Home Maintenance 101 – Understanding Lighting, Bulb Types and Wattage
How much thought do you ever give to the light bulbs in your home? Probably only when they burn out and need to be changed if you are like most homeowners. However, the type of light bulb you choose can not only make a difference to your monthly electricity bill but to the whole look and feel of your home. Here is a breakdown of the more commonly used types of light bulbs used in modern lighting, knowledge that may be especially useful if you are staging your home to look its best before putting it on the market for sale.
Incandescent Light Bulbs – Incandescents are the granddaddy of the light bulb world. In fact they have not really changed a great deal since Thomas Edison first unveiled them to the world in 1879.
An incandescent light bulb lights as electricity is forced through the filament inside the bulb. As the filament heats up the bulb gives off light. The problem is though that the filament has to get awfully hot to give off light and approximately 95% of the electricity that an incandescent light bulb uses is wasted as heat. The global intention is that for use in modern lighting that they be replaced by CFL (compact fluorescent lamps ) light bulbs which use about 80% less energy.
Fluorescent Light Bulbs – Fluorescent light bulbs come in many shapes and sizes and with the (somewhat forced) rise of the CFL light bulb they are set to become the most common modern lighting source in Canada.
In order for a fluorescent light bulb to illuminate an electric current is driven through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates invisible ultraviolet light that excites a fluorescent coating (called phosphor) on the inside of the tube, which then emits visible light.
The light given out by a fluorescent light bulb is generally of a cooler light temperature than that of an incandescent, something that some people find too harsh for certain modern lighting purposes.
Halogen Light Bulbs – Halogen light bulbs are rarely used inside the home except in some floor and desk lamps. A halogen bulb contains a filament in the same way an incandescent bulb does but the presence of a halogen gas inside the bulb makes the lighting process far more energy efficient.
LED Light Bulbs – In all kinds of modern lighting the LED (light emitting diode) bulb is replacing all of the light bulb choices mentioned above. LEDs have been around for decades but it is only recently that they have been used in modern home lighting.
A Word About Wattage – Whatever your preferred light bulb choice may be they will all come with a wattage measurement imprinted on them. Accordingly the various pieces of lighting in your home will have a recommendation for what wattage bulb you should be using in them.
In general the higher the wattage the brighter the light. So it can be tempting to increase the brightness of a certain piece of lighting by using a higher wattage bulb. This is rarely a good idea though as using the wrong wattage light bulb can cause any modern lighting fixture to overheat, damaging it and increasing the risk of fire!