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Orphaned Technology

Updated on September 15, 2016


This week, I was visiting my daughter in Irvine CA and staying at an Irvine apartment complex. It is an excellent facility with all kinds of amenities. You can tell the builders put a lot of thought into everything including the lighting and plumbing systems. Unfortunately, they went too far.

- Sept. 2016

A bit of History...

In 1880, Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. In 1980, Philips introduced the first CFL bulb to save energy usage. Partly due to the environmentalist and the global earming crowd pushing to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. In 2015, the cost of LED bulbs has dropped dramatically as to make both the incandescent bulb and the CFL obsolete. In 2016, GE announced that they intend to phase out the production of CFL bulbs.

This is great news for saving energy and more lighting right? Unfortunately, the orphan technology of CFL has consequences over and above that of incandescent bulbs. In the case of the Irvine apartment complexes, they have designed the buildings using CFL fixtures all over and the fixtures were built into the ceiling. Which means you cannot easily replace the bulbs.

A classic case of orphaned technology in a mere 36 years. It did not help when our government mandates the replacement of all incandescent bulbs in favor of CFL a while ago.

What Happens Now?

In the case with these apartments, there is an expensive conversion kit needed to allow these fixtures to be modified to adapt to LEDs.

This is a great example of government over reach. Their good intentions to save energy has created this problem. Instead of allowing the market place to decide what is best, they choose winners. Unfortunately for us, in this case, they made the wrong choice.

By the way, the CFL bulbs have another downside. They contain toxic ingredients. If you break one, you will need a Hazmat unit to clean it up. Read it here.


In summary, some technologies needs time to flush out. Similar to the Betamax vs. VHS format debates, one will win out in the end. If you jumped in too soon, you might end up with the wrong machine.

In the case of efficient lighting, LEDs are the clear winner. Anyone who chose CFL fixtures, must pay the price to convert.


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