03 January, 2008

I have seen the future and it flickers

If I understand correctly (and I rarely do) the recently passed energy bill will ban incandescent light bulbs in the not-so-near future. Long enough for a later Congress to reconsider once people start worrying about how to dispose of all the mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs, I reckon. I like CFLs okay, but I heartily recommend against the "Daylight Effects" brand. I bought two boxes of those last year and they all died within a year. I called to company to inquire about replacement, as directed on the box; I left my name and number on an answering machine and they still haven't gotten back to me. The GE bulbs work fine though.

Anyway, our real enlightenment will come from LED's. Traffic lights are now made with LED's and you can buy LED flashlights which aren't too bad. I have one myself, a dynamo-powered device that I bought at Walgreen's. I'm not into progressivism but I find renewable energy fascinating; if I can get my hands on something human- or solar-powered at a reasonable price then I'll beg my wife for months or even years if need be. (That's how I ended up with the awesome dynamo-powered flashlight. A huge sale & rebate didn't hurt either.)

Most recently I saw some "outdoor illumination" at Lowe's: they sell solar-powered "flickering candles". The "solar power" comes from a genuine solar cell on top of the device that recharges two batteries during the day (Ni-Cad included, ugh); the "flickering candle" is an effect with an LED where it brightens, then dims, sending light down onto a candle that looks as if it has fiberoptic cable for a wick. I bought a two-pack, and after two nights I think the candle glows and flickers in a very convincing way. It doesn't provide much in the way of illuminating the sidewalk, but I didn't buy it for that anyway; its purpose is decorative and it succeeds at that admirably.

I'm sure everyone on the block thinks I'm crazy, but at least I look the part.


Clemens said...

So you are all set to get a Tesla electric sportscar like I read about in Wired magazine? 0 to 60 in about 5 secs. running on batteries.

jack perry said...

I can't afford it. However, the only reason I don't own an electric car, or at least a gas-electric hybrid, is that I don't have the money for it. It's the same reason I have yet to put solar cells on my southern-facing roof. Of course, I've only lived here a little more than a year :-) One day, perhaps...