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A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING LIGHTBULB TERMS – LEDs & MORE

lightbulbsSOURCE: Excerpted from article by Michelle Locke for Associated Press

“Anyone who has stood in confusion in the lightbulb aisle (most of us) knows that technology and the push to save energy are continuing to flip the scripts on home lighting options.  The good news is the new bulbs are much more efficient than old incandescents and give designers the freedom to move beyond the standard bulb-lamp fixture configuration.

The new types of light bulbs, LED in particular, let light fixture designers create all kinds of lighting designs and fixture designs that they could never create before – says Karman Hotchkiss of Decor magazine.  There are a lot of new shapes out there – a lot of artistic interpretations of lighting – things that sparkle and effects that designers couldn’t do with incandescent bulbs.

Terms:  For consumers, the big switch has been letting go of the concept of wattage, which is associated with brightness but actually measures energy use.  Today’s bulb brightness is measured in lumens.  Old incandescent bulbs needed about 60 watts to produce 800 lumens.  Compact fluorescents (CFLs) use brightness, and LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs require only about 10 watts to get to  800 lumens.

Another major change is use of the color temperature scale based on heat, as measured in Kelvins, not Celsius or Fahrenheit degrees.  The higher the heat, the cooler the color – which makes sense if you’ve ever looked at a flame and seen the blue at the hot center.  While we typically don’t think in terms of Kelvins, this is a more precise way to define the relative whiteness of a light source .

Manufacturers are still printing wattage-equivalent numbers on packaging for reference, and on the back you’ll now find a required “Lighting Facts” information box – modeled after nutritional labels – listing lumens, estimated yearly energy cost, life span, light appearance and energy used.

LEDs – The trending technology is the LED.  Introduced in the 60’s, these bulbs used to be low-intensity and limited to red light.  But recent developments have allowed for bright LEDs.  The LEDs of the early 21st century tended to have a bluis cast, but LEDs now are available in a wide spectrum of colors.  Because LEDs use solid-state chip technology, they can be made very small and in various configurations.  They are easily installed under cabinets in strip lighting options, as well as lights for the kick-toe space near the floor.  Tiny LEDs can be embedded into a fixture, such as a lamp itself, instead of the lamp having a holder for the bulb.

There are even LEDs that resemble old-fashioned light bulbs with a visible filament.  LEDs cost more than conventional bulbs but last longer and use less energy, and prices are dropping!”

SOURCE:  Michelle Locke for Associated Press

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