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Buying Guides - Low Energy Light Bulbs

Author: Staff Writer
Published: July 26, 2011

Low energy light bulbs have come on leaps and bounds since they were first introduced some years ago. What initially was a quite limited range has expanded to cover every possible lamp and fitting type, including standard bayonet, screw, GLS, candle and golf ball; meaning that whatever light fitting you have, there is almost certainly going to be a low energy version light bulb to fit it.

Improved Looks

Looks have also improved, with some low energy bulbs virtually indistinguishable from their standard counterparts. This means you can have stylish light bulbs to match your fittings.

Energy Efficient Lighting

The obvious reason to choose low energy light bulbs is because of the amount of power they consume, in order to produce an equally effective illumination. Low power consumption means lower energy bills, which saves you money, and a reduction in environmental impact.

Although initially more expensive, you could recoup your costs in as little as a year. An added benefit is an improvement in lamp life, sometimes by as much as ten times. This also means you don't need to dispose of as many lamps, another factor in climate change.

Better Colours & Control

It used to be the case that the colour output was generally colder than normal incandescent light bulbs, which some people didn't find appealing for home use. Nowadays, the lamp coatings are sophisticated and much improved with the invention of 'soft tone' technology - meaning you retain your atmospheric lighting effects without losing light levels. You can even buy dimmable low energy lamps for complete control.

Special Low Energy Pin Fittings

There are also a number of luminaires available which have the special low energy pin fittings built in. Unlike standard low energy replacement bulbs, the low energy pin lamps don't have a ballast - this is contained within the fitting - but it means you can only use low energy light bulbs, so you'll always be making the sensible choice for the environment, and saving money at the same time.

Low Energy Light Bulbs

  • Energy Ratings
  • Low Energy Pin Types
  • Low Energy Standard Repalcements

Recently, labels with energy efficiency ratings have been legal requirements for light bulbs and most white goods. These EU Energy labels tell you just how effective the item is at being energy efficient.

How Energy Efficiency Labels Work

The energy efficiency rating is a sliding scale of labelling with both colours and lettering to denote greater or lesser energy efficiency. At the most efficient end of the scale is category A in dark green, followed by B in a medium green. The scale then descends through the rainbow and alphabet: C in light green, D in yellow, E in amber, F in orange and G - the least energy efficient - in red. Products with higher ratings will use the least energy and give the best performance - as well as saving you money - as they consume less power.

Other Energy-Saving Information

With light bulbs, as well as the EU Energy label, other information is provided to help you buy the right product for your needs. The packaging will also give you an idea of the relative brightness, by stating the luminous flux in lumens, as well as average lamp life and power consumption in watts.

Why Do I Need To Know About Saving Energy?

With the need to reduce our energy and power consumption globally, there is every need to be well informed about the products we buy and use in our workplaces and homes. We think of lighting as using a small amount of power relative to other appliances, but it still can make a huge difference.

For example, according to the Energy Saving Trust, if one energy saving lightbulb was installed by every household in the UK, the amount of Carbon Dioxide saved would be the same as filling the Royal Albert Hall 1,980 times. Or, the amount of electricity saved in one year would be enough to light the Illuminations in Blackpool for 900 years.

Switching To Low Energy Lighting

Here at Lyco, we've made it easy for you to be energy efficient by clearly labelling and displaying the relevant ratings right by the products. We stock a wide range of dedicated low energy lighting products, and if you're unsure whether your light fittings can handle low energy light bulbs, be sure to check our Low Energy Buyer's Guide or simply pick up the phone and give us a call.

Low Energy Pin Types

The original kind of low energy lamps, or Compact Fluorescent lamp (CFL) were first introduced in the early 1980s, with special pin fittings. They were only really suitable for industrial and commercial applications. Now, with significant improvements in lighting technology, electronic ballasts mean flicker-free operation, and a much wider choice of fittings and lamps to suit both commercial and domestic use.

How they work

With Low Energy Pin Type lamps, the control gear is held within the light fitting, rather than the lamp. In 2-pin fittings, the ballast is magnetic or wirewound, an older technology, and requires a starter in addition, just like linear fluorescent tubes. With 4-pin fittings, the ballast is electronic and no additional starter is required. You also get the benefit of flicker-free starting from electronic control gear. Lamp changes are a simple operation as both two and four pin fittings push fit into their lamp holders.

Replace like for like

Because the light fittings are rated at a certain wattage, you should always replace lamps like for like, or they will not work properly. The control gear can only power the lamp that it was designed for. Be sure to check the wattage you need, as there is a wide range available under the same type of fitting.

Manufacturers' Naming Conventions

Different manufacturers call their ranges of CFL lamps by different sub-brand names, for example a 2-pin S lamp is known as GE Biax S, Osram Dulux S, Philips PL-S and Sylvania Lynx S. The important information to look for is the number of pins - 2 or 4 - and the number of turns in the glass tube: single (S), double (D or C in Philips) or triple (T). There is also 'L' for long.

Lamp Bases

The lamp bases found in these lamps is as follows:

S - G23SE or 4 pin D - 2G7
D - G24dDE or 4 pin D - G24q
T - Gx24dTE or 4 pin T - Gx24q
L - 2G11

Lamp Colours

Like fluorescent tubes, you can choose different colours for your low energy pin fittings. Cool white, white and warm white are some of the colours available; all of which offer a different lighting effect and ambience, making them suitable for a variety of functions and purposes.

New House Builds

Current building regulations state that at least some of the light fittings in new houses should only take low energy lamps. As well as luminaires, pendants containing ultra compact control gear are also available to future-proof your ability to be energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

Low Energy Standard Replacements

The pressure is on for us all to begin changing to using low energy lighting in our homes, as well as our businesses. The government has made plans to begin phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs by 2011, to increase energy efficiency, since they waste up to 95% of their energy as heat.

Low Energy Alternatives

The great news is that there are lots of low energy replacement lamps available that fit right into your existing light fittings. They require no extra control gear as it is all contained within the lamp itself; and the new technology that has been developed means flicker-free operation, plus colours and coatings every bit as attractive and welcoming as incandescent light, so there's no reason not to switch.

Great Looks

When choosing your low energy lamps, you probably want to swap to one that looks most like the lamp you are replacing. In fact, some low energy light bulbs are so like their standard counterparts, you'd have trouble telling the difference. For example, GLS, globe, candle and golf ball low energy lamps all have the familiar glass shape, and come in a choice of bayonet, screw or small screw. There are also spiral type lamps, which don't resemble any incandescent lamp, but which do an excellent job in GLS shape or candle shape enclosed fittings. We even stock coloured low energy fluorescent lamps.

Dimmable Versions

Love the lighting control you get with dimmers? Don't worry, some special low energy lamps also have a dimming facility. This new technology enables you to retain the flexibility you had with your incandescent lighting completely.


This article was tagged with Low Energy, Energy Saving Bulbs, Light bulbs