Are Low Voltage Lights Eco-Friendly?

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For over a century, incandescent bulbs provided artificial light to homes and communities around the world. Innovations in technology have introduced more eco-friendly and energy-efficient lighting. In 2007, the U.S. Government passed legislation with a goal of phasing out incandescent bulbs. However, while newer alternatives undoubtedly save energy costs by offering low-voltage lighting, many are concerned that some types of bulbs may pose a risk to the environment.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Also known as CFL bulbs, compact fluorescent varieties use merely one-third of the electricity required by incandescent bulbs of similar wattage. The strange looking devices also do not generate the heat commonly associated with older counterparts, which made them environmentally more appealing in terms of safety and cooling costs. However, by 2008, studies suggested that CFLs comprised only 20% in sales of light bulbs purchased by consumers. The higher price was one of the factors cited as a reason. Nonetheless, as CFLs last up to 10 times longer than incandescents, durability makes up for the extra expense.

The fact that the bulbs contain mercury are also of great concern. Manufacturers have made great strides in reducing the mercury levels contained within each bulb. The amount of the toxic metal found in current bulbs equates to five milligrams or less, which is comparable to the size of a pen tip. Manufacturers argue that using incandescent bulbs creates more mercury waste when coal burning generates the electricity. The majority of states do not prohibit disposing of CFL bulbs with normal household trash. However, more communities are encouraging the public to recycle the bulbs through approved centers.

Light-Emitting Diodes

Each LED bulb lasts up to four times longer than every CFL and also remains cool to the touch. The lifespan of the bulbs make LED light fixtures an especially great choice for lighting hard to reach places. In terms of energy consumption, LED light bulbs save an estimated 90% in electricity costs compared to incandescent bulbs and 50% compared to CFLs. This reduction effectively reduces the workload on power plants. Concerning greenhouse gases, LED bulbs offer the same quality of luminosity as an incandescent bulb, but emit 80% less in greenhouse gases and 50% less gases compared to CFLs.  While boasting that LED lighting does not contain mercury, the ingenious little bulbs do have a dark side.

Research performed by scientists and published in “Environmental Science and Technology” in 2010 revealed that LED lights contain arsenic, lead and up to 12 other potentially toxic substances. According to research reports, red LEDs contain up to eight times more lead than is allowable under California state law. White LED lights contains the lowest amount of lead. However, the bulbs harbor large quantities of nickel and other heavy metals including copper.  The chemical compounds contained with in the bulbs are known carcinogens, may cause allergic reactions or pose a risk to the environment in terms of waste and clean-up expense.

It’s very important to do your research to find which light bulbs are best for you and you family.  When our lighting experts aren’t helping our clients find the best lighting for them, you can find them enjoying the local festivities in Houston, Texas.

 

About the Author

Katie Ward is passionate about helping her clients create the best lighting design to fit their lifestyle.  When she’s not in the office, you’re bound to find her enjoying the many local festivals in downtown Houston, Texas.