CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 120-year dispute over who invented the incandescent light bulb, whether it was Thomas Edison or Heinrich Gobel, really won't matter after Jan. 1 -- the date that will seemingly mark the end of residential lighting.
On this day, and citing their inefficiency, the manufacture of the 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs will cease. The 60-watt incandescent bulb is the most widely used light bulb in America -- tens of millions of them are manufactured each year.
This comes after the controversial 2013 phase-out of 75-, 100- and 150-watt incandescent bulbs.
The U.S. lighting industry is trying to persuade consumers to purchase light emitting diode bulbs, known as LEDs. The industry's overarching goal is to replace incandescent bulbs with halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs.
All are significantly more expensive than the traditional incandescent bulbs, but they are said to provide more energy and cost savings over the long run.
Recently, Home Depot was selling a six-pack of 60-watt incandescents, manufactured by General Electric, for $4.67, or 78 cents apiece. A six-pack of 60-watt LEDs, manufactured by Cree, sells between $12.97 to $77.82 each.
Bruce Goldfarb, owner of Goldfarb Electric in Charleston, said some objections to the recent phase-out include a higher purchase cost of efficient replacements, the quality of light produced by phosphor-based lamps compared to incandescent ones and the fact that fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury -- a potent neurotoxin that could be dangerous if exposed to children and the environment.
Cost is a major concern for consumers, considering the LED equivalents are significantly more expensive than the traditional incandescent bulbs. However, as competing manufacturers, such as Westinghouse and Philips, continually introduce new and more efficient versions, prices are expected to go down.
"As we see more competition in the LED market, prices will rapidly fall," Goldfarb said. "LEDs are simply easier to dispose of and are more energy efficient. The switch is essentially a backdoor attempt to save wear and tear on the power grid.
"I don't believe there's any logic in all of this ... manufacturers are trying to eliminate people from buying incandescent bulbs altogether. I have a lot of people that come in here screaming for incandescent bulbs. There are so many options out there now -- it's all confusing to the customer."