What are the best light bulbs for the home?
The humble light bulb has undergone some big changes in the last couple of decades and it can be confusing deciding what light bulb is best for your home. We’ll run through the basics so that you’re a little more informed about just what you can put in your light sockets these days.
Incandescent bulbs are the traditional light bulbs that get really hot after they’ve been on for a while. They were designed so the filament that heated up and created the light would eventually burn out and you would the replace the bulb. Most people are still familiar with the system that indicated how bright the light bulb was with 100 watts the brightest and 60 watts the standard brightness.
Apart from the fact that you had to change them all the time, the incandescents had a major flaw. They used too much electricity. That’s why they were banned from sale a decade ago. Considering that they have not been available for all that time, it’s surprising how they are still thought of as conventional lighting.
Most homes still have one or two surviving in a second toilet or the laundry where they don’t get much use. And some bulbs are just great survivors. But the time will come when they all have to be replaced with something different. So, what are the alternatives?
Compact Fluorescents (CFLs)
In the immediate wake of the ban on incandescent bulbs, the alternative offered was the energy saving compact fluorescent. The long fluorescent tubes had been used as a cheaper-to-run form of lighting for a long time, but getting that technology to work as a light bulb that fitted into existing sockets took a while to perfect. The problem was that a lot of people regarded it as a good deal less than perfect.
They took time to warm up, the quality of the light was considered cold and there were traces of mercury in the bulb. The first 2 issues improved over time as the technology improved, but the mercury remained and so did the awkward shape. As a bare bulb, they looked a bit odd and sometimes they just wouldn’t fit in an enclosed fitting like a ceiling fan. It’s no wonder that some people hoarded supplies of incandescents.
LEDs have been around for a long time, but for years were only useful as tiny red display lights on appliances and the like. It took a while until they worked out how to make the technology produce white light. Once that was achieved, the stage was set for LED to take over the lighting world. The advantages they have are huge. They are cheaper to run than even any sort of fluorescents. They last a long time. They come on and off instantly. They are not toxic.
Initially the quality of the light was not as good as the old incandescents, but that has changed and these days it is standard for LED downlights to have a switch that lets you choose from warm white, cool white and in-between.
When it comes to deciding which light globe to choose, it really is what sort of LED. You can put in a new style of light like a downlight or an equivalent LED version of what you already have. But you could embrace the future and go for a smart bulb.
A smart bulb is an LED globe that can be remotely controlled from your smartphone. There are all sorts of these smart bulbs on the market, with some of them compatible with Alexa or Google assistant so that you can control them with your voice.
They can be switched on and off at the switch like any old dumb bulb, but they allow you the convenience of using your phone to turn them off or turn them down. Some let you change their colour – you can literally go green. You can preset them to do certain things at certain times. For those who like to set and forget there is geofencing which means that they know when you (and your phone) enter or leave the house and respond accordingly. Hours of fun, as they used to say.
So it’s probably time to freshen up your light bulbs and get something that’s cheaper to run and lights up your life for longer.