The World’s Greatest Light Bulb

Dump your fluorescents and incandescents for this amazing new LED bulb.

By Farhad Manjoo

The Switch light bulb. Click to expand image. The Switch light bulb When I drove to the offices of a start-up called Switch Lighting last week, I wasn’t expecting much. A company representative had promised to show me something amazing—an alternative light bulb that uses a fraction of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb and lasts 20 times as long, but that plugs into a standard socket and produces the same warm, yellowish, comforting glow that we’re all used to seeing when we flip the switch.

I’d heard that pitch before. Energy-efficient bulbs that shine like incandescents are the holy grail of the lighting industry. The effort has become more urgent in the last few years, as governments around the world have imposed regulations to phase out incandescent bulbs. In the United States, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, whose light bulb-related provisions will go into effect next year, requires greater efficiency from all light bulbs on the market; the act effectively outlaws the traditional incandescent bulb by 2014. The phase-out has created a surprising political outcry, with some people even stocking up on bulbs. That’s because today’s main alternative, compact-fluorescent bulbs, are awful. They’ve got three main shortcomings: They’re ugly; they contain mercury, which can be extremely hazardous if the bulbs are broken; and most importantly, they put out harsh, white light that many people (myself included) find unbearable.

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