GE: Say Goodbye to CFLs, Hello to LEDs

Company is phasing out curly compact fluorescents
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2016 1:22 PM CST
GE: Say Goodbye to CFLs, Hello to LEDs
Sayonara, CFLs.   (Shutterstock)

Valentine's Day is just a couple of weeks away, but there's a big split making headlines. "GE is breaking up with compact fluorescent lamps" is how General Electric broke the news in a Monday release on its latest development: It will phase out compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, this year and start moving toward now-more-affordable light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, Bloomberg reports. CFLs, which replaced the original Thomas Edison-inspired incandescent bulbs in the mid-1980s, did last longer, but consumers didn't like how long they took to warm up, the harsh light they emitted, or the fact that they used mercury. LEDs came along and seemed to be a panacea: These energy-efficient bulbs boasted warmer, more appealing light that lasted longer than other types of bulbs: The GE release notes "a single LED bulb can light a child's bedroom desk lamp from birth through college graduation."

But LED bulbs were super-expensive—until recently, and now more people are finally starting to use them thanks to the cost reduction: Per the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, LEDs now make up 15% of bulbs sold in the US—a nearly 240% increase from 2014, the New York Times notes. And the LEDs' potential for use in "smart" technology has experts particularly excited. Gizmodo notes that, in addition to providing illumination, the circuit boards in LEDs can power Bluetooth and WiFi antennas and serve as a power source for sensors in consumers' homes. "We're going to make LEDs more accessible, and we'll start using light bulbs for more than just lighting," a GE global marketing manager says. "We think that light bulbs will be able to sense or hear. They can be nodes throughout your house." (MIT researchers may have figured out how to make incandescent bulbs way more efficient.)

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