Lighting used to be so simple. You went to the supermarket or hardware store, picked your favourite wattage and the right kind of fitting then that was that. Now the market is wide open with CFL bulbs, halogen bulbs, LED bulbs and the lurking but should’ve been gone by now incandescent bulb still around. Which of the four contenders is on the up and which ones are becoming less popular?
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The winner for the fastest growing light bulb is the humble LED. The newest member on the block, it has only been available as an effective light source for a couple of decades and until recently was limited to torches. However, now it is a viable home and office lighting solution as well as something you can plonk 700,000 of on a Nanjing skyscraper. But, don't fear! No matter what type of light you're looking to replace, including LED Strip Lights, we have you covered!
LED sales for Philips jumped 38% in 2013, 37% again in 2014, and 48% in 2015. By 2013, they took up 23% of their lighting sales. According to the S-curve market penetration theory, when an item hits 20-25% of the market it becomes self-sustainable and is on the way to becoming mainstream. This means that for Philips, the LED is king.
The reason for LED popularity is down to positive results as well as good PR. The LED is more expensive as a single unit than other bulbs, but its prices are reducing while its efficiency increases. It’s with the latter than the bulb comes into its own. Long lasting LED strip lights use less energy to create the same amount of light, so a tenth of an incandescent bulb, half of a CFL bulb, and a third of a halogen bulb. They also last 42 times longer than an incandescent bulb and 5 times longer than a CFL bulb on average. For some LEDs these totals can be doubled. This makes them a far better investment which saves on electricity bills and on buying replacement bulbs. If you're trying to cut costs in the office try replacing old fluorescent bulbs with new, energy efficient LED Panels to help lower your overhead.
Strip Lighting evokes the rattle tinkle of a fluorescent tube striking up, flickering a few times and then maybe, if you are lucky, turning on. Quite often they decline the invitation to light a room, hum annoyingly or flicker constantly even when you bashi it a few times or try turning it off and on again. However, they are on the decline and GE in America have decided to stop manufacturing them, instead turning their focus to LED lightbulbs. Which, makes complete sense; LED bulbs help to conserve the environment by using very little energy, and in results saving homeowners on their power bills.
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Just as LEDs have good PR, CFL bulbs do not. They have been linked anecdotally to poor concentration, toxic gas emissions from their lighting process, and poor durability. With moves afoot to ban halogen bulbs just as with incandescents, CFLs could be next. For GE, it’s a case of declining market share. The CFL bulb peaked at 30% of the market, but have now slumped back to 15% in America. Their share will be slightly higher in the UK due to the ban on incandescents which is not in place in the States yet. In contrast to CFLs, sales of LEDs at GE have risen by 250% over 2015.
The ever popular and traditional light bulb saw a surge in popularity when the powers that be decided to ban it. Cheap and cheerful, traditional and not new or odd, people found comfort in the bulb even if it was not efficient or environmentally friendly. MIT students have been working on the bulb in an attempt to improve its efficiency down to 40% of what it once was. However, it remains to be seen if the bulb can be un-banned and if by the time a commercial version is ready, whether it is desired by the public or not.
The combination of future developments and public demand are set to make LED strip lights, down lights and other types of lighting more affordable. While it may not be obvious now, LED bulbs are going to continue to lead the way as a solution for our lighting needs around the world. Surveys reveal that for about 90% of surveyed people in the United States prefer LED lights to other light bulbs given a free choice and equal price.
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