What we need here is a new standard for home power supply: a low-voltage DC bus, say 60V, which would be used for lighting and other low-power appliances. AC is essentially pointless once you get down past the 13kV transformer in the street: few of our appliances "need" AC, and most of them have a rectifier right at the front.
With a DC bus in the home, the four problems mentioned would basically go away.
Adam Smith's (AS's) invisible hand of the market does not exist. Once marketers and advertisers pour money into changing our preferences there is no fair dispassionate market left. As for Europe, at least people there don't go broke for medical care, and in some of the countries universities are free or almost free. AS for the larger wattage incandescents, I thought people were working on increasing their efficiencies through heat reflective coatings. If some technology works, then incandescents will be in the market again.
Your liberty to consume petroleum sourced fuel to generate electricity to waste in an inefficient means, becomes my social cost in supporting a global military tasked with securing oil flows around the world. The push for more electrical efficiency in appliances and in lighting and industrially is to reduce how much we depend on petroleum.
Most of the lighting in my house is in the form of recessed ceiling-mounted IC-rated "cans". Unfortunately, most CFL (and I assume, LED) is designed to operate with some air circulation for cooling. In particular, I note that most CFL lighting is designed to "burn base down". I get miserable performance out of R30 CFL reflector flood replacements. In one ceiling, I divided the lamps half-and-half between 65 watt incandescents and the equivalent CFLs. I removed the dimmer because dimmable CFL floods are outrageously priced and very poor in performance. I replaced all of the CFL units three times over the last 5 years; the incandescents are still original.
I'm fairly sensitive to flicker; those LED Chirstmas light strings drive my vision crazy; they're mostly configured as series-strung LEDs in a "self-rectifying" configuration. Horrible, horrible, horrible--the lights look like they're inhabited by crazed ants.
Come up with something cheap, non-toxic and a functional improvement and I'll buy it.
10% of the lights in my house are in closets. They are used for a few seconds at a time, between 0 and a few times a day. Most of these incandescent bulbs are original to when the house was built 25 years ago.
What is the payback period for doubling the efficiency of a bulb that is hardly ever used?
Low initial cost, rapid starting, and good color quality are the only things that are important here, so incandescent is the way to go. Efficiency and extreme long life just don't matter.
Has anyone else noticed the poor reliability of the driver/ballast in today's CFLs? They don't last anywhere near the life of the tube. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and my bet is most people don't properly recyle them. Due to the shorter than expected life, the landfills will have much more mercury than the initial estimates would have predicted.
Americans have trouble turning off lights. The result has been reducing the waste by making them more efficient.
Michelle doesn't care one way or the other, she just knows a good sound bite when she spots it; but I enjoy her so I send her $25 for campaigning when I can afford it.
I own a business which has been developing different LED lighting applications for several years.
I've never had any issues with 'flicker'!
I have worked on 'retrofit' lighting designs before but the marketplace needs to realise that a fundamental re-design of the light fitting itself is required - how we distribute the light created by the LED/LEDs in a space is the key. Simply replacing a conventional lightbulb with an LED lightbulb does not seem like the ideal solution.
For me, LED driver technology is already mature -people just don't understand how to apply/use it! Plus....expensive!
I just purchased the newest Plilips 60 Watt equivalent LED for $24.95 from Amazon. I bought since it got rave reviews.
I'm extremely happy with bulb so far. It provides a diffuse light pattern very similar to a 60 Watt incandanscent bulb. It's color spectrum seems identical to an incondescent. It dims nicely with no flicker, at least to my eyes. The one disconcerting thing i s that it doesn't get redder as it gets dimmer. I haven't had it long enough to comment on longevity but, at 12 Watts, you can touch the heat sink and not get burned.
It still costs too much for general use but the price should drop significantly with economies of scale.
The article discusses the challenges of LED lighting as a replacement for Edison socket incandescent bulbs -- an application of LEDs that to me seems absurd.
A great deal of efficiency can be gained by simply replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, for those who need to adapt into existing old lamp sockets. For those who want LED lighting, here's an idea -- buy new lighting fixtures that are designed for LEDs.
Your mention of the landscape lights is a great example of a good fit between the technology and the application. Flashlights and automotive headlights might be other examples.
In the area of lighting, trying to shove a square peg into a round hole is neither necessary nor wise.