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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog

A Little En”Light”enment

Posted by Jason Haupt - Energy

If you are like most people you take your light for granted.  When it begins to get dark you flip a switch and you have light.  Recently there has been a lot to think about when it comes to lighting.  You may have noticed that there are a lot of choices when you go to purchase a new light bulb.  This is a result of a law that passed in 2007 which outlined the gradual phase out of the tungsten-filament, or what would be considered the standard incandescent light bulb.  This law took its last step on January 1, 2014 when 40 and 60 watt lightbulbs were no longer allowed to be manufactured in the United States.  This does not mean that incandescent light bulbs are no longer available, but they will eventually be replaced by one of several more efficient lighting technologies.

Since the passage of this law, lighting technology has taken some significant steps forward in efficiency.  These steps forward have resulted in three major classes of lighting choices.  Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are the two most talked about light bulb options. Incandescent light bulbs will still be available but they will be “high efficiency” or halogen incandescent light bulbs.  Each type of light has its advantages and if you know how to read the label on the light packaging you will be able to choose the correct light for the right application.

In terms of efficiency, LED light bulbs are on average 6.5 times more efficient than the traditional incandescent bulb.  CLF’s are almost 3.8 times more efficient and halogen incandescent bulbs are an average of 1.7 times more efficient.

New light packaging has several very important pieces of information to help you choose the right light.  The first thing to look for is the lumens.  This is a rating of the amount of light the bulb will be providing.  A 60-W light bulb provided between 300 and 1320 lumens, so to replace that light you need to find a bulb that will provide the light in this range.  Most packages will have some labeling that gives an approximate equivalent to a traditional incandescent light.  This makes it much easier to choose a light that will give you a similar amount of light as the one that you are replacing.

One of the biggest complaints that I have heard about the new lighting is that it is too white or too yellow.  If you have noticed that about some of the new lights you should take a look at the packaging to choose a light that is going to give you the light color that you want or need.   Lights are classified into temperatures of color and are referred to as warm and cool colors measured in degrees K.  Day light is a cool and a light with a temperature of 4100K or above and is a good choice to mimic day light.  Cool colored lights are good for task lighting.  3100-4000K lighting will produce warm white light and are good for a mix of uses and make good general lighting.  If you are looking for warmer tones choosing a light up to 3000K is the right choice for you.  Warm light falls into the more yellow/red color range and produces a more intimate or calming lighting.

Choosing the right light can be difficult, but with this information in hand you might be able to shed some light on this issue.


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