Light Bulbs Explained

Incandescent, fluorescent, LED, lumens, and watts are common words found when looking at light bulbs but what do they all mean? Which bulb is most energy efficient? What types of light do each emit? Keep reading for a brief run down of the mystery of the light bulb and some suggestions of hobby lamps to use to help shed light on all that you do.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent lamps are often considered the least energy efficient type of electric lighting commonly found in residential buildings. It produces light by heating a wire filament to a temperature that results in the generation of light. The metal wire is surrounded by a translucent glass bulb that is either filled with an inert gas or evacuated (a vacuum).

This type of bulb is measured by watts, that is, the amount of energy it takes to light them. Newer bulbs are measured by lumens which is a measure of the amount of brightness they put out. These bulbs are available in a soft to warm white only.  Simple Dollar states that the average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 1,200 hours compared to 8,000 hours for the CFL and 25,000 hours for the LED bulbs. To achieve the lifespan of 1 LED bulb (approximately $8) it would take 21 incandescent bulbs (approximately $21) and 3 CFL bulbs (approximately $6).

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

According to the Department of Energy,  CFLs combine the energy efficiency of fluorescent lighting with the convenience and popularity of incandescent fixtures. CFLs fit most fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs and use about 75% less energy. Although CFLs cost a bit more than comparable incandescent bulbs, they last 6–15 times as long.

CFLs are most cost-effective and efficient in areas where lights are on for long periods of time. You’ll experience a slower payback in areas where lights are turned on for short periods of time, such as in closets and pantries. Because CFLs do not need to be changed often, they are ideal for hard-to-reach areas. They do take time to warm up, however, before full light is emitted.

There are two common forms of fluorescent bulbs: fluorescent tubes and circline lighting. Fluorescent tubes are ideally suited to illuminate large indoor areas of commercial or industrial buildings. Circline lighting, however, is a special form of linear tube lamps commonly used for portable task lighting.  Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues

If you’re interested in trying out this type of light than this CAN-DO Magnifier Lamp might be a good option. This flexible light can be rolled from room to room and extended and rotated to ensure that you are able to maintain ideal lighting for whatever you do.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Simple Dollar’s article on light bulbs states that, Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, were for years most commonly found in small electronic displays, such as the clock on your cable box. LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed. They further state, “What sets LEDs apart from incandescent bulbs and CFLs is just how long they can last…which is up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market.”

CNET provides an article outlining 5 interesting facts about LEDs that may make decision making easier. These facts include:

  • LEDs are cooler, in fact they may be up to 200 degrees cooler than their counterparts
  • You get instant full light when you turn them on which is an advantage over CFLs
  • LEDs don’t attract bugs at least not the ones without ultraviolet light
  • LEDs come in funny shapes such as snow cone, squat disc, and crown
  • You will need to learn some lighting lingo such as lumens vs. watts

A different CNET article helps explain the difference between lumens and watts. Contrary to common belief, wattage isn’t an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren’t a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. For example, an LED bulb with comparable brightness to a 60W incandescent is only 8 to 12 watts. (see CNET for a chart) These lights are available in soft, warm, and bright white hues.

If you think an LED light might be most ideal try out this OttLite Natural Daylight LED Flex Light. It features Super Bright Natural Daylight LEDs rated for usage up to 40,000 hours. The sleek and innovative design and small footprint is perfect for dining room tables, desks, counter tops, work benches, end tables and more!

Another option is this Rechargeable LED Light which is great if you want a portable light to take on the go. This portable slim style rechargeable lamp provides you with wireless portable light for up to 10 hours on the low setting or for 4 hours when set at its brightest illumination.

To see an overview of all lighting that independent living aids, LLC has in stock please check out ila lights.