Lighting FAQ


Q: What is a LED a bulb?

A: LEDs do appear to be bulbs but in fact are not. LED`s are tiny semiconductors encapsulated in plastic, which protect their components and help focus the light.

Q: How does a LED work?     

A: LEDs are semiconductor diodes which work through an electronic chip by creating a positive – negative junction (or p-n). Once power is provided to the diode, a current flows from the anode (positive) to the cathode (negative). Electrons and electron holes then flow into the junction from electrodes, so when an electron meets a hole it creates a lower energy level providing energy as light.
LEDs can come in various colours which are created by the materials used to make it. For example; white light can be created by using a blue LED and coating it with yellow phosphor or with a combination of RGB light (red, green and blue).

Q: What is the difference between an incandescent bulb and an LED?

A: Incandescent create light by use of a filament. When power is applied, the filament glows, generating heat, in turn, producing light. LEDs are the opposite. LEDs create light though a “cold process”, when power is applied to semiconductors (usually gallium, arsenic and phosphorus) they’re stimulated by the movement of electrons; thus creating photons, the light that is visibly seen by humans.

Q: Why should I buy an LED lamp?

A:LEDs are more energy efficient than normal halogen bulbs (around 90% less) and combined with the rising electric bills, you can be saving money as the average household’s electrical usage is just under 10% just for lighting and reduce your carbon footprint. Around 90% of the electricity consumed by an LED is converted into light, whereas a standard bulb only converts around 15%.

Q: Are LED’s costly?

A: Overall, the cost of having an LED lamp is cheaper due to their low energy emissions creating low running costs, but their initial cost compared to a standard bulb is considerably higher.

Q: Why do LEDs use such little power?

A: LEDs do not use a filament where a conductor is heated and light is created. Filament based lighting consumes more power than the light produced. LEDs produce very little amounts of heat and do not use filaments making them far more efficient in consumption and output.

Q: Where is it appropriate to use LED lamps?

A: LED lamps should be used when powerful directional light is needed such as spot lights, flood lights, track lights etc..

Q: Do LEDs produce heat?

A: LEDs produce very little amounts of heat; the heat noticed in some instances is due to on board components and other factors of the circuit. In comparison to incandescent, LEDs produce a fraction of the heat. If LEDs are hot to the touch, they are being overpowered due to improper circuitry.

Q: Are LEDs good for the environment?

A: LED’s, as previously mentioned are very energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions quite considerably. They are also ROHS compliant and mercury free unlike other energy saving bulbs which contain a high amount of mercury and phosphor which can be a health hazard. Therefore, overall better for the environment than standard bulbs. 

Q:How long do LEDs last?

A: LEDs are rated by manufacturers to operate under normal conditions for approx 10 years or 100,000 hours of continuous use. As LEDs get older, they tend to dim and fade but aren’t susceptible to blinking like incandescent or fluorescents.

Q: Can LED lamps be used in existing light fittings? 

A: Most LED bulbs work in standard light sockets and can be easily fitted as like any other bulb due to their same fittings as normal bulbs, i.e. GU10, MR16 etc..

To see our range of LED Bulbs and Fittings CLICK HERE



Q : Doesn’t switching lights on and off use more energy than leaving them running?

A :  No. Switching on an energy saving bulb only uses the same amount of power as leaving it on for a minute or two.

Turning the bulb on and off repeatedly may shorten its life, but normal household use shouldn’t cause any problems. In fact, Energy Saving Recommended bulbs are tested through 1,000s of cycles of switching.

However, to help it last as long as possible, it is best to leave it on for a ‘stabilising’ period of 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

And if you’re still using traditional bulbs, remember to switch them off every time you leave a room unoccupied. In the UK alone we waste more than an incredible £175 million a year by leaving lights on unnecessarily.

Q : Don’t energy saving lightbulbs take a long time to light up?

A : No, most modern energy saving bulbs take little more than a few seconds to warm up to full brightness.

This short warming up process is due to the way they work. An electric current is passed through gas in a tube, making the tube’s coating glow brightly. In traditional bulbs, the current is passed through a wire which heats up and produces light straight away. What makes them incredibly inefficient is that 95% of the electricity used is lost in the production of heat.

Energy saving bulbs, by contrast, use the same efficient technology as fluorescent lights – but are more compact and use even less energy.

Q :  Producing an energy saving bulb must take more energy in the first place than making a standard bulb. At the end of the day, doesn’t that make it inefficient?

A : Again, no. Because of its clever technology, an energy saving bulb might take more energy to make than a traditional bulb. But the energy saved by the bulb over its lifetime far outweighs this energy consumption.

Q : Don’t traditional bulbs give a better quality of light?

A : For technical reasons, the glass used to house energy saving lightbulbs has to be translucent – not totally transparent. In other words, the light quality of energy saving bulbs can’t be directly compared with that of clear traditional bulbs. Compare them with soft tone traditional bulbs, though, and you won’t see any difference.

Q : Are halogen bulbs more efficient than traditional bulbs?

A : Halogen bulbs in the home consume less energy than traditional bulbs (typically 20W-50W for halogen bulbs compared with 40W-100W for traditional bulbs). However, rooms lit with halogen bulbs usually have more fittings than rooms lit with traditional bulbs or energy saving bulbs. Therefore, they will use more energy.

If you have halogen lighting in your home you can buy Energy Saving Recommended halogen bulbs. There are currently two of these on the market: Philips Masterline and Osram Decostar. They use around 30% less electricity than traditional halogen bulbs.

Q: Lots of my lights have dimmer switches. Can I fit them with energy saving bulbs?

A: Most energy saving bulbs aren’t fully compatible with dimmer switch circuits at the moment. A standard dimmer switch will simply make the bulb flicker: annoying for you and not good for your bulb.

The Osram Dulux El Dim is currently the only fully dimmable energy saving bulb. However, there are plans for more to be developed later this year.

There are also energy saving bulbs that can be used with ‘staged dimming’. This requires a special sort of dimmer with three separate settings – high, low and off.

Q: Is the government really banning traditional incandescent bulbs?

A: There is a proposal for a voluntary phasing out of traditional bulbs between now and 2011. This will give manufacturers and retailers enough time to develop additional products that will take their place.

Q : Don’t CFLs contain mercury? And isn’t that bad for the environment?

A : Energy saving bulbs contain only tiny traces of mercury – imagine a pellet smaller than the tip of a biro. What’s more, in the long term, CFL technology will actually help less mercury to pollute the air.

This is because burning fossil fuels like coal is the biggest source of mercury in the air. And as energy saving bulbs use 80% less electricity than a traditional bulb, they mean far less mercury overall.

Q : Recycling your energy saving light bulbs

A: Energy saving light bulbs are part of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) initiative which means that those who sell these products must provide information to the public on how they can be recycled. You could speak to the retailer you purchased your energy saving light bulb from about how to recycle it or alternatively you could contact your local authority to see if they will recycle energy saving light bulbs. If you don’t know who your local authority is you can find this out at Directgov

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To see our range of Compact Fluorescents CLICK HERE


Q :How much heat (or infrared radiation) is emitted by regular, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs?

A ; Because incandescent and halogen bulbs create light through heat, about 90% of the energy they emit is in the form of heat (also called infrared radiation). To reduce the heat emitted by regular incandescent and halogen light bulbs, use a lower watt bulb (like 60 watts instead of 100).

Fluorescent light bulbs use an entirely different method to create light. Both compact fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain a gas that, when excited by electricity, hits a coating inside the fluorescent bulb and emits light. (This makes them far more energy efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.) The fluorescent bulbs used in your home emit only around 30% of their energy in heat, making them far cooler.

Q : What is a halogen bulb?

A : Halogen is a type of incandescent lamp. It has a tungsten filament just like a regular incandescent that you may use in your home, however the bulb is filled with halogen gas. When an incandescent lamp (one which produces light by heating a tungsten filament) operates, tungsten from the filament is evaporated into the gas of the bulb and deposited on the glass wall. The bulb “burns out” when enough tungsten has evaporated from the filament so that electricity can no longer be conducted across it. The halogen gas in a halogen lamp carries the evaporated tungsten particles back to the filament and re-deposits them. This gives the lamp a longer life than regular A-line incandescent lamps and provides for a cleaner bulb wall for light to shine through.

Q : Why do halogen bulbs last longer than incandescent?              

A :The life of incandescent and halogen light bulbs, referred to as tungsten filament lamps, is limited by the state of the filament. The filament is the wire inside the bulb that produces light when heated. The light bulb will not work if the filament is broken which may occur as a result of the application of force, such as dropping the bulb, or by lack of tungsten in a particular area over the filament. During the operation of tungsten filament light bulbs, tungsten from the filament evaporates into the gas inside the light bulb. When the tungsten comes in contact with a cool surface it will condense. Often, with incandescent products, the tungsten condenses on the bulb wall. Because the tungsten is redeposited on the wall instead of the filament, the filament grows thin over time. Eventually, there will be a point on the filament with so little tungsten that the filament will break and the light bulb will stop working.

Halogen light bulbs have a special gas inside their bulb containing halogens. The halogen gas facilitates the “halogen regenerative cycle” which means that the halogens carry the evaporated tungsten back to the filament instead of allowing it to deposit on the bulb wall. By placing the tungsten back on the filament instead of the wall, it delays the filament breaking due to lack of tungsten. Although the halogen cycle significantly increases the life of the light bulb, it cannot last forever because the halogen gasses cannot place the tungsten on a specific spot on the filament to avoid any place having too little tungsten and breaking.

Q : When using an MR16 Halogen lamp, why do I need to use a closed fixture or an MR16 with cover glass?

A : MR16 lamps without cover glass should only be used in a closed fixture (fixture that keeps all parts of bulb enclosed) since the filament tube of all MR16 lamps is pressurized. In the unlikely event that the filament tube breaks, the closed fixture keeps glass particles from leaving the fixture. MR16 lamps with a built-on cover glass can be operated in an open fixture since the cover glass will contain any broken pieces of the filament tube.

Q : What is the coating used on infrared halogen PAR lamps?

A :The coating used on infrared halogen PAR lamps is made from tantala and silica. It is applied only to the outside of the bulb.

Q : What types of halogen products are the best for reducing heat (infrared radiation)?

A : GE’s ConstantColor™ lamps with dichroic coatings and halogen-IR lamps are the two best halogen options for reducing IR. The halogen-IR lamps have a coating on the filament tube to redirect the IR back to the filament to make the lamp emit light that is not only cooler, but also brighter for the same amount of energy as a comparable halogen lamp. In the case of our MR16 ConstantColor™ lamp, a special dichroic reflector allows two-thirds of the infrared radiation emitted by the filament to be directed back toward the base of the lamp. Thus, the forward beam of light contains up to 66% less heat.

Q : I can’t find the lumen rating on my MR16/MR11 lamp. Why?

A : MR11s and MR16s are a directional light source, and are only measured by center beam candle power, which is the average amount of luminous intensity, or how bright the light is, at the center of the beam.

To see our range of Halogen bulbs CLICK HERE