Light Bulb Technology Changes With The Times

As we set our clocks forward, a time change originally designed to preserve daylight, it is worth thinking about other lighting changes we make for preservation. You have likely heard about the upcoming changes to the standard light bulb. With the push to move away from incandescent lighting, which uses a great deal of energy, there are a few things you should know.

A Bit of Background

The number that most people consider when buying a light bulb is its wattage. The primary misconception here is that wattage does not measure the brightness of the bulb (which is actually measured in lumens), but the amount of electricity used. So when you buy a 100 watt bulb, as opposed to a 60 watt bulb, you are using more electricity but not necessarily getting more light. While traditional incandescent bulbs may have generally been brighter the more energy they used, the newer, more energy efficient bulbs don’t necessarily follow that curve.

An Introduction to LED’s

Electric light bulb and a plant inside it as symbol of green energyLED lighting is experiencing an increase in mainstream usage. LED bulbs are more efficient than any other source of light in the marketplace. In their early stages, LED lights tended to have a stigma about the color of light they produced (cooler/stark light). However, LEDs have improved a great deal in recent years

LED’s have come a long way in color rendering index (CRI). CRI determines the color value a light bulb will give off, measured in Kelvin rating. LED’s now come in a variety of Kelvin ratings to accommodate matching color tones in light values to other bulbs you may have in your home. For example an LED with an approximate 3,000 Kelvin rating will be warmer and closest to your standard incandescent light bulb.

The energy benefits to LED lights are great. A traditional 60-watt bulb gives off 800 lumens of light while to produce the same 800 lumens an LED light need only use 10 watts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every household replaced just one standard incandescent bulb with an “Energy Star” rated LED or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb, Americans would save close to $700 million per year in energy costs.

Other Lighting Considerations

Many light fixtures have a safety rating that implies a maximum wattage allowed (i.e. do not exceed 60 watts). Using an energy-efficient bulb such as an LED, or a CFL will allow you to get more light out of those fixtures. For example, you can put 23-watt CFL in a 60-watt fixture. This bulb will give off as much light as an incandescent 100-watt bulb and not max out the light fixture.

Another consideration is longevity. Although some of these bulbs tend to be more expensive, they last much longer than your standard bulb. An LED light bulb is projected to last 50,000 hours, opposed to an incandescent, which lasts only about 1,200 hours.

Fortunately these prices are coming down as these new technologies become more mainstream. The LED bulb that replaces the old 60-watt incandescent used to cost $40 just a few years ago. Now the price is down to about $10. Here is a link to a great source by that shows a comparison chart vs. savings per every 50,000 hours.


Although adapting to new technologies can often be intimidating, don’t feel reluctant to dive into this new trend. It is not only beneficial to the environment, but to your wallet as well. Any hardware store associate should be able to point you in the right direction should you have any questions. Just remember the basics: don’t exceed your wattage per fixture (which will be difficult if you are opting to use the new technologies), consider the Kelvin rating (the higher the rating the warmer tone the color will be), and don’t be afraid to try new things! This technology is phasing in, and the old is phasing out, so take advantage of all the new products have to offer. It’s worth it!


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