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What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Posted by gma_j (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 1, 10 at 14:13

I know there is a lighting forum, but it seems there is much more activity on this forum and people are willing to give there opinions here.
I am going to put swing arm lights on each side of our bed and wondering what type of bulb gives the best light for reading. I've always just had incadescent bulbs in my home so that's what I've read by but am wondering if halogen or LED would be better reading light.
Any and all opinions would be appreciated. Thanks so much.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

I've been using CFLs in the swing arm lamp on my nightstand.
Works great. The CFL's don't output the heat or glare that incandescents do.
What you have to remember about CFLs, the amount of light output is measured in Lumens (not watts). If you are happy with the light output of your current incandescent, look and see what how many lumens it outputs, then buy a CFL that has the same Lumen output.

Many of the CFL companies put on their box "equalvalent to nn watt bulb. They rarely are. It's apples and oranges.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Thanks, Monica. I hadn't even thought of the CFL's. Do they flicker like some of the tube fluorescents?


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

NO flicker - it would drive me nuts !


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

My "old tired eyes" have really learned to appreciate the "OTT" lights. The first one, I dragged it along with me in and out of the motorhome...to and from bed etc. Now, I have them everywhere that I read or sew. They are costly, or have been, but my first one, now 10 years old (and the real thing) is still going strong, while cheaper ones have failed all to quickly. Nanny
BTW I replaced the last bulb with a "real one" from Joann's, with a coupon...it is working fine, whereas the cheaper bulb replacement from WW didn't last long.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

I stick with incandescent.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

I also love the CFL bulbs. I "can" read okay with incandescent, but the CFL makes it so much easier with much less eye strain. And trying to knit with black or navy yarn using incandescent is nearly impossible for these old eyes.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Donna Loomis's post about it makes knitting easier with the CFL bulbs makes me want to run out and at least replace the bulb by my chair. I've had to give up knitting with dark yarn because of my old eyes. I'm going to try them.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Wow, I'm surprised reading that you guys read good with the CFL's.
I hate those things with a passion. They just aren't bright enough for me. Here in Ontario, incandescents are going to be banned and unable to buy, by 2012.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Bulbs vary so much it really isn't possible to say what's best since each person is so different. I get eye strain and headaches from warm white bulbs. A cousin doesn't like cool whites. I always prefer daylight bulbs when possible but they're not that common and for me cools are equivalent. I use less light for reading with CFL than I did with incandescent. One 100w equivalent is fine where I was using 2-3 incandescent bulbs for newspaper reading right before I switched.

I've converted most everything inside and outside to CFL and don't regret it at all. Actually I really appreciate it when the electric bill comes due. See what works best for you.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

I've changed to the incandescents, but don't like them a bit. Even the 23W CFLs (which are supposed to be close to a 100 watt bulb) don't seem bright enough to read by AND they seem to take forever to even GET up to their maximum brightness. I would NOT use halogen anywhere near bedclothes or any other combustibles. They burn way too hot. Even in floor lamps, the law now states that the floor lamps with halogen bulbs must have a screen over them because too many fires were started by them touching drapes.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

There are CFLs and then there are CFLs. CFLs are made with different phosphors and that affects the light output. Some of the "bright, daylight" varieties output to the high end of the spectrum (toward the blue). These are good for inpecting work pieces, but may not be comfortable for reading. Many CFLs have a narrow spectrum of color. These will seem 'harsh' to your eyes. Other CFLs yellow quickly and may seem low on output. Let your expereince with other CFLs in your home be your guide. If you have no CFLs in the house, ask a friend to observe his/her lamps and take along typical reading material. If you like viewing color pictures, many of the CFLs may not render good color across the spectrum. In general, flourescent lamps tend to be very stong in narrow color bands. The lamp makers of better lamps may use a mix of phosphors to spread the color band.

In my opinion, halogen lamps give the best all around results for reading and viewing colored spreads, but these are incandescents and do generate a lot of heat per lumen generated.

Whichever lamp you choose, safety is a high concern since it will be used around bedding with the potential of the user falling asleep while it is on. I do not recommend an exposed bulb. If the lamp dips and contacts bedding, its surfaces should run cool enough to exclude a fire and burn hazard. For example, the user might fall asleep, roll over and contact the lamp head with his hand in the process - Ouch!

The bases of CFLs run hot and unfortunately, this is where the electronics reside. High heat stresses elecronics and speeds their ultimate destruction. Check Comsumer Reports for any recalls of CFLs. In the past, a few did spew sparks when they failed and this is unacceptable.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

Cynic, a couple years ago a couple's house caught fire from the base of the CFL they were using. It was in our city and was in the paper. Scary as heck.

I really dislike the hype of CFL. They are much more expensive to manufacture and dispose of. Also, they haven't been out that long, purported to last 7 years, and I've already replaced 3 of them. And they weren't even in an enclosed shade.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

If you are buying a CFL bulb due to the box saying "comparable to a 150 watt bulb", or similar ---- you are reading the wrong words.

Watts are the amount of electric energy that is USED, charged to your electric bill.
Lumens is the amount of light PRODUCED - the BRIGHTNESS.

Don't fall for cheap CFLs that mislead you with the "watt" figure - go by the "lumens" figure.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

One of our neighbors had a CFL blub catch fire, luckily he was home and saw the flames. He had 4 inch flames coming from the base of the bulb. He took it to a fire station and they said it was a common problem. He researched it on the internet also and removed everyone from his home. For awhile I couldn't find an incandescent bulb anywhere. When I did I stocked up on them. Now they are everywhere again. I think "whoever" is in charge, is rethinking the dangers of the bulbs and of mercury.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

I've had company over the weekend so just now getting back to my post here.
These lights will be in our new home and the wiring is already in on each side of the bed for the swing arm lamps.
I appreciate everyone's opinions...it looks like everyone has different opinions on the best lightsing to read by and that is what I wanted from my question, but I'm still at a loss for what to order. I guess I will " wing it " LOL and hope for the best.
Thanks to each of you for sharing.


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RE: What type of bulb gives the best light for reading?

You will like the swing arm. I had it with my old bed, but my new bed has the small spot lights built in. The very tall headboard.


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