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Light Bulb Lingo 101

Posted on Thursday, January 22 2015

When it comes to light bulbs, we’ve all heard of incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL) and halogen bulbs. Nowadays, you have more choices than ever when it comes to buying bulbs, but it’s important to keep one thing in mind: efficiency is key. But what exactly is an incandescent bulb? What about fluorescent? What’s a lumen? Don’t be stumped. Here’s a quick key to common, everyday light bulb lingo:

Watts are standard units of measuring electricity. One watt is equal to 1/746 horsepower. It’s extremely important to never exceed the recommended maximum wattage for your lamp! If you are making the switch from incandescent light bulbs to a more eco-friendly CFL bulb, it’s important to know the wattage of the old bulb. A CFL uses less wattage while producing more light.

Lumens are the stand measure of light produced by a bulb or light source: The measure of luminous flux of quantity of light emitted by a source. For example, a standard dinner candle produces about 12 lumens while a standard 20-watt incandescent bulb provides about 840 lumens. Standard 100-watt bulbs produce about 1600 lumens, making for a brighter environment.

Incandescent bulbs have a filament that is heated to the point of glowing, producing light. More than 98 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is emitted as heat.

Flourescent bulbs are filled with mercury vapor, emitting ultraviolet light when pulled into an electrical outlet. The bulbs have an inner coating, turning the ultraviolet rays produced into visible light. CFL bulbs don’t use heat to create light.

Life usually equates to the estimated number of hours a light bulb will last. To get the most of your bulb, it’s important to compare the lumens and life of different bulbs with the same wattage.

Questions? Feel free to ask.

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