Are we really ready to say goodbye to incandescent light bulbs? The ones that give off 10% light and 90% heat? The ones with the shortest life span? The ones that have the lowest initial price, don’t flicker, are always instant on-instant off, and give off the “right” color and quality of light? Not so fast and not so easy…
We have been here before: 2- and 4-pin CFL fixtures!
Many of us have been here: wired a project with 2- or 4-pin CFL fixtures so that the lighting STAYED efficient when lamps (bulbs) needed to be replaced, only to hear complaints about the quality of the CFL pin lamps, the lack of wattage flexibility of the pin CFL lamps, the price of the CFL pin lamp replacements; or even worse, hear (at very high decibel levels) that there were no replacement pin lamps even being stocked by local retail.
GU24 base lamps are the future of energy-efficient lighting
I think we have it right this time: the relatively new GU24 base (see attached images). This new base has a 2-pin base that you simply twist and click to replace the lamp (bulb). It eliminates inappropriate incandescent lamp (bulb) replacement but allows replacement with ANY wattage of CFL OR LED. And the GU24 makes for a shorter base than the standard medium screw base (E26) so no worries over new CFL or LED lamps fitting into tight fixtures.
Are Energy Star and industry embracing the new exclusively CFL/LED GU24 base?
Yes, they are. As of this writing, the majority of Energy Star fixtures are using the GU24 base and there are a full range of CFLs and a growing number of LED lamps with the GU24 configuration, both in local retail and online. When I checked online, GU24 lamps of all types and wattages were widely available and our local True Value hardware store carries them. (The local Ace hardware store is not yet stocking them, but employees reported a growing interest and special orders for GU24 lamps).
Energy Star stated that the new draft of their GU24 product criteria will be out in early September of this year and the GU24 base is becoming more popular with LED lighting manufacturers as well.
What should affordable housing providers do about GU24?
In states with strict energy codes, you will probably be more and more “pressured” or motivated to consider GU24 — it’s the way to go, at least for new construction. In retrofit, depending on how the building code applies, you may want to go to GU24 as part of going green, moving your homes to GU24-base light fixtures.
The slightly higher first cost of a GU24-base CFL will be more than covered by the energy savings and longer life of the CFL compared to any incandescent bulb. And maybe you will want to offer rebate vouchers for GU24 lamps as a way of sharing your commitment to energy-efficient lighting with your clients.
What about LEDs and affordable housing?
LEDs are really not yet a good fit for affordable housing. While many lighting experts feel that LEDs are the bulb of the future and the LED market share is growing rapidly, LEDs are changing all the time and their first cost is still too high for the affordable housing market.
Most importantly, LED performance metrics need to change, to better separate out the LED wheat from the chaff. The new Energy Star product criteria for CFLs do a much better job in this respect, but LED product criteria are just not there yet.