Shining a light on the bulb debate. Which bulbs should you be using?

When choosing the right lighting for an interior design project, it’s easy to get swept up in the vast array of decorative lighting available on the market. As any designer knows, however, the practical considerations are just as important when it comes to getting the light right. And, whilst it may not be the most inspiring aspect, choosing the perfect bulb is one consideration not to be overlooked. Knowing your incandescent and fluorescent from your LED is a must. So, to help settle the bulb debate, let us shine a light on your options…


Incandescent

At a glance… The bulb in its original form. Invented by Thomas Edison almost 140 years ago, incandescent bulbs create light by passing an electrical current through a filament wire until it glows red hot.

Highlights… Low production costs mean this classic bulb is extremely inexpensive to purchase, making it a popular choice over the past century. And, the warm glow produced means that the incandescent has gained a status as the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to light quality.

Lowlights… Because incandescent lamps require intense heat to create a light output, a staggering amount of energy used is emitted not as visible light, but as heat wastage. This not only diminishes the incandescent’s already short life span, but is the reason why many governments have vowed to eliminate this type of bulb in the name of energy conservation. In fact, incandescent bulbs have been almost universally discontinued across Europe, making them increasingly difficult to get hold of. 

Halogen Incandescent At a glance… An update of Edison’s incandescent bulb, the halogen incandescent is simply a more refined, efficient version of the classic.Highlights… Using the same basic technology, but requiring 25–30 percent less energy, this type of bulb attempts to remedy the high energy cost of the incandescent whilst preserving the quality glow.Lowlights… Unfortunately, any improvement on Thomas Edison’s first creation is slight at best, with the halogen incandescent still producing an incredible amount of wasted heat. And, with an average life span of just 1 year, these bulbs will need regular replacement. What’s more, because they require such high levels of heat in order to operate, halogen bulbs could damage light fittings if used for prolonged periods of time.  


Halogen Incandescent 

At a glance… An update of Edison’s incandescent bulb, the halogen incandescent is simply a more refined, efficient version of the classic.

Highlights… Using the same basic technology, but requiring 25–30 percent less energy, this type of bulb attempts to remedy the high energy cost of the incandescent whilst preserving the quality glow.

Lowlights… Unfortunately, any improvement on Thomas Edison’s first creation is slight at best, with the halogen incandescent still producing an incredible amount of wasted heat. And, with an average life span of just 1 year, these bulbs will need regular replacement. What’s more, because they require such high levels of heat in order to operate, halogen bulbs could damage light fittings if used for prolonged periods of time.  


Fluorescent

At a glance… Fluorescent light is created when an electrical current is used to stimulate mercury vapour inside a glass tube, producing UV light. This UV light is then converted into visible light utilising a phosphor coating inside the bulb. 

Highlights… A fluorescent bulb is far more efficient at converting energy to a visible light output and, with a lifespan of around 10,000 hours, won’t require as frequent changing. 

Lowlights… Despite an improvement in energy efficiency, the fluorescent bulb’s downfalls are plenty. A prolonged ‘warm up’ time results in the renowned fluorescent flicker, and limitations in design deem them incompatible with many fixtures and fittings. And creating an intimate atmosphere is almost impossible as fluorescent lamps are rarely dimmable. Most notable, however, is the hazardous mercury by-product. Cautious disposal is thus a necessity as this can be emitted if bulbs are broken. 


LED

At a glance… The most recent development within bulb technology, the LED has unduly gained a reputation for creating dim, dull light which pales in comparison to the warm glow of its predecessors. However, rapid technology advances have meant that LED light is quickly becoming the most effective way of illuminating a space.

Highlights… Using a semi-conductor as its light source, the LED bulb wins in the energy efficiency stakes, which is why it has been hailed by many as the future of lighting. What’s more, LED lighting has come a long way since its conception and LED bulbs are now created with aesthetics in mind. For example, with different colour variants, including warm white, cool white and daylight, and a wide range of bulbs available, LED lighting can now be perfectly integrated into any design concept. 

Lowlights… High initial investments can seem off-putting when making the switch to LED. However, this is more than made up for in longevity. An average life span is 20,000–50,000 hours, which equates to 18–46 years depending on usage!

Besides the practicalities of energy efficiency and functionality, design and aesthetics should be a key factor when choosing the perfect bulb to create the desired impact on your lighting.

At Original BTC, we’ve tried and tested countless LED bulbs to find a type that we deem good enough to use in our lights. We are now proud to offer a range of LED bulbs that replicate the warm light and traditional look of an incandescent filament bulb, whilst giving all the efficiency and lifetime benefits of LED technology. Available as a traditional ‘squirrel cage’ shape, as well as GLS and golf ball bulbs, our collection is designed to complement the unique designs of our decorative fittings. 

To find out how Original BTC can provide the perfect illumination to your design concepts, call us today on 0845 094 1858.