Should you switch to LEDs?

Should you switch to LEDs?
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First Published: Wed, Apr 01 2009. 12 27 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Apr 01 2009. 09 34 AM IST
Even in the 21st century, the 19th century’s light bulb has yet to touch the lives of several million people in some villages in India. In European Union (EU) countries, however, this ordinary light bulb will progressively be banned from retail shelves from September. A new EU directive aims to cut the CO2 emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect and focus more on energy-conscious living by banning the incandescent light bulb.
Also See LED Options (PDF)
CFL unscrewed
Surprisingly though it may seem, the compact fluorescent light, or CFL, increasingly used in homes and buildings across Indian cities and towns is not the answer either. Indeed, expect the swish and the techno-chic to unscrew those sometimes awkward-looking CFLs and replace them with the latest in lighting: light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
Here’s why. LED lighting gives you significantly more light for every watt of electricity than CFLs. In turn, that’s what is said about CFLs when the comparison is with the incandescent light bulb. You can well imagine how dramatically energy-efficient LED lighting must be—and the direct savings in your electricity bill month after month.
Cut your monthly bill
For example, an incandescent light bulb with a 60-watt rating can be replaced with a CFL of 13-15 watts, reducing your bill to one-fourth the original amount. Yet an LED of just 6-8 watts will give you the same amount of light and reduce your bill to one-tenth.
Keep these figures in mind as India, with its significantly larger population, moves into yet another summer with power demand exceeding supply.
Long lasting
The average light bulb has a lifespan of around 1,000-1,200 hours. A CFL may have a lifespan of about 2,500-8,000 hours but an LED lamp shines on for around 30,000-50,000 hours. CFLs actually contain mercury, which is highly toxic both for your health and the environment. Disposing of a CFL requires the same caution as a broken mercury thermometer at home. Fortunately, LEDs are much more environment-friendly and easier to dispose of.
Light and easy style
Expect the impact of LEDs on lifestyle and culture to be a lot more dramatic. First, LED home lighting comes in an immense variety of shapes and sizes, and has enough variety to fit into any standard of bulb-holder or socket—from bayonet or screw-in bulb-holders to halogen-fit sockets and beyond. Second, it emanates a cooler and softer glow that is aesthetically pleasing. Some of the most exotic models can be tuned to change their colours and tones at the touch of a button. Imagine being able to change the mood and ambience of a room at your whim. Last week, I picked a specific LED bulb that looked like an ordinary light bulb and hurled it to the floor, much to the shock of passers-by. They were even more startled to see it just bounce around without breaking—and when I picked it up and reinserted it into a bulb-holder, it seemed to glow with amusement.
A high price tag
For all its goodness, local Indian retail has hardly stocked up on LEDs so far. Attribute this to the rather steep price. Some bulbs can cost between Rs500-4,000 each. You might find cheap and unbranded Chinese imports selling from a starting point of Rs90. I bought one but found its quality rather disappointing and its light a dim bluish glow. Some upmarket home stores located in snazzy malls do sell a scant few models of LED bulbs from popular home-lighting brands, but expect each unit to sell from Rs350-425 and beyond. The online shopping world, in contrast, is abuzz with the excitement and abundant variety of LED bulbs. However, be careful while ordering online—most bulbs ship for 120V, while India is standardized on 220V.
SwitchEasy, a manufacturer of iPod accessories, has released the ThumbTack ($13), a mini microphone for the iPod Nano 4G or Touch 2G that is shaped like a tack. It plugs into the iPod’s headphone jack and immediately brings up a voice-recording application that is built into every iPod. The system can record audio at MP3 quality directly to the free space on the iPod. It comes in black, red and white and also works with third-party audio-recording applications available on the iTunes App Store.
Onkyo has released an entry-level home theatre, the HT-S3200 ($380). The 660-watt package comes with a 5.1-channel AV receiver with 110 watts per channel, three HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) inputs, DTS and Dolby Digital surround processing and five loudspeakers. It also has four digital signal processing sound modes that adjust the system’s settings for rock, sports, action and role playing (as in computer games). The Onkyo HT-S3200 is now available for the recession-friendly price of $380.
Want to clean up your printed copies of Web pages and remove the extra lines such as page number and Web address? In most browsers, you can turn off the space-hogging information in the Page Setup or Print box. Look for the settings for Headers and Footers. Instructions for many browsers are at and tips for customizing header and footer information in Internet Explorer 7 at help/IE_7/headfoot.htm
Adding an iPod jack to your car’s system may take some time, money and effort, but the wired connection usually sounds consistently better than an inexpensive add-on such as an FM transmitter. A number of iPod kits are available for car stereo systems. One place to see what’s out there is Apple’s own page at The page has links to manufacturers with iPod connections in their current models, as well as a lengthy list of after-market solutions. Your options vary depending on your car equipment.
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First Published: Wed, Apr 01 2009. 12 27 AM IST