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.

UNDERSTANDING THE RULES

While the new law effectively phases out the traditional light bulb, it stops short of banning it. Instead, the Department of Energy has set efficiency standards for all light bulbs, and today’s standard incandescents can’t meet those levels. New, high-efficacy halogen bulbs—a form of incandescent—can, however. They’re not as efficient as CFLs, but they emit the same warm light as their outlawed cousins and are easier to dim than stubborn CFLs, most of which can dim only so much before snuffing out completely.

Under the new rules, all light bulbs will burn 25% to 30% less energy than traditional products do today. By 2020, all bulbs will be 70% more efficient.

CFLs already are 70% more efficient than traditional incandescents. High-efficacy halogen bulbs are about 30% more efficient, so they’re a viable choice for now, but won’t be in 2020 unless manufacturers find a way to upgrade them.

Super-efficient, long-lasting LEDs fill the bill, as they are about 90% more efficient than incandescents, but they’re so new and so expensive that few home builders and remodelers are ready to recommend them to their clients. Still, Soares of Philips Lighting believes builders will gravitate to a mixture of energy-efficient halogens, CFLs, and LEDs.

  • Reading the Label
    READING THE LABEL
    Like the nutrition label on packaged food, a Federal Trade Commission-mandated new label on light bulbs will tell consumers all about the bulbs they buy.

    A Lighting Facts label on the back will repeat the information about brightness and energy cost, and add facts about the bulb’s life expectancy; light appearance—whether the light it shines is “warm” or “cool”—  wattage, or the amount of energy the bulb uses; and whether the bulb contains mercury.
The simplest solution, he suggests, is to install a traditional fixture and screw an energy-saving bulb into it—halogen, CFLs, or LEDs clustered together within a bulb-shaped lamp. Indeed, traditional fixtures give the homeowner the most flexibility because they accept a variety of screw-base light bulbs. “The builders who are still holding onto the basic 16-pack of incandescents will go to halogen,” Soares predicts. “Builders who are already using CFLs will go to LED. In the end, there will be plenty of solutions on the shelf.”

And that might spur a change in the way pros light their homes.

“Home builders tend to put some CFL products in the house already,” notes McGowan, “so it isn’t going to be a dramatic change. But it is something they’ll have to pay attention to. They will have to because that’s what will be on the shelf.”

That could be a good thing, suggests lighting designer Glenn Heimiller, a principal of the Cambridge, Mass., firm Lam Partners and chairman of the International Association of Lighting Designers’ Energy and Sustainability Committee. “If they want to install energy-efficient lighting, they shouldn’t worry about the loss of the incandescent A lamp,” he says. “What you will see is a mix of all kinds of different light sources if you’re doing a good design.”

Soares agrees. Cost-conscious home builders and remodelers too often opted for inexpensive incandescents simply because of the price, he says. With those cut-rate relics out of the picture, he predicts, pros might concentrate more on supplying light bulbs that are most appropriate for the fixtures, the room they’re in, and the homeowner’s lifestyle.

A label on the front will contain information on brightness—or lumen output—and the estimated cost to burn the bulb for one year.
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A label on the front will contain information on brightness—or lumen output—and the estimated cost to burn the bulb for one year.

LOOKING AHEAD
Still, builders, manufacturers, lighting designers, and industry observers agree that LEDs are the next big thing in lighting--with or without legislation to force builders and consumers in their direction.

"We're taking a product line that was a disposable product line and now we're turning it into a more durable good," says Soares, who notes that LEDs can last for 25,000-plus hours--and some predict they'll burn twice that long.

When their high price tag shrinks, the high-tech, high-efficient lights are likely to change the way the world lights its buildings.

Many residential LEDs today are packaged within a traditional-looking housing with medium screws bases so they can replace traditional incandescent bulbs in standard fixtures. But before long, says McGowan, they won't look anything like light bulbs--because they're not light bulbs. "It will be a fixture that lights up inside, but you won't see any light bulb in it--just chips and surfaces and points of light," he says. "It will look very different."

Printed directly on the bulb will be the lumen output and whether the bulb contains mercury.
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Printed directly on the bulb will be the lumen output and whether the bulb contains mercury.

But the look isn't the real difference the gradual gravitation toward LEDs will make.

McGowan predicts that LED lighting will change the way Americans wire their homes. LEDs don't need the high-voltage wiring in today's houses. So low-voltage sockets, wires connectors, and fixtures will take its place.

He foresees a time when walls themselves might be electrically conductive so light fixtures won't need wiring at all.

"I don't know what home builders are going to do until we see these things," McGowan says. "But it's very clear this is going to open up a whole realm of possibilities for putting light where we want it and where we don't have it now."

Sharon O'Malley is a freelance writer in College Park, Md. This article appeared in Building Products magazine.