Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. Thomas Edison changed the world with his electric light bulbs and they have stood the test of time for over a century, but today there are many new types of light bulbs showing up on retailer's shelves. You may or may not have heard, but the old incandescent light bulbs are finally being phased out. Some types of incandescent bulbs such as appliance, colored, three-way and other less commonly used bulbs are exempt and will still be available. I imagine Mr. Edison would be amazed and enthralled at some of the new lighting technology that is now available. From halogen to compact fluorescent (cfl) to light emitting diode (l.e.d.), the choices can be bewildering. (An l.e.d. light bulb is pictured above). Fortunately we non-scientists don't have to understand how they work, we just have to get used to them. And even though change can be difficult, the new bulbs are vastly superior to the old ones in many ways. Some of the new bulbs are tougher, last much longer, and sip electricity instead of guzzling it. Since lighting can represent as much as 25% of a typical homes electricity use, using bulbs that are much, much more efficient is a big deal. Not to mention a money saver. The old incandescent bulbs wasted about 90% of the energy they use in the form of heat. One of the worst burns I ever saw was when my sister was around 10 years old and got burned by an incandescent light bulb. She fell off the bed and knocked over a lamp. Unfortunately, when she landed on the floor her thigh pressed against the bare bulb, and she was in an awkward position and couldn't get up for a second or two. The bulb caused a severe burn that turned into a blister the size of a goose egg. Cfl's and l.e.d. bulbs don't get hot like this. L.E.D. bulbs barely even get warm.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (cfl's) Cfl's have been around for a while now so you've surely seen them. They're kind of funny looking. A typical incandescent bulb might cost $7.23 per year to operate (in electrical usage). An equivalent cfl bulb will only cost about $1.57 to operate for the same time period. Also, cfl's last about 10 times longer. Early cfl's had a pause after you flipped the switch before they would come on. They also tended to be rather dim for the first minute or so. The newer cfl's don't have these problems. There also are new cfl's that are dimmable.
L.E.D. bulbs L.e.d. bulbs are the newest bulbs out. They cost more, but prices will come down. Even at today's prices they will save you a lot of money because they are so very efficient and they last so long. That same incandescent bulb that cost $7.23 in electricity to run will only cost about 96 cents a year if it is an l.e.d.. That's an incredible difference. Also it will probably last about 25 times as long. That gives it a life of around 25,000 hours. New types of l.e.d. bulbs are coming out. They are now available for chandeliers, flood lamps, spot lights, night lights, and motion sensor security lights. There is one model that is a combination night light (it turns itself on and off), power failure light (it turns itself on when the electricity goes off, powered by it's built-in rechargeble battery), and flashlight (you can unplug it from the wall, and fold up the a.c. plugs). Pretty high tech stuff for a light bulb! There are even children's night lights that project an image of your child's favorite cartoon characters on the wall. L.e.d. bulbs have instant on and some models are dimmable.
What size bulb should I buy? Because the new bulbs are so efficient, a 60 watt bulb is not a 60 watt bulb anymore. Most of the new bulbs have packaging that states the equivalent size of old bulb that the new one is replacing. For example: "same light output as a 60 watt incandescent". If the package doesn't have this information, it will probably have the light output (measured in lumens). The following table lists the approximate light output for common old incandescent bulbs:
40 watt- 450 lumens
60 watt- 800 lumens
75 watt- 1100 lumens
100 watt- 1600 lumens
What color of light would you like? The color of the new light bulbs is listed in degrees Kelvin, but there is also a word description which may be easier to remember for most people. The following table lists some of the typical colors:
2700 * K (Kelvin)- "Soft white" (Warm yellowish light that most of us are used to from the old incandescent bulbs)
3000 * K- "Warm white" (Close to the light quality of soft white, but a bit less yellow)
3500 * K- "Bright white" (Whiter still, with less yellow)
5000 * K- "Natural daylight" (As the description implies, similar to sunlight)
Personally, I'm so used to the color of the old bulbs that the daylight bulbs don't look right to me. I prefer the soft or warm white color.
Give them a try If you're still using old incandescent bulbs, give the new ones a try. Once you get used to them you'll never want to go back. --- Kim Christensen