Today’s lighting market has become increasingly complicated leaving a consumer with lots of options to wade through. Especially so when buying a new fixture, however evening existing lighting fixtures can give consumers options. Let’s take a quick look …
The obvious starting place is physical. In the halogen area the base size is called G8 or G9 (as well as others):
There are increasingly options albeit pricey ones to replace halogen bulbs with LED which offer better energy efficiency thus less heat.
In the incandescent space there is a small, medium and standard base. A medium base can screw into a standard base but sometimes not the otherway around, and small is unique in size.
There are other sizes I could ramble on about but these are the most common.
Next up is the technology used to generate the light. The older style is simply called incandescent and dates back into the early days of tungsten bulbs. Incandescents consume the most power, generate the most heat, wear out the fastest, are the cheapest, but deliver more normal color of light (more beige than white).
Halogens have made a lot of headway in track and pot lamps. Honestly I hate them, I find them expensive, don’t last anywhere near as long as they say they should, deliver a narrow beam of light and as mentioned above I’ve had issues getting them out of sockets.
CFL or compact florescent entered the market a while back. The designers got clever and figured out how to make them fit in a normal standard incandescent socket. Honestly, again, I hate CFLs and have no idea why they are in the market. Each and every CFL contains mercury which creates a health hazard if it’s broken and a disposal challenge. If you simply throw them in the garbage that mercury ends up in our landfill and potentially our water table. Mercury is a NASTY chemical. CFLs take less power than incandescent but can be slower to turn on especially in the cold (we do live in Canada eh), and deliver a more white light.
Lately LED bulbs have been hitting the market in a variety of existing form factors promising lower power consumption and longer life. Let’s have a look at a box of a particular LED bulb.
There’s lots of information on the label to digest. Lets start with how bright it is. Because incandescent, LED, and CFL all use different methods to generate light comparing them based on the old way of watts makes no sense (or cents for that matter:)) So instead they use a unit of measure of the brightness called lumens. Here’s a chart comparing lumen levels. You can use it if you are replacing an existing light/fixture.
Next up you can see the number of watts this particular bulb consumes to generate those lumens. In this case it consumes 10W to generate the same lumens as a 60W incandescent bulb.
Next up you can see the projected life of the bulb. In this case it is 10,000 hours. Compare this with the incandescent which translates into 1971 hours. This would imply the LED bulb will last 5 times as long as the incandescent. If you look at the price of incandescent bulbs not even counting the inconvenience to change them, buy them and dispose of them they are between 0.50 and $1.25 at CanadianTire. I paid $15 for a 6 pack which works out to be $2.50 a pop. So if the projections of life can be believed LEDs can be justified solely on the basis of their life.
Next up we can look at the savings from an electricity point of view. For every hour they are on they save 50WH and will run for 10,000 hrs according to the manufacturer. So that’s a savings of 500KWH for the life of the bulb (per bulb). According to my hydro bill the cheapest hydro is during off peak hours is $.087 per KWH so this would translate into a savings of a min of $43.50 in hydro bills over the life of the bulb. At a fixture level I replaced a 4 bulb 60W chandelier with a 5 bulb 10W (not that it needed 5 just the one I bought) so that would be a savings of 190WH which translates into 1900KWH over the life of the bulb or a savings of a min of $165.30!
One word of caution some manufacturers quote years based on number of hours per day the bulb is on. Be careful, this can be misleading and is VERY dependent on your use case of the bulb. If you were to leave a bulb on 24×7 this would be 8760 hours so a 10,000 bulb would only last 1.1 years. This is particularly notable on fixtures I noticed when I was buying that did not have a replaceable bulb. IE you replace the fixture not the bulb.
Another thing worth noting is that some of the LED bulbs are not compatible with dimmers. If you want to use a dimmer you need to be careful with the bulbs you choose.
Well I would have to say, I have been slow to jump on the LED bandwagon and I am SUPER skeptical on the number of projected hours for the bulbs life but it looks promising with NONE of the negative effects of CFLs!
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