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Lamp (Light Bulb) Information

How well your lighting performs often depends on the bulb. Different bulbs provide different light.

Incandescent light is used most frequently in our homes; it is produced by a tungsten thread that burns slowly inside a glass bulb. This is the light we are used to. The light is slighting yellow tinged. You can also now buy slightly blue or pink tinged bulbs.

A-bulbs are the standard. That's a regular light bulb. It can have either a little base, called a C or candelabra base or a bigger base called either an E or Edison base or an M or medium base. There are also intermediate or European base sockets. (If you have one of these, go buy an adapter. A little metal ring that goes into the socket will make a C base bulb fit and then you won't have to go searching for bulbs anymore.)

Incandescent bulbs are inexpensive to buy, but they aren't as energy efficient. They use more electricity to make the light than other choices and they don't last as long. But, many fixtures are designed for them and the light from them is pleasant. It's what we're used to. A-lamps provide a comfortable light and an average life of about 750 hours.

Incandescent bulbs are also available as globes, small round bulbs like you see on some bath lighting and as decorative flame or tear drop bulbs. They can have either a C candelabra base or E Edison (M Medium) base. That is what we think of as a "regular light bulb" base.

Incandescent A19 Medium Base Frosted Bulb

Incandescent Decorative GE CA10 Candelabra Base Screw in E12 Clear 60 watt

Incandescent R Lamps, PAR Lamps, BR Lamps

If you want more control over where your light goes, you can use a reflectorized bulb that has a mirrored coating on the back of the bulb to aim the light forward. R lamps, Reflector lamps and PAR lamps, Parabolic Reflector bulbs direct two to four times as much light forward as a regular (A lamp) light bulb.

These are what you usually see in flood lights, recessed lights and track lights. They produce a more controlled beam because the back is silvered. They spread the light or narrow it down, as a spot. These lamps are well suited for accenting and wall washing where directional control is required. Wide beam lamps can also be effectively used for general lighting. Average lamp life is about 2, 000 hours MR11, MR16, Bi-pins, etc.

Reflector (R)
Provides directional illumination. These are available as floods or spots. They are often used in recessed lights or track lights. They cannot be used outside unless they are used in a completely sealed waterproof fixture.

Bulging Reflector (BR)
May be used as a substitute for incandescent R lamps. They are also not to be used outside in open fixtures.

Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR)
These bulbs may be used indoors in recessed or track lighting indoors. They are also suitable for outdoor use in spot and flood fixtures. They provide halogen light and are more efficient than R or PAR lamps. The light is whiter, brighter and the bulbs last longer. There are more beam spreads available, so you can direct the light exactly where you want it for indoor or outdoor accent lighting. These bulbs are weather proof and can be used outside in un-protected fixtures.

GE R20 GE Soft White BR30 GE Spotlight PAR38

Low voltage incandescent lighting is especially useful for accent lighting. Operating on 12 or 24 volts, these lights require transformers (often built into the fixture) to step down the voltage from the standard 120-volt household circuit. Low voltage fixtures are relatively expensive to buy; but in general, can be energy and cost-efficient if carefully planned.

The most common are the MR bulbs. These usually operate at 12 volts and have a more tightly wound tungsten filament that aims the light better. Beam distributions range from Very Narrow to Wide flood. Average lamp life is 2, 500 hours.

GE Quartzline® Multi-Mirror® MR16 GE ConstantColor® Precise™ MR11

Halogen is usually low-voltage but may use standard line current. The popular MR-16 bulb offers a variety of beam spreads.

Halogen produces a brilliant pure white light. It provides more light per watt than incandescent and the bulbs, if properly cared for last a lot longer. They may be used in track, recessed lighting, wall sconces, torchiers, pendants, really any application.

Halogen has two disadvantages: it's higher initial cost and it's higher replacement bulb cost.

Halogen Lamp General Information

  • A new halogen lamp may smoke slightly when it is used for the first time. This is perfectly normal; the protective coating is simply being vaporized.

Two Tips For Prolonging Halogen Lamp Life

  • First avoid touching the lamp with bare hands during
    Installation. Any contaminant, even the oil from your
    hands can deteriorate the lamp. Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove any contaminant.
  • Second, do not run the lamps at full power when you do not need to. However, if dimming the fixture for an
    extended period of time, occasionally bring the light up
    to full brightness for a few minutes to complete the
    halogen cycle.

Mini-can bulbs are available in both xenon and halogen. Both have a clean white light. It is line voltage, so no transformer is required. These bulbs have a socket about the size of a candelabra, but not the same. They are easily available in most areas at any store that sells light bulbs including home improvement and many grocery stores.

The halogen bulb produces more heat. It must also be kept very clean to lengthen it's life. Really, any bulb will last longer if kept clean, just wipe it with the paper towel and Windex when you do the mirrors. (Turn it off and let it cool first, of course.) Halogen can be dimmed, but this lowers it's life expectancy.

Xenon is an excellent solution in many areas. It does not emit UV's. (Bad for paintings, photos and some wallpaper.) It lasts longer than halogen or incandescent, gives more light for the electricity used than incandescent. Xenon also produces less heat per lumen than halogen or incandescent. That doesn't mean that a 60 watt xenon is cooler than a 60w candelabra bulb. It means that there is way more light and not as much more heat. It is considered safer than halogens because it does not get as hot and halogen gas is kept under higher pressure.

Do not install a Fluorescent light if it is to be used for applying make-up. Even the best Fluorescent tubes don't really give accurate light. Fluorescent tubes are unsurpassed for energy efficiency; they also last far longer than incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are cheap and seem to last forever. They are available in 2', 4', 6', 8', as well as U-tube and circline lamps.

Fluoresents are an excellent choice for outdoor lighting or where changing the bulb is difficult Lighting from Besa, LBL, Melissa and Access are often available in Fluorescents.

Fluorecent Bath Lighting is shown on these pages:
Contemporary Bath
Modern Bath Lighting
Transitional Bath Lighting

Fluorescent Outdoor Lighting is shown on these pages:
Contemporary Outdoor Lighting
Traditional Outdoor Lighting

Fluorescent Ceiling Lighting is shown on these pages:
Alabaster Ceiling Lights
Traditional Close to Ceiling
Eclectic Close to Ceiling

Fluorescent is cool, as well, which is a good choice in poorly ventilated small areas, where heat is a problem. Older persons may benefit from light on both sides of a mirror. While the heat from other light sources may make this a burn hazard, Fluorescent lights installed vertically on either side of a mirror may assist older persons with shaving or applying makeup.

Older Fluorescent tubes have been criticized for noise, flicker and poor color rendition. Electronic ballasts and better fixture shielding against glare have remedied the first two problems; as for the last one, manufacturers have developed Fluorescents in a wide spectrum of colors, from very warm light (about 2, 700 degrees K0 to very cool (about 6, 300 degrees K). But, even the best give a slightly inaccurate rendering of some colors.

You can also buy Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFB) that screw into a regular (E/A) socket. They are larger than regular bulbs, though, so don't fit into many fixtures.

The best light for applying makeup is shed from the sides of a mirror. The best for shaving is from above. In both cases, there are many ways to do this effectively.

This is by no means all the information there is. If you have any questions, let me know and I will get you the answer and add it to this page. There are a lot of different kinds of light bulbs now. The right kind in the right fixture can really make a difference, but how do you know? Light bulbs, usually called lamps, can be grouped in general categories according to the way they produce light. And yes, we can sell just about any bulb. Tell us what you are looking for and we will get a price back to you.

Lighting can also change the colors or your room.

Yellowish White light
This is most likely the light you are used to. It is a warm light and enhances warm colors. If you change to another light source, remember that your colors will not have this warming light.

Brilliant White Light
Halogen produces true white light. This is the closest to daylight. It makes colors seem brighter.

Cool White Fluorescent
Bluish White light
This enhances cool colors. It may mute or even muddy warm colors.

Cool White Deluxe Fluorescent
White light
This is quite accurate light. It brightens most colors.

Warm White Fluorescent
Slightly Amber light
Warm white Fluorescents are friendlier to skin tones. This is the light you want in living or working areas. Don't try to apply makeup with it, though.

Warm White Deluxe Fluorescent
White light
This light brighters warm colors, but may muddy cool colors, especially blues and greens. Colors that used to coordinate may no longer seem to.

See Hadco Photometric Data >
(PDF will open in a new window.)
Photometrics for MR11, MR16, PAR36, PAR20, R40 and R20
Learn how Wide the beam from each bulb can spread.

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To Order:
Call (954) 456-1006 or 800-585-1285