Light Bulb Types
Published: September 20, 2011
There are many types of light bulbs available. Below we highlight the benefits of each type and the differences between them. Feel free to take an in-depth look at our full range of light bulbs.
Low energy and fluorescent bulbs
(contain gases in a tube but have no filament)
The new breed of compact fluorescent (or 'low energy') lamps will only use around 11 watts of power to generate the same light as a normal 60 watt light bulb. There is no doubt at all that they can save you up to 80% on your electricity bill over the life of the lamp, which can last for up to 5 years (10,000 hours). Naturally, if you are using less electricity, you need to generate less electricity and this reduces greenhouse gases, which thin the ozone layer around the earth.
Fluorescent lamps have no filament; they are just a tube with gases in it. Best known as the long white tubes so beloved in utility ceilings of the 1960's and 70's, recent technology has reduced the size and improved the efficiency. Many different shapes and power options are now available. These lamps are ideal for lights that need to be kept on for a long time i.e. overnight on landings or in hallways. In the past it was felt that fluorescent light was 'cold' but with the invention of 'warm white' lamps this is no longer the case.
Incandescent light sources
Halogen light sources
(filament bulbs containing halogen gas)
These are the conventional bulbs which we all recognise and their chief advantage is the colour of light they emit. Colours of objects are generally more accurate with this type of light bulb and they impart a warm feeling to a room. The disadvantage is that they are inefficient by modern standards and have a relatively short life (around 1000 hours).
Incandescent lamps come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have a number of different fittings: Bayonet cap (BC), Small Bayonet cap (SBC), Edison screw (ES or E27) and Small Edison Screw (SES or E14). The Edison screw types are becoming more popular in the UK. Several different coatings are also available with the following properties: Pearl is an all over frosting which diffuses the light and is best used in a light fitting with shades. Clear bulbs are more attractive when used in fittings where the bulb is visible or a sparkle is required such as crystal chandeliers. Reflector bulbs have a silvered surface to direct the light in a certain direction and are usually intended for directional fittings such as spot lights.
Halogen bulbs produce a very attractive light, closely resembling sunlight. They are more efficient than incandescent bulbs using only half the energy to produce the same light output and last twice as long. Generally they are small lamps which generate a lot of heat so they can only be used in light fittings designed to cope with the higher temperatures.
There are two main types of halogen lamp available in the domestic market:
These lamps operate on 12V which means a transformer has to be fitted either in the light fitting itself or remotely. The advantages of the lower power are that the safer voltage enables manufacturers to produce interesting and slim designs without the need to protect against danger from higher voltages. Transformers can be either electronic or wire wound. The newer electronic transformers are more energy efficient and smaller but more expensive than the conventional wire wound type. Electronic transformers can be damaged by voltage spikes in the mains supply (sometimes referred to as dirty mains). These spikes can be caused by fluorescent lights, older motors, fridges, lift shaft motors etc. If persistent problems occur the use of mains voltage lighting is recommended.
This relatively new breed of lamps offers the light colour advantage of halogen without the need to house a transformer. The reflector type bulbs are known as GU10 or GZ10 and the latest small envelope non-reflector halogens are known as G9.
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