Old Light Bulbs vs New Light Bulbs

In 2007 the UK government announced that incandescent bulbs would be phased out by 2011 and shortly afterwards all member states of the EU agreed to a progressive phase-out of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. The reasoning behind this was to move towards more energy efficient lighting alternatives.

Even though this has been taking place over a number of years, many people are still confused with what sort of light bulb to buy – especially those of us that grew up with the ‘old’ type of bulbs!

The advantages that the new energy efficient light bulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have over the traditional incandescents are that they can last anything from 3 to 25 times longer and typically use from 25% to 80% less energy than traditional incandescents. This means they won’t need replacing as often and will save you money.

So, when you are faced with an entire display of different bulbs, how do you know what to buy?


The first thing to check is what fitting you need. The easiest way to find this out is to look at the bulb you currently have. There is likely to be letters and numbers so write down both as this will ensure you get the right shape fitting but also the right size and voltage. Some common ones are:

Bayonet Cap – mainly used in Great Britain and has a ‘push and twist’ action to install them.
Edison Screw Cap – fairly self-explanatory but simply screws in.
Halogen and LED – usually say GU and they have two pins on them that you line up with the holes and then twist the bulb to lock in place when fitting.


Bulbs come in a variety of different shapes and this affects how the bulb ‘throws’ the light so it is important to choose the right shape for the job you want the bulb to do. For example, a ceiling light would normally need to throw light out in all directions so a stick or spiral shape would work well whereas a spot might need to shine on a certain area so something with a reflector might work better.


This is where it gets slightly tricky! Bulbs used to be sold by wattage which measures power or energy use. However, most light bulbs now are sold by lumens which measures light output. This is actually a more accurate measurement of brightness, we just need to get used to the new numbers. The following is a simple comparison showing different types of bulbs (240V):

BRIGHTNESS (lumens) 220+ 400+ 700+ 900+ 1300+
Incandescent 25W 40W 60W 75W 100W
Halogen 18W 28W 42W 53W 70W
CFL 6W 9W 12W 15W 20W
LED 4W 6W 10W 13W 18W

This is a fairly basic guide as there are other factors that you can take into account but it should help you buy the right bulb for your needs. If you are at all unsure about any of your lighting needs, please get in touch as we are always happy to help.