"New England is quite as large a lump of earth as my heart can really take in." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Old Lamps, New Bulbs

A Bradley & Hubbard Rayo Hurricane Lamp...
Old lamps add texture to a room.  But even after they have been checked out and approved for use by a lamp repair person, many of them were built for the more"dim" incandescent bulbs of 40, even 25 watts.

Now, the growing availability of energy efficient lighting has made it possible to promote these old lamps to primary lighting sources for a room.  The twisty, compact fluorescent lights were the first generation of these new bulbs that allowed the equivalent of 75 or 100 "watts" of light at a power draw of well under 25w.  And for those who have anathema to overhead lighting and use a lot of lamps (one in each corner, of course), not only is the lower wattage appreciated,  but the significantly longer life is as well.

The new LED (light emitting diodes) lights have gone even further, and have just recently become bright enough, cheap enough (although still not cheap), silent enough, and warm enough to become the default lighting option for many houses.  They don't have the mercury used by the CFL lights, turn on instantly, and are dimmable.  (Some may still appreciate the gradually brightening CFL bulbs in bathroom fixtures for first thing in the morning, but that is a different issue.)

...With a  Samsung "75W" LED.

Old lamps were built for lower power draws, so a 12 watt bulb is perfect.

Another advantage of the LED bulbs over the CFLs is the physical shape of the bulb.

This old tin lamp required a bulb that supported a shade, which the Phillips LED could do.

The "shape" and color temperature of the light emitted from LED bulbs can be different from incandescents and CFLs, and even from different manufactures and designs of other LED bulbs.  One technique is to buy one or two at a time, try each bulb in different lamps to see which work best where, and then buy more slowly as you find the right homes for each.  While this can take a bit of time for each bulb and lamp, given how long LED bulbs should last, it only needs to be done once a decade or less.

Buy them slowly and find the best spot for each: A Samsung "75W" LED on the far left; a Starpower "100w" indoor flood in the middle; and an earlier GE LED on the right 

One LED bulb that "focused " light too brightly upward on many fixtures worked perfectly in this hurricane style lamp.

Old lamps can be saved from landfills; less electricity is consumed by a house.

LEDs provide different color temperatures.  While the yellow light of incandescent bulbs can be successfully copied, perhaps downstairs lights will get slightly bluer as we can choose from more options.  
 As with all technology, expect the price to drop by 30% or more year over year on these LED bulbs.