Buying the right light bulb will cost you less in long run
Using the right light bulb for the right location depends on bulb performance.Skip to next paragraph
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To help make the right choice the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that light-bulb packages show bulb ratings on wattage, lumens, and bulb life. As a consumer you should know what you are buying:
To help make the right choice the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that light-bulb packages show bulb ratings on wattage, lumens, and bulb light. As a consumer you should know what you are buying:
* Wattage: Many people think the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb. Wattage doesn't measure the amount of light from a bulb but rather the amount of electricity going into the bulb.
* Lumens: This unit measures bulb performance or brightness. The light-bulb package must tell the average initial lumens, the total amount of light the new bulb gives. The greater the number of lumens, the brighter the bulb.
* Bulb life: This caption tells the time the filament inside the bulb will last. The hours actually listed on the bulb package give the average hours of use you can expect.
Consumers now can buy a light bulb, similar to an incandescent in color, that lasts five times longer and burns no more than 50 watts of electricity while shedding as much light as a 150-watt incandescent bulb. This new bulb, the Electronic Halarc, consists of a glass bulb that contains a miniature arc with two conventional filaments perched atop an electronic control capsule and a base to fit a regular socket.
It looks like a double-dip ice-cream cone. When the switch is on, the filaments light up; once the more efficient arc heats up, the arc takes over.
If these bulbs were to fill only 10 percent of all US sockets, according to the FTC, they could reduce total energy demand by 5 billion kilowatt-hours a year. However, you may not want to pay $10 when you see bulbs for less than $1 a piece.
While long life (5,000 hours) is certainly an important feature of the Electronic Halarc, this same physical characteristic can be misleading as applied to ordinary light bulbs.
Billions of electric-light bulbs are bought every year. You have a choice of the popular 25-, 40-, 60-, 75-, and 100-watt bulbs to fill specific lighting needs. Frequently replacing bulbs is expensive, and this fact certainly leads to the purchase of the ''long life'' incandescent lamps.
While the FTC compels the manufacturers to indicate the life and lumens that each bulb provides, the average person still may have difficulty in interpreting the figures printed on the package.
Suppose you need to replace a 60-watt bulb in a desk lamp.
The burned-out bulb was rated at 1,000 hours (average) life and 860 (average) lumens. This lamp provided adequate lighting for the type of work performed at the desk.
In your weekly shopping, you find on display a bulb that is rated at 3,000 hours (average) life and 765 lumens. At the time you feel the 765 lumens for the gain in 3,000 hours of life is insignificant. So you buy the 3,000-hour bulb at about 99 cents, about double the cost of the shorter-life, 1,000-hour lamp.
But, would you be surprised to know that the initial cost of the bulb is only a fraction of the overall cost of providing the light? And would you also be surprised to know that three 1,000-hour bulbs would give you about 7 percent more light than one 3,000-hour bulb?
The following figures (rounded off) help to explain the answers and comparison: One 3,000-hour, 765 lumen light bulb
Light expected: 3,000 x 765 EQUALS 2,295,000 lumen-hours
Cost for 3,000-hour bulb EQUALS $1 Electricity cost:
3,000 x 60 x 0.05 / 1,000 EQUALS $9
Total cost EQUALS $10
Lumen-hours per $1 EQUALS 229,500 Three 1,000-hour, 860 lumen bulbs
Light expected: 3 x 100 x 860 EQUALS 2,580,000 lumen-hours
Cost for three 1,000-hour bulbs EQUALS $1.50 Electricity cost:
300 x 60 x 0.05 / 1,000 EQUALS $9
Total cost EQUALS $10.50
Lumen-hours per $1 EQUALS 250,000
Another significant factor, related to burning efficiency that you need to consider in the choice of bulbs, is lumens per watt.
The long-life 3,000-hour bulb gives about 13 lumens per watt (765/60); the 1, 000-hour bulb about 14 lumens per watt (860/60). So you can see that the shorter the average rated life of a typical incandescent bulb, the higher the efficiency.