January 2010 Electrical Apparatus

January 2010 Electrical Apparatus

This is a summary of the Electrical Apparatus January 2010 featured technical article,  by Richard L. Nailen, P.E.     

One of the 19th Century’s most revolutionary technological developments was electric lighting, based on the incandescent lamp. The entire electric utility industry, from central generating station through transmission grid to home appliance, was built on that development.

The incandescent lamp, however, is extremely inefficient. Most of the energy supplied to it is wasted as heat. With today’s emphasis on energy conservation, two other lighting systems are poised to become equally revolutionary alternatives.

First is the compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL. By reshaping the well-known fluorescent tube into a compact helix suitable for most household uses, the CFL offers light output per watt of input power that is 5 to 10 times that of an incandescent lamp, with far longer life span. Despite higher cost, the CFL has become widely used. Among its disadvantages: mercury content constitutes a disposal problem, it is not well-suited to dimming control, and turning it on for only brief intervals shortens CFL life.

Second is the light-emitting diode, or LED. With four or more times the CFL light output per watt, and several times the life span, the LED offers numerous light color options, with no disposal problem. Drawbacks include extremely small size, requiring large numbers of units for area lighting; much higher cost than the CFL; and narrowly focussed light output. Researchers are also dealing with the problem of “droop”–decreasing light production when LED current is increased.

Around the world, response to these developments has been to ban the manufacture, importation, and sale of incandescent lamps, beginning with some ratings in 2009 and including others in subsequent years. Such legal action has been taken in the UK and the European Community as well as in some Asian and South American nations.

In the U.S., legislation doesn’t ban the product, but instead dictates an energy efficiency level unattainable by standard incandescent products. Although certain specialty bulbs, such as those inside some appliances, are exempt, lamp users will generally face some inconveniences as they adapt to this new revolution in lighting technology.

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