Launch Slideshow

Lighting Options

9 bulbs, fixtures, and controllers.

Lighting Options

9 bulbs, fixtures, and controllers.

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    GE. Considered replacements for 60-watt and 75-watt incandescents, GE’s hybrid halogen-CFL bulb takes the shape of a traditional incandescent bulb but is as energy efficient as the longer-lasting CFL, says the firm. Inside a CFL tube is a small halogen capsule that the manufacturer says makes the light brighter than a CFL and allows it to operate within half a second of turning on. The capsule shuts off once the CFL comes to full brightness. The bulbs contain less than 1 milligram of mercury and last about 8,000 hours, the maker says. 800.435.4448. www.gelighting.com/na.

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    Philips. Designed as a replacement for a 60-watt incandescent light bulb, the 12-watt EnduraLED looks similar to the familiar incandescent A19 bulb and screws into any standard light fixture. The manufacturer says the bulb uses 80% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and will last 25 times longer. The bulb delivers the same soft, white light as the incandescent bulb it replaces and works with standard household dimmers, the maker claims. 800.555.0050. www.usa.lighting.philips.com.

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    Sylvania. Halogen Supersavers (left) are part of the incandescent family of light bulbs but are designed as a higher-efficiency replacement for the most-commonly used 60-watt model. The new bulbs are available in the familiar A19 shape. The halogen capsule allows higher lamp efficacy and saves up to one-third of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb, the manufacturer claims. Also pictured: the Living Spaces CFL and the Ultra LED Retrofit Dimmable Aline bulb. Both screw into any traditional light fixture. 800.544.4828. www.sylvania.com.

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    Progress Lighting. The P8071-STR is an Energy Star-compliant recessed LED downlight that features a minimum 50,000-hour life at 70% lumen maintenance. The product also complies with California Title 24 and is designed to reduce the need for maintenance and service costs over its lifetime, the manufacturer says. 864.678.1000. www.progresslighting.com.

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    Kichler. Design Pro LED rail lights incorporate tiny LED chips that use 75% less electricity than typical incandescent lighting. The LEDs in the fixtures, which mount into existing wall or ceiling outlet boxes, offer the same color of light as the incandescent bulbs, the manufacturer says. Each four-light fixture uses 24 watts of power and produces the light equivalency of 200 incandescent watts. The rail fixture features flat, round, satin-etched glass shades cradled by brushed-nickel metal holders in the same shape. 866.558.5706. www.kichler.com.

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    Thomas Lighting. The Thomas Tarragon collection uses Philips Lumileds LEDs, which have a lifespan of 20 years and are dimmable with an electronic ballast. Tarragon makes use of the LED module in an original design with a shade that does not house the light source. By placing the LED in a cup located below the shade, the light reflects off of a chrome plate on the top of the shade to illuminate the surface below. 800.825.5844. www.thomaslighting.com.

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    Cooper. A 6-inch downlight, the Halo LED H7 collection is designed for new construction or to retrofit existing 6-inch nominal housings with an Edison screw base adapter included in the module. The collection features four color temperature selections. The LEDs consume less than 15 watts and deliver between 511 and 1,541 lumens, depending on the series, trim, and color temperature. 770.486.4800. www.cooperlighting.com.

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    Leviton. The Decora CFL Slide Dimmer detects whether a bulb is an incandescent or a CFL, determines high- and low-end dimming capabilities, and adjusts the dimming range accordingly, the maker says, optimizing the performance of dimmable CFLs versus standard dimmers. The CFL Slide Dimmer brings the bulb to full illumination for warm-up, then draws it down to the indicated setting. It allows for a broader dimming range, helping to improve ambiance. 800.323.8920. www.leviton.com.

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    Lutron. The Diva/C-L dimmer works with most types of light bulbs, including incandescent, halogen, dimmable CFLs, and LEDs. The manufacturer claims this product has been engineered to minimize the problems associated with using dimmable CFLs and LEDs: lights turning themselves off or “dropping out” when the dimmer switch is very low; lights not turning on when the dimmer switch is turned to a low level; and lights turning off unexpectedly when a hair dryer or air conditioner turns on while the bulb is dimmed. The wall-mounted Diva/C-L dimmer features a large paddle switch and a small slider. 888.588.7661. www.lutron.com.

A new law is aimed at turning the lights out on Thomas Edison’s 131-year-old bulb that consumers have come to associate with the warm glow of home.

As of Jan. 1, the traditional 100-watt and 150-watt A19 incandescent light bulb is no longer sold in California. A year from now, the energy waster will be out of business nationwide.

In 2013, the familiar 75-watt incandescent also will be history. (California will shoo them off of store shelves one year earlier.) And in 2014, Americans will wave good-bye to their beloved—albeit energy-inefficient—60- and 40-watt A-shaped incandescents.

The resulting switch to more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or to the brand-new high-efficacy halogens that manufacturers have introduced in response to the “light bulb law” within the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will mean considerably steeper prices—in the $2-per-bulb range—versus the 50-cent incandescent. But other than that, for many builders, the shift will barely register because—for now—only the bulbs, and not the fixtures, are required to change.

“It’s not that hard of a change to make for recessed lighting, which is most of the indoor lighting that we build into homes,” says Jim Bayless, owner of GreenBuilt Construction in Folsom, Calif. 

In fact, estimates the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, about a quarter of the light bulbs sold in America are CFLs, and many pros long ago embraced them. Those who haven’t, advises Larry Weinstein, president of design/build firm DBS-Shared Solutions America in San Diego, should make the switch.

“Architects and contractors for the most part are hurting right now,” he reasons. “Those who are wise enough to realize there’s a substantial market in energy-efficient new homes are doing very well.”

Derek Greenauer, program manager for D&R International, a Silver Spring, Md.-based energy-efficiency consulting firm, agrees. “If builders can get up to speed on LEDs [light-emitting diodes] and technology and the new choices they’ll have for lighting homes, they can kind of ride that green wave to set a particular builder apart from competitors.”

Builders and homeowners who will grieve the loss of the familiar A-shaped incandescent, says Weinstein, will do so only because “they don’t know any better.”

What they might not know is that CFLs—the most likely immediate replacement bulb both for built-in residential lighting and for portable luminaires like table lamps—last for around five years and use 75% less energy than traditional incandescents, which burn out after about seven months of normal use. CFLs also cost about four times more.

What they almost certainly don’t know is the difference between a lumen—a measure of light output that the government is requiring bulb boxes to display starting in July—and a watt, the consumer’s comfortable gauge of how bright a light bulb will burn.

An example: The old 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens. So a builder or homeowner who wants to replace a 60-watt bulb with a similar but more energy-efficient alternative should choose a CFL, high-efficacy halogen, or LED that produces 800 lumens. That number will be displayed on the package’s required new Lighting Facts label (see "Reading the Label," page 2).

“The big challenge,” says Hampton Newsome, an attorney and spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, “is to help people understand that when they’re looking for the light the bulb produces, look at lumens.”

So it’s a good thing the phase-out is staggered over three years, says Peter Soares, director of consumer product development for Philips. “It will give consumers time to understand the legislation,” he says.

And it could take some time. “There hasn’t been much consumer education about light bulbs in a long, long time,” notes Terry McGowan, director of engineering for the American Lighting Association[http://www.americanlightingassoc.com/]. “The fact is that the consumer likes to make decisions right at the shelf and gets confused with all these labels and lamps. I don’t know what they’ll do.”

His prediction: “Any time there’s change, there’s a little bit of craziness.” Indeed, some are expecting consumers to make a run for incandescent light bulbs as Jan. 1, 2012, approaches, stockpiling them like milk and bread before a snowstorm.