Yeah, you know these. You’ll find them in restaurants that call themselves “gastropubs” or some other made up thing. They look like they were hanging in a barn in 1910, and are most often found today hanging from bare wire in rooms covered in reclaimed wood and staffed by young people sporting undercuts and gargantuan mustaches.
I’m actually a fan of the artisan movement. Creating something with your bare hands, learning the absolute basics of something, that’s awesome. Reusing old things in new ways, equally awesome. The taste of an heirloom tomato, super awesome. But these light bulbs are just plain stupid in my opinion.
They’re supposed to give you the warm glow associated with old-timey things, that glow you theoretically can’t get any other way. They look like antiques when they’re new, too. But that’s about when things start to go sideways for me.
First of all, incandescent lightbulbs may be charming but they are incredibly inefficient. LED bulbs are up to 20 times more efficient, last longer, and while they do involve some manufacturing techniques that could potentially harm the environment, they last so long that the net effect is that there’s very little impact to the environment at all.
Second, those bulbs are so dim that wherever I see them I know that I’m going to have to pull out my phone’s flashlight app just to be able to read the menu. One place I went to was so dark that ended up pulling up their menu on my phone because it was the only way to read it. They aren’t a great way to light up anything.
The fact is that they’re not artisanal. They’re mass produced just like any other light bulb. You’re being charged for an inefficient, wasteful bulb and you’re probably being charged more up front than you would be for a regular bulb.
Oh, I get it – I hear you, friends… CFLs with their weird twists and LEDs with their plain-jane looks just aren’t romantic. It doesn’t matter that you can get that dim orange color from those more modern bulbs, there’s just something super charming about sitting in a room covered in reclaimed barn wood and sitting under a bare brown wire with an antique-looking lightbulb hanging there a little crooked. It makes you feel like you’re back in some old-timey day when people died of polio and there were no laws saying what kind of meat you could put in cold-cuts and no one had central heat and you had to shovel manure in that barn that you’re eating artisanal pickles in now.
See, those so-called artisan light bulbs are expensive, inefficient, and worst of all they “remind” you of a romantic past that didn’t exist. You know what I like? I like things today, where you can be warm and safe and where you can buy a lightbulb that may outlive you for less than the cost of a hot meal, where the internet is all around you and it’s a very safe bet that you won’t get sick from eating the food or drinking the water. That sounds pretty romantic to me.