We love our work but sometimes it’s hard being in the lighting business. When our romantic flame says, “You light up my life,” we respond with “Incandescent, LED, fluorescent, or halogen?” It’s a habit. (By the way, a halogen romance might be too dangerously hot to handle. More on that later.) This blog makes a quick comparison of incandescent bulbs with LED (light-emitting diode), fluorescent, or halogen bulbs.
Up to about 15 years ago, if you wanted a long-life bulb, you’d need to steer away from an incandescent bulb and towards an LED. But the times, they’ve been a-changin’— so you won’t have to change a light bulb as often. Even an incandescent one.
One of the innovations that gives the incandescent bulb a longer life is a diode attached to the tip of the metal screw base. It’s pretty amazing what one little diode can do.
To appreciate the diode’s effect, here’s a refresher on the two types of electrical current– AC and DC. Home electric lines carry AC (alternating current). Most of us don’t really give much thought to AC, except that it’s not DC (and if we combine them we’ve got a heavy metal band). Generally speaking, AC is what comes from our home’s electrical lines and DC (direct current) is what our many battery-powered devices rely on.
We don’t generally stop to think about the actual process of AC in our home’s electrical system. It’s called “alternating” current because the flow of electricity switches directions– and fast! 60 times a second. A diode-equipped bulb uses just one half of the alternating current, so it’s only on half the time. This creates a continuous on/off light pattern, but it’s so rapid that most people can’t perceive it. Because the bulb is on only half the time, the bulb’s life expectancy can be greatly extended.
Several other recent innovations have increased the life of incandescent bulbs. These innovations involve the type of material used in the bulb. But the bottom line is incandescent bulbs aren’t handicapped –or, at least not as much as they once were– compared to other types of bulbs.
Incandescent bulbs don’t burn as cool as LED lights, for example, but incandescents do generally burn cooler than halogen lights, which have become popular for the bright, white light they emit. The glass bulb of a typical 100-watt incandescent can reach temperatures up to 260 °C (500 °F). That’s hot, to be sure. But some halogen bulb temperatures reach about 650 ° C (1200° F). (Thus, halogen bulbs must be used only in fixtures designed for them.)
An incandescent innovation is the colour-corrected bulb, designed to closely mimic the spectrum of natural sunlight. Colour Temperature is one way to measure a bulb’s ability to reproduce the colours of an object compared to those observed in natural light. A bulb with a colour temperature of 5500K is considered an excellent full spectrum light bulb, coming as close as possible to mimicking actual sunlight.
While colour-corrected incandescents can provide a natural sunlight effect, incandescent bulb has a serious contender in CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), which are available in a wide range of temperatures between 5000K and 6000K. A type of incandescent bulb coated with neodymium is marketed as sunshine lamp, although the color temperature is far less than 5000K.
There are two reasons not to worry about the incandescent bulb’s temperature numbers if you’re looking to achieve the health benefits of natural sunlight.
1) Some people feel that humans derive a health benefit from exposure to light indoors that is similar to sunlight. This supposed health benefit hasn’t held up to current research.
2) The high level of short-wavelength blue light has been found to suppress melatonin and disrupt sleep.
Incandescent lighting is here to stay
These days, we have many lighting choices to make based on practicality and personal taste. The incandescent bulb remains a strong contender for many applications, especially at home. The soft, (even romantic) warm glow of an incandescent bulb has assured itself a lasting place in lighting up our lives.
Call us at Stapleton Electric at 778-985-9395 and we’ll help you find the right lighting for your specific needs. You’re also welcome to contact us. We look forward to brightening your day.