Bulbs 101: An introduction to light bulbs

Bulbs 101: An introduction to light bulbs

zelle duda

Your house has its own new year's resolution ... it wants to properly brighten yours.

Lighting is more than just light bulbs. Not necessarily just fixtures, but the details and specifications that the bulbs themselves are. We'll break it down, so you can become the expert. 

Winter means longer nights and shorter days. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that day light savings is to blame. Perhaps your bulbs aren't producing enough light for you, or they may be the wrong color temperature for your space? Longer always means that fixtures will burn more throughout the evenings and mornings, too. Odds are, your home is already dark when you get off of work and your safety shouldn't be compromised during this darker season.

Upgrading your light bulbs and fixtures aren't as simple these days as they used to be. More options, energy savings potential, and the introduction of new terminology like CFL and LED. To help, we would like to clarify and explain these terms for you.

Details To Focus On

COLOR TEMPERATURE (Kelvin Rating)

KELVIN RATING The Kelvin scale measures the color temperature of light. Its main focus ranges from an icy, cold blue to a fiery, warm orange, and all the hues of white in-between. With this, you're able to choose the specific color of light needed. Not all colors are equal and each work great in specific areas.

2,000 - 3,000 A warm, white providing a cozy and calm, inviting ambience. This range is best used for living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and decorative outdoor lighting spaces.

3,100 - 4,500 A cool, white resulting in a bright and vibrant ambience. Usually, this range is found in working environments, like garages, basements and task-lighting areas or even bathrooms.

4,600 - 6,500 Actual natural daylight at high noon is considered 5,000K. In a dark room, this can sometimes look a tad 'blue' to us. Most bulb shapes are available up to the 5,000 range. Think security lighting, garages, task-lighting areas, and display areas. Many find this range too 'blue' for the daily livable areas of their homes.

"We just moved into our new home and although the kitchen wasn't bad, the lighting in the kitchen was awful. The cabinets near the stove were well lit and white, white those near the refrigerator were yellow-tinted; and it wasn't because of the paint. Our kitchen had two color lights. Hans helped us to figure out which color we wanted, then we replaced all of them to not only be the same, but to match that of the living room. This resulted in us having the entire downstairs "flowing" together better. Now, we we're working on changing literally everything upstairs to also be 3000K."

Lumens

Lumens are the measure of how much light you're actually getting from the bulb itself. Meaning, the higher the lumen count, the brighter the light while a lower lumen count results in a dimmer light. If you turn the light on, how far out does it allow you to see? When purchasing light bulbs or LED fixtures, pay attention to the amount of lumens and not the watts that you are wanting for a specific area in your home.

 Incandescent
Light Bulb Wattage
Lumens
Light Bulb Brightness
40 W
=
450 L
60 W
=
800 L
75 W
=
1,100 L
100 W
=
1,600 L
150 W
=
2,600 L

 

"As all dogs do, ours love to stay outside for a large portion of the day. However, with it getting dark earlier now, I don't see as far out in the yard as I was able to with daylight. The exterior lights we had lit the porch and that was it. I went to LBU explaining the dilemma that I not only wanted a whiter light in the backyard, I was hoping to find something with more light in it. After learning about lumens, we took the highest we could get and I can see all the way down to the fence line now. And all we did was replace 2 bulbs in our flood light. It's perfect."



Watts

Until the energy savings became a focal point, wattage was the measure of light that you should expect to see from a light bulb. Consumption was directly related to the brightness. Watts, however, are the measurement of the power consumption, not the brightness output (that would be lumens).

CRI

Color Rendering Index. Not much is mentioned about this, but we know that all details matter. CRI is the measurement of how accurately a light source is going to illuminate an object's true colors. Have you ever wondered why some choose to photographer near a window during the day, or why photos in the bathroom turn out much better than those in the other rooms?

All natural light sources (something that burns like a filament) will have a 100 CRI. For instance, the sun, a candle, an incandescent bulb, are all natural light sources. Artificial light sources, like fluorescent, HID and LEDs cannot have 100 CRI, but they are improving rapidly. On a scale of 0 to 100, colors rendering on the higher end, like 85-90 are usually considered as a good color rendering, while 91+ is excellent. 91+ is used for the tasks that will require the most accurate discrimination of visible color. See the apple example above for a visual representation of these differences.

Think springtime. The subtle color variations within the flowers blooming in the garden. On a clear day, you appreciate all of the color tones and hues that are displayed during the day. However, when you realize that the same flower struggles to display its true colors when brought into the kitchen, you get a clear sign that the CRI isn't great. Where CRI makes the biggest different, is within art lighting. Having the highest CRI on your art will produce the most accurate representation of the piece's quality, tones, colors, and true essence. A Starry Night wouldn't make much sense if it didn't have the starry night blues and star glows.

Energy Savings

All the details, made simple to find. Most light bulbs now have a Lighting Facts section on their packing (to easily find this, look for the portion that looks like a Nutritional Facts panel). This section provides details on the bulb's life, light appearance, estimated yearly energy cost, and even the energy used (in watts).

Longer Life

LEDs are most notable for being extremely long lasting bulbs and light products. Since they're using less energy, they're able to prolong their lifespan, so what isn't there to love? But, one detail that isn't noted frequently enough is the non-monetary benefits of their lifespan. It means you don't have to constantly change your bulbs every few months. So, you get to save money and forget about changing them for a while longer.

The Physical Bulb

Bulb Types

In 2018, the 60W and 40W regular bulb as we know it has been discontinued.

There are three main types of bulbs used in the home. Incandescent, CFL, or LED.

Incandescent Light bulbs are electric light with a wire filament inside that is heated to such a high temperature that it in turn glows with visible light (called incandescence). The filament is protected from oxidation by bulbs itself being made of glass or quartz, and having a filling of inert gas. Filament evaporation occurs which eventually results in needing replacement bulbs after it "dies out."

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) were energy-saving light bulbs designed to replace the incandescent light bulb. These bulbs use a tube that is either curved or folded to fit within the desired space of the incandescent along with a compact electronic ballast (decided to limit the amount of current in an electrical circuit) in the base of the lamp. Since these lamps contained mercury, many said that they were considered hazardous to the environment. A non-popular feature this bulb had, was once turned on, the bulb would take time to get to its full brightness; convenience was not a factor.

LEDs are a solid-state lighting (SSL) device that fits within the standard screw-in connections like a 'normal bulb' however use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce light. These are the most environmentally-friendly alternatives to the original, Incandescents and have replaced CFLs.

CFLs were created to be an energy saver to Incandescents, and LEDs were created to be an energy saver to CFLs. Therefore, LEDs will result in less maintenance so you can spend more time on what you would rather be doing than changing light bulbs.

"Our outdoor lights went out. I looked in and saw they were a coil-shape, so I ordered 3. When I got the bulbs in, I went to put them in only to find that the bases of the bulbs didn't match. I bought the screw-in kind, while those that our fixtures needed were the twist-and-lock kind. Never even knew this existed until that point. It helps to know exactly what shape AND base you need when repurchasing. Don't just assume."

Bulb Shapes

From a round globe, skinny tube, to the most stereotypical bulb shape, we have them all. Now, with the ease of knowing we'll have what you need, we can focus on which shape works best for your needs.  Ordinary, Bulged, Tubular, Bulged Reflector, Candle, Candle Angular, the list goes on and gets overwhelming. So, here is your reference sheet to help put a visual to all of the bulb shape names. This way, you know what to search for when purchasing bulbs.

One of the most common bulb shapes is the A19. A bulbs are going to be those with the traditional and stereotypical "Edison" bulbs shape. The stereotypical Christmas bulb shapes that you see throughout the holidays, and those that are round unlike your tree lights, are the C series bases.

Bulb Bases

Even though most familiar with the well-known Edison screw base (think stereotypical base), there are hundreds of unique bases for light bulbs. Within each type of bases lies the variation of sizes, as well. It can get very overwhelming, very quickly. So, we've created a little cheat sheet to help you figure out which bulbs need replacing (remember, you can always bring the bulb with you or send us a photo, too).

The most common bases are going to be your medium screw bases, however, always check the base when purchasing new bulbs. 

These bases include: Screw bases, Fluorescent Pin bases, Twist and Lock bases, Bi Pin bases, Bayonet bases, Compact Fluorescent Plug In bases, Wedge bases, Miniature bases, Automotive bases, Specialty bases, and Cable bases.
 

Our Services

Light Bulb Replacements

Whether you have 20 ft. ceilings with lights in hard to reach places, or simply because you don't want to change them yourself, call us. We will come and replace all of the bulbs necessary, inside and out. We can even educate you on the potential energy savings, color selection, and lumen output so that you make the best decision possible for your meaningful spaces. This way, you can change the color or lumen count of your replacement bulbs for a visible difference.

Fixture Installation/Replacement

Cookie cutter house? Tired of your fixtures matching your neighbor's house, and everyone else’s houseon your street? Choose your replacement fixtures and we'll not only bring them with to install, we'll get them installed and ready for use all in one day. Call us to schedule or inquire for a quote.

Needless to say, there is a lot of terminology and information to take in. To help, let's recap the most important ones. Kelvin Temperature is the Light Color, ranging from a warmer, yellow light at 2700K, to a soft, whiter light at 3500K, and an icy blue, natural light at 5000K. Lumens focus on the brightness each light gives; the higher the lumen count, the brighter and further out the light will allow you to see. Watts are much smaller these days and are used as an incandescent equivalent to help you know which LED upgrade bulb to replace it with. What used to be a 100W could now be the equivalent to only 15.5W as an LED. Knowing this equivalent will help to ensure your replacement bulb is compatible. CRI will help you to understand the ability that light has to displaying true color. Here, we showed you an apple example to see the differences in the shades of red that a CRI change can make. And yet of course, Bulb Type, Bulb Shape, and Bulb Bases are important to ensure that your replacement is able to fit in your fixture, compatible with your fixture, and the ideal shape for any open (bulb-showing) fixtures.