WEST ORANGE, NJ - There’s a lot to learn about light bulbs, and Bob Rosenzweig is just the guy to enlighten the public. Rosenzweig, who recently spoke at Thomas Edison Historical National Park about light bulb history, was ready to answer the consumer's pressing question of "what’s the best light bulb to buy now that 40 and 60 watt light bulbs are going the way of the dinosaur?" Read on to find out, and a whole lot more.
Bob Rosenzweig comes from a family of light bulb makers. His family tree began in Austria back in the early 1900s, where the Weiss brothers, a family of Austrian Jews, began manufacturing tungsten filament bulbs in direct competition with Thomas Edison. (Thomas Edison’s light bulb manufacturing endeavor became General Electric.)
In 1910, Edison began manufacturing the Mazda squirrel cage light bulb, which was improved upon with cutting edge Pre-WWI lighting technology by Ferrowatt, the Weiss brothers business in Vienna. Unfortunately, Otto Weiss was the only brother to survive the Holocaust during the Second World War and he came to the United States, settling in New York. His descendant, Bob Rosenzweig, founded AAMSCO Lighting in 1975, and currently manufactures lighting and fixtures. He has revived the Ferrowatt name and also continues to design contemporary replicas of Edison’s and the Weiss brothers’ innovations.
Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs generated light by heating a wire until it glowed and adding gases until they burned. The problem with 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt bulbs was that 95% of the energy went to heat and not light. Five years ago, the US passed legislation requiring certain levels of energy efficiency in light bulbs, marking the beginning of the end for light bulbs as we know them.
Compact fluorescent bulbs were popular for a short time because they generated a lot of light like incandescent bulbs. Unfortunately, CFs also contained mercury, classifying them as ‘hazardous waste,’ once they expired. While still manufactured, consumers need to be aware of the risks.
Rosenzweig recommends that homeowners seeking to replace the outgoing 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs look at LED (light emitting diode) bulbs equating to 40 watts that cost about $10, and $12-$16 per bulb for the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb. (LEDs work by two plates coming between an electric field to generate light.)
LED bulbs last for years and will save money in the long run, but the upfront cost may seem off-putting to many. Consumers must also begin thinking in terms of lumens instead of watts. A bulb with 590 lumens is equal to a 60-watt bulb and 1,600 lumens is equal to a 100-watt bulb.
The type of light an LED gives off – either cool or warm, is measured in kelvins. 5,600 kelvins would equate to sunlight. Commercial business areas tend to light with 3,600-5,000 kelvins (cool) and indoor residential light is optimal at 2700-3600 kelvins (warm).
Check the bulb life as well. The longer the hours an LED burns, the more expensive it will be. Purchase those bulbs for hard to reach areas in the home.
Most bulbs are manufactured in China, and shipping requirements make transport time-consuming for sellers in the United States. Other countries are even more stringent in their laws governing light bulbs, like England, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. Europe is actually far ahead of the United States when it comes to environmental energy issues.
Commercial industry is always on the cutting edge of technology, and ‘organic LEDs’ are the wave of the future. Consumers will soon see their presence with commercial industry lighting and product manufacturing. The ‘must have’ home of the not-too-distant future will be a ‘smart house,’ and will operate like a Smart phone that is connected to Skype and virtual ICloud technology.
Rosenzweig waxed philosophic about the light bulb industry. “There’s nothing wrong with 40 and 60 watt bulbs,” he noted, “but organic LEDs are the future of the lighting industry.”
In the meantime, for those yearning for the days of yesteryear, visit businesses along the Main Street corridor in West Orange, where replicas of Edison’s squirrel cage bulbs, infused with modern LED technology, are lighting up businesses and establishments in style.