Art & Development

From the Light Bulb department…

Finally, someone points out the environmental cost of those trendy exposed-filament light bulbs in rustic restaurants everywhere…

Customers, particularly in San Francisco, complained that they hated how those squiggly [CFL] bulbs looked in their vintage fixtures, casting an odd green tinge inside their restored Victorians. Around the same time came a boomlet of nostalgia-infused restaurants in New York, like Public, which opened in 2003 in a former Edison laboratory in NoLIta.

…The bulbs are now popular all over the world, in Germany, England, Australia and even Hong Kong Disneyland, [reproduction bulb maker] Mr. Rosenzweig said….

“Everybody’s going green, but we’re still hot and red,” he said. “My bulbs use a lot of energy and make the air conditioning work overtime.”

In the United States, the craze has spilled over into home décor, with demand high enough that even mainstream retailers like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie sell the lights for $9 to $20 each….

I do love a beautiful old light bulb, but I have to agree that…

“It boggles the mind that in these times of economic hardship and interest in environmental sustainability that restaurant owners would choose the light bulb that uses 5 to 10 times more power than the other bulbs on the market,” Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the environmental group, wrote in an e-mail message. “You can’t on the one hand brag how green you are by serving organic beer and locally grown produce while you are lighting your business with the least efficient light bulbs available in the world.” (Diane Cardwell, “Vintage Light Bulbs Are Hot, but Ignite a Debate,”, June 7, 2010)

The thing is, fluorescent lights are available in warmer tones. Manufacturers need to start making CFLs and medium Edison-base LEDs in better tones, more attractive globe-shaped housings and more powerful, versatile parabolic lamps (which museums and galleries rely on). Furthermore, CFLs seem like a patch, not a solution; with CFLs, the bulb plus the ballast become one-use-only….


One thought on “From the Light Bulb department…

  1. The only problem with making CFLs with globe-shaped or otherwise housings is the reduction of light. CFLs have to deal with precise shaping to produce full lumens; any obstructions, however minimal, can greatly decrease the light output.

    These restaurants probably haven’t even tried the lower color temperature CFLs you mentioned at the end of your article; 2700K – 3000K CFLs will produce the same “warm” yellowish light as incandescent bulbs.

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