Compact Fluorescents & Halogen Bulbs
Our trip to the National Hardware Show in Chicago proved to be a very “enlightening” experience. We got to see, first hand, the latest revolutions in artificial lighting – compact fluorescents and halogen bulbs. What we learned was interesting.
The newest kid on the block is an interesting looking “squared-off” bulb filled with halogen gas – the halogen bulb. Its manufacturer obviously decided to do something to make this one look “unconventional”, so they changed the shape of the glass bulb from rounded to a series of squares. Actually, it almost looks like a pair of geodesic domes with square panels instead of triangular ones. Don’t be fooled. It is still halogen. And, in our experience halogen is a hot burning short-lived bulb – no matter what shape the bulb is. But please, don’t be dismayed at new technology. There is a good side to everything. Halogen bulbs are very small but burn very brightly for their size. Where you were once forced to purchase a street-lamp-sized light fixture to illuminate a large area of your yard, today, a halogen bulb – equal in size to a standard 40-watt bulb – will easily illuminate an incredibly large area. Doesn’t it just drive you nuts when you cruise by someone’s house and protruding from the wall above the garage door there hangs a large light fixture that looks as though it was stolen from a freeway onramp. Halogen bulbs can be used in conventional light fixtures – without modification to the fixture. This means that you can brightly light the exterior of your home without the need for large, ugly light fixtures.
Halogen bulbs are rated to burn for 3,000 hours. We haven’t seen one last that long yet, but this generation is still quite new on the market. We have had fixtures in our office for over a decade. That generation proved to be very unstable – bright yes, but short lived. We really hope that this new technology works. So, what kind of landscape lighting are we installing in our back yard this very week? You got it low-voltage quartz-halogen!
Compact fluorescents also are making great inroads. They are getting less expensive and better looking. Even better, they last up to 10 times longer than other bulbs. Unfortunately some still seem to have been developed exclusively for use by your friendly neighborhood proctologist while others appear more conventional in shape and size.
Fluorescent light is a “soft” light that is almost completely shadow free. That means it’s easy on the eyes. No strain – no pain! And where fluorescents once were all “green”, they are now color balanced. No more green.
When they were first introduced – almost a decade ago – compact fluorescent light bulbs sold for nearly $40 each. After a few years the price dropped to $20 dollars and now you can purchase one for $12 or less. But like we said, there are other advantages. A conventional tungsten bulb will last up to 1000 hours where a fluorescent will last up to 10,000 hours. Ten times longer. We know this one is true because we installed over thirty compact fluorescent bulbs in our own remodel 8 years ago. Since that time we have only had to replace one bulb. The company we purchased it from exchanged it for a good one at no charge because ours burned out so quickly – in less than a year. The replacement and all of the others are still going strong.
There’s more. Our electric bill is better than ever. Where the average size bulb in our home used to be 60 watts it has now changed to 13 watts. Remember: 75 percent off the wattage is 75 percent off the lighting bill.
By the way, don’t confuse wattage with illumination value. Just because we use less wattage doesn’t mean we get less light. The amount of light is measured in lumens. The more lumens the more light you get. So, whether you are thinking about halogen bulbs or compact fluorescents think in terms of modern measurements. Consider wattage a way of determining how much energy will be used and consider lumens how much light will be generated. Everyone’s lighting needs are different. Study the lighting in your home and find out what fits you best. Then, the next time you shop for a bulb you’ll know what works – before you make the purchase. And, good luck!
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