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Light Bulb Types

By Malcolm Rivers

Light bulbs, or light sources, are fairly obviously an essential part of your living or working space. We use them to illuminate rooms, to maintain security, to read without disturbing others or even to set a particular mood in an area. Different types of lights will give you more for your money, some are more effective for decoration or give a variety of types, colors, and amounts, of light. Here are some of the basics of light sources.

Basics

The basics of light bulbs and light sources are based on four major factors. The first is the number of lumens a light source provides. The number of lumens represent how much light a light bulb or a light source provides. The brighter a light is, the more lumens that a light bulb provides, and thus the higher the number of lumens. The second factor in the basics of lighting is wattage. Wattage represents how much electricity a light bulb or light source requires to operate and provide light. The third factor is efficacy, which is essentially is how many lumens per a given amount of electricity that a light bulb or light source provides. The fourth, and final, factor is footcandles. Footcandles represent the amount of light that reaches a given target or subject, meaning you as the user.

Incandescent

How it works and properties

Incandescent bulbs are the most common types of light bulbs and have a variety of subtypes. The way that incandescent bulbs work is that electricity flows through a filament inside the bulb and makes it glow. Incandescent bulbs, though ubiquitous, are less energy efficient than other bulbs. That means that their efficacy is lower and they take more electricity than other types of bulbs while providing fewer lumens. They are, however, useful for lighting when you don't need a lot of brightness and give off a pleasant light much of the time.

There are a variety of types of incandescent bulbs. General service bulbs are inexpensive and frequently seen. They give off a warm, white yellow light that many people enjoy. They do not last very long but given how inexpensive they are, replacing them is easy. Tungsten halogen bulbs are incandescent bulbs that have longer life spans than their general service brethren. They give off a whiter light than other types of incandescent bulbs and are more energy efficient as well. There are two types of tungsten halogen bulbs; line voltage bulbs that are 120 watt and low voltage types that are 12 volt.

Fluorescent

How it works and properties

Fluorescent bulbs are another common, popular light source type. Fluorescent bulbs produce light when an arc of electricity passes between cathodes to excite mercury and other gases. This excitement produces radiant energy, which is then converted to visible light by phosphor coating. Fluorescent bulbs are more efficacious and efficient than other types. These bulbs require one third to one fifth as much electricity as incandescent bulbs for a similar amounts of lumens.

There are a couple of types of fluorescent bulbs and light sources that are significant, or worthy of discussion. The first type is compact fluorescent lamps. These lamps can be used in standard lamp sockets and, given their higher degree of efficiency, are much growing in popularity. T8 fluorescent lamps are the second type and are used for larger ceiling fixtures with electronic ballasts and are found, frequently, in commercial projects.

LED: Light Emitting Diodes

How it works and properties

Light emitting diode light bulbs, also known as LED lights produce light when voltage is applied to negatively charged semiconductors. The voltage applied causes electrons to combine and create a unit of light, also known as a photon. Light emitting diode lights are far more efficient and more longer lasting than any other type of light sources, though they're, at this point, less popular than incandescent and fluorescent light sources. LED lights are popular for under cabinet strips in homes, apartments and businesses and are growing in popularity due to their efficiency.

There are many different types of light bulbs and light sources. These three, incandescent, fluorescent and LED have primacy in terms of their regular usage in homes, apartments and businesses. As always, do your own research when considering which types of light sources to use. Good luck!

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About The Author

In 2005, Malcolm attended Harvard University where he received his Bachelors of Arts...

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