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Light bulb types

Author: Sarah Wigmore
Published: October 25, 2013

There are various light bulb types available on the market today. Advances in technology coupled with changes in legislation make the choice of light bulb increasingly complex. From incandescent to LEDs we will guide you through the pros and cons of each, so that you can make an informed choice.

The pros and cons of each type of light bulb

Incandescent

Light bulb types incandecentLet’s start with the incandescent bulb. It is one of the most commonly used in the home today and thanks to its soft warm light it has always been a popular choice. The incandescent bulb produces light with a filament wire heated by an electrical current until it glows. It is available in a range of wattages, bulb shapes, sizes and cap styles.

This light bulb type is the least energy efficient, and the majority of the power it consumes is emitted as heat (80 - 90%). Although relatively cheap to buy, it has a shorter lifespan than the alternatives averaging between 750 to 2500 hours.

Halogen

The Halogen light bulb type is similar to incandescent as it also uses a tungsten filament. However halogen gas is used as opposed to argon gas in the standard incandescent, which allows the filament to last a lot longer making it more cost effective.

Light bulb types halogenHalogen bulbs produce an attractive bright white light and use 30% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb to deliver the same light output. They also provide excellent colour rendition, meaning they bring out the best in the colours on display.

The strong bright light they emit is perfect for reading under. They are also particularly well suited to floodlighting outside the home.
Although the Halogen bulb costs slightly more than the incandescent bulb it has a longer lifespan. Halogen also gets far hotter than the incandescent, and therefore only suited to light fittings that can withstand higher temperatures.

It’s worth considering energy saving halogen bulbs as they use 30% less electricity than a standard halogen.

Fluorescent Bulbs

If we mention the word ‘fluorescent lighting’, you may think of a stark white light which would be most unattractive in the home. However, today, compact fluorescents (CFLs) are available in a variety of colours including warm whites which are suited to comforting home lighting.

Light bulb types fluorescentFluorescent bulbs are increasing in popularity as we strive to use more energy efficient lighting in our homes. CFLs and fluorescent tubes are around 75% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and only emit approximately 30% of their energy as heat.

CFLs use a different type of technology to incandescent bulbs. A gas inside the glass tube is charged up and in turn glows. Previous disadvantages of the CFL were its inability to light up instantly and occasional flickering, but these issues have now been resolved. The CFL produces far less heat than its halogen equivalent.

LED bulbs

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) consist of small capsules in which tiny chips are placed on heat-conducting material. This means they do not get hot and therefore do not burn out giving them a distinct advantage over conventional lighting. Energy savings of up to 80% can be made by installing LEDs in the home, and with a lifespan of up to 50 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb they will rarely need replacing.

Light bulb types LEDLED lighting is very durable and shock resistant. It’s able to withstand tough conditions making it ideal for outdoor lighting. It is also free of toxic chemicals.

The main disadvantage of LED lighting is the initial outlay cost, but you will quickly see a return on your investment due to the energy efficiency and lifespan (up to 50,000 hours) of this light bulb type.

Energy Saving Options

As well as energy efficient bulbs such as Compact Fluorescents and LEDs there are standard energy-saving bulbs. They were created as a direct replacement for the incandescent bulb and use both IRC (infrared coating) and xenon gas to save energy.

Therefore less heat is lost and the energy consumed is used to create the light. They produce a warm light which is similar to a standard incandescent bulb.

Why not take a look at our full range of Light bulb types.

Looking for more inspiration? Try our Lighting Ideas.