Three Types of Light Bulbs

Because of rapid advances in lighting technology and stricter government energy standards, your light bulb choices have never been better. Every bulb now sold  is more energy efficient than those previously used in homes and businesses. Here are three types of light bulbs.

Incandescent bulbs

These are the traditional round bulbs used since light bulbs were invented. An electric current is passed through a filament made of tungsten until it heats enough to produce light. Generating light from heated metal wastes much of the energy used to produce the light, so a more efficient incandescent bulb was produced.

Halogen bulbs are incandescent bulbs with a small amount of halogen gas added, which increases the efficiency of the heat-to-light process. Although they are more efficient than regular incandescent bulbs, they are also more expensive.

Contrary to popular belief, incandescent bulbs are still produced and sold in the United States, but a government mandate requires that only lower wattage halogen type incandescent bulbs can be manufactured or sold in the United States after January 1, 2014.

CFL bulbs

CFL (compact fluorescent) emit ultraviolet light when electric current passes through argon gas mixed with mercury vapor. The ultraviolet light then passes through a coating that converts it to visible light. These bulbs operate in the same manner as the long fluorescent tube lights that are familiar sights in businesses and schools. CFL bulbs are roughly the size of incandescent bulbs, and consist of a base and a spiraling glass tube.

Because the reaction in CFL bulbs takes longer to produce light, they may take several minutes to reach their full lighting potential. However, once they are at full power, they produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs using considerably less energy.

The main concern in the use of CFL bulbs is the release of minute amounts of mercury when a bulb is broken. Mercury exposure can cause severe physical and neurological damage in sufficient quantities.

Of course, because the amount of mercury in a single bulb is minimal, immediate danger is not likely, but care should be taken when cleaning up a broken bulb. Gloves and a dust mask are advisable, along with wet paper towels and cleaner to absorb all traces of contamination. Don't use a vacuum cleaner, because it will cause the dispersion of mercury into the air.

CFL bulbs are currently sold at bargain prices, partly because of mercury fears, but primarily because of the introduction of the LED bulb.

LED bulbs

LED bulbs are the most energy efficient bulbs currently available, and by far the most expensive, costing several times the price of a comparable CFL or efficient incandescent bulb.

LED bulbs produce light differently that either CFL or incandescent bulbs. Electric current passes through semiconductors that light up individual diodes, which are components that allow the flow of electric current in one direction only, and emit light in the process.

Besides being more expensive than other types of bulbs, many LED bulbs are directional, unlike incandescent or CFL bulbs, which produce light in all directions. However, newer expansive types of LED bulbs are being produced that can create a more panoramic lighting source.

Of course, while LED bulbs are much more expensive, they are much more energy efficient than other bulbs and can last a decade or more without significant deterioration in light production.

As the holidays approach, consider switching to LED lights for your lighting displays, Some retailers offer discounts if you trade in your existing traditional holiday lights, and you will enjoy brighter lights and energy savings for many holidays to come. For more information on bulbs, talk to a professional like Pacific Lamp Wholesale Inc.