Incandescent Bulbs - Is Their Future Bright?

Yes, incandescent bulbs are not very efficient, in fact most of their energy is converted to heat and only a small portion is converted to light.

I have heard of anecdotal cases where people use incandescents to heat up their camps in addition to some other basic type of heating. Although that might be handy in a pinch, it is not the wisest choice for heating.

There are a few different types of incandescents available on the market:

  • General - These are the bulbs we think of when the term comes up. They are the most prevalent and cheapest home lighting bulbs averaging $0.50 or less per bulb.While they are somewhat affected by frequency of switching on and off, incandescents give off large amounts of heat. These bulbs have no hazardous material in them, but are fragile and break easily.Incandescent bulbs are classified as Class A, which are the basic bulbs we buy, Class G for the globe shaped bulbs (bathrooms), and the decorative kind such as the teardrop shaped ones that go in hall chandeliers
  • Reflector - these bulbs have a reflective coating that direct light in one direction. The regular reflectors (R) put out twice as much light as the Class A bulbs, while the parabolics (PAR) put out four times as much light, with better direction control. Parabolic reflectors would be good choices for outdoor flood lighting.
  • Halogen - Halogens or Tungsten-halogen bulbs come in 120 volt (line voltage) or 12 volt (low voltage), making them flexible for AC or DC use. They are brighter, with a whiter color and put out more lumens (light per watt or light output) than standard bulbs.There are many varieties of each voltage type, each handling different purposes. Halogens have a very high operating temperature.Since there have been incidents of fires from fallen halogen floor lamps the use of these bulbs around children should be limited. The low voltage halogens are typically used for under-cabinet lighting, track and recessed lighting, and outdoor accent lighting.
  • Xenon - These are very similar to halogens, but are more costly. Their advantages over halogens is their longer life (8,000-20,000 hours), and lower operating temperatures. They work well for strip or under-cabinet lighting.

Incandescents definitely have their place. Most incandescent bulbs can easily be replaced with high efficiency bulbs. However, there are few affordable, high efficiency bulbs that are comparable with some of the specialized types of bulbs, such as Xenon, or certain halogens.

All things considered, LEDs are the new runners up and will surpass incandescents as specialty lighting, once they become affordable.

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