Measuring Your Light Bulb

November 4, 2008

measuring-imageWe get lots of folks who call in and don’t know what type of light bulb they have. Knowing the measurements of the bulb are often helpful to us when identifying what light bulb you have. Measurements we need are the width and the length. From the diagram, you can see that the length is from the very top of the bulb to the bottom of the base, not the bottom of the glass part. Then the width is from one side of the bulb to the other. Knowing these measurements ahead of time will save you time and allow us to help you better.


Disposing of Fluorescent Light Bulbs

October 13, 2008

How you dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs is important. Why? Because they contain mercury which can be harmful to the environment. If your bulb is not broken, it’s much easier. Most major cities have a recycling center that will take cfl bulbs. They then send the bulbs to a center that will take off the base to recycle, they will recycle the glass and will also salvage the mercury and reuse it as well.

If you don’t have a recycling center in your area, according to the EPA you can double bag your bulbs and place in your trash. It is very important that you visit the EPA website for details on centers in your area.  If you are a commercial operation, very different rules apply. You must get your fluorescent bulbs to a recycling center and often pay a fee to do so. You can find online service to do this if you don’t know anyone locally. A big one is EPSI.

To view a more detailed account of what to do with these bulbs or how to take care of them when one breaks, please read our entire article on the subject.

Can I use the same flood light for outside and inside both?

October 9, 2008

Yes, in many cases you can use the same flood light bulbs for indoor and outdoor applications. Any flood light that is incandescent can be used outside as long as it doesn’t get direct contact with rain or other elements. PAR incandescent light bulbs and PAR halogen light buls are made with heavy duty glass lense that can take the elements and are perfect for uplights and spot lights out in your yard. When you are looking at compact fluorescent light bulbs, you’ll need to choose one that was manufacturered for being outside. Other CFL light bulbs will not hold up in lower temperatures.

Converting Incandescent Light Bulbs to Compact Fluorescents:

October 1, 2008

It is not a clear cut thing to state when determining what compact fluorescent light bulb to use when replacing your incandescent light bulbs. Yes, the manufacturers put on their packaging that this replaces that but it’s a little more of a gray area than that. Why? Because the manufacturers are assuming that you are using the bulb they’ve used to compare.  What’s the chance in that?  Very small.  The style, the lense, the manufacturer all make an impact on each individual light bulb.
If this is the case, how do you a non-technical person make the comparison? It’s a snap. What you’ll compare is lumens. Lumens is the brightness that the light bulbs put out and will translate from one type of light bulb to the other. For example, a 20 Watt Philips EL/A PAR38 Reflector Flood Light Bulb has 940 initial lumens. When looking at incandescent, an 85 watt BR40 Reflector Flood Light Bulb has 925 initial lumens. That’s pretty darn close and you’ll never tell the difference.

This is important for many reasons but the biggest is because you don’t want each recessed light bulb in your ceiling to be a different brightness. Needless to say……

Plug In Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

September 30, 2008

If you are in California (or select other parts of the country) in a home that has been built in the last few years, don’t be alarmed when you go to replace recessed light bulbs and you see something very foreign.

The state has mandated that all new construction be fitted with fixtures that only fit Plug In Compact Fluorescent light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs and halogens aren’t made with this type of plug in base so there is no risk of you buying one of those. This is in an effort to keep the energy consumption down and to control the rolling blackouts that can happen there in the summer time.

Many other areas of the country are using these types of fixtures as well but it’s not mandated by the government like in California. The light bulbs generally looks like the one below and will have either two or four plug in prongs at the bottom of the bulb. And the bulb will be either tubes that are straight and there will be multiple tubes or they will curve up and over and will generally have 2 or 3 bulbs that curve over.

What is the difference between a 120 Volt Light Bulb and a 130 Volt Light Bulb?

September 16, 2008

The volts of a light bulb indicate how many volts of electricity your light bulb operates at optimum.  So for instance, if you are using a 120 volt light bulb in a table lamp and you get a surge of electricity in your house and the voltage raises above a 120, that light bulb will more than likely blow out.  130 Volt bulbs are the newer of the two types to come on the market.  It’s been our experience that you get a longer life out of a 130 Volt light bulb and when possible, we recommend this type.

What is a Standard Light Bulb?

September 16, 2008

A Standard Light Bulb is an incandescent A19 Light Bulb.  A19 indicates the bulb shape.  You’ll also hear folks call these an edison style light bulb.

What do all the numbers mean in regards to Flood Light Bulbs?

September 11, 2008

You are looking at purchasing a flood or spot light bulb for your recessed or track lighting.  But when you get to the time to make a decision, you are looking at light bulbs that are named:  PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, R30, R40, etc.  What does all this mean? 

Basically, you take the number and divide it by 8.  Once you get that number that represents the diameter of the light bulb.  That is a crutial number to know.  You should purchase a light bulb that is about 1″ less in diameter than the can you are putting it in.  Or however small it needs to be for you to screw it in and take it out.  So, a R40 is 5″ in diameter and a PAR16 is 2″ in diameter.

What is a Lux?

September 9, 2008

Lux is a term commonly used in photometrics.  It’s a measure of intensity of light.  1 Unit of lux is equal to 1 lumen per square meter.  So, when a photographer is measureing the illumination of a room before taking a photo, that is measured as a LUX. 

Can I use CFL light bulbs with a dimmer switch?

September 9, 2008

It is very important to determine if the compact fluorescent light bulbs you are using are made to be dimmable or not!  If you use a regular compact fluorescent light bulb in a system with a dimmer switch you will burn your bulbs out prematurely.  There are a couple of ways you can go.  Either purchase a dimmable compact fluorescent or switch out your switch from a dimmer switch to a regular on/off switch. 

All Halogen light bulbs are dimmable and provide a better alternative to incandescent light bulbs in recessed lighting.  The biggest problem is that they still put out a fair amount of heat and sometimes that’s not what you want, especially in a kitchen where there is already a great amount of heat.