being useful to anyone.

If you were determined to utilize the heat produced by incandescent light bulbs, you could install them on the floor; otherwise, they’re just not efficient sources of heat by any measure. If you need localized heating, standard space heaters would be the way to go, with energy efficient light bulbs for lighting. There are two main choices for energy efficient lighting; LED light bulbs, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

LED light bulbs are the newer of the two, and very expensive. They’re completely safe, devoid of any toxic materials like mercury. Research and development into LED technology continues, and prices for LED light bulbs are dropping every year. Soon enough they will be affordable for everyone, and will be the best choice for energy efficient lighting.

The best most affordable energy efficient option right now would be compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use around 75% less energy than incandescents, and have a wide variety of color temperatures available for really customizable light. Their only caveat is the trace presence of mercury in each bulb; about 3mg in the newest CFLs, most of which adheres to the glass and does not spread if the bulb is broken. They’re not a health hazard one at a time, but in the millions they would be hazardous, so they must be recycled.

Incandescent light bulbs are on the way out, and the myth that they can contribute useful heat during the winter is false.

Energy efficient LED light bulbs from Cree, Inc. will soon be illuminating all the dining rooms and restrooms at restaurant chain Denny’s new and/or renovated locations. Financial details were not reported for the transaction, but it’s safe to assume that because the items purchased were LED light bulbs, a lot of money went into these light bulbs. Denny’s will end up saving a significant amount of money in the long run, making back the money they paid for the lamps and more.

LED light bulbs only use about 10 percent to 15 percent of the power that incandescent light bulbs use. The reduction of power usage does not mean a reduction in light; LED light bulbs provide the same lumens for far less watts. LED light bulbs would be perfect for a restaurant, as the lights in a restaurant are nearly always on, especially in the dessert case.

LEDs have good color rendering as well, which is very important in the food industry. If the food doesn’t appear nice, people will be less likely to try it. Good lighting is integral to a satisfactory dining experience. By installing LED light bulbs in their restaurants, Denny’s is simultaneously improving the aesthetics of their restaurants while getting set to save a very large amount of money.

Restaurants use around 285% more utilities than the average commercial building. The quickest and easiest way to reduce those costs is to switch out incandescents and older fluorescents for daylighting and LED light bulbs. Denny’s has done just that, and will be reaping the benefits of minimized energy use for a very long time.

The issue of mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs is probably the most well-known issue affecting energy efficient light bulbs, but what usually isn’t known is how progressing technology continues to reduce the actual amount of mercury. To reflect these technological improvements, the EPA guidelines for dealing with a broken CFL have been revised.

Common contemporary compact fluorescent light bulbs contain about 4mg of mercury per lamp. Most of that 4mg coats the inside of the glass tubing and is not released from a broken bulb. The EPA’s revised tips indicate that the tiny amount of vaporized mercury from a single broken bulb is within the safe range for adults. It’s heartening to see a government agency providing sound, reasonable information instead of the fear mongering doomsday info they previously gave.

That’s not to say CFLs are off the hook with respect to mercury. It’s still extremely important to dispose of them properly, be it through recycling or safe destruction. Mercury buildup from millions of CFLs in landfills would indeed be very poisonous and negatively impact the environment. Correctly recycled and/or destroyed CFLs pose no threat to humans or the environment, and as such they remain the top cost-effective energy efficient lighting technology for consumers.

LED light bulbs and other energy efficient lighting technologies are continually being improved, and in time will overtake the popularity of CFLs. The prices of LED technology are dropping pretty consistently every year, in some cases by 15% to 20%. Until then, compact fluorescent light bulbs are a safe, inexpensive energy efficient light source for everyone.

Between 2000 and 2003 an estimated 17,500 people were treated in US emergency rooms for injuries related to setting up holiday decorations. Nearly half of those injuries were caused by falls from ladders and could have been easily avoided. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers some advice for staying out of their offices:

Set ladders on a firm, level surface. Never set ladders on soft, muddy spots, or on uneven ground or flooring. This is probably the most common cause for injury, and one of the easiest to avoid.

Keep the bottom of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. Setting up lights 10 feet up? Then the bottom of the ladder should be about two to three feet away from the building.

Use the appropriate ladder for the job. When working at low or medium heights, use step stools or utility ladders. Extension ladders are good for use outdoors to reach especially high places.

When standing on a ladder, be careful when pushing or pulling items from shelves or handling materials such as holiday light bulbs and decorations. Always position the ladder close to the work area to reduce the risk of losing your balance and falling.

Do not use a stepladder’s top or pail shelf as a seat. They’re not designed to hold the weight of a person and could break or tip under the same.

Avoid injury this holiday season by following this advice and also simply adhering to common sense!

LED light bulbs have more uses than just providing illumination, according to researchers at Siemens. In collaboration with the Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin, researchers have achieved a data transfer rate of up to 500 megabits per second (Mbit/s) using white LED light. This far surpasses their previous record of 200 Mbit/s and paves the way for wireless data transport by means of light in new applications in the home as well as in industry and transportation.

Using white LED light bulbs from Sylvania, the researchers from Corporate Technology in Munich succeeded in transmitting data over a distance of up to five meters of empty space. The data are directly transferred by modulating, via the power supply, the amount of light emitted by the LED (basically turning it off and on extremely quickly). The researchers used an Ostar LED, one of the brightest LEDs on the market, which can be modulated at such a frequency that data transfer rates of up to 500 Mbit/s are possible. The resulting changes in brightness (flickering on and off) happen so fast they are imperceptible to the human eye. The receiver is a photodetector which converts the light signals into electrical pulses.

This form of data transfer is called VLC (Visible Light Communication) and has a variety of potential applications. In homes and businesses for example, it could be a valuable addition to established WLAN technology. Wireless networks are increasingly being compromised by the fact that in many buildings the three separate WLAN frequency bands coexist, which leads to collisions among data packets. In a situation like this, visible light offers a perfect alternative.

A network using VLC also prevents wireless “squatting”, where a person logs into a secure (if they break the password) or unsecure network and steals bandwidth. In a VLC network, only the photodetectors that are positioned directly within the light cone are able to receive data. Further use of VLC technology would be in factory and medical environments, where in certain areas radio transmissions are impossible or very limited. Expect to see a lot more VLC in years to come.

Bendable OLED DisplayBendable, foldable batteries and displays as thin or thinner than paper are not that far off. Scientists at Stanford University have recently created an ultra-thin rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is no thicker than a single sheet of paper, and can bend just as easily as said paper. In fact, the bendable battery prototype is a sheet of paper with a dual sided coating of carbon nanotubes followed by an application of a lithium compound. Stanford estimates one of these bendable batteries could support 300 recharges before needing replacement.

What does this have to do with light bulbs? On the surface, perhaps nothing, but lighting in general could benefit from batteries with such supreme portability. One lighting technology in particular that comes to mind is OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). If you’ve ever seen any of the recent examples of bending and folding electronic screens, you’ve seen OLEDs. These type of lights are even being used for luminescent clothing in some cases!

Advertising will surely take advantage of bendable batteries and OLED lights along with the continually shrinking size and costs of computer technology. Imagine stickers that play video clips or show a slideshow of pictures. Stickers are already beloved by children; just think of small OLED screens with adhesive backing, bendable batteries as well as nano CPUs and harddrives included to create an amazing video sticker. Technology costs continue to veer toward disposability; advertisers could put these stickers on cereal boxes and children’s toys and all manner of packaging.

Children would take these video stickers and put them everywhere, just like they do now when they get their hands on regular stickers. The difference in this possible future is that they would now be placing free advertisements everywhere! It could be an entirely new way to spread propaganda as well, or just get any information out. Light bulbs may not yet play a large part in bendable batteries and OLEDs, but it’s only a matter of time before these technologies merge to create some amazing stuff.


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