Comparing Light Bulb Technologies

We have all heard and read all the various lamp technologies available but still confused what to choose? We have summarised below some of the benefits and merits of what they offer. The one thing to clearly note is that the lighting industry is constantly being improved with new technology being developed in terms of sizes, efficiency and longevity, lumen output, colouring rendition and continued energy saving costs thereby driving the costs down.

LED Light Bulbs

LED Bulb

LED lamp - A light emitting diode(s) which is a semiconductor material using protons generated as the source of the light. Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don't have a filament that will burn out, which means they don't get especially hot and have no moving parts. The light output of many LEDs is small in comparison to other incandescent and CFL’s and in most applications multiple diodes are required, which in turn pushes the cost up. LEDs do not emit light in all directions, and their directional characteristics affect the design of lamps. They can be made interchangeable with other types of lamps and with identical bases so that they are direct replacements for Incandescent bulbs. The efficiency of conversion from electrical power to light is generally higher than with incandescent lamps and is a major factor in energy saving comparison. Diode technology continues to improve steadily with the higher output and lumens per watt and the evolvement of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes)

LED lamps offer long life and high energy efficiency, but the initial costs are usually more than those of fluorescent and incandescent lamps. Life cycle of LED lamps are more durable than compared to incandescent bulbs, however, in time they do degrade and the LED chips reduces luminous flux over its life span as with conventional bulbs. LEDs do not contain mercury or glass, run far cooler than other bulbs and turn on immediately. However, they are more susceptible to temperature dependence and not all of them are dimmable.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)

Compact Fluorescent Spiral

A fluorescent bulb designed to replace the original incandescent bulb and fit in to the same type of fittings. These use a curved or folded tube to fit into the space of an incandescent bulb, and compact electronic ballast in the base of the lamp.

Compared to incandescent bulbs giving the same amount of ‘lumen’ output or light, CFLs use less power up to possibly one third and have a longer rated life typically up to 15,000 hours. CFL’s have a higher purchase price than an incandescent bulb, but can save over five times its purchase price in electricity costs over the lamp's lifetime. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which means for disposal they are regulated and controlled under the WEEE directive (see our guide Safe light bulb disposal) and should be disposed at a recycling collection point.

CFL’s are either integrated or non-integrated lamps. What this means is that integrated lamps combine the tube and ballast in a single unit to allow them to replace incandescent bulbs easily. Integrated CFL’s work well in many standard incandescent light fixtures, reducing the cost of converting to fluorescent. Non-integrated CFLs have the ballast permanently installed in the luminaire, and only the bulb is usually changed at its end of life. Since the ballasts are placed in the light fixture they are larger and last longer compared to the integrated ones

The Standard shapes of CFL tubes are single-turn double, helix, double-turn, triple-turn, quad-turn, circular, and butterfly and in 2 or 4 pin versions as well.

The CFL range has improved over the years in size, the previous flickering problems practically reduced and also the amount of time it took to light up to the optimum operation. The colour, shapes, applications usage, versatility and indeed its output in energy saving comparison make them a viable proposition and offer a greater flexibility to the LED and the incandescent bulb. They do contain some mercury, are not fully dimmable (dimmable options are available) and do not have spot light capability as they give a more overall lighting effect.

Energy Saving Halogen Bulbs

Halogen Energy Saver Candle Bulb

Halogen light bulbs have a good appearance and will give approximately a 30% energy saving from traditional filament bulbs. Halogen bulbs have a life expectancy of between 2000 -5000 hours and some manufacturers offering up to 10,000 hours. Energy Saving halogen bulbs are dimmable, which means you can create your ideal lighting level and save additional energy by dimming your halogen light bulbs making a further contribution to saving the environment. They come in all the standard shapes and sizes and make them a suitable solution for any application or use from the standard GLS, G9s and Candle to PARs and MR16. They are cheaper than LEDs and CFL’s and more lines are coming on stream, which offer greater energy saving efficiency.

They should not be overlooked if you are looking for a reasonable alternative to LEDs and CFL market depending on your requirements and needs.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent Bulb

This is the old traditional style light bulb technology, which uses a coiled filament or tungsten fitting inside a glass bulb to produce light. In recent years the EU have brought in various regulations banning specific types of lightbulbs in the continued manufacture and distribution in household usage. These lamps are classified as being costly to run and not efficient given that most of the energy emitted is lost in heat. The colour is usually limited in the scope of modern day lighting needs. They are however fully dimmable and offer good value over the years in both a clear and opal version but the life span is very short compared to the others.

The Lamp Company still holds a large range of these lamps in various wattages (whilst stocks last) for those requiring the effect of this style of lighting.

Additional Information

Should you require guidance or assistance about any aspect or detail on light bulbs or indeed the meaning and how and what is required to make light bulbs operate then please contact us.

Keep up to date with the latest technology developments by reading our light bulb blog


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