My question today is about lighting. Specifically, light bulbs. In my kitchen, we have the basic builder 6" pot lights (8 of them) and they give off a really yellow light. We have windows lining one entire wall and I still feel that it's hard to see properly! Not great for cooking.
So what I'm wondering is, are there light bulbs that will give off a really crisp white light? I've heard good things about halogen, but don't know anything about them and whether they are an option for us. I know it would probably be best to convert the lights to better quality 4" cans, but I don't think that's an option financially for us right now.
Thanks for your help!
You asked a great question. Let me give you a quick rundown of your light bulb options.
Lighting can get confusing, with a lot of new terms, and newer terms coming at you all the time. There is a big push toward energy efficient, but let's not forget design along the way. Good lighting is a whole level of good interior design that rarely comes standard with any home, but rather requires thought and planning, and in some cases, an education.
Imitating natural light is what most light bulibs are trying for. Some of them get closer than others. The difference in how colors look in your home depends on a light bulb's CRI, or color rendering index, with a rating of 100 considered closest to duplicating natural sunlight.
When we talk about lumens, we are talking about the brightness of the bulb.
When I refer to watts, I am referring to energy use.
They are inexpensive and produce warm light in all directions the second you turn them on. Their warm cast enhances the warm tones in a room. Incandescent lights make your skin better looking than a cooler light, like a florescent. Builders putting in fluorescent bulbs in bathrooms should really be thinking more about their naked bodies than energy savings, if you ask me. (Honestly, can you put a price on that?) A cozy warm traditional environment would be very appropriatly lit with incandescent blubs. Federal legislation will start phasing out incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012. I am considering stockpiling.
Both warm and cool colors are equal in a halogen bulb, giving you a more neutral, or true reflection of color. I would use halogens as under cabinet lighting in a kitchen, as well as anytime I have a spotlight on artwork. They are fully dimmable, and cast a nice sharp crisp light in all directions. The light is the closest to natural sunlight. The bulbs are 10 to 30 percent more efficient than an incandescent bulb.
The main disadvantage is the danger from the heat of the bulbs, as they are much hotter than regular incandescent models. The risk of burns, fire and other hazards are greater. I would never use a halogen light in a location where it would remain on for long periods of time, due to the heat it would generate. They are also more expensive than incandescent bulbs. I have a family member who has a large number of halogens and their place is definitely a lot warmer because of the lighting. Personally, I like it, becasue I get cold very easily.
If my daughter's easy bake oven had a halogen in it, I think it woud function much better than the incandescent it currently uses.
I have always hated CFLs, but I must admit, they are improving over time. Why do I dislike them? They cast such a harsh cool light, and don't turn on instantly. In addition, the bulb itself is unattractrive to me. You also need to be careful what fixture you put them in:
On the bright side, they use about 75 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs they replace. They claim to last 7- 10 times longer, but personally, I have had CFLs burn out much sooner than those pushing them say they do. Several CFL brands offer bulbs with a plastic coating that contains the mercury and any shards if the bulb breaks.
On the down side, they take time to fully brighten, (does this drive anyone else a little crazy?) typically from 19 seconds for spiral bulbs to several minutes or more for flood/reflector bulbs, especially when used outdoors in cold temperatures. Can you see it: you worry there is a home intruder, so to scare them off, you turn on the light, then, a couple of minutes later, it's on. Nice. Most CFLs aren't dimmable, and since frequently turning them on and off affects the bulbs' performance and life, they shouldn't be used in certain sockets. Maybe those claiming they last seven years are not considering that you might be turning them off and on....? CFLs also contain mercury, like I mentioned. Because of this, you should recycle them instead of simply putting them in your garbage. In short, it's a hassel, and a possible danger. Personally, I have never heard of it ever being a problem for anyone, mercury poisoning from their CFLs, have you? Here in California, building codes require the use of CFLs in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. I find the laws offensive. I think these decisions should be made by lighting designers, not the government.
I would say that any fixture where you SEE the bulb, don't use a swirly bulb. They look bad. (At least I think they do.)
Can you tell the difference in the lighting of the two kitchens below? The first one is a cooler, harsher light, the second is a warmer light. In my mind there is a HUGE difference.
Kelvins make a difference.
Better lighting is on its way, with LEDs. LEDs don't have filaments that burn out (incandescents do), don't contain mercury (CFLs do), and don't waste energy by putting out useless heat. (Hello halogens) Manufacturers claim LEDs last 20,000 to 50,000 hours. That's about 18 to 46 years when used three hours a day. They also don't take 19 seconds to turn on and are dimmable.
There is a down side. They are expensive (screw-in, globe-type bulbs can cost $20 to $60), and there have been complaints that they give off a bluish cast (their CRI is 92). Personally, I think we need to keep our eye on these. I went to a seminar on LEDs a while back, and learned that they are terrific, but still evolving. Different manufacturers make them in slightly different ways. I think that in a few years, they will perfect the LED, improve the CRI, and make them in such a way that they are not so expensive. (The price of the screw in bulb is getting lower all the time)
I don't want you all to think I don't believe in saving the earth. I do. But there are a lot of different ways we can work to save the earth that do not make our homes look worse. Personally, I don't use paper towels. So, I think with that, I should be allowed to use incandescents, at least until the LED industry can make a comparable product in CRIs and price.
Do you know what I love? I love the look of the vintage light bulb. You can order them from Anthropologie. They look fabulous. I admit, I am much more concerned with the look than the watts.
One word: stockpile.