Thursday, November 19, 2009

"A man can never have too many flashlights"

Whenever I try out the old saw that "a women can never have too many shoes"  on Mrs. Philosopher, she counters that based on my example, "a man can never have too many flashlights." I have to confess that it is true - I have one (or more) for every room in the house and every desk and every vehicle, not to mention special purpose ones like spotlights, lanterns, and penlights.

Lately, I have been reading the LED flashlight reviews, checking out the various on and offline stores, and converting or replacing most of the existing flashlights with LED flashlights. The advantages of LEDs are obvious - much better bulb life and better battery life than incandescent bulbs. In recent years LED prices have gone down and LED flashlights have gotten brighter and started using standard batteries instead of the usually pricey (and unrechargeable) coin cells that used to be typical. LEDs are also showing up in much more than light bulbs, but even sticking to that, traffic lights everywhere are converting to LED as well as many exterior car lights excepting headlights for which LEDs are still not bright enough.

Now here's the big puzzle. How did this major power saving technological improvement occur without Senator Barbara ("Call me dopey") Boxer and some Federal bureaucracy mandating its use like the annoying and poisonous Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL)? It sure is a puzzlement, but maybe, just maybe, it has to do with LEDs actually being better than incandescent bulbs for many applications and not some just some ecoweenie fantasy.

So why don't they make LED replacements for regular incandescent light bulbs? Actually, if you look around you can find some and they provide similar power savings and much better color rendering than CFLs without the poisonous mercury, but at the moment they are still rather expensive. Hopefully they get down the commodity pricing curve soon before the greentards give us all mercury poisoning.