Thursday, September 17, 2015

Old Lamps, New Bulbs

A Bradley & Hubbard Rayo Hurricane Lamp.
Many old lamps 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 , 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.)

Old lamps were built for lower power draws, so a 3 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.

This bulb fit.
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 place 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.

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 (2400 to 2700K), perhaps downstairs lights will get slightly more white. 
 As with all technology, expect the price to drop by 30% or more year over year on these LED bulbs.
  • Amazon LED Bulb Store (although compare prices with other stores, as all are in flux): <>