Bulbs Explained


There are many types of light bulbs, here we hope to explain the most popular types of bulbs, the terminology you may come across as energy efficient bulbs become the norm.

The number of watts on the manufacturers packaging used to be the way of identifying and selecting the bulb that best meet our lighting requirements. When the only choice was between incandescent bulbs this was a good way of determining our bulbs brightness and energy usage, the higher the wattage of the bulb the brighter the bulb. With the phasing out of incandescent bulbs and the increased choice of Energy Saving Bulbs where the output or brightness should be taken into account. Lumens are the unit used to measure light output, or brightness. The lumens figure is now the figure you need to have in mind when buying a new bulb. 


Types of light bulb




The incandescent bulb used to be the main type of lamp available in household lighting. It works by electricity flowing through a thin wire in the light bulb called the filament. Since the EU directive currently being implemented which is set to reduce energy consumption of consumer products part of which is the phasing out of inefficient energy guzzling incandescent light bulbs. By February 2016 the manufacturing and distribution of incandescent bulbs will cease. Retailers will still be able to sell the bulbs until stocks are depleted.


CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps)


CFLs are the most common type of energy saving lamps. This type of energy-saving bulb is the smaller versions of the familiar fluorescent tube sometimes used in the home but mainly found in offices, shops and car parks. CFLs are the most common energy saving bulb using 60%-80% less energy than the traditional incandescent.




The halogen bulb is similar to the incandescent in that is has a tungsten filament – the difference is that gas surrounds the filament extending the bulb's life. Halogen bulbs use 20-30% less energy than the traditional incandescent.

A new type of halogen bulb has recently been developed. This new bulb uses a special infrared coating to redirect infrared light back toward the tungsten filament, reducing waste heat and improving efficiency by up to 30 percent over typical incandescent bulbs. They are still not as efficient as CFLs, which are around 75 percent more efficient than normal bulbs, however this bulb offers maximum efficiency when it comes to halogen bulbs.


LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) 



LED lmaps are the next generation in lighting technology, with advances in design and technology LEDs are become available as replacements for the traditional GLS, globe and candle style to the moern halogen replacement. Currently LEDs are the most expensive of the energy saving bulbs however they are the most efficient bulb. LEDs use 90% less energy than incandescent and can last for 25 to 30 years.


Selecting the right replacement bulb


When choosing light bulbs ther are many factors to be considered, below you may find some helpful information and useful tips.


Reputable Brands


Energy saving lamps such as CFLs and LEDs are fast becoming more popular because of the tremendous savings in energy and cost they offer alongside the phase out of incandescent. There are many brands of energy saving lamps, each brand may offer different levels of quality and price. Since the manufacture of energy saving lamps requires advanced and sophisticated technology and design, a reputable and well-established brand will offer you more assurance on the quality and safety of the product.


Choosing your Light Output


Light output is measured in lumens (lm). The lumen value stated on the packaging is a useful guide as to how bright the light will be. It is important to check the lumen output stated on the packaging when choosing your bulbs as different manufacturers bulbs can cunsume a different amount of wattage in producing the same amount of light. Look for the lumen measure on the information provided on the bulb packaging. Below is a simple guide to lumen output, please bare in mind that the wattage used can vary significantly depending on the bulb manufacturer.




Choosing which colour light output


Colour Temperature is the measure of the Colour of Light, represented in the unit K (Kelvin). The lower the colour temperature, the light appears as a yellowish colour often described as "warm white". This is the colour we are most familiar with, most suitable for the home environment creating a warm comfortable feel. With a higher colour temperatures (K), the light will appear a cool white or blue tone in colour. You can select the colour temperature based on your preference, application and lighting effect desired.


Look for the Energy Label with the Highest Energy Efficiency Class


Many countries including the UK have adopted energy efficiency policies and introduced a mandatory or voluntary Energy Efficiency Label scheme. This provides information to consumers on energy consumption and efficiency helping consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.
The energy efficiency of “bulbs” are rated in the same way as other electric appliances in terms of a set of energy efficiency classes. For example, Grade A is the most energy efficient while Grade G represents the least efficient. This information can be found on the bulb packaging along with other useful information to assist in making your choice.




Checking the Lamp Life of an Energy Saving Bulb


When purchasing a new light source or replacement bulb, lamp life is a very important consideration. An energy saving lamp with a longer lamp life saves you time, money and effort on maintenance. A bulbs lifetime is expressed in hours, a traditional incandescent bulb is estimated to last 1,000 hours (generalised as one year). Halogens are estimated to last up to 2,000 hours and most CFLs claim a life 6,000 to 15,000 hours. while a LED lasts up to 40,000 hours. These figures are based on the bulb being on for three hours per day.


Choosing your Bulb Shape, Size and Lamp Fitting/Cap


In the past the shape of energy-saving bulbs were limited only available in large stick form or occasionally, globe shapes which made them rather large, ugly and cumbersome. Energy saving bulbs now come in many different shapes, sizes and functions. As the technology and design of energy saving lamps matures and develops, many more shapes, sizes and colours comparable to the traditional apperance of the incandescent and halogen lamps will become available. The most common shapes are candle, globe, capsule, tubular and reflector.
To ensure you purchase theright size bulb measure the available space to ensure the bulb will sit comfortably in the space available, where shades are involved you can ensure that the bulb will not be seen outside the shade spoiling the look. The measurements of the length and diameter of the bulb in millimetres are likely to be listed on the manufacturese packaging. For bulbs requiring a smaller space or more eseticly pleasing appearance look for compact energy savers.
Another consideration is the lamp fitting/Cap. Check the base of the bulb or the lamp fixture to determine which energy saving lamp will fit. The most common ones include:



Start-up time


A lamps start up figure is likely to be telling you how long the lamp takes to reach 60% of its full output.  A quick start-up is important in bathrooms or spaces you only put the light on in as you pass through, such as landings, stairs or cupboards. Need further info.........


Bulbs suitable for regular switching on and off


Compact fluorescent light bulbs work best if they are left on for over 15 minutes each time they are turned on. These tyypes of bulbs can take up to 3 minutes to warm-up. The lamp needs to wam up to reach the point of most effiency, the warm-up will probably not be noticeable by the user. Frequently switching them on and off will shorten the life of the bulbt. If the life of the lamp is shortened significantly, you will not reap the financial benefits (includes energy & lamp life),


Bulbs suitable for use with dimmers


There are a number of different types of dimmer switches. There are CFLs on the markey specially made for dimmer switches, if a bulb is suitable for use with dimmer switch it should be stated on the manufacturers packaging. We don't recommend using regular compact fluorescent bulbs with dimming switches, since this can shorten the bulb life. (Using a regular compact fluorescent bulb with a dimmer will alsoinvalidate the bulb's warranty.)


Environmental Concerns


The world is facing a lot of problems such as global warming, the greenhouse effect, pollution, energy depletion, etc., which do not only endanger ourselves, but our posterity. While "Going Green" is the trend, some brands of energy saving lamps pay more effort to environmental protection and strictly control the use of hazardous materials, including lead and mercury in their manufacturing process and use recycled and recyclable materials for product and packaging.

We at Sunset Lighting are constantly looking to improve the information we provide our customers. Should you have any suggestions or updates to improve the quality and helpfullness of the information on this page.  

Please contact us