The light bulb, the symbol of bright ideas, doesn’t look like such a great idea anymore, as lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad are talking about banning the century-old technology because of its contribution to global warming.
But what comes next? Compact fluorescent bulbs are the only real alternative right now, but “bulbs” that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are quickly emerging as a challenger.
LEDs, which are small chips usually encased in a glass dome the size of a matchstick head, have been in use in electronics for decades to indicate, for example, whether a VCR is on or off.
Those LEDs were usually red or green, but a scientific breakthrough in the 1990s paved the way for the production of LEDs that produce white light. Because they use less power than standard incandescent bulbs, white LEDs have become common in flashlights.
Established players in the lighting industry and a host of startups are now grooming LEDs to take on the reigning champion of residential lighting, the familiar pear-shaped incandescent light bulb.