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Household Light Bulb Options

Different Kinds of Light Bulb

When you go shopping for replacement light bulbs, you may come across more options than there used to be. Beyond the traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs, you'll notice a wide variety of compact fluorescent and LED bulbs as well. Let's take a look at some of the differences between these home
lighting options.

Incandescent

Incandescent bulbs have been around since the days of Thomas Edison. They produce light by sending an electrical current through a filament made of tungsten. This filament gets very hot, which causes it to glow and produce light.

Incandescent bulbs aren't the most efficient. In fact, a high amount of the energy they use is lost to heat - if you've ever grabbed one while it was still on, you already know this. They also don't last long because the filament deteriorates as the light bulb is used.

The only real advantage to incandescent light bulbs is that they're inexpensive; however, now that the prices of its competitors have dropped significantly, this is no longer much of an upside. In fact, as part of an ongoing effort to reduce energy usage, 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs were banned from sale in the US in 2015.

Halogen

Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light. They also work by sending electricity through a tungsten filament. However, due to a reaction between the tungsten vapors and halogen gas inside the bulb, the tungsten is redeposited on the filament during use; therefore, halogen bulbs last longer than the standard incandescent variety.

Because halogens are brighter than normal incandescent bulbs, they're often used for spotlights and floodlights. They also burn hotter and are somewhat more efficient than typical incandescent bulbs.

Compact Fluorescent 

Compact fluorescent bulbs work differently than incandescent and halogen bulbs. An electrical current reacts with argon gas and mercury in the bulb to produce ultraviolet light. This light stimulates the fluorescent coating on the bulb, which then emits visible light.

According to the US Department of Energy, CFL bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent and last up to 10 times longer. However, their effectiveness decreases in cold temperatures, so they're not ideal for outdoor use.

They also produce infrared and ultraviolet radiation, which can cause damage to fabric and some other materials. Finally, they're not dimmable, unlike most other options for home lighting.

Light Emitting Diode 

Light emitting diode, or LED, lights have been around for a while but have only recently become costeffective enough to use as a household light source. An LED consists of semiconductor material - like silicon or germanium - that is charged with electrons, causing it to give off light.

LEDs are up to 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times as long. Advances in technology have allowed made it so that LED bulbs produce brighter light than first generation bulbs.

They're also much less expensive than they used to be, with prices now rivaling those of CFL and incandescent.  And unlike CFL bulbs, LED bulbs are dimmable so you have more control over the amount of light in your home.

Verdict

For most applications, you can't beat LED bulbs. They're much more efficient, they last much longer, and they're no longer cost-prohibitive. They also don't produce much heat and can be used in cold temperatures.

CFLs are also a good option in certain cases. However, the fact that they're not dimmable and don't work well in the cold can limit their usefulness.

Halogen bulbs are still widely used for floodlights and spotlights, but as LED technology progresses, this likely won't be the case for long. As for traditional incandescent bulbs, their days may be numbered.

For all of your residential and commercial electrical needs, contact Langer Electric Services Co. We can help you make sure your lighting options are as energy efficient as possible.