LEDs or Fluorescents?
Our expert heralds the advance of LEDs while still preaching the fluorescent gospel.
 
The golden glow comes from a very energy-efficient, long-life LED linear light source.
Randall, speaking for the millions of people who get migraines from fluorescents, while I am all in favor of energy conservation, fluorescents make me sick, literally. Have you seen a traffic light lately? Not fluorescent. Been behind a new car when the brake lights went on? Not fluorescent. They’re all LEDs, which use less than one-third the energy of fluorescents and are more durable—not to mention the design flexibility. California’s new Title 24 will just make me homeless or a scofflaw. Why don’t you do a better job and not sell out the millions like me who can’t live with fluorescents, especially when there’s a much better alternative? Get a clue!
Believe it or not, I agree with what you are saying. I am a huge advocate of LED (light-emitting diode) sources. I really feel that this is where lighting technology should be headed. The initial stumbling block was that, until recently, there was not a white LED available, only red, blue, yellow and green diodes. These were great for traffic signals, indicator lights and the backlighting of colored signage but had little use in residential settings. Now that we have a white LED, it opens up a whole world of possibilities. The other upside of LEDs is that they emit no UV or heat and can last from 30,000 to 75,000 hours. One of the main problems we foresee is that the LED equivalents of incandescent bulbs have bases that match what they are replacing. California’s Title 24 demands that we can’t unscrew an energy-efficient bulb and replace it with an incandescent source. Now that hardwire LED fixtures are coming onto the market, with the help of manufacturers, we are convincing the inspectors to allow LEDs on projects. In response to your concern about fluorescents causing migraines, there is plenty of old fluorescent technology out there in existing buildings, and it is unfortunately still available on the market for new projects. These old styles with magnetic ballasts cause headache problems because they cycle (flicker) at an agonizingly slow 60 times a second. The new fluorescents with electronic ballasts cycle at 10,000 times a second, which makes a world of difference. Now, aren’t you sorry that you yelled at me?
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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