The Philips SlimStyle LED Light Bulb: A $10 Game Changer?
Well, it’s 2014. Time for New Things. Change. Looking Forward. Blah Blah Blah. And when you’re an energy-efficient light bulb afficionado (or complete obsessive, if you’d rather) like me, that means it’s time to start thinking about getting some super-cool new LED light bulbs for the house. And I found one that I think might be a real game-changer: the Philips SlimStyle LED bulb. I know, I know…. these little “light bulb talks” are the most boring blog posts EVER… but bear with me, because it’s important stuff.
As a whole, we Americans waste a lot of energy. I mean, a LOT of energy. Shit-tons of dirty, polluting coal gets burned every year to power all the stuff we use. We’re making improvements in efficiency, which is great news. But it’s a slow crawl, and it should be happening much faster. The good news is that there is still so much low-hanging energy-wasting fruit out there just waiting to be easily and cheaply picked. One of the easiest and most affordable ways for anybody to start saving lots of energy and the money to pay for it is STILL the lowly light bulb.
Most homes are still hanging onto the incandescent bulb, little changed since it’s 19th century creation. Incandescents are great; I love the warm light they create, but being such an old design, they’re very wasteful. Over 90% of the electricity used in an incandescent light bulb is wasted as heat, not light. Poof, 90% of the power you’re paying for to light that light is wasted.
The U.S. government is trying to help things out by banning the manufacture of 100 watt incandescent bulbs, which is a step in the right direction. (And for all you personal freedom-libertarians out there crying out for the loss of your incandescent-purchasing freedoms: sorry. It’s 21st century time now. If you haven’t decided to try out more energy-efficient lighting options on your own yet, well you’re just going to need a little push. It’s tough love.)
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs have been around for over 20 years as a viable alternative to incandescents, but they early on earned a bad reputation (and rightly so) as a poor substitute. Yes, they used less power and lasted longer, but their light quality sucked, they buzzed, they contained mercury, couldn’t be dimmed, didn’t fit in the lamp, etc. etc. etc. Like most technologies, the CFL has improved drastically over the years. They’ve gotten smaller; light quality REALLY improved; they got much much cheaper….. they still contain traces of mercury but unless you break one and handle the broken pieces you’re really not in any danger. Even broken bulbs contain very little mercury; the coal-fired electricity used to power an incandescent bulb over its lifetime contains much more airborne and waterborne mercury than your little CFL. Regardless, CFLs were a great transitional bulb, but they were far from perfect.
Enter the LED light bulb, which improves on CFLs in almost every way. Light quality similar to (or identical to) incandescent lights; dimmable; mercury-free… they’re really a wonderful bulb. I’m sitting under one right this second. The problem? They’re kind of pricey. Early bulbs cost over $40 (but so did early CFLs in the 1990s. My first CFL in 1991 set me back 45 bucks. They’re a dollar nowadays). Like CFLs, their quality and price are dropping quickly. That’s where this SlimStyle LED by Philips comes in.
It’s a funny-looking thing, isn’t it? I mean, it’s FLAT. But that flatness is for a purpose. By spreading out the LEDs, heat is allowed to dissipate away from the bulb without heavy, metal heat sinks found on most LED bulbs. Because of this, the SmartStyle is lighter, made mostly from plastic, and smaller. And more importantly, cheaper. This little bulb goes for $10. Currently available only online at Home Depot, it should be available in stores in spring 2014.
The Philips SlimStyle LED bulb gives off the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb using only 10.5 watts. That’s 82.5% less energy for the same amount of light! It’s rated to last 25,000 hours. Philips estimates energy savings over the SlimStyle’s lifespan of over $131!! Look at LED bulbs not as throwaway consumer products, but as investments that may live longer than you. Write them into your will so your kids won’t fight over them when you’re gone.
I wrote a short piece about the SlimStyle bulb at Green Home Product Source, including purchase links. Check it out HERE. I’m going to be getting a couple of these myself.