Coolest burning bulbs?
August 10, 2008 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Help finding the coolest burning bulbs for my bathroom vanity...

My upstairs is a pretty dark place, and it is necessary to have lights on anytime I am in the bathroom. Problem is the heat that the bulbs in the vanity gives off is pretty nasty.

What is/are the best option(s) for replacement bulbs (I believe you would call the base size 'Candelabra') that will give off the least amount of heat, yet provide sufficient light for a very small and dark room?
posted by caveat empress to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Best answer: How about a compact florescent?

Something like this: 14 watt 120 volt Mini-Twist Candelabra E12 Base Westinghouse Light Bulb [Amazon]
SYLVANIA 9W Compact Fluorescent Lamp with Candelabra Base
posted by tarthur at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2008

Best answer: Seconding tarthur. You'll get much less heat from CFs than your incandescents. Any incandescent is going to give off about the same amount of heat, any CF will give off much less. Find a "warm white" CF so you don't look like a ghost in the mirror.

The only alternative would be to keep the incandescents and install a dimmer, so you can reduce the light to the lowest acceptable level, which would result in less heat as well. But that would not do the Earth as much of a favor as using CFs (throughout your place!).

Here's a bunch of other candelabra base CFs.
posted by beagle at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you both so much for the information and links. I ultimately wanted to start replacing bulbs through my whole house, but have had trouble knowing where to start and how to make sound choices -- the first time. Associates at various stores that I have checked with have left me more confused than educated.

Trying to contribute more effort to respecting the earth and our environment is the ultimate focus... and I sure appreciate the advice!
posted by caveat empress at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2008

Possibly not cost-effective for your purposes, but LED lighting is cooler still than CFs.
posted by GPF at 10:59 AM on August 10, 2008

...LED lighting is cooler still than CFs.

Sometimes, but not usually. The lumens per watt of LED fixtures is very often worse than CFLs. They've got some growing up to do.
posted by jon1270 at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2008

I just bought some multiple LED light fixtures, and they kind of suck. I suspect that the power supply is multiplexed to the individual LEDs, because it has an unpleasant vibration to it.

I like to mix all the florescent bulb color temperatures, warm, cool, daylight. Together they give a more natural look.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:04 PM on August 10, 2008

One thing is that CF bulbs take a few minutes to reach their full brightness. Not fantastic if you're quickly in and out of the bathroom. Sometimes you can find "instant-on" CFs but perhaps not in the candelabra base size. You can always mix one traditional bulb with a few CFs.

That way when you flip the switch it's bright enough that the bathroom doesn't look like a cave, but it's not overwhelmingly hot.
posted by 26.2 at 12:23 PM on August 10, 2008

CF bulbs take a few minutes to reach their full brightness

Really, it's 30 seconds, or less, at least to get to 90%. I have them everywhere -- some are instant-on, some have a warm-up period, but it's just not a hassle, anywhere.

Some excellent info here, if you still need demystification about CFs.
posted by beagle at 12:59 PM on August 10, 2008

CF bulbs take a few minutes to reach their full brightness

My experience is like beagle's — they are basically fully bright within about 30 seconds. It took some trial and error (meaning, buying several brands and seeing which looked nicer) to find ones that had the right warm/cool balance for my tastes, particularly for places like reading lamps and in the bathroom, but I now have them in almost every light fixture in the house.

I replaced all the incandescent bulbs four years ago, and have not yet had a CF bulb burn out — I think it was money well-spent.

The difference in heat output is really noticeable in small rooms with a lot of bulbs like the bathroom. The CF bulbs put out some heat, but it is trivial compared to 60 or 75 watt bulbs.
posted by Forktine at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2008

My experience (and there is a reference which I will not provide here) is that CF's do not like higher humidity environments. In several years of use in a small bathroom in my last house, the vanity bulbs burned out at a faster rate than incandescents. (That's what set me off investigating this aspect of their operation.) This did not happen elsewhere in the house. Humidity levels in the bathroom hit 95%+ twice a day briefly.

Not sure if it's still relevant, but I'd do some googling on CF and humidity and see.

(Worst case is that you'll replace them a lot. Now, they're cheap enough that it doesn't matter, but I was spending $4 a bulb a few years back and it did.)

Incidentally, just for your own edification, use a Sharpie to write the install date on your CFs for when they do burn out. They should last a long time. If they don't, consider humidity as a factor.)
posted by FauxScot at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2008

Really? Your bulbs are bright in 30 seconds? The ones I have in my ceiling fans seem to take much longer. Those are my only CFs with candelabra bases. Give it a few minutes and it's bright enough to do surgery in that room, but it takes a bit of time and it starts really dim.

The CFs in other parts of the house don't seem to have nearly this problem. They are acceptably bright quickly.
posted by 26.2 at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2008

26.2, you could be right, maybe there is a difference in the mini-candelabra type; I have no experience with those.
posted by beagle at 7:47 PM on August 10, 2008

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