At a recent inspection I came across a hazard that I find all too often. Inside one of the closets of the home that I was inspecting there was an unprotected incandescent light bulb. No big deal right? We all have them. The issues arises when the light bulb gets too close to combustible. What do we normally put in closets? We tend to put clothes in closets, which can be very combustible. When I see a situation like this we advice the client to be careful of letting clothes get too close to the bulb. The best solution is to change the light bulb to one that does not produce as much heat. Luckily, today we have a couple of options to choose from.
One is the compact florescent light (CFL). CFLs can be used in a situation like this. They tend to be much cooler and will provide as much light as typical light bulbs with less power draw. The cork screw florescent bulbs that you can buy at the big box stores (aka: Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) will draw 13 watts of power for a comparative 60 watts of light. These bulbs are more expensive but will tend to last longer than the average incandescent bulb. The typical incandescent lasts 1300 hours (55 days). Your run of the mill CFL will last approximately 8,000 hours (333 days). The down side to CFLs is the fact that they contain mercury and lead. This is fine as long as the lamp does not break. With the big push to switch to CFL lights we are filling landfills with these harmful heavy metals. There is the potential that these can make their way into water supplies and pollute the environment.
Another alternative to the CFL or incandescent bulb is the LED light. I recently saw the Ambient LED bulb by Philips. Philips has been working hard on producing LEDs that will be a strong alternative to the incandescent light. The LED will draw only 12.5 watts of power for the equivalent of 60 watts of light. It has recently won the ” L” prize, which is a government sponsored technology competition to create energy efficient lighting. The Ambient LED is dimmable and will not fade fabrics. The website says that it can last up to 15 years. I am skeptical of that since in the specification of the light it says 30,000 hours (1250 days). That is a long time for a light bulb. It claims to save $135.50 in energy cost over the course of its life time. That is a good thing because they are not cheap. (approximately $40 each) They do not contain the mercury and lead that the CFL contain, this could be a greener choice. These type bulbs produce very little heat when illuminated. I read one review that claimed you can hold the bulb in your hand even after it has been on for 10 minutes. That would make it a good choice for the closet and the combustibles.
I would love to see these come down in price. The light quality is far closer to that of a traditional bulb. They do look a bit odd. As seen in the picture they are yellow, but once they are powered they give off a soft white glow. If you are concerned about the environment and are looking for a more Eco friendly light bulb I encourage you to take a look at these alternatives. The future for LED light bulbs looks bright. (Sorry that was a bit corny, but it fit.)