Friday, December 20, 2013

Daylight bulbs??

You surely know about energy-saving bulbs, CFLs, compact fluorescent lamps. Cost a little more, but live much longer, and uses just a quarter of the energy. Great.

What I was sadly not aware of until recently is that you can get daylight versions of these!
(Note: this is not "cool" or "blue-ish" light, it is white light. Neutral. It can seem cool because over decades we have gotten used to the strongly orange-y light from normal bulbs (se photo below). But this is the light spectrum like it comes from the sun, and it is what our eyes have evolved to make use of.) 

Especially here in Northern UK, it's easy to get into dark moods in the wintertime, because it simply is so dark outside, and the body/eyes need daylight. The night lasts like 16 hours or more, and most of the days are dull and dark too.

I just got several of these daylight bulbs, and to my surprise, they make a difference right from the start. I feel cheerier and more energetic. If this is a lasting effect, it's a major thing. It seems to me now, already, that the old orange-y bulbs is kind of "dying light" in comparison to this energising daylight.

When I got my first "100 Watt-equivalent" energy-saving bulb years ago, it didn't seem to me to live up to the promise of that much light. So I bought 100w-equivalent this time too (25W). And they are certainly that, this time! Bright. These may even be too bright for some uses, we will see as I get used to it.
Anyway in general, I think some people will have to take a couple of weeks to get used to having the daylight spectrum indoors.

I really think they should be known about much more widely. Get a trial one today.    :-)

PS: of course they are a blessing for indoor photography too, much less problems with color balance.

Oh, and another thing: if you are reading ebooks on an e-reader without either backlight or frontlight, just the basic grey-ish e-ink screen, you may find that the full-spectrum light makes reading easier.

Oh, if you doubt there is much difference, look at this! :

Bert said: might want to add, to the attention of northerners like us, is that as soon as you start heating the house, from fall all through winter, the energy used to light your days is essentially free, since it will end up as heat anyway. So, whether you spend the money on "invisible" heat or light up your days and chase depression at the same time, the cost doesn't change much.
Of course there's always the wear on the bulbs and that's where the latest generation of ultra-long-lasting bulbs really shine - many just won't die! And the savings on doctor visits, pills, cold medicine and whatnots offset the cost of the bulbs many times.
(Yes, In all the years I've used energy-saving "bulbs", I've only had one single one die on me.)
There are recommendations of the newer LED bulbs, I'll look into those also.

Update 31 Dec:
Nicola wrote:

Just thought I'd let you know I received the daylight bulbs a few days ago and you're right, they have already made a huge difference, it's like a springtime afternoon outside in here, most pleasing!
And they've added a kind of cool clarity to the atmosphere, first of all was a little disconcerting though have got used to that now :)


emptyspaces said...

LEDs are the way to go. They come daylight balanced and don't pose a health threat if one shatters on the floor. They use very little power, too.

They are expensive right now, however. Then again, if I have every light in my house going at the same time, I am drawing about 200 watts total.

I look out my window and see my neighbor's extra-bright halogen spotlight on his shed going for a week at a time and tell myself that I am here to balance him out, energy-wise.

TC [Girl] said...

These "energy savors" aren't as efficient as a person would like to think, as they don't seem to do well w/the constant switching on and off; and...we don't have dimmers, yet...that I know of...

Roman Emperor II said...

Blessed be thee EO. Have a look on Youtube and the test results for extending the life-expectancy of a fluorescent, if you can, just never switch it off, then it does last VERY long. Things to look out for though, are the cool and warm lights. My wife prefers the warm light and I prefer the cool light. Looks like you have a definitive affinity for the cool light, which is indicative of the 'color' of cool snow, under bright sunlight. Things to look out for, as is in your case, you should look into nothing less than 3500Kelvin light emission. The advantage of the LEDs are that they last for a very considerable long time whilst they contain no mercury, hence disposal is easy. Remember that there is physiologically another 'eye' in the brain which reacts to light. Sun tan beds are also very helpful for sunlight therapy but the penetration of the light frequency is VERY DANGEROUS, how sun beds can be legal defies reason, as it penetrates the skin much deeper than the sun. Remember that it is not necessarily the intensity the matters, but the frequency, as can be seen with solar panels. Here in RSA, LED imports from China are getting much more affordable and will become the only light source in the future. It is actually advisable to buy some tungsten filament wire lights for the future as they will become obsolete.

Roman Emperor II said...

a Cheaper method of manufacturing LEDs has been discovered, hence within a few years, they will become the regular light source including street lighting. The cool white is also a crime deterrent. a Blue laser has been developed, so all TVs will become infinitely powerful i.t.o light intensity, hence all TVs will be a form of LED/laser. Never forget that though LEDs actually oscillate on/off/on all the time, they do so at a different rate to fluorescent lights which affect the subconscious. The detrimental affects of fluorescent lights on the human psyche is overlooked, as the conscious mind does not pick up the rapid oscillations, but the subconscious does. It remains best to study under a filament light source, as the oscillations from the power are absorbed by the retarded heating/cooling of filament. As for now, well, 'in LEDs we trust', whilst it should be compulsory for all motor vehicles to have DRLs fitted. If I was a praying-mantis, I'd have a problem with human lights as mantis visually sample at 200 frames per second!

David Evans said...

Bert wrote
"...the energy used to light your days is essentially free..."

Not convinced by that. The waste heat from a ceiling pendant is basically heating the ceiling (because hot air rises). Even more so for a light fitting on or embedded in the ceiling. That's not a part of my house I want to spend money heating.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

As regards the turning off and on, because the use so much less power, one can leave them on for much longer time. (Like I said, I have only had a single one die on me in many years.)

This is also beneficial because one gets a bright indoors environment in the daylight spectrum which helps general energy and mood.
And of course there are less bumping into things and such, when passing through rooms where the light didn't used to be on.

I am looking forward to the development of LEDs, they are wonderfully effective.

Anonymous said...

If this type of bulb had been invented first, the idea would never have got off the ground. The old incandescent bulbs come on instantly, these don't. I can't believe anyone is fool enough to actually like them.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That may be true of some type or generation, but the ones I have turn on fully instantly.

dave_at_efi said...

I'm glad CFLs helped you, Eolake.

Like Eolake, I have had problems with Seasonal Affect Disorder, so much so that five years ago I moved from dreary Seattle to Hawaii, and now do not suffer from the depression caused by lack of sunlight.

The older CFLs didn't help, nor did a full-spectrum fluorescent "light box". Perhaps the newer ones would have helped, but hey, there are a few other benefits to living in Hawaii that aren't available to those living in cold, dismal-gray climates.

A friend with MS told me that CFLs cause epileptic seizures in her. Be careful. She's stocked up on incandescent bulbs, as those are banned from sale in the US starting in 2014.

Daylight LEDs are the way to go. Or move to a sunny clime.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Maybe I'll try the LEDs too. There are a couple available in daylight type on Amazon UK. They seem to be comparable in price with the DFLs.

Anonymous said...

Everyone's focusing on CFL's vs LED's. It sounds like you were suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Full spectrum lights work well for some people. Others just pump up their caffeine intake. The former is healthier.

Kelly Trimble said...

Someone here just commented something about 'if these [CFLs] were invented first, blah blah blah . . . '. Actually, I think fluorescent lights actually were invented first, but like now, they take a lot of equipment to make them work and are a lot more expensive. In the early days of incandescents, light bulbs didn't go out unless you broke them. In the last fifty years or so, they are engineered to fail after a certain number of hours. Same for CFCs, and they will eventually engineer them to fail just as quickly as regular incandescents after people have fully switched.

The real problem (or at least one problem) with CFLs are that they typically contain mercury, which we have learned more about only recently as being way more toxic and hazardous than was thought even thirty or forty years ago when people freaked about mercury in fish tissue.

Another is that they are not dimmable. They make dimmable CFLs, and I've had several, and they don't really work well. Dimming one will shorten its life, and dimming a non-dimmable CFL will often kill it, as will having a brown-out where power is reduced, but doesn't just go out. (It does something to the balast and the starter capacity.

They have other problems. They don't really work that well when they are cold, and sometimes take a while to warm up. Also, if they have vent holes in the balast housing, if they are not inverted, they can collect an electrical charge and attract dust into the balast housing whcih will eventually catch fire, or at least smell hot when they haven't been on for a while.

You are talking about your CFLs like they are something new. I think I've had a bunch here in Missouri for at least ten years. I've had several go out. They don't last forever, and the newer ones seem to not last as long as the older ones.

Another problem is that they don't put out very much heat, which is a problem when you used to rely on an incandescent light for some amount of heat in the past, such as in a bathroom flood light, or when we used to lay a 60w incandescent light bulb in a shop light on the top of the block of a car so that the engine would stay warm and start easy the next morning when it got really cold.

I have used a few LED lights, and I like them a lot more than CFLs except for one thing-they are mondorifically expensive. I have had only one fail (after about ten minutes) but all of the others have yet to fail, but I've only had them for two or three years at the most. LEDs will dim continuously and nicely. They don't quite come on instantly like an incandescent, but they don't flicker-on like a fluorescent, and they don't have an afterglow like a fluorescent. They weight a lot more than a CFL, which has been a problem where the light socket was hanging by the electrical supply cord. Seriously, they weight several ounces, maybe a pound or two for a flood lamp, where incandescent lights were a fraction of an ounce and CFLs were maybe a few ounces.

But if they can get the overall cost of the LEDs down a bit, there should be no reason to use CFLs. They say that they are potentially reliable enough that they think eventually some lighting companies may eventually design lamps with a LED element direct wired in and without any socket to allow the lamp to be interchanged. IE, the LED is expected to last the life of the house, or at east the life of the lamp.

John Krumm said...

I like the warm lighting for the house as inside the daylight lighting (at night) looks blue and cold, but I wouldn't mind a Solux or two for printing...

I'm absolutely loving the led bulbs I've been slowly switching to. Instant on, nice and bright, sturdy.

Xavier (de Tremblay, F-93290) said...

Dear Eolake, thanks for this useful post which have convinced me, and have a merry Christmas ! Xavier

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, and you too.

Dave Nielsen said...

Actually, I think fluorescent lights actually were invented first, but like now, they take a lot of equipment to make them work and are a lot more expensive.

A little Googling and it appears that the incandescent bulb was first. There were fluorescent lamps before that but based on how they appear to have worked they would have been too much trouble and way too expensive - not likely to have made anyone want to switch from gas light.

Anonymous said...

I've tried a few fluorescent lights, but they didn't last all that long. The filament bulbs that were already in the house (no idea how old) outlasted some of the fluorescent ones. The big problems with them is the constant high-speed flicker of the light they subject you to (over 20,000 flashes per second) and the toxic mercury and phosphor dust that contaminates your house when one breaks. LED lights don't have these problems. Someone mentioned that all LED lights flash just the same as fluorescent lights. This is not strictly true. SOME LED lights may flash, SOME won't - it all depends on the design of the electronic circuitry that drives the LED and regulates the current.

Kelly Trimble said...

Dave Neilson: As I said, the fluorescent was actually invented first, at least in concept, but because it required a large transformer and starter capacitor with each bulb or fixture, it was so impractical and expensive that the incandescent was actually commercialized first. And that is the point I was trying to make with my post. Compact fluorescents are fluorescent lights with all of the added machinery made really compact so that they can take the place of a regular light bulb, but they have all of the problems of a regular fluorescent, including manufacturing cost, hazardous materials, fragile, multiple parts prone to failure, heavy, etc, even though they use a fraction of the energy relative to the light produced.

But it is beginning to appear that for many applictions, LEDs may be a superior technology since they also use much less energy than fluorescents and don't have the many problems of CFLs, although they use some exotic materials that keep the manufacturing cost high. The only problem with LEDs is that they are incapable of producing a full spectrum of light without using multiple elements, making a truly color balanced LED as complicated as a CFL and much more expensive.

Great article Eolake. Everybody here in the states has been so wound up arguing the A&E Militant Gay Pride Network vs Duck Dynasty Freedom of Hate Speech debate, it has been very pleasing to read a long series of comments on something that really matters to our everyday lives and where we can exchange useful info and opinions and report experiences. Thanks.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Kelly.

(I didn't know that LEDs don't do the full spectrum.)

Yes, missing such braindead debates is another perk of avoiding the "news". Ok, so I don't get the topical jokes involving "Duck Dynasty", but really, how good can they be?

Anonymous said...

The way LEDs make light is actually very similar to compact fluorescent lights. In both cases the light originally created is ultra-violet light. The phosphorescent powder on the inside of the glass tube, or the phosphorescent powder on top of the LED die, converts that ultra-violet light to "white" light. The make up of the white light is determined by the make up of the fluorescent powder, and if you analysed its spectrum yes you'd see that the light is a number of peaks at various points on the spectrum rather than an even distribution across the entire spectrum. So spectrum-wise LEDs and CFLs are similar, but LEDs are more economical with energy, and very "clean" compared to a broken CFL.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Aha, thanks for that info, Anon.

I wonder if the peaks make problems in photos? I know there are good photo floods made with them, but it might be they have to mix different ones?

Alex said...

I love our daylight CFLs, they make needlework and model painting much easier.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Alex.
Yes, I do feel one just *see* better. For example when reading on the grey screen of low-end Kindles.

Daveyboy said...

I moved from sunny Florida To rainy cloudy Georgia a number of years ago and have since moved back to Florida. I suffer from depression a lot and the difference in my mood between the two places is amazing. Light makes an immense difference in your well being.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Dave, good to get confirmation of that.

Me, I don't like warm weather, so I guess artificial light is my best bet.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever turned on your CFLs and thought someone changed the bulbs to nite-lites? When I turn on a switch, I expect light, where I have to wait for the fluorescents to warm up before they produce full light, and the older the bulb, the darker that full bright becomes. I'll stick with halogen/incandescent as long as I can, until LED technology improves.
And $50 for a dimmer that works with LED/CFL? a little pricey!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Well, I don't know what to say. With the old ones, I did sometimes notice that they were maybe only on 50% for a minute or two, but I usually didn't notice.
But the new ones, I don't notice anything, it seems like they start instantly and full-on, at least 80% or whatever.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

... Sorry, Dave, I had to delete your comment. You often make good comments, but this one was "ad hominem" (argument by personal attack), and rude.

Anonymous said...

The fluorescent bulb definitely came later - it wasn't until the early 1900s that American Peter Cooper Hewitt passed an electric current through mercury vapor to create a precursor to the fluorescent lamp. The incandescent bulb was already in wide use by the late 1880s.