Residential Lighting

Consumers Need Lighting EducationIn the old days, when a typical general-service lamp in your home burned out, you noted the standard wattage on the bulb (40-100W) and bought the same wattage at the store. Problem solved.

What Consumers Need To Know About Lighting

Between 2012 and 2014, the Energy Independence Act of 2007 phased out these common incandescent A-shape lamp wattages, however. Meanwhile, LED replacement lamps became available. Today, consumers have a choice of halogen, compact fluorescent LED, and one of the incandescent exemptions recognized in the Act, such as rough-service lamps.

The result is greater choice. But taking advantage of that choice requires education.

Manufacturer OSRAM SYLVANIA’s Discover LED Lighting Survey found that nearly one-third of surveyed American households have issues with their lighting, notably in regards to brightness, color and product service life.

However, three out of five (61%) have not researched the light output of the lamp. More than three out of four respondents (77%) have not researched the color of light. And more than three in five (63%) have not researched the lamp’s life.

The survey was conducted in the United States over three days during October 2014. More than 1,000 American adults completed an online survey. Results are projectable solely to the population of respondents, not all consumers.

In short, the old way of buying lamps for the home simply no longer applies.

How To Choose To Right Light For Your Home

To get the right light for your home, pay attention to the government-mandated Lighting Facts label. This provides information about brightness (light output in lumens), color (whether it’s warm like incandescent or cool like fluorescent or daylight, in kelvins or K), and service life (average number of hours the product is expected to last under typical conditions).

Below is a rough equivalency chart between the light output of old incandescent and new energy-efficient wattages:

  Standard Incandescent Energy-Saving Incandescent LED CFL
Lumens Watts Watts Watts Watts
450 40 28-29 4-5 9-13
800 60 40-43 6-8 13-15
1,100 75 53 9-13 18-25
1,600 100 70-72 16-20 23-30
2,600 150 ̶̶̶ 25-28 30-55

The main thing is to look at light output as the first step in determining equivalency.

Regarding color, next choose the lamp as warm-white or soft-white (2700K to 3000K), cool-white or natural-white (3500K to <5000K) or natural or daylight (5000K+). A warm-white lamp will have the same yellowish-white color appearance as an incandescent lamp, typically preferred in a majority of living spaces. A cool-white lamp has a whiter appearance, suitable for kitchens and workspaces. Natural or daylight color is similar to a blue sky at noon, saturated with blue wavelengths that can promote visual acuity, making this light source suitable for tasks like reading.

The Difference In Halogen, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps

You’ll want your lamp to last. A typical incandescent lamp is rated at 1,000 to 2,000 hours of operation. A typical compact fluorescent lamp is rated at 8,000 to 10,000 hours. A typical LED lamp has a published estimated life of 25,000+ hours. Incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps have a clear failure mode—the lamp no longer produces light. LED lamps fade before they fail, meaning the lamp gets dimmer over time until it’s no longer useful.

After establishing a baseline of performance, what remains is energy savings, dimmability and price. To save the most amount of energy, pick a lamp type that meets the above lighting performance requirements at the lowest wattage.

What To Look For When Choosing A Lamp For The Home

Look for the EPA ENERGY STAR label for assurance the lamp has been tested to provide similar performance as the old lamp it replaces while saving energy. Make sure the lamp is dimmable and compatible with your dimmer if it will be dimmed. Finally, make sure the lamp is sized to fit your luminaire; bring the old lamp with you to the store to make sure the new lamp has the right form factor.

To summarize, when choosing a lamp for the home, it’s wise to stop thinking in terms of wattage and start thinking in terms of equivalent light output. For living spaces, think warm-white; for workspaces, cool-white. Note the choice of life and energy savings. And make sure the lamp is compatible with your luminaire and dimmer.

What You Need To Know:

  • Old incandescent wattages are disappearing from store shelves
  • Consumers, however, have more choice than ever before
  • Choice can be confusing, requiring education
  • Use light output to choose lamps, followed by color and life
  • After determine performance need, choose wattage
  • Make sure lamp is compatible with luminaire and dimmer

By Craig DiLouie, LC

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