Incandescent light bulbs seem to be on everyone's mind these days.
Whether you view them from the lens of inefficient energy wasters or a natural light "vitamin," there is a lot to be said for this original, analog light technology There's a reason why so many of our customers still prefer the pure light of our incandescent bulbs - there simply isn't any other light source quite like it (save the sun!).
Let's explore a bit more!
What are incandescent light bulbs?
Incandescence is the emission of visible light by a hot object.
Whether that be burning embers, a candle flame, an incandescent light bulb, or the sun -- all provide visible light through the process of incandescence!
An incandescent light bulb uses electricity to heat its filament until it is hot enough to glow and produce visible light (by electrical resistance). The higher a bulb's wattage, the brighter the filament glows.
The construction of an incandescent light bulb is simple. The light bulb consists of the following:
- a tungsten filament wire
- glass shell (the one pictured here by Chromalux® is lavender from the element neodymium compounded into the glass!)
- vacuum in the glass shell to prevent the wire from oxidation and burning off.
What are the benefits of incandescent light bulbs?
We wrote all about the benefits of incandescent light bulbs before, but in a nutshell, the main benefits of incandescent light bulbs are:
- A full spectrum of balanced visible light
- The highest possible color rendering index in a light source = the most natural appearing light
- Full of nourishing, regenerative infrared light
- Very little blue light content / No UVB
- Low flicker / Low EMF
While we tend to focus a lot on the benefits, a lot is said on the disadvantages of incandescent bulbs, with the main disadvantage being their energy inefficiency.
Yes, these bulbs produce a lot of heat in addition to their visible light output, but much of this heat actually contains the health benefits of incandescent light bulbs. What if we saw them as energy boosters rather than seeing incandescents as energy wasters?
In terms of what we can see in terms of visible light - at the moment, there is no other light technology that can quite capture the purity and essence of natural visible light like incandescent (or halogen light) can!
If you start to view your lighting as a tool - and you begin to learn about each light technology's benefits and best uses - then you can start to make better choices around your lighting.
For example, if you're concerned about energy efficiency, then, by all means, use the highest quality LED bulbs you can. But, if you have sensitive eyes or prefer to use something more akin to sunlight in terms of light quality at close range (for example, while working at your desk or reading on the couch), there's nothing like incandescent.
Are incandescent light bulbs safer for your eyes?
Thanks to the benefits listed above, and primarily because of the low blue light content in these bulbs, incandescent light bulbs are the safest light bulbs for your eyes.
Color-corrected types, like Chromalux® incandescent bulbs, are even better and have been recommended to low-vision patients since the 1980s, thanks to their enhanced color vibrancy and contrast.
Incandescent light bulbs vs. Halogen light bulbs
In conversations about incandescent light, you may hear about its close relative, the halogen light bulb. So, what is the difference between incandescent bulbs and halogen light bulbs?
First, halogen is still technically an incandescent light bulb - which is why we sometimes refer to them as halogen incandescents!
The main difference between halogen and incandescent bulbs, then, is the incandescent filament is contained within a clear capsule containing a mixture of inert and halogen gas.
This capsule allows the filament to work more efficiently and burn brighter, translating to a whiter color temperature. In other words, halogens are simply an enhanced version of incandescent!
What's the difference between incandescent and LED light bulbs?
Incandescent light bulbs have a simple filament, whereas LED light bulbs make light through the use of LED diodes - a type of semiconductor. Some LEDs also try to mimic the appearance of a standard incandescent light bulb by using LED filaments, but even warmer color temperature LED bulbs simply cannot replicate the clarity of real incandescence.
What is healthier - incandescent or LED?
All this talk about incandescents can have some wonder our stance on LED lighting. While we're neutral on the subject, there are definitely times when LED is the best lighting choice, and others when not. Again, it all comes down to using lighting as a tool - make it work for you.
If you're looking for the healthiest, most natural light bulb, nothing can beat the purely analog, clean light of incandescence.
If you have a large space you need to illuminate, it may be in your best interest to use LED.
That wraps up our summary of our favorite light source - the incandescent light bulb!
Remember, light is a tool, and some types provide more than just visible light to see. So, if you want to learn more about lighting (from an albeit very unconventional lens), check out all our other articles on health and light!
In terms of what we always recommend to our customers? Use a bit of all light technologies. Maybe, try using LED overhead in your recessed cans and some incandescents in your desk lamps at close range... In the end, what works best is what feels best - so enjoy the journey!