Its a question we get asked frequently, and can seldom answer in one sentence - 'what kind of bulb should I buy?'
With the phase out of 'old style' incandescant light bulbs and LED technology coming on in leaps and bounds, the choice is endless and sometimes confusing. Here is a simple 4 step guide to buying bulbs:
1. What type of lampholder do you have?
In the UK the standards are either Bayonet Cap or Edison Screw fitting. These are commonly marked B22(BC), B15(SBC) or E27(ES), E14(SES). As standard our fittings are BC but we can wire with E27 lampholders (a worldwide standard) if you require (charges apply). In the States lampholders are either E26 or E12 which we can also do - please enquire! More notes below on other bulb types for kitchens and bathrooms.
2. What type of bulb do you want to buy?
Current options are:
Halogen - Nicer to look at and energy saving compared to traditional bulbs, but far less efficient than LEDs or CFLs. These are readily available in the supermarket and a good option if you can see the bulb as they are available in clear glass, but if you are really looking for the energy saving option you can do better, which leads us on to....
LED - much lower energy so therefore saving you money on your electricity bills in the long term but a higher initial outlay, these bulbs are certainly the future and technology has come on to such a point that most types of household bulb are available in LED. Our new LED Squirrel Cage bulbs are very exciting. They look fantastic and give a traditional effect whilst offering full energy saving credentials. Take care when using LED bulbs with dimmer switches, you need to looking for special dimmer switches and dimmable bulbs. There is a good article here that explains LED in more detail.
CFL (compact flourescent - generally known squiggly tube lights) These are renowned for not being attractive and being slow to warm up, but on many levels are now much nicer to look at and faster to light up - a great, low cost energy saving option when you can't see the bulb, and you can now get some fantastic designer CFLs such as the Plumen bulb that we sell here.
3. How many watts / wattage equivalent / lumens?
Here's where it starts to get confusing. Low energy bulbs are generally marked with a wattage (eg 33w) and an equivalent (eg =40w). The equivalent is quite good to go by if you are used to buying incandescants. As a rule for a non intrusive ambient light we recommend 40w equivalent bulbs, particulaly when you can see the bulb in the fitting, but for areas with task lighting a higher wattage equivalent is probably sensible. Recently 'lumens' have been the benchmark for choosing your lightbulb, and this article explains the options more clearly than we can in our 'simple' guide.
4. What colour of light do I want?
In the old days there was only one colour of bulb - yellow. All electrical bulbs had a nice warm glow. Then there was flourescent tube lighting, the kitchen kind - this was horrible, cool unflattering light the gave you a migraine. Imagine the difference between these when you are choosing your bulb colour. Particularly when shopping for LED bulbs its worth considering the options, warm white is our favourite - you can get 'very warm white', but this is a bit much for a kitchen and should probably be reserved for more restful areas like bedrooms and living areas. Its worth noting that in warmer countries the cooler colours are more popular than warm - but we're assuming for this article that you are in the Northern hemsiphere - so we say go warm!
For more information this article has much more technical and lots of fancy graphics so we'd recommend taking a look. If you are thinking about buying one of our fittings just give us a ring and we can go through it with you on the phone.
A last word on our Squirrel Cage bulbs.
These are our current favourites and are very popular. They are allowed to be manufactured as they are considered to be 'specialist'. If you'd like any more information about them please email us or call the shop to discuss.