Mercury Rising: The Way of Kitchen Lights

by Kevin Gilday & Tom Gilday

One More Year

That's all we've got.  By government mandate, we may not use incandescent light bulbs (100w or 75w) past 2013.  The incandescent is out (thanks but no thanks Mr. Edison).  The compact fluorescent is in.  We use a lot of that type of lamp for recessed lighting in our kitchen and bath remodeling projects.  It will be a big change for our clients.

Incandescence

Incandescent lamps are infamous for using a lot of power to produce a little bit of light--and they don't last very long.  It's been said that the incandescent lamp is most effective at producing heat.  Light is just a by product of their output.  So now, finally, there is something better: the compact fluorescent bulb (or CFL).

Fluorescence

This is one of those good news bad news sort of things.  The fluorescent lamp uses very little electricity to produce its light and lasts much longer.  There's one problem with the fluorescent.  Mercury.  Fluorescents contain mercury, a neuro-toxin.  So, the government, while ordering the use of  CFLs, has also labeled them as toxic waste.  It has yet to describe how this toxic waste should be handled.  Hmm...  It is not surprising that our clients are rejecting the installation of compact fluorescents in their kitchens and baths in favor of incadescents as long as they are legal.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

We are putting our money on LEDS to be the choice for recessed lighting in the coming years.  They are cool, clean, and last forever.  There's just one problem.  Cost.  They are expensive.  So, will we pinch pennies and go for poisonous (CFLs) as our kitchen and bath lighting of choice?  Or will we spring for those pricey LEDs?  It's kind of like being forced to make a choice like: "your money or your life!"