Change is coming to the lighting industry, and Eleanor McKay, CEO of the home furnishings design company Niermann Weeks, thinks it isn’t going to be pretty.
In a presentation to home furnishings professionals at the Las Vegas Design Center on Nov. 7 entitled, “Lighting Today: Lighting in the Post-Incandescent World,” McKay tried to make retailers aware of new legislation that she says will profoundly affect not only the lighting industry, but also the way people live in their homes.
McKay talked about the new 2008 energy law that will go into effect in 2012 -– just three years from now.
According to the law, incandescent bulbs will be phased out over the next six years. The transition will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in 2014. By 2020, all bulbs must be 70 percent more efficient.
That may sound far off, but McKay says it’s really just around the corner.
“If you’re an architect and you’re doing some huge house now, what are they going to do in three years?” McKay says, adding that wiring, sockets and the fixtures themselves will all need to adapt to the changing technology.
As CEO of a company that designs elegant chandeliers, portable lamps and other traditional lighting fixtures, McKay says she’s been on the hunt for halogen, fluorescent or LED bulbs that will work with existing fixtures and give off the same quality of light as incandescents.
But despite all of the hoopla surrounding CFLs and LEDs, McKay says no company has developed a true alternative to the incandescent bulb, especially for chandeliers.
“My recommendation is to start hoarding incandescent bulbs,” McKay said.
McKay calls CFL bulbs “ugly” and says most halogen bulbs don’t work with existing chandeliers because they have prongs instead of screw-in bases.
McKay says she believes LEDs will become the dominate form of lighting technology in the future, but she says the technology is still something that’s being used in non-residential applications such as Christmas lights and watch faces and only a few companies are developing consumer-ready bulbs made with clusters of LEDs.
The best LED bulb McKay has seen is from LEDtronics, which has developed a chandelier-style bulb made with six concentric circles of LEDs, with eight LEDs in each circle.
“This is really a beautiful little light bulb,” McKay says. As of now, however, the bulbs costs $60 and have to be custom ordered, making them very prohibitive for most consumers.
Of course, the more consumers start buying the new technology, the more the price will drop, but McKay’s fear is that consumers won’t start demanding good replacements for incandescent bulbs until one of the bulbs in their dining room chandelier goes out and they go to the store and can’t replace the bulb.
“Most people are not aware that this law is going to change our lives,” McKay says. “In two years and a couple of months, there’s going to be an enormous demand.”
That’s why McKay says lighting retailers and interior designers need to start demanding new light bulb technology today.
“Continuously complain to whoever you buy lighting from,” McKay said.