THE PATHFINDER TO YOUR LIGHT BULBS
The most important things to know
to choose meaningfully.
Light bulbs enlighten both outdoor and indoor spaces. The characteristics of the light they provide can have remarkable effects over the health and experience of the people exposed to it. Most noteworthy are skin problems related to high intensities (halogen), UV radiation (fluorescent), oscillations triggering headaches and eye strain in light-sensitive people, burns in bulbs that heat (incandescent, halogen and fluorescent), hazardous materials exposition (LED, CLF), etc. Moreover, the tone of the light provided can affect the brain’s chemistry, mainly altering the hormone expression of the sleep cycle, conditioning concentration and causing or relieving stress as a function of the colour tone.
Time saved thanks to scheduled turn on and off of the lights, the possibility to control them remotely and the creation of automation rules.
Quality of life improved thanks to the creation of personal pleasant atmospheres.
Peace of mind increased thanks to the possibility of managing several functions (schedules, transitions, brightness and colour adjustments, turn on and off, etc.) even from remote.
Savings increased thanks to the possibility of dimming lights and managing them from remote.
Light bulbs can be of many types according to the mechanism they use to emit light:
These use heat to make a thin metal filament glow in visible light and contain a vacuum or inert gases in the bulb to prevent it from reacting with air gases and burn out.
These use halogen gases as an environment for the filament to prevent the deterioration of the filament, providing longer life spans and brighter light.
These excite mercury vapour in their tubes through electric discharges, producing ultraviolet light, which is filtered by the coating of the tubes and ends up resulting in white light.
These work using the same principles and intended to replace incandescent bulbs where tubes were impractical, and provide energy savings up to 1/5 and last for ten times more. Nevertheless, their usage of mercury makes their disposal very difficult.
LED technology is based on the light emission from a solid-state device based on semiconductors, which although they use hazardous materials such as lead, are less of a threat than a gas were the lamp to be broken. This technology is capable of providing the same amount of light intensity as the previously discussed using only as little as 10% of the power of an incandescent lamp and has the greater lifespan as well. Different types of semiconductors provide different colours as well, making them colour-tunable as well as dimmable. The downside is that the proper LEDs cannot be connected directly to AC (Alternating Current) and an adaptation circuit is required. This is the reason why until now the price of these lamps has been higher than the other technologies, although LED lamps are becoming more and more affordable every year. This is also the reason why most devices that were used to control previous lamps (such as dimmers for incandescent lights) do not work on LEDs.
When buying light bulbs, there are many aspects that you may want to consider. However, there are five main variables that you may want not to miss:
All bulbs come referred with a letter and a number. The letter indicates the shape of the bulb while the number indicates the diameter of the bulb, being A-shape bulbs the most common in households.
Similarly to bulb shapes, light bulbs' bases usually are classified by type (letter) and diameter (number). For example, a standard European screw-in bulb has a base type E27 (E refers to Edison Screw Light Base, 27 refers to the diameter of the base in mm).
It is the measure of the perceived power of light, and on the light bulb, packages are specified in lumens. The higher the brightness, the more light perceived by the human eye.
It refers to the amount of energy that light uses. Some bulb packages display an equivalent wattage figure that refers to incandescent bulbs. This is useful for you to make sure that the bulb base that you plan to use will support the wattage of the bulb that you want to buy. For instance, a bulb base thought to be used with 60W incandescent lights will not support a 9-13W = 1100 lm LED (which is equivalent, in brightness, to a 75 W incandescent bulb).
It refers to the possibility of adjusting the brightness of your light bulbs. In case you want to dim a LED bulb, you have two main options. Either you substitute your current dimming switch with a LED-compatible dimmer (most LEDs give problems with traditional dimmers), or you look for a LED bulb that is dimmable (most of them are) directly from your phone or using your voice.
Bulbs that are directly connected to the internet via Wi-Fi need permanent current if you want to keep their smartness. This does not mean that they need to be always on. You can use your smartphone to turn them on and off whenever you want, but if you use the light switch and disconnect the power to the smart bulb, you will not be able to handle them with your smartphone until you press the switch and connect them to the power again. So, if you plan to continue using your light switches in addition to your voice, smartphone and automation rule, then a smart light switch might be the right solution for you.