How to Choose Energy-Saving Lamps, and are there any Savings?
Anyone who has ever been “lucky” to watch management companies fight (sometimes in the literal sense of the word) among themselves for the right to service a newly built house or residential complex, will agree that the housing sector is literally an endless gold mine. In addition, it gives a constant and guaranteed profit to all persons connected with this area.
After all, tenants, by and large, have nowhere to go. You can refuse from a car, for example, using public transport, taxi services, and your own musculoskeletal system, but living space and all the communal benefits attached to it are a key need, the importance of which does not even need to be further argued.
Of course, there is always the option of private housing, since the cost of building it using modern technologies is comparable, and sometimes even lower than the price of a city apartment (thanks to SIP panels and fixed formwork!), But not everyone will agree to this, despite all the advantages of this format of life.
But does this mean that there are no ways to save on utility bills in an ordinary city house? Not at all. There are, and quite a few – and these methods are absolutely legal. Thermal insulation of premises will eliminate heat loss and a situation where batteries heat the street much more efficiently than living rooms. Installing modern radiators complete with thermostats will help you spend as much heat as you need in specific climatic conditions, and if you add heat meters to them, you can be very surprised at how real costs differ from standard tariffs.
The same can be said about water heaters, which can not only reduce hot water consumption but also give the owner a lot of laughter during the season of annual scheduled outages. However, the meters here, too, will not be superfluous: 4 “cubic meters” of water per month at real costs and 14 cubic meters at standard rates – this, you see, is completely different money.
But let’s be honest: these methods have a significant drawback. In the long term, all of them will significantly reduce the amount in receipts. Moreover, if we take into account the constantly growing tariffs, they will do it even faster. But at the initial stage, significant investments will be required: both the equipment itself, and even more so the work on its installation, costs a lot of money.
Therefore, today we will talk about the simplest and most affordable way to save money, which does not require any special work. Namely, about energy-saving lamps.
What you need to know when choosing
Do you need energy-saving lamps at all, or can you get by with incandescent lamps from the market?
In short, they are needed.
Of course, there are still people who are happy to “rip off the covers” and prove that “energy saving” is fiction, and only incandescent lamps “for 9 rubles from the market” provide real savings.
It was possible to agree with such arguments only at the dawn of the appearance of energy-saving lamps, when one device had to pay 500-600 or even more rubles, and simple incandescent lamps really cost a penny.
But let’s get back to the real state of affairs. Today, energy-saving lamps are produced by all and sundry, and their prices have dropped to quite adequate values. Fluorescent lamps with the most popular E27 base can be purchased in the range from 70 to 120 rubles, LED lamps – from 90 to 150 rubles. High-quality incandescent lamps that can really work for a long time will cost 30-40 rubles. It’s not such a big difference, you must admit.
But what about the savings?
Suppose that an incandescent lamp “for 9 rubles from the market” and a budget energy-saving lamp worked for the same period – 5000 hours. In absolute terms, this is a little more than 200 days, but if we take into account that the lamps do not burn around the clock, but only at dusk and at night, this period can be considered equal to a year.
During this period, a 75-watt incandescent lamp “burned” 375 kilowatts. A 15-watt fluorescent lamp similar to it – only 75 kilowatts, and a 7-watt LED lamp – generally 35 kilowatts of electricity.
What does this mean in rubles? Suppose that the cost of a kilowatt of electricity is 3.7 rubles (the base tariff for the Leningrad Region in 2016, IChSKh, in St. Petersburg the tariffs are higher). In this case, an incandescent lamp costs you 1,387.5 rubles per year, a fluorescent lamp – 277.5 rubles, and an LED lamp – 129.5 rubles. Already a noticeable difference, isn’t it?
Moreover, these are calculations for only one lamp. How many of them do you have in your apartment? Obviously, not less than 10, if, in addition to chandeliers and shades, there are also sconces and table lamps. With this in mind, the difference becomes even more noticeable. In addition, there is no guarantee that an incandescent lamp will work for a year without replacement – in fact, cheap low-quality lamps last 2-3 months. Cheap low-quality “energy saving” – 6-8 months already.
And finally, are you sure that a kilowatt will cost 3.7 rubles all year? Electricity tariffs are not at all characterized by a downward trend, but they can rise by a very noticeable amount, and the calculations above will become completely different.
Energy-saving lamp type
So, we figured out the feasibility of buying an energy-saving lamp. But which lamp should you choose?
There are, in fact, only two options. Today, fluorescent and LED lamps are common. The first is “energy saving” devices in their traditional sense, it is these devices that first appeared on the market under this name. The second is their more advanced version, devoid of major drawbacks.
What is the difference?
A fluorescent lamp is a gas-discharge light source, very similar in principle to … xenon lamps for cars. Inside the sealed flask are mercury vapors, which, when an electric arc passes through them, emit ultraviolet radiation. It is converted into visible light with the help of a phosphor, which covers the inside of the bulb.
What are the disadvantages of such lamps? Although modern counterparts have gone far from the first lamps of this type, they still do not immediately reach maximum power – the lamp needs time to “flare-up”. They are susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity – for example, on the veranda of a country house or in a bathhouse, they will work worse than in room conditions, or they will refuse to work at all. It is difficult to achieve “warm” light from them, close in shade to incandescent lamps. Finally, the aforementioned mercury vapors, if the bulb is damaged, can create a very “healthy” atmosphere in the room.
What is their advantage? They are much more efficient than incandescent lamps and, at the same time, cheaper than LED lamps, and sometimes very noticeably.
In contrast, LED bulbs are one of the most environmentally friendly light sources. As a light source, they use, as the name implies, LEDs, and mercury, and other potentially hazardous compounds are absent.
But such lamps have other advantages. They are even more economical – for example, a 15-watt fluorescent lamp can be matched by 7 or even 5-watt LED lamps. As a rule, the declared lifespan of LED lamps is much higher – from 30,000 to 50,000 hours. They do not need time to “burn up”, which is especially convenient, for example, when installing a lamp in the hallway. And one of the significant advantages of LED lamps is a wider range of color temperatures, which makes it possible to achieve a pleasant incandescent light for the eyes.
Of course, LED lamps are more expensive than fluorescent lamps, and in some cases, they are very noticeable. However, this difference is easily compensated for by both energy savings and operational benefits.
Bulb / reflector color
This is primarily a matter of taste, but it must be admitted that sometimes it is decisive. For example, in a vintage chandelier or a custom steampunk table lamp, clear bulbs will look much more appropriate than typical white or matte ones .
In other words, as in other issues related to the appearance of the device, it is impossible to give unequivocal recommendations here. It all depends on where the lamp will be installed. In technical terms, there is practically no difference between transparent, matte, or white bulbs – this moment has practically no effect on light scattering.
But this is a purely technical point, and the recommendations here are obvious and simple-minded. A lamp can only have one base and can only be installed in a luminaire with the appropriate type of socket. As a rule, the type of base is indicated in the instructions for the luminaire, and sometimes it is printed on the body of the device, so there should be no questions here.
The most common one today is the E27 base. It is found in chandeliers, ceiling lights, shades, and table lamps, and in general, can be used anywhere.
The E14 base is a smaller version of the previous version, which can be used in sconces, compact table lamps, and even in household appliances – in other words, wherever small dimensions are needed.
The E40 base is designed for heavy-duty lighting devices, not found in the consumer sector.
Sockets G4 and G9 as well as GU10, GU5.3, and GX53 are used in small spotlights. These are compact table lamps, lighting systems in kitchen sets and wardrobes, and lighting for household appliances. Energy-saving lamps with these caps are intended to replace the corresponding halogen lamps.
Power is the nominal power consumption of the lamp, and in the case of energy-saving lamps, it is very close to the real one. This is undoubtedly an important parameter for choosing, but it must be remembered that the lower the power, the weaker the lamp shines.
Therefore, for energy-saving lamps, such a parameter as the equivalent power of an incandescent lamp is of much greater importance. How familiar 40, 60, 75, and 100-watt lamps shine, we all know from childhood, so it is quite easy to compare the efficiency of an energy-saving lamp.
However, here’s an example mapping table:
|Incandescent lamp power, W||A similar power of a fluorescent lamp, W||A similar power of LED lamp, W|
It is much more convenient to choose energy-saving lamps according to the second parameter since it is this parameter that allows you to determine how much power will be enough for a table lamp, sconce, or chandelier in a large living room.
Like color, this is primarily a matter of style and the personal preference of the owner. Of course, installing traditional and customary “pears” in a ceiling chandelier that mimics an antique candelabrum is to break the whole style. A “candle” is best suited there, and preferably with a flask made in the form of a tongue of flame, or even a torch. The opposite is also true: spirals or tubes will fit better in a modern or high-tech lamp, and for spotlights, there is nothing better than reflector lamps. Ball-shaped lamps are more versatile in terms of style, but they can be difficult to install in certain types of shades.
However, again, here the choice depends on the goals and taste of the owner, and it is impossible to give unequivocal recommendations.
This parameter determines how convenient it will be to use a luminaire with an installed lamp.
In some cases, for example, in an office building or a workshop, it is convenient to use lamps with a temperature of about 6000K. It is a cool, bright white color that emphasizes small details, which is useful, for example, when working with documents or soldering radio parts.
Natural white color – about 4200K – will be appropriate for lighting the bathroom and illuminating the work surface in the kitchen. This is a warmer shade, close to daylight – it is convenient to tidy yourself up in front of a mirror or to cook with it, while your eyes get tired much less than with a hard 6000K.
Warm and soft light with a temperature of 2700-3300K, close to incandescent lamps – the best choice for a living room or nursery. It practically does not irritate the eyes, promotes relaxation, it is pleasant to read books or play with a child under it. But for the office, such a light is not suitable – it is much more difficult for the eyes to focus on small details, which will quickly lead to fatigue and discomfort.
If the power consumption and the equivalent power of incandescent lamps give an indirect idea of the amount of light emitted by the lamp, then this parameter speaks about it directly. Unfortunately, it is not so convenient for an ordinary consumer: lumens, units of brightness, are quite difficult to translate into centimeters of illuminated space, and even more so – into the subjective comfort of being in a room in which this or that lamp is shining.
Therefore, for convenience, we will again summarize the data in a table:
|Incandescent lamp, power consumption, W||Luminous flux, Lm|
It should be noted that the brightness of incandescent lamps is a practically fixed parameter that changes only depending on the characteristics of a particular instance. But energy-saving lamps are a different case. For example, a 5-watt LED lamp can produce 340 lumens typical for such a power, as well as 450, 480, and even 500. And the point is not in the different methods of measuring the brightness by the manufacturer: such lamps will really shine in different ways.
The recommendations for choosing here are simple. The more lumens, the brighter the lamp. The main thing is to choose wisely: you can turn the sconce above the reading chair into a spotlight that will be visible from the other side of the street, but there is little sense in this. But in the hallway, if you do not want to stumble over a cupboard with shoes every day and get confused when tying your laces, it is better to put on a lamp with higher brightness. Moreover, if, in addition to the ceiling chandelier, there are no other light sources in the hallway.
Lamp length and diameter
Parameters that do not need additional comments, but are still important when choosing a lamp. Agree, there is little joy in returning from the store with the purchase and finding that the lamp simply does not fit into the lamp body or does not fit into the ceiling. Therefore, before choosing a device, it is better to check whether its length and diameter correspond to the required parameters. It’s literally one minute, but the second trip to the store will take much longer.
If you need a lamp that has to work from a 12 volt DC source – for example, it can be a backlight in a refrigerator, microwave oven, or kitchen set – it is better to immediately select the desired device than install another base in the device and make a separate 220 volt input only for one lamp.
In other cases, everything is pretty simple. Energy-saving lamps can operate both from standard 220-230 volts, and withstand voltage drops. Moreover, both in the direction of falling to 210, 180, and even 170 volts and in the direction of increasing to 250 and 260 volts. This is a very useful property for garage cooperatives, summer cottages, and other objects, the voltage in the network of which is the clearest example of the operation of a random number generator. If you are sure that the voltage in the network is not stable, it makes sense to foresee this in advance. A lamp that is ready for voltage surges will last much longer under these conditions.