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How do I choose the right light bulb?

With the disappearance of incandescent bulbs, you now have the choice between halogen bulbs, fluorescent tubes (conventional neon tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs) and LEDs.

  • For a centre light, a ceiling light, wall lights, a garage, a workshop or a corridor, it is best to go for compact fluorescent bulbs (also known as “economical bulbs”).
  • For a desk or bedside lamp: halogen bulb or LED.
  • For a kitchen work surface or bathroom mirror: compact fluorescent spotlights or mini “neon” tubes (also called TL)
  • For a garage, a workshop or a cellar: “neon” tube (TL)

Think in lumens, and no longer in watts

With the new light bulbs, our points of reference are changing: we need to stop thinking in watts. Because a 15 W economical bulb emits as much light as a conventional 60 W incandescent bulb or a 45 W halogen bulb. So the light output is no longer proportional to the electrical power absorbed, expressed in watts, as was the case previously.

This is why manufacturers now have to indicate the luminous flux expressed in lumens (lm) on the bulb packaging.

When choosing a new bulb (halogen, compact fluorescent or LED), take three aspects into account:

Light bulbs

1. Consumption

The lower the number of watts, the lower the consumption. This is an initial criterion for choosing.

2. The light output

What light output do you need? Check the number of lumens on the packaging. By comparing this with your intuitive memories of the old bulbs, you will know what type of light output to expect:

  • An old 100 W incandescent bulb produced around 1300-1400 lumens. Remember – it was blinding.
  • A 75 W bulb gave off 920 to 970 lumens. Still rather dazzling.
  • The most commonly used bulbs, of 60 W, produced 700 to 750 lumens.
  • The weakest, 40 W and 25 W, produced 410 to 430 lumen and 220 to 230 lumens.

3. The type and colour of the light

What do you want to light? In which room? Choose the type of bulb most suited to the intended use:

  • For general lighting in rooms (bedroom, bathroom, garage, etc.), neon tubes (TL) or ceiling lights fitted with (“economical”) compact fluorescent bulbs are ideal.
  • For warmer, pleasanter lighting, such as in the sitting room, opt for a low colour temperature (such as 2700 kelvins). Halogen bulbs are suitable, but it is worth noting that the colour of compact fluorescent light bulbs has improved as technology has progressed.
  • For extra lighting don’t use standard halogen lamps, which consumer a great deal of energy. Opt instead for standard lamps and small table lamps with compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • To light the table in the kitchen or the dining room, use a hanging light fitting with a circular neon or a compact fluorescent bulb.
  • Opt for compact fluorescent spotlights for the work surface in the kitchen and mini neon tubes for the bathroom mirror.
  • For precision work (manual work, writing, studying, reading), halogen bulbs and certain LEDs are best.
  • LEDs may be suitable to light the way and for diffuse mood lighting, and so may halogen bulbs, which have the advantage that they can be adjusted using a dimmer switch.


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