When I was just a wee little handy-boy, my favorite joke was “how many handymen does it take to change a light bulb?” BWAHAAHAAHAA!!! Yeah, as if you could get a handyman to EVER return your call to change a lightbulb. Funny, but that joke has not been as funny since I started small-job-oriented Fix St Louis, where we change light bulbs all the time.
But I’m not the only one these days who’s finding that old changing-a-light-bulb joke less funny. What made it funny was it was generally understood there was nothing easier to do than changing a light bulb. Well, that’s certainly not true TODAY! Have you been to the bulb aisle at a Home Depot lately? There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of different light bulbs — every type of bulb EXCEPT the ones you used to buy. They’ve even given your old bulbs a name — “incandescent” — which, if I’m not mistaken, is Latin for “dinosaur.”
How did this upheaval in the light bulb aisle happen? Here’s a quick history of the light bulb, which is strangely similar to what happened to the dinosaur.
— According to the Bible, in the beginning God said “let there be light” (by that, I’m pretty sure he meant the fires from the Sun, not light bulbs). And he said it was “good” (Note, he never claimed it was “great”).
— But Thomas Edison thought he could do better. He figured out how to confine fire to a glass globe.
— God may have been peeved by Edison’s impertinence, so perhaps out of wrath smited the light bulb industry with the equivalent of a meteor strike on dinosaurs. A small group of Hollywood celebrities masquerading as prophets started predicting the end of the world if the government didn’t do something immediately to get rid of the light bulb.
— So, the government sprung to action. They grabbed a flashlight and eventually found an unused copy of the Constitution in a dark closet in the Capitol. Although the flashlight’s batteries were weak, they thought they were able to make out that the Founding Fathers had granted them the right to ban standard bulbs, even though the closest thing to a light bulb the framers ever knew was some combination of a kite, a key, and a bolt of lightning.
— The next few years were chaotic as inventors scrambled to find ANYTHING nearly as good as a standard bulb. In the earliest version, they contorted a fluorescent bulb into the shape of a corkscrew and crammed it into a glass globe. Their efforts unified our nation. Everyone hated it.
— Finally, a consensus emerged to use LED (light emitting diode) technology. Our bulbs would henceforth contain “diodes,” electrical components that just happen to spit out light beams when electricity passes through them, without involving fire, heat, or much energy at all. How do they do this? I dunno, I’m just a humble handyman, not a physicist. Just a guess, but I’m gonna say it’s magic — you know, like fireflies.
But you’re not reading this column because you wanted a history lesson from a handyman, right? You just want to know which light bulbs to buy.
So here’s the advice of Fix St Louis — RESIST. Don’t change a THING from the way you once purchased bulbs, EXCEPT buy packages that say “LED” on them. Better yet, try to buy LIGHT FIXTURES that also include the word “integrated” on them, which means this diode stuff is built into the fixture itself, so you’ll NEVER have to change a bulb.
This should be your default position on buying light bulbs:
— Don’t stop calling bulbs by their old names, i.e. 25W, 40W, 60W, 75W, and 100W. Boxes of light bulbs STILL display those designations, even though wattages have NOTHING AT ALL to do with how bright these bulbs are. Manufacturers and citizen-of-the-world types have thrown-up their hands, concluding that we are all hopeless, and are incapable of ever learning to refer to a 75W bulb as one that delivers 1,100 “lumens.” Sheesh, you would have thought they learned their lesson long ago, when patriotic Americans stood their ground and refused to move to the metric system.
— Stick with bulbs called “Soft White,” just like you once did — that’s also still on the package. If you want to complicate your life by using bulbs labeled “Cool White” or “Warm White” or “Daylight” or stuff like that, that’s fine. No one’s going to stop you, at least until the government finds that in the Constitution, too.
— If your bulb is controlled by a dimmer switch, make sure the package says “dimmable.” These LED diodes are not as smart as incandescent bulbs that know to burn more brightly when fed more electricity. — all they know is “on” and “off”. It took some engineers to figure out this dimmable LED trick, and is not a feature in every LED bulb you buy.
Rest assured, despite all the bulb turmoil, in most cases it STILL doesn’t take more than one person (you) to change a light bulb, as long as you decide to just plow ahead and select bulbs the way you always have.
And while you don’t have to be shy about asking for light-bulb-changing help from a handyman, recognize that Fix St Louis is the only company that will take you seriously. The truth is there are many instances when it is COMPLETELY sensible to call for help — chandeliers, can lights on ceilings two levels up (in fact, any fixture on a ceiling), outdoor lights, light fixtures where it’s difficult to remove the glass cover — or if you have safety or mobility concerns.
So don’t just sit in the dark. Call Fix St Louis. Let us be your guiding light in the bulb aisle and beyond.
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