As most of us now know, the traditional incandescent light bulb invented over 100 years ago is being phased out over the next couple of years. To learn more about the incandescent phase out, or if you are like “What?!”, make sure to check out our coverage on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) – aka “the incandescent phase out”.
Whether or not you agree with the law, and there are plenty of opinions both for and against, it is coming. In fact, the first phase starts this January 2012 when the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will no longer be able to be manufactured or imported. In January 2013 it will be the 75-watt light bulb and in January 2014, the 60-watt and 40-watt light bulbs.
So, knowing this is coming, and knowing that I have a lot of light bulbs in my house that will need to be replaced, including 100-watt ones, I decided to start exploring my options and figured I would share them with you.
What did I learn?
- There are options available now.
- There is no one option for me. I will be using different technologies based upon my needs and wants.
- GE makes a very cool hybrid light bulb which is part halogen and compact fluorescent that I am now using.
- There are halogen replacements for incandescent light bulbs…did not know this.
- Philips has a very cool, very awesome, somewhat expensive, LED light bulb called AmbientLED. I wish I could afford many of these because they work very, very well.
Now on to the story…
To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
- Disposal issues – since they have mercury, even a little, they cannot be just thrown in the trash. They must be disposed of properly.
- Warm-up Time – they are not at their immediate brightness level when you first turn them on. My wife really does not like this part.
- Not Dimmable – I dim practically every light in my house with either a wall dimmer or tabletop slide dimmer. I like to dim. Dimming saves money by reducing energy usage and increases the life of the lamp. However, the real reason I like to dim is that I really like to control the light output. I cannot do this with the vast majority of CFLs.
- Color Temperature – it is hard to replicate the color temperature of the standard incandescent light bulb. I like the color temperature I am used to. However, someone told me recently that when the incandescent light bulb first started to be used in homes people did NOT like that color temperature…it was not the same as the gas lamp they used. Interesting. I will adapt.
But, the reality is, CFLs are incredibly energy-efficient for the amount of light they output and long lasting. Last year, I replaced the light bulbs in my office desk lamps with CFLs. They have worked out well for my desk. Also, I was able to increase my light output (lumens) over the 60-watt light bulbs that were my upper limit when I was using incandescent.
Hybrid Light Bulbs
When I was out shopping recently, I came across the GE Reveal hybrid light bulb. The hybrid light bulb is a halogen-compact fluorescent combination. Wow!
When you first turn it on it is bright right away. A distinct benefit over the regular CFL. As the compact fluorescent part of the hybrid light bulb warms up and gets brighter, the halogen eventually turns off.
So, in the store I am thinking, that takes care of at least #2 on my list of my CFL issues…and makes my wife happy. Plus, since I use GE Reveal incandescent light bulbs in my house I was anticipating the same color temperature. Cross off #4 on my list. 50/50 is not bad.
So, I bought some and decided to give them a try in our bedside table lamps. Since those lights are not on dimmers, I did not need to worry about #3. Finally, since #1 will always be an issue with CFL I ignored that negative and moved on.
How do they work? Pretty well actually. The color temperature is not exactly the same as I am used to, but close enough. Also, they are bright right away. However, it is not a seamless transition between the halogen part of the light bulb turning off and the CFL part being fully bright.
What really happens is that the halogen turns off early and the light level dims for about a minute while the CFL continues to warm up. Kind of annoying. But, the light is good and it is incredibly energy efficient so I am keeping them in my bedside lamps. Instead of 60 watts, I am now only using 15 watts to generate 740 lumens of light (a standard GE Reveal incandescent generates 630 lumens). Plus, these light bulbs have a rated life of 8,000 hours, which is over 7 years of normal use.
I prefer the hybrid light bulb over the standard CFL.
Halogen Light Bulbs
I was surprised to find that there are halogen replacements for incandescent light bulbs. Not only that, being a fan of GE Reveal light bulbs, I was happy to see that there are halogen GE Reveal lamps. I did not know these were available. Maybe I never noticed? Maybe they are new? Either way, they are a compelling option for me since these are dimmable!
What about the energy savings you ask? They are definitely not nearly as energy efficient as CFLs. The 60-watt replacement halogen I purchased uses 43 watts of electricity and generates 565 lumens. A standard GE Reveal 60-watt incandescent light bulb generates 630 lumens and, as a reminder, the GE Reveal hybrid 60W replacement outputs 740 lumens.
But, did I mention they are dimmable? Also, I like the color temperature of halogen (#4 on my list), they are at full light output immediately after turning on (#2), and they have NO mercury which makes for easy disposal (#1). Actually, the GE Reveal halogen light bulbs meet ALL of my requirements.
There are some downsides compared to CFLs or the hybrid light bulbs. The rated life of the halogen, 1,000 hours, is the same as the GE Reveal incandescent. Definitely not as long-lasting as the hybrid or a standard CFL. In addition, while I am reducing my energy usage by almost 30%, I could reduce it by 75% with the hybrid!
For those places where I do not have any dimming needs, I will use the hybrid light bulb. When I need a dimming solution, I will be using the halogen light bulbs.
LED Light Bulbs
More and more LED light bulbs are becoming available. I have tried a couple and have not been all that impressed. I have two complaints about LED light bulbs, beyond the purchase cost, of course.
First, the lumen output has not been comparable to the incandescent light bulb that I am replacing. Second, an incandescent light bulb’s light is omnidirectional. Light is outputted all around the light bulb. The LED light bulbs that I have tried have not been able to replicate this. Light generated from LEDs are directional in nature. Work has to be done on the LED light bulb to produce an omnidirectional light.
Then, one day recently, I was handed the 60-watt incandescent replacement Philips AmbientLED Dimmable A19 LED Light Bulb. I was provided a sample. I did not have to shell out the $40 to try it.
Holy cow!! I LOVE this LED light bulb. Let’s forget the $40 entry fee for a minute and just relish in the details of this wonderful LED light bulb.
- 12 watts
- 800 lumens – 60 MORE lumens than the hybrid light bulb
- 25,000 hours rated life – that is 22+ years!!
- Omnidirectional light beam output
- 2700K color temperature – like a traditional incandescent light bulb
It is kind of ugly though (see picture). I don’t think that I would be putting this light bulb in my pendant or bathroom vanity light fixture for the whole world to see. This light bulb is better in a table lamp hidden from prying eyes. Plus, you cannot put this light bulb in a closed fixture, like a flush-mount ceiling light. It says so right on the box. I am guessing this has to do with proper management of the heat outputted from the LEDs.
So, for the right application, table lamps, and other light fixtures where the light bulb can be hidden from view, this is, by far, my favorite incandescent light bulb replacement. I would use them wherever I could if it was not for the $40 price. This is just a little rich for my blood right now.
Until these come down in price, and they will, I will be sticking with the GE Reveal hybrid and halogen light bulbs. I will use the hybrid when I do not need dimming and the halogen when I do.
Have you started to replace your incandescent light bulbs? Which one, or ones, are you using? Why?