Houses built from 2000 to 2010 (ish) may have some curious energy efficient lighting oddities. If your bulb has blown and you’re facing something that doesn’t look like the lamp you expected, I may have the answer buried somewhere in this article. Probably somewhere near the end as it goes…


Ahh, the simplicity of the traditional electric filament lamp. Widely attributed as one of the many inventions of America's Thomas Edison (left), although the history is a little more complex than that and there were other examples of laboratory working versions, for better or worse, preceding Edison's own light-bulb moment... or moments (plural) as he went through much experimentation to improve and perfect the design based on his own research and that of others, however Edison largely takes all the credit not so much for the invention of the incandescent lamp itself as for the system of lighting from generation, transmission and local distribution to the end client as a practical packaged marketable proposition that could light buildings and streets.

However, it was fellow tinkerer Joseph Swan (right) across the pond in Britain who laid claim to lighting the first residential and public buildings with incandescent lamps; Swan's home in Gateshead and the Savoy Theatre in London being the first to have electric light bulbs as we know them screwed in throughout.

The first street with non-arc lit electric lighting was Mosley Street in Newcastle, close to Joseph Swan’s gaff, and maybe Sir Joseph himself oversaw the lighting of that particular thoroughfare for the purpose of his Victorian pub-crawling antics... while he perhaps drunkenly told anyone who'd listen how he could have that upstart Edison in a fight. One would certainly like to think so.

This new incandescent lighting took over from the less practical gas or arc lamps, but the light bulb as we know... or... knew it, was not the single invention in a single Eureka moment of any one human, and it has a varied and potted history of development by inventors working independently around the world until such time as the likes of Edison was able to tailor the thing to work effectively with his own means of energy generation and transmission resulting in an end-to-end solution that could be sold as a whole. And that's the real genius of what Edison pioneered even if his preference for DC transmission eventually lost out to AC.


Edison and Swan joined forces and created the Ediswan company in 1883, albeit reluctantly it seems, to avoid suing the assholes off each other on who had the greater claim of invention for this new delivery of clean and convenient lighting solutions and there the story kind of dies for the humble filament lamp because on the face of it, not a lot changed regarding the basic principles of operation for the next hundred years.

Actually, that's not true; a lot did change. Other lighting technologies came into being such as discharge lights - fluorescent, halide, sodium and such, and even with the filament lamp improvements were made over the following decades to boost efficiency and lower manufacturing cost. Improvements were also made to the operating life, at least up to a point, and although urban myths of the everlasting lightbulb existed, in reality the Phoebus Cartel made up of manufacturers still in business today rigged this new market to ensure the lamps rolling out of their factories had limited lives and that no one company was making them better than others. The bastards!

Although improvements were made in the materials and manufacture of the humble incandescent lamp over its first century, the underlying principle of operation remained the same, and whether you were a wealthy Victorian at the turn of the 1900’s purchasing a lamp for your newly electrified home, or an early Eighties labourer looking to light your loo while you shat out half a pint of mild and this morning's full-English breakfast, the bulb you bought worked on the same sort of principle: it was a small heating element encased in glass which gave off a practical amount of light as it cooked away.

And therein lies the rub; the light is what we want, but it's a by-product of the device's primary operation and over 95% of the energy consumed is lost as heat. Besides being horrendously inefficient, that unwanted heat can be troublesome and if a lamp is rated too high for the fitting it's used in, then thermal damage will occur. Similarly, placement of an incandescent fitting too close to combustible materials can also be disastrous. A tragic example of that comes with the Shirley Towers fire of 2010 in which two firefighters lost their lives. That fire started when curtains were draped over a halogen uplight while the homeowner busied themselves with the hoovering, the light later being switched on without the curtains having been removed. The Health and Safety report is linked here, and while the awful implications of this incident were mainly down to a catalogue of errors and workplace violations by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service that placed their people in danger unnecessarily, the naughty stick got waved at electricians in general from this because premature collapse of cables was part of the story, and this incident is one of the reasons 17th and 18th Edition tightened up on the securing of cables in 2015 and 2018 respectively.


And that's no dig at the bravery of firefighters or the difficult situations they're placed in due to the nature of their job. It's an incident that changed an industry and that report is well worth a read.

So, yeah, incandescent lamps get hot, and while you may appreciate the heat, and I once had a customer tell me he didn't want to change his halogen downlights to LED because they helped heat the room - [Duh!], this heat is wasteful of energy and the high operating temperature has negative effects on the lamp itself, quite besides any other materials it may be located near.

The thermal shock of the element going from cold to white-hot within a fraction of a second can cause a lamp that's near its end of life to suffer an explosive failure, albeit not one that would blow out the glass although that can occasionally happen. As an incandescent lamp dies, often with a bit of a bang as its resistance drops to a short, the fault current can be high enough to take out the fuse or breaker back at the board and plunge everyone into darkness. I'm sure my fellow sparkies will all have had that same call out to a lighting trip where, once power is restored through a new fuse or resetting of the breaker, a quick tour of the place is undertaken to spot which room now has a dead lamp lurking within as an obvious smoking gun.

That cycling of the filament from cold to hot and back to cold as it's turned on and off takes its toll. A lamp that's frequently cycled may have a shorter operating life than one which is left running at a constant operating temperature. This is one reason why the Centennial bulb that's been burning away in a Californian fire station since 1901 has managed to chug on for so long: it's very rarely switched off, and these days is even on a surge protector and uninterruptable power supply to keep the juice as stable as possible. Had it been turned off as a matter of course every morning, it would long ago have blown its bollocks off. Of course, other reasons for its longevity are that it comes from an era where things were engineered to last and it's not operating at anything like full output with its feeble glow doing next to nothing to throw out useful, usable light.


One way to counter the shock effect is built into the likes of good quality dimmer switches which employ a slow-start or soft-start operation to raise the voltage over a second or two rather than it turning connected lamps up to eleven instantaneously.

The heat an incandescent lamp generates is also problematic if the lamp is installed in a fitting that can't dissipate it effectively, something that's true of today's modern LED technology too. In a hotter climate or an enclosed fitting without the means for the heat to be removed, the operating life of the lamp is shortened. In most cases of premature lamp failure, regardless of the technology, chances are something inside got too hot. Big Clive has recently made videos showing how modern-day Philips overengineer the lamps made for the ricockulously hot climate of Dubai to lower the thermal stress on their component parts. The rest of us get the underengineered cheap stuff and I've experienced more than my fair share of failures from Philips in recent years.


Public and commercial buildings seeking reduced operating and maintenance costs tended to use other lighting technologies such as fluorescent. A 36W fluorescent tube can light a small room more effectively and efficiently than a traditional 60W filament lamp and will last much longer, however fluorescent isn't without its own problems which precluded it from many a British living room. The old magnetic ballast and starter technology of the day meant some flickering and a delay when switched on over the instantaneous light of an incandescent lamp. A cold tube took time to warm to full brightness. The light tended to be a starker white. A failing tube or starter would have it flashing maniacally as it continually attempted to strike. Magnetic ballasts would audibly hum. They weren't compatible with dimmer switches and there were few decorative fittings to choose from, most being utilitarian battens more at home in a factory or office space than illuminating the Constable reprints, horse brasses and brown Argos reproduction period furniture adorning an average Eighties living room.


As a kid, I always thought fluorescent battens looked cool and futuristic, certainly better than that old Victorian technology burning away under a dusty Thunderbirds lampshade in my bedroom, but my dad refused to let me have one in there which I really did want. Don't judge me, we didn't have the diversions of internet porn in those days and the highlight of the week was Buck Rogers in the 24th Century on one of only three TV channels. It's hardly any wonder I spent so much time staring up at the ceiling contemplating the bloody light bulb. My father did install a fluorescent in the kitchen which is one of the few rooms in the average abode where they were popular thanks to the cleaner and better spread of light output, even if they were no good for a quick and unauthorised late-night raid of the biscuit tin as they'd still be flickering and spluttering into life while one was already making one's escape before being spotted by mother!

Then, in 1983, exactly a hundred years after the formation of the Ediswan company, came the next exciting step in lamp technology aimed at homeowners who wanted something more efficient under their lampshades that could be fitted without specialist knowledge or tools...


Behold, the Philips SL-18. This is, as you may be able to tell, a compact fluorescent lamp, and what a clonking beast it is too; capable of both lighting a room and being used to club a large rodent or... perhaps even a small dog to death... if you were of such a mind. I'm lucky enough to have my own example that I saved from being tossed on a refurb site in 2013. It was still working then but, annoyingly, I dropped it about three years ago and broke the tube within. Galling, yes, but it remains an important display feature sat upon the dusty shelf of wonderous shite within my office.

I remember when the SL-18 came out, and I found them very exciting at the time as they were a glimpse into the future; a future I fully expected to be populated with robots and spaceships, all of which was just around the corner if the Sci-Fi at the time was to be believed, so every step at modernising the mundane technology of the day was a step closer to that reality becoming... well... real.

Sadly, I still can't pop over to Moonstation Alpha or Mars Dome One at the time of writing and the closest thing I ever got to my own real-life Terminator was a short-lived Roomba vacuum cleaner which the cat threw up in front of causing it to smear sick all around the living room floor, but my technological expectations have since been dialled down and these days I'm happy if I can just get the bloody TV remote to navigate Netflix. Still, in the dark days of 1983 where the most technically advanced and complicated item in the house was trying to set the fourteen-day timer on a VCR the size of a suitcase to record William Shatner wobbling around as T J Hooker (and much fuzzy freeze-framing on Heather Locklear), the Philips SL-18 stood out like Darth Vader in Downton Abbey. It was something of the future amid a space otherwise occupied by ye-olde style twee furniture, cheesy carriage clocks, floral wallpaper and insanely dreadful school photographs your parents felt obliged to buy and display. Indeed, the SL-18 is a beast. It's a weapon. It's a friggin' fluorescent tube contained within something nearer the form-factor of the standard tungsten GLS lamp!

Only... it's not without its flaws. It's large at 17cm in length and 23cm in circumference which prevents it from physically fitting into many luminaires. It's also heavy at 550 grams, so popping it into your average Anglepoise will bring it clunking down like a giraffe with a sore neck who happened to try on an unusually heavy hat. The SL-18 was also slow to warm up, taking perhaps a full three minutes to crank up to full brightness. My father purchased an SL-18 for the hallway and ended up seeking a refund because of the slow warm-up much to my annoyance. The problem was the hallway wasn't the right place for it of course. As a transient space, it was lit infrequently and only as one happened to pass through. Had it been located in, say, the dining room which was used at mealtimes for extended periods, then it had a chance of fitting the bill, if not the lampshade, above the dinner table.

Proper girth.

I recall the packaging boasting a 5000-hour lifespan which sounded amazing at the time, and of course it offered energy savings being rated at just 18 Watts while replacing the common 60W lamp favoured for most rooms.

The weight of the SL-18 is down to the glass housing, yes that is glass and not plastic, and the integral magnetic ballast. A glow starter is also in there to get it going, neither part being replaceable unlike on a standard fluorescent batten. This was sold as an off-the-shelf tool-free retrofit for applications where the reduced maintenance and energy savings outweighed the initial low light output and long warm up time…

…and it wasn't hugely popular domestically. At least, I never saw anyone else with one between my old man giving it a whirl around 1983 and my coming across the example here in my posession a full thirty years later, and the fact mine was still working in an active application says something about the build quality. The SL-18 was made to last and you may yet find one still plugging away out in the wild yourself. If so, treat it with some respect; this is technological history.

Of course, the SL-18 became the forerunner to modern compact fluorescent lamps, although it also played its part in casting a negative legacy across the life of that range. CFLs were forever considered as weak lights with slow start times partly because the SL-18 and other early examples had those problems, although later models and any such technology still on the market today don't suffer nearly so much thanks to their improved phosphors and electronic ballasts. A modern CFL will be at 90% brightness at switch-on and will reach full light output very quickly, but CFLs never shook off the negative connotations of the past and remain the whipping boy of dinosaur Daily Mail readers for whom change is always bad and stories along the lines of "I bought an energy saving lamp in 1998 and it was rubbish, therefore all energy savings lamps will forever be rubbish" is standard fare, yet despite their predictions at the end of the last decade that these things would all but give us cancer if we were to be so foolish as to screw one into a bedside lamp to read by, mass death by light bulb so far seems to have been a fate most of us have avoided. Reading dumbass Daily Mail headlines probably does more harm to your health.


I actually have a bit of a wobble-on for the industrial appearance of the old stick CFL. Not the spiral type or other twisty flavours so much, but there’s just something satisfying about the two lamps below in particular with their erect glass tubes jutting out from their bases. These tick my boyhood box for what a light bulb of the future ought to look like. Soon though, the self-ballasted models such as that shown on the left will disappear from the shop shelves for good.

P5080067Now these are some proper Buck Rogers light bulbs!

Today, lamp technology is a completely different kettle of kippers with LEDs now at the fore, and once again I was around and observing the rise of LEDs as a child of the Eighties, so raise your boredom threshold and lower your expectations even further as I have a quick recall of that before I finally get to the point and show you some well-meaning, but arguably flawed, examples of energy saving lighting which is what this article is supposed to be about before I went spinning off into my hangover addled history.

I can remember the first time I knowingly saw a Light Emitting Diode. Electronics was a hobby of mine from when I was ten, so I noticed when things like this became available to me. Limited to the pocket money I had and the lack of places where electronic components could be bought from, (remember kids, no internet), I was inspired by a science lesson at junior school where a lamp was made to light by hooking it to a battery. Remember how I expected a future of spaceships and robots? Well, I figured if I understood electrics, then I could be a part of that future, maybe even directly influencing its ascendance! Although more immediately, I just wanted my bedroom to look like the interior of a flying saucer through the use of flashing lights, aluminium foil and Captain Kirk curtains.

So, I would spend my time buggering about making circuits to flash torch lamps, pulling apart toys and electronic goods to see how they ticked and sticking things into socket outlets to see what happened - usually a release of magic smoke more often than not. Anyway, my lighting escapades were frustrated by the fact incandescent torch lamps were power hungry and could drain batteries very quickly which dented my limited pocket money budgetary resources. Then, one day, my mate Mandip who also liked to prat about a bit with electrics, yes, my mates were massive girlfriendless losers too, well, he brought into school a battery and a LED and I was gobsmacked. The odd home appliance may have had a basic LED power indicator back then, but they were few and far between, many appliances still employing neons.

My crew: Nirmal and Mandip c.1985 at Ernesford Grange borstal School.
We thought of ourselves as the A Team. So did everyone else, but in their minds the A stood for something else entirely.
And yes, Nirmal is wearing an "I ran the world" T-shirt like any good kid of the 80s should!

LEDs were available in red, green or yellow, 3mm, 5mm or 10mm round packages, shaped packages such as triangle, rectangle or square, used very little current and could be made to switch quickly unlike lamps which weren't suitable for fast flashing applications.


Of course, those LEDs weren't very bright and blue or white variants hadn't yet been invented, nonetheless a new world of opportunity was instantly opened. By throwing together some component parts like a timer and decade counter or a few transistors, I could make effective colourful displays running at speeds filament lamps couldn’t match and at a fraction of the power. There was no point to this sort of thing other than the joy of experimentation to see what happened if one were to shuffle components around, but stick enough flashing lights on your bedroom walls and you can pretend to be on the bridge of the Nostromo with Sigourney Weaver… or.. in Mr Spock’s quarters… jacking off over Sigourney Weaver...


...yeah, I may have had a thing for Sigourney Weaver. Not sure it was healthy, but come on, Ghostbusters and the Alien Trilogy? Top drawer stuff. And yes, I did like Alien 3. You read it right, I said it.

I used to buy my LEDs at 20p a time from an electronics shop tucked away in Coventry's City Arcade called Electronic Services, if I remember rightly, who mainly resold stuff from RS with a fat markup until they had the rug pulled from under them when Maplin came to town around 1993 massively undercutting their prices. I, possibly incorrectly, recall the UK Tandy catalogue introducing blue LEDs around ’91 to ‘93, not a true blue, some washed out colour I believe, but at ten quid a time they were out of my budget even by those days at which point I was now a charming student with a floppy haircut at Coventry Technical College.


The first blue LED that I saw out in the wild came on my Playstation 2 in the year 2000 and which I still keep tucked under the TV today for Burnout 3 Takedown whose Road Rage mode is about the best arcade experience of any game ever. We take blue LEDs for granted now, and in the noughties they seemed to be on everything, mainly because they were still relatively new, but it's not that long ago they just didn't exist at all in the consumer space.

The first RGB (colour changing) LED I saw in the consumer market was in 2003 where three colour elements had been combined into one 5mm package. I had a JVC stereo that used them to 'disco up' the colour of the front face. Of course, if you can make an RGB LED, then you can make any colour and that opens up the world of displays, such being in use in football grounds to show animated advertising hoardings since around the Millennium.

While RGB can make a white light of sorts, proper white LED lamps used in modern lighting are likely blue LEDs that have been doped with a phosphor to make the light white. The first LED lamps I bought were in 2005 and still work today, although they're cluster lamps using a number of discrete 5mm individual elements.

Fine for the accent lighting of a shelf or cabinet, but these cluster lamps won't light up a room.

These aren't very bright, and again, the LED range was tainted at first by people bemoaning them for being too dim, for flickering, being too stark, not dimmer compatible and so on. Early adopters would buy 1.3W cluster lamps like these and retrofit them where 50W halogens had been, the resultant light output going down like a cup of cold sick and another angry missive quickly fired off to the letters page of the Daily Mail about how useless energy saving lamps still were and how they should do a front page exclusive on it so long as there wasn't anything about EU bananas or the royal family to be shouting about that week.

LED technology has moved on from these low light cluster lamps, through that awkward adolescent phase to where it is today where you can obtain lamps whose light output is quite indistinguishable from that of a traditional tungsten or halogen bulb yet using less than a tenth of the energy because it's not being wasted as heat.

Of course, there's a lot of no-brand rubbish out there and it is a case of buyer beware, but the humble LED lamp of today isn't the throwaway consumable item the lightbulb of old once was. It's now an electronic appliance in its own right and should be treated as such. That means if it fails sooner than expected, you should seek redress under warranty, if applicable, and once it does reach end of life it should be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion as eWaste rather than being bunged into the bin.

But enough of all this. I actually started writing to talk about some very specific and well-meaning energy saving lighting ideas which were ultimately a bit crap because technology outpaced them. So, disregard everything I've said thus far as it's not the point of this piece! Let’s get on topic!


Back in the early noughties, the UK building regulations, the statutory laws new building work must comply to, set out to reduce the energy being wasted on lighting. New homes had to comply, and while it wasn't the case that all luminaires in the property had to be efficient, efficiency had to be demonstrable, so the way builders ticked that box was to ensure luminaires with a higher lumen output per circuit Watt were installed in some rooms to meet an overall efficiency percentage target for the lighting system as a whole. These efficient fittings had to be made so that older energy slurping lamps couldn't be retrofitted, so they couldn't get away with just putting up a standard B22d or E27 fitting with a CFL lamp installed as the new homeowner might remove that lamp and bung in a wasteful 100W tungsten filament bulb.

I told you to disregard what I said earlier, so I'll repeat myself by saying fluorescent battens weren't terribly popular about the home, perhaps with the exception of in the kitchen, and in high-end builds downlights were now the fashion, so what's a builder to do if they can't meet their energy saving quota on lighting by chucking in something like a fluorescent fitting or two?

Well, they had other options, three of which I have here starting with the Aurora GUF4011 11W PAR20 downlight.


This beast commanded a sizeable 80mm cut-out in the ceiling and although it has what looks like a GU10 lampholder, and indeed that's what Aurora says it is, I can't seem to get any modern LED lamps to physically twist into there and I'm not sure why as they're definitely GU10 and not GZ10 bases and the U in GU10 stands for Universal. Anyway, even if a modern PAR16 LED lamp would twist into the base, it wouldn't fit the fitting... so to speak. The PAR16 GU10 spot lamps we commonly use today have faces of 50mm diameter, these PAR20s are 64mm.

P5080073Left: a modern 50mm PAR16 GU10; much smaller than this GUF stuff.

The GUF4011 lamps are 11W compact fluorescents and are pretty specific to this fitting. A bit of a bum-fiddler then that not long after these started going in, CFLs started appearing in the smaller PAR16 form closely followed by new LED variants which was a bandwagon everyone jumped on. That meant homeowners with these PAR20 fittings found that by the time their GUF lamps became duff lamps, replacements were hard and expensive to come by and Aurora had left them in the lurch by not making a new LED model they could retrofit. Now, I don't know if other manufacturers also made these products, but Aurora is the only one I've come across and while it is possible to buy PAR20 LED lamps, they tend to come with an E27 base rather than GU10.


You can find PAR20 lamps with a GU10 base if you search hard enough, but they tend to be no-brand nonsense and all bets are off as to whether they'll fit properly. Usually, the best fix is to replace the whole buggering thing with an integrated LED downlight of the same size or bigger to cover the already oversize cut-out in the ceiling. So much for being environmentally friendly; lack of manufacturer support means this fitting gets the baby and bathwater treatment and has to be ripped out and replaced wholesale.

Moving on to number two, and for this I want to pop back to my Philips SL-18 for a moment...


As a compact fluorescent lamp, this doesn't contain too much technology. You have the fluorescent tube, the heating elements to get it kicked off, the glow-starter which is just a bimetallic strip in this case and the magnetic coil. A modern CFL like that shown below is much smaller and more efficient because its driver circuitry is electronic rather than mechanical and magnetic. A CFL is considered more environmentally friendly than a traditional tungsten lamp because over the course of its lifetime, and assuming it lives a full life, both the energy saved and the saving in having to otherwise swap out failed tungsten lamps outweighs the environmental impact of the CFL's more complicated construction.


Long life environmental credentials aside, CFL lamps have within them some rather nasty parts; mercury in the fluorescent tube and chemicals in the electronics means a dead or unwanted lamp should be disposed of properly. That's not difficult, your local tip and many supermarkets, trade suppliers and hardware stores often have drop off points for such. Still, the CFL has some complicated guts, yet once the fluorescent tube has reached end of life it may be the case that the electronics still have many years of service left to give but cannot do so as the tube is no longer serviceable. It's convenient to Jack and Jill homeowner that the lamp is supplied as a whole package, but wasteful that the whole package has to be discarded when the consumable element, i.e., the tube itself, has flickered out for the final time.

Hence solutions such as this next one which separates the electronic ballast from the fluorescent lamp.


This turns the lamp itself into a pure consumable item just like traditional filament bulbs and fluorescent tubes. Once burned out, the lamp must still be disposed of responsibly but the electronics that drive it are self-contained within the lampholder and can go on to light other lamps, potentially for years to come.


Builders tended to fit these into hallways and stairwells, mainly because they were utilitarian areas where lampshades rather than feature lighting would often suffice, but also because these don't tend to be dimmable areas, the electronics in most such examples being incompatible with dimming. The electronic ballast means they light up quickly enough and they're not a bad solution; they're especially popular commercially. The trouble domestically is they confuse the hell out of homeowners who expect to change a standard bayonet-cap light bulb when it fails and haven't a clue what they're faced with when looking at this thing. Added to the confusion is the naming, the pictured example being a G24q-1 fitting which clumsily masturbates off the tongue.

The lamp also needs to be sized for the ballast, the pictured pairing being a 13W variant, and these types of lamp can be found in two-pin or four-pin flavours just to add to the headache.

Again, although well meaning, this was ultimately self-defeating for the home as LED quickly took over, so those running these fittings at 13 Watts could by now have screwed in a 4W LED lamp had a standard lamp holder been installed by their builder. The assumption someone made for these, well intentioned though it may have been, was 13W wasn't a bad amount of energy for Joe Public to be burning for lighting a room in the home and that technology wouldn't quickly better it. But it did. These things are unpopular domestically and we get asked to take them out which results in them not achieving the potential for the long life that they were designed for. One bit of good news though, and by adding a cage I use them as temporary lighting on refurb sites. It stops the thieving plumbers from nicking standard LED lamps.


My final item today is pictured below. What's that David, a standard bayonet lamp holder? Well, no. Look closer and you'll see this model has three pin slots, not two, and those pins are orientated so that a standard B22-d bayonet lamp cannot retrofit.


This is the BC3 lamp base and like the others seen here, it dates in domestic installations from around the mid Noughties. A format more commonly found in street lighting, energy inefficient lamps were supposedly simply not made in this form-factor, so those picking up the keys to their new homes would have to go out and seek low-energy lamps with the BC3 base... and good luck finding them as supermarkets and DIY stores tended to stick with the common models such as B22d, E27, and E14 than sacrificing sales space to oddball fittings selling in low volumes.

P5080068How many slots has your lampholder got?

Again, although well meaning, those with any of these fittings were ultimately deprived of market choice. Compatible lamps tended to be harder to find, would cost more, were restricted by manufacturer, and were limited in their range of light output, dimmer compatibility and size or shape which may have made them incompatible with your decorative shade or light switch of choice.

In the end, all these specialist fittings failed in the domestic market because they locked people into lighting solutions that themselves would become inefficient as technology quickly outpaced them. Who wants to be burning an 11W or 13W fluorescent lamp when you can buy a 3 or 4W LED? Who wants to be tied to a limited range of base fittings when the standard B22d, E27, E14 and GU10 bases all eventually attracted new LED models that could provide good quality light at a fraction of the running cost and in pretty much whatever flavour you fancied? These solutions stopped people fitting worse lamps like 40, 60 or 100W gobblers, but they themselves became part of the eWaste and energy inefficiency nightmare as progress quickly marched past them.

Building Regulations L1A "Conservation of Fuel and Power" still has a hard-on for energy efficient lighting, but nobody's fitting tungsten or halogen lamps anymore; the EU banning new sales of such some time ago. The world has embraced LED, and LED lamps are available in all the common base flavours and to cater for all needs without design oddities having to be incorporated into the fitting. Yes, you could still retrofit a hundred-Watt tungsten lamp into your living room pendant if you still happened to have such lying around, but why on earth would you want to?


I don't know why the dicks at YouTube age restricted this. It's a video about light bulbs for fucks sake.

It's probably too late if you've taken the time to read down this far, but this article is also available in video form on my (increasingly neglected) YouTube channel. The article above largely formed the original script for this video and has some minor edits made subsequent to the video presentation. YouTube prevents this video showing in some markets, but it's also available everywhere on Odysee.