The last time you went off in search of a replacement light bulb, you may have been overwhelmed by the huge selection of new types of bulbs in the lighting aisle? Today we are going to clear up some of the confusion and shed a little light on the different types of bulbs available today.
There is no doubt that in the last 10 years the number of different bulbs available has grown substantially. Bulbs of every type, color, and shape line the shelves in a wide—and confusing—array of options, making it hard to find the right bulb for your needs. With just a little knowledge on the basics of bulb types you will be able to quickly choose the best replacement bulb for your needs.
Light Bulb Lingo
Before you head to the local hardware or big box store to buy a new bulb having a grasp on terminology manufacturers use to measure the input and output of certain types of light bulbs will make your search much easier.
Watts indicate the amount of energy the bulb will use. Bulbs with lower wattage will use less electricity and can therefore help keep the electricity bill down. Here, the age-old mantra holds true: Less is more.
Lumens indicate the amount of light the bulb will put out. The number of lumens to look for depends on the room you’re lighting, as some spaces (like the bathroom) could use a brighter bulb, and others (say, the bedroom) benefit from softer light. The figures below are a general guide for the amount of light for the rooms in your home or business:
• 7.5 lumens per square foot in hallways
• 15 lumens per square foot in the bedroom
• 35 lumens per square foot in dining rooms, kitchens, and offices
• 75 lumens per square foot in bathrooms
Typically, a standard 100-watt incandescent bulb emits around 1600 lumens. Newer bulbs, however, require less power and may emit just as much light which can save you money on your energy bill.
Types of Bulbs
Incandescent: This is the most commonly used light bulb and usually the least expensive. This type of light has a warm, inviting quality and is very complimentary to skin tones and psychologically appealing. Incandescent bulbs usually last between 700 to 1,000 hours and can be used with a dimmer; however, they’re not as energy efficient as other options.
Fluorescent: Fluorescent tube bulbs have been around for years. You’re no doubt well acquainted with the long, cylindrical glass tubes you see in overhead lights in department stores, but you can also find circular and U-shaped fluorescent tubes to fit specialty fixtures. This particular type of light bulb uses less energy than incandescent bulbs, but it contains mercury vapor and a phosphor coating that converts UV light to visible light when turned on. Because these bulbs contain mercury, many communities have regulations for their disposal.
Halogen: These bulbs are a variation of incandescent. They give the closest approximation of natural daylight, known as “white light.” Colors appear sharper under halogen light and the bulbs can be dimmed. They’re a little more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs but are more expensive and burn at a higher temperature. Most often halogen bulbs are used in under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights and recessed cans. Remember not to use bare hands when changing the halogen bulb. The smallest residue of oil from a human hand can rub off on the bulb, creating an atmosphere where the bulb warms too quickly when the lamp is turned on, which can cause the bulb to explode.
LED: LED stands for light emitting diodes. LED light bulbs are one of the most energy efficient lighting options available. The heat produced by the light bulb is absorbed into a heat sink, keeping the bulbs cool to the touch and saving energy. Unlike an incandescent bulb, LEDs don’t burn out. They experience “lumen deprivation” and their light output will decrease upwards of 30%. The benefit of LED light bulbs is that they use less electricity than other bulbs, they last longer, are quiet, contain no mercury, and don’t emit UV or infrared. They can also last up to 10 years with average use of three hours a day. One of the downsides of LEDs is that they are directional, meaning they only light in a specific direction, as opposed to all directions. If you’re looking for the energy efficient option, be sure to check the label for the ENERGY STAR symbol before you buy.
Compact fluorescent: (CFLs) consume a quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs do and last 10 times longer. Unlike the old fluorescent lights, CFLs are quiet, instant-on and have warmer, color-corrected tones. They can be used anywhere you would use a typical incandescent light bulb. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, a harmful substance. Although the bulbs contain far less mercury than other household items, care needs to be taken to prevent breakage. Also, when CFLs burn out, they should be recycled.
WiFi Capable: Strictly in the realm of “specialty bulbs,” Wi-Fi-capable bulbs fit ordinary lamps and fixtures but give you the ability to either program the bulbs to turn on at preset times or control them remotely from your smartphone or tablet. Read the fine print before you buy one that doesn’t work with your mobile device; some bulbs are strictly Apple- or Android-compatible.
Experts you Can Trust
Price is important, but when choosing an electrician judge the entire picture an electrician is showing you character, expertise, the ease of working with him or her, and overall value. A large part of an electrician’s value is that he/she gets the job done right and safely without taking too much of your time and inconveniencing you. A very competent electrician can save you money by suggesting more efficient ways to do a job or to save on electricity. When you enjoy a good relationship with your electrician, it can save you both time and money. Give us a call about your next electrical project and we will be happy to help.
2 thoughts on “Light Bulbs: A Homeowners Guide”