Incandescent bulbs deliver a natural warm light, but guzzle electricity. Fluorescent tubes on the other hand are more energy efficient, but typically deliver a harsher and colder light. These may be more efficient and last longer, but they contain heavy metals such as mercury, which effectively renders any environmental credentials they may have next to useless once they end up in landfill.
· Enter stage left solid-state LED lighting.
Where incandescent bulbs put electrical current across a metal filament to generate light, and fluorescents use electricity to excite neon gas that in turn lights up a phosphor coating inside the tube, LEDs are semiconductors, just like the microchips that populate most modern day gadgets, and this gives them some pretty nifty advantages.
LED lighting can be 10 times more economical than even an energy efficient light bulb, and better still, will outlast them by a massive margin. Most importantly however, LEDs are also evolving at an explosive pace, just like their silicon cousins the microprocessor.
Just as Intel's Gordon Moore coined Moores Law, a researcher named Roland Haitz, at Hewlett-Packard, has tracked the historical prices of LEDs, and projected them forwards to estimate that the amount of light LEDs produced would increase by a 20 per cent per decade, whilst their costs would drop over the same period by a factor of 10.
The need for extremely energy efficiency lighting such as LEDs hasn't escaped the attention of global governments either. In the USA, the EU, Australia even NZ, governments are looking to phase out inefficient lighting as legislating for a more efficient solution can save billions of dollars per year, and decrease dependence on oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.