Project Pinwheel Design Diary: Entry VII

You know, something that really irritates me whenever I sign up for a service or buy a product are the nuances involved which aren't very apparent and before you know it, you'll find yourself saying "dammit" more times than you can count sand grains.

Oh, but it's true. This isn't buyer's remorse; you simply wouldn't have known that a service or product are a bit more unfavorable than you thought. Let me give a couple of examples.

You can buy products online, of course. There are websites which allow you to earn cash back for purchases; it's advertising which affords you the ability to receive small percentages (usually not enough to offset tax/vat) but your net payment for that product or service would be less than going directly to that merchant. So far, so good.

Let's look at two such companies: Ebates and BigCrumbs.

BigCrumbs has thousands of stores you can earn cash back from, just like Ebates.

They can both deposit money in a third party aggregator account (PayPal, unfortunately).

They can both provide an "offline" means of payment; Ebates a paper check, BigCrumbs can credit a "FREE" prepaid card...for a recurring fee...

Ahem. So, if you use Ebates, they will deposit what you actually earned into PayPal or if you want a paper check. BigCrumbs deducts a small amount from that payment, regardless how you choose to be paid. You can argue that the percentage gain from BigCrumbs more than makes up for it but when other services are What You See Is What You Get, that's what people want. These little fidgity things you wouldn't pay attention to until you've already signed up or bought something.

So, what does this have to do with Pinwheel?

This has to do with my light research and how people are...well...I guess "screwed" out of the options to make good and sound decisions when it comes to solar and light technology.

The bulb you see in the beginning of this entry is a CFL. I'm quite familiar with all manner of bulbs and it's been a struggle to determine which technology to support. I know it may not be Incandescents but I can't limit the system such that it won't be able to use them.

But...CFLs...LED Bulbs...

On one hand, CFLs last much longer than Incandescents. On the other, LED Bulbs last far longer than anything AND use less power. Hell, CFLs even have small milligrams of Mercury. This should be an easy and logical decision.

But it is not. For me.

I struggle to support LED bulbs because of their vastly limited use in diffusion and cost - they cost too effin much. They can't be used in appliances. But if they break, you don't have to do a song and dance to clean them up, either, like with CFLs.

But Incandescents and CFLs cannot only emit light omnidirectionally, they can emit a much broader spectrum of light, making it more comfortable on the eyes whether you're reading a book, cooking or burning the midnight oil.

CFLs. Incandescents.

CFLs produce the same light as Incandescents at a quarter of the power. But they have Mercury. Shit. How am I suppose to work around this?

When a bulb goes bad, we toss them in the trash and screw in a new one. This is the problem; CFLs simply can't be thrown in the trash because of its Mercury content. Why? People handle trash. Trash gets incinerated. Mercury is toxic. You can safely gauge the problems here - they are hazardous to people and the Earth. I'm not the Toxic Crusader but since Mercury has to be used in ALL flourescent fixtures (like the ones in your workplace...if you work), we need a better disposal solution.

This is a complex, multi-faceted problem because it has to do with enforcement of the law in recycling these bulbs and also people's natural behavior to solving this problem ad hoc - it's a no brainer. A bulb burns out, throw it away. Who the eff is going to go to a website to read instructions to discard a burned out light bulb? Who is going to drive somewhere to recycle a bulb? Who? Who is going to open a window and NOT vacuum a bulb's broken pieces amongst a floor? WHO?

How do I solve this problem. And this is only the beginning of it.

Look at the photo of the bulb again. You won't find this bulb in stores. Why? I have no idea. This isn't a 30 cent bulb you'll find on a deal-saving forum at Lowes in a clearance bin; it's a full spectrum bulb which emits pure white light and costs significantly more.

And it most certainly appears to be worth it.

But why aren't retailers selling these bulbs? Why? They outperform LED Bulbs in terms of the quality of light they emit. They last longer or about the same as ordinary CFLs. And I will dare say they are healthier to be around than warm white bulbs (regardless of the type of technology it is).

I have to consider a lot of questions like this when figuring out what bulbs my customers may use, will want to use and can use.

And then I have to change all that because if, dependent upon my further testing of an array of bulbs, full spectrum seems to be the best, my customers will get them.

Nuances not included.