Incandescent, Flourescent, LED

When designing an interior space we are always asked our opinions on what type of lighting to use. Considerations that influence our light selection decisions include: color rendition, initial cost, operating cost, efficiency, size, operating life, and ability to control it's output. The amount of heat generated by the light source is also a consideration because air conditioning systems will compensate adding to the total energy load of a building.


Incandescents' are inexpensive, compact, easy to dim, have warm color rendition and can easily be controlled with reflectors and lenses. The disadvantage is short lamp life and high heat output. Tungsten-halogen is another type of incandescent but by adding halogen it provides a longer lamp life and is also more uniform in color but they can get hot and run up the cost of air conditioning. Low-voltage is another class of incandescent that operate at a lower voltage but at a higher current so their filaments have to be thicker and better in beam control. The main disadvantage of low-voltage lighting is they require a transformer to step down the line voltage which result in a higher initial cost.

Types of Light Bulbs


Flourescents' are low in initial costs, come in a variety of temperature colors, and are great for general illumination but they do not provide great directional lighting. The primary advantage are the energy savings with the same lighting levels with less power input and they claim to last 10 times longer than incandescents'. They can be dimmed although flourescent dimmers are more expensive than incandescent type. In addition to poor directional lighting flourescents' are created with a mercury vapor and should not be disposed of in landfills.


LED Lighting is 50 times more energy efficient than the incandescent bulbs and is a modular technology that allows you to change beam angle, color temperature, light output, and total intensity. However, you have to be extremely careful if you want to dim these lights. Not every kind of LED light is compatible with a dimmer. Make sure your LED light is compatible with a dimmer before purchasing. If you are remodeling and are not worried about the dimming controls a good option is to find an LED replacement bulb that can retro fit with your existing system be sure to check with your current system manufacturer to make sure your LED lights don't get over heated.


If cost is not a concern low-voltage incandescent lighting still provides the best overall dimmed, directional, and energy efficient lighting until LED lighting and its use become more mainstream. If the construction budget is a concern there are many great incandescent lights on the market that include reflectors and do provide great directional lighting. In work spaces such as laundry rooms, garages, closets, open office plans, educational buildings fluorescent tubing reflectors provide sufficient general illumination and will last longer than any incandescent bulb with low initial costs.