At a recent lighting expo, the VP of government affairs for Philips Lighting, John Pouland, basically predicted the extinction of light bulbs, suggesting that we will eventually just buy fixtures that light up without the need for a separate bulb.
With old light bulb technology, that would be an incredible waste given the relatively short lifespan of light bulbs. But with LED technology -- and no doubt even newer technologies on the horizon -- lighting can last a generation, and perhaps that's long enough for a fixture to last.
Of course there are some obvious questions about whether this will happen, and when. For instance, it's long been possible to purchase a modem and router as a single technology, but many IT people recommend still buying them as separate devices; this is useful if one function breaks or needs to be upgraded while the other function still works, and you don't want to have to pay to replace it all.
Another consideration: in the workplace, fixtures are usually just functional; but in some cases at both home and work we invest in special fixtures because of their beauty. This might be something we want lasting all our lives and even passing down in the family. What happens if the light is built in and eventually fails? Time to throw out (or recycle) the fixture.
What do you think? Will we still buy separate light bulbs, or will they all become integrated with fixtures? And as integration becomes possible and affordable, will legislation demand it? Will it allow exceptions (as there are for certain incandescent bulbs) for fixtures that are not just designed for light, but for art?
Many incandescent bulbs were phased out of both production and importation over the last couple years. These included bulbs used throughout homes and many offices -- the traditional A19 shape from 40 watts and up are no longer made or brought into the country for sale. You're only able to buy those that are left in stock.
(While supplies last, ours are here.)
This has upset a lot of people who love the atmosphere created by incandescent bulbs, or who may have other concerns about light bulb alternatives (like CFLs and LEDs).
The fact is, replacement bulbs like these LEDs save you a ton of money by requiring far less energy (and therefore polluting less). Although they're more expensive up front, they do mimic the feel of an incandescent bulb quite well and can save you $5 or more per year in energy. This means the payback period can be under 2 years for bulbs used at least 2 hours a day. [2017 update: prices are now so low, many LEDs will pay for themselves in well under a year of use.]
But some folks still aren't convinced and really want to continue using incandescent bulbs. Well if that's you, there's good news. Besides being able to buy whatever bulbs are still in stock, some incandescent bulbs were not included in the legislation -- so they're still being made and can still be purchased. This includes a group called "rough service" bulbs.
Rough service bulbs are incandescent lights, and therefore they look and dim and act just like the bulbs you already love. They were excluded from the phase out because they're needed for special applications like those involving a lot of vibration. They are made to withstand voltage spikes and are given stronger filaments.
While they do cost a little more than traditional incandescent bulbs, they also last about 3-5 times as long, usually more than making up for the extra cost. And you can expect to replace bulbs less often.
Here's the trick to rough service bulbs: they're made as 130 volt bulbs, but in most if not all instances, you'll run them at closer to 120 volts in the U.S. This means they'll use less energy but also not burn as brightly as other incandescent bulbs showing the same wattage. So if you're replacing an incandescent bulb with a rough service bulb and you want to retain about the same amount of light, choose the next level of wattage.
For instance, if you're replacing a 40 watt incandescent, choose a 50 watt rough service bulb. It should only use about 40 to 45 watts of energy and produce the light of a traditional 40 to 45 watt bulb. If you're replacing a 60 watt incandescent, choose a 75 watt rough service bulb. It should use the energy and produce the light of about a traditional 65 watt bulb.
Alternately, if you don't mind a little less light in an area, choosing a rough service bulb at equal wattage to the bulb you're replacing lets you save some energy costs.
So if you're missing your beloved incandescent light bulbs and wish legislation hadn't phased them out, fear not -- there are solutions. And at Lighting Supply, we'd love to help you get the bulbs you want, coupled with service and ongoing support when needed.
These were all the points we considered when choosing an affordable bulb that you could use to replace 60-watt incandescent bulbs. We wanted to make sure you weren't just getting "cheap," but that you were getting "value."
With that in mind, we sell a known brand (TCP) as a 60-watt incandescent replacement at a competitive price -- approaching the price many "cheap" bulbs sell for! This TCP bulb boasts an 82 CRI and uses just 11 watts, comes with a 5-year warranty, and is available with both dimmable and non-dimmable options.
Knowledge is power, and we hope this helps you to choose the right LED bulb for your needs. Of course we're always happy to provide you with lighting, and remind you that Lighting Supply has been around and well trusted since 1983, so we'll continue to be here to support you!
* * * * *
As more of the world moves toward LED bulbs for efficient and quality lighting, there's often a temptation to trim some upfront costs by buying cheap bulbs and/or unknown brands. While this won't necessarily come back to haunt you, it does increase the potential for disappointment. So we thought we'd put together a list of things to consider besides initial cost:
Wattage / Lumens
Some brands claim to replace a 40-watt or 60-watt incandescent bulb when in fact their light output is far less than what they claim to replace. So make sure to check the lumens (light output) of a bulb. A 40-watt replacement should produce around 450 lumens and a 60-watt replacement should produce around 800 lumens.
The second thing to consider on this topic is if a bulb does produce the right amount of lumens, how many watts does it take to do so? As of this writing, a quality LED bulb will typically take 9 to 11 watts of energy to produce 800 lumens. Some cheaper bulbs require more energy, which means you're throwing away money over time. So the initial price tag doesn't tell you the whole story.
CRI stands for "Color Rendering Index" -- the higher the number (with a maximum of 100), the more accurately a bulb will render colors. Most LED bulbs are around 80, but some cheaper LEDs won't tell you their CRI, and this could be a red flag. (Some more expensive LEDs could also have higher CRIs for color critical applications.)
On the topic of color, bulbs come in a variety of "color temperatures," measured in degrees Kelvin. Most household applications use bulbs with 2700K to 3000K -- these are called "warm white" (with 3000K being a little "cooler" than 2700K). Office settings often have cooler or whiter color temperatures of 3500K or 4100K. (And bulbs can be even cooler than that.)
Cheap LED bulbs often don't have color consistency, so while a set of them might sell as 2700K (for example), they might look a little different from one another. Either that, or their color temperature may change over time, so if you have to replace one bulb in a couple of years, it might look different than the others.
By purchasing a known brand, you have a better chance for enjoying a consistent color temperature between the many bulbs in your home or office.
Most light bulbs are not set on dimmer switches, and if you're not planning to dim a bulb, then this point isn't critical. But if you are planning to dim a bulb, make sure you notice whether the LED can be dimmed. The label should make this clear. Many cheap LED bulbs are not dimmable.
LEDs are expected to last more than 20,000 hours, so a quality manufacturer will usually stand behind its bulbs with at least a 5-year warranty. Cheaper bulbs -- which could have a shorter life -- may not offer you that same level of confidence. They may offer very short warranties, leaving you to buy more bulbs if their lives are cut short.
Now that August is here, "Back to School" is all around us as kids get ready for another year with clothes and school supplies. But most of us don't stop to think about what "Back to School" means for the schools themselves, and one important step is for the schools to make sure their lighting is in proper operating condition for incoming student and teachers.
Lighting, after all, is one of the keys not only to safely navigating school hallways but also to reading and doing other school work without straining the eyes. Lights also impact students' and teachers' health and mood, and can affect school budgets. Old lighting systems, for instance, can cost a great deal more to run than new bulbs and ballasts.
Appropriate to the school theme, you may have heard this quote: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." In a similar way, if you think new lights are expensive, try old lights. This relates because new lights have an initial cost (what some people will focus on), but old lights use so much more energy, which drains a school system of its precious annual revenue.
In fact, according to the Department of Education, more money goes into school energy each year than schools put into books and computers combined! About 26% of that energy cost goes toward lighting, and this is a cost that can be meaningfully reduced.
While there are options for relamping a school building at more substantial upfront costs, sometimes just retrofitting existing lights with improved ballasts and/or bulbs can lead to a useful annual savings. Old T12 fluorescent bulbs, for instance, operate on outdated and inefficient ballasts, which can easily be replaced with modern, more efficient ballasts in combination with T8 or even T5 bulbs that produce the same amount of light on far fewer watts.
In fact, one ideal use for fluorescent bulbs is in gymnasiums, where they can replace metal halide bulbs. Have you ever been in a gym when the lights were turned on, watching them slowly brighten over a period of five minutes or more? These long periods for both shutting down and turning on are the reason why many HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs are simply left on all day, drawing power the whole time. Replacing these with fluorescent bulbs, which can turn on and off quickly, means not only saving money when the bulbs are on but also having the ability to turn the bulbs off when the gym isn't being used.
Schools can even opt to use the most efficient lights of all -- LED bulbs. These do, however, carry the highest costs up front, and many schools will continue choosing fluorescent bulbs for most situations until LED costs further decrease.
Whether you're simply replacing bulbs in your current lighting systems, or looking at retrofit or relamping options, Lighting Supply offers all the bulbs a school could need when preparing for the coming year. This includes many "hard to find" bulbs that a lot of suppliers simply don't have. And as a company in business since 1983 and highly rated through a third party, we're the kind of partner we think schools really need -- that is, a partner schools can trust, knowing that we'll have their backs throughout the lighting process.