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Friday, January 23, 2009

Eco-St : Light Bulb Library : Review
Ban The Bulb has borrowed a low energy "light bulb library" from Matt Lane of Eco-St and been trying out some of the 40 different designs of high-quality energy saving light bulb that have been gathered together for this loanable library.

Visually impaired

The most suitable energy saving light bulb, for those that are visually impaired, has proven to be the 25W Pro-Lite Daylite.

This lamp quickly produces a very bright light which covers a full "daylight" spectrum and is equivalent to a 125W incandescent light bulb.

It costs about £9 to buy, lasts for 8000 hours (approx. 8 years) and uses 6 times less electricity to produce the same amount of light as the traditional alternative.

It has been calculated that this energy saving lamp uses £12 less electricity each year or £96 over its lifetime.

100W equivalent
: 20W Soft tone

Many people find the light produced by the stick and spiral designs of energy saving light bulb too harsh.

As a result, several of the manufacturers have started to encapsulate the familiar energy saving spirals or sticks inside glass globes which are tinted to produce a warmer or softer tone of light.

Ban The Bulb would recommend that you used these encapsulated designs in living space and the stick designs for areas such as stairs and hallways where the tone of light matters less.

The Philips 20W Softone energy saving light bulb produces a good brightness within 1-2 seconds and full brightness within about a minute.

It costs £4.99 to buy one of these lamps and saves roughly £10 per year on electricity bills. With an 8000 hour (approx 8 year) lifetime this amounts to an £80 saving on bills.

75W equivalent
: 16W Softone

The Philips 16W Softone is an encapsulated design of energy saving light bulb, which produces a mellow light and reaches a good brightness within 3 seconds and full brightness within 30 seconds - 1 minute.

It costs £4.99 and saves roughly £9 per year (£72 over life time) on electricity bills when compared to a 75W incandescent equivalent.

General Advice

Use the higher wattages of energy saving bulb

In general, BTB recommends that you avoid the lower wattages of energy saving light bulb as there do seem to be issues with the conversion of watts (the unit of electricity) and lumens (the unit of light) and it seems best to err on the side of caution; by buying a slightly higher wattage of energy saver that you might expect.

You can also check the lumen levels on the box and this is a good idea if you have time.

You get what you pay for

Millions of energy saving light bulbs have been given away free but these tend to be relatively poorly made and to be produced by little known brands or obscure Chinese companies.

BTB therefore recommends that you buy energy savers that have been produced by well-known brands. Even if the cost a bit more to purchase, they will almost certainly do a better job and help you to avoid disappointment.

As with other household goods, you tend to get what you pay for, and both the quality of light and lifetimes seem to be more satisfactory from the bigger brands.

All energy saving light bulbs are not equal

Although I haven't had time to undertake a thorough review of all of the light bulbs in the library, you might like to know that:

Osram / GE seem to make some of the best compact "stick" designs,

Pro-Lite seen to make the brightest energy savers with the widest light spectrum,

Philips seem to make the best soft tone and "encapsulated" globe designs and,

Pro-Lite and Megaman seem to make the best candle shaped compacts.

BTB hasn't found any dimmable CFLs that it is happy to endorse and would recommend that you waited for LEDs, such as those made by Sharp / EcoLED to get cheaper and more widely available.

Visit a specialist lighting shop + try before you buy

Please have a look at the numerous light bulb suppliers in the links on the left if you want to compare prices and look at a wider range of light bulbs.

It is also a good idea to visit specialist lighting shops such as Ryness and Eco-St, so that you can ask them to demonstrate different light bulbs before you buy.

Thanks to Matt Lane for allowing me borrow his excellent light bulb library.

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