Choosing a Light Bulb for the home

A walk down the lighting aisle at your local DIY Shed, hardware shop or supermarket isn’t what it used to be. The old, relatively homogenous display of incandescent lamps has morphed into rows of new bulbs, such as halogens, CFLs and LEDs all with technical terms most consumers know very little about. While these new bulbs, or lamps offer consumers even more choices for home lighting, they also cause confusion. Confronted with all these new lamp offerings, how can you tell which one is right for you?

To help you determine which lamp is the right fit, we’re going back to the bulb/lamp basics. Here are some quick facts about the four most common types of lamps that you’ll encounter still on sale today.

Standard Incandescent

General Household Lightbulbs

It may be the most commonly recognized lamp, but this descendant of Thomas Edison’s original light bulb isn’t what it used to be. New EU regulations mandated big changes for these items. These energy-efficiency regulations have effectively banned the manufacturing of the most common incandescent lamps, from 25 to 150w, to pave the way for Compact Fluorescents or LED’s which consume less energy and are shown further in this article.

Lower wattage incandescent lamps can be used anywhere that their energy-inefficient forbearers were used. But, because they are still not as energy-efficient as other types of lamps, it’s best to save them for settings where colour rendering is key, such as bathroom make-up counters or where the lights aren’t turned on 24/7. They are also fully dimmable, and work well for dimming fixtures like decorative chandeliers.

For those of you that prefer the old lamps we still have plenty of the old fashioned lamps available and you can find these on our website by visiting our General Household Lighting section.

Halogen

Halogen Energy Savers

Often referred to as a “close cousin” of the standard incandescent lamp, the halogen lamp is actually a type of incandescent lamp that contains a halogen gas mixture. This mix of gasses increases the lamp’s lifetime and produces more light using less energy.

Some halogens, called halogen IRC lamps, have an infrared coating that can double to triple the life of lamp compared to a regular halogen lamp. There are energy saving halogens now that replace the standard incandescent for the time being. Visit our Halogen Energy Savers section of the web site.

While most halogens use less energy that traditional standard incandescent lamps, they produce the same colour of light, making them ideal replacements for any applications that use standard incandescents. If dimming, initial cost and colour rendering are important, then halogen is an excellent choice. Halogen may not save anywhere near as much energy as other common lamp technologies, so it may not be the best solution for applications that require lights to be on 24 hours a day, or if you’re looking to save a lot of energy. You can always contact our sales office that offer sensible solutions to a problem rather than chasing a fast profit.

CFLs

CFLs

While CFLs got a bad rap in their early days, the majority of CFLs of today differ greatly from some of the “green-hued” early predecessors.

CFLs have great energy-saving capabilities, a long life and a low initial cost. In fact, most CFLi’s can use 75-80% less energy, produce 60-75% less heat, and lasts up to 8-15 times longer than a standard incandescent. Because of this, they are ideal for almost any ambient or task lighting application. Not all CFLs dim, so be sure to check the package to make sure the bulb is dimmable.

Some poor quality CFLs can flicker and take a while to start up, so opt for high-quality products. If you want to approximate the colour of a standard incandescent, look for CFLs with a correlated colour temperature, or CCT, around 2,700-3,000 degree Kelvin. We have our own range of 3000 Kelvin lamps in our Casell brand that are excellent in the home. Search for the shape and cap required in our Energy Saving Bulbs section of our website.

Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury they must be properly recycled according to the directions on the packaging. Most retailers and Supermarkets now have the recycle bins available. For domestic users, we have a recycle bin at our warehouse if required.

LEDs

LEDs

LED is the newest mainstream lamp technology and it’s often the most misunderstood, and for good reason. LED is drastically unlike other standards lamps, both in terms of technology (it’s a solid-state lighting (SSL) source with a semiconductor chip) and quality (which varies greatly from product to product). So, it’s important to do your homework when buying an LED lamp. Hopefully the information below will help you in your purchase. If not, please email the sales office sales@lampco.co.uk.

Firstly, look at the brand you are buying and check the warranty offered. Remember, domestically an LED is used on average 3 hours a day in the home that’s just under 1100 hours a year (Much longer if you have teenage kids like me!), so warranties for 2-3 years and claims of 30-50,000 hours life are really not that attractive as a consumer weighing up the warranty with the expected life. Certainly this is an issue with LED but the major manufacturers will always back their products. Some of the unknown LED manufacturers & far eastern “White box” specials will not be so supportive, or more likely not be here in 3 years’ time.

Look at an LED lamp’s lumens, or the amount of light the lamp produces, instead of wattage, the amount of power it uses, when comparing LED lamps to other bulbs. LED bulbs use less wattage than incandescents, but may actually produce more light. You might find that a 10-watt LED produces the same amount of lumens as a 60-watt incandescent, which translates to energy savings.

LEDs can produce virtually any colour light, including the full spectrum of visible white light. Compare the CCT of the LED product you are evaluating to the product you are looking to replace. Typically an LED lamp in the 2,700K-3,000K range will have a similar colour to incandescent and warm-white CFL lamps. For spot lamps the widest beam angle available is generally a much better option as LED light is very directional. Halogen and incandescent always have spill overs reflecting off the ceiling and other surfaces. LED’s don’t have that it’s all in one direction.

Price is another huge difference between LEDs and other lamps: An LED can cost ten/twenty times and sometimes more than an incandescent! But before price shock sets in, consider the cost over the lifetime of the lamp. Some LED lamps last 30-50,000+ hours, making the lamp an investment that can pay off in the long run. LED lamps also use less energy, and can help you save on energy costs. Our Energy Saving Calculator shows you the overall saving during the life of the LED.

LEDs can be used for task and ambient lighting. Decorative lighting styles such as chandelier bulbs are also becoming more widely available. Be sure to check packaging for dimming capabilities, since not all LED lamps are dimmable.

Finally, with LED lamps there is a rule that should not be forgotten. “You pay for what you get!” You can find LED Lamps on our website by visiting our LED Lighting section.

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