New Technology for Antique Lighting
Our lighting guru suggests alternatives to incandescent lamps for the antique lighting market.
What is the new LED and CFL technology going to do to the antique lighting industry? I know the owner of a $20,000 original Tiffany lamp who is never going to put anything but an incandescent light bulb in it. Will incandescent light bulbs still be available?
There will be incandescent lamps available, especially for historic fixtures; although you may have to smuggle them in from Canada ... like I do with my medications. Your client and others want the type of light they grew up with and are used to. But even incandescent lamps were a pretty new technology when Tiffany lamps were being made. I can imagine the people of the period saying that they would hang onto gaslight and not switch over to Edison’s newfangled bulb. People love incandescent light for the color, the dimmability and the initial low bulb cost. Consider CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps instead. A-lamps, flame-tip lamps and G-lamps from companies like Literonics (pictured) look like their incandescent counterparts. They dim with an incandescent dimmer and have a lamp life of 18,000 to 25,000 hours, depending on the type. Although they cost around $12, they do save around $68 over the life of the lamp (based on $0.11/kwh). Hopefully, in the future, mercury-free ESL (electron stimulated luminescence) lamps will offer most of everything we love about incandescent, while providing long life and energy savings.
Randall Whitehead lighting designer
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 for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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