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To have a rant about light bulb and lamp shade manufacturers

(37 Posts)
5Foot5 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:14:28

OK I suppose this might be what is classed as a first world problem but it had me in full rant mode recently.

We have redecorated and, as a knock on from this, we decided some new light shades were in order. We went to John Lewis where we found one or two we thought we could live with but then DH noticed that on each one there is a maximum power of light bulb that it is safe with. Of course we then realised there is no easy way of doing the comparisons on light bulbs because there are all the different sorts of energy saving ones and they all seem to express their power in different ways depending on whether they are CFL or halogen or whatever. Nor do the lamp shade manufacturers seem to be consistent in which sort of bulb they use to give their recommendations.

Eventually we found a chart purporting to show how they all compared but it was still a bit sketchy. Basically what we needed to know was what sort of energy saving bulb gives us the equivalent to the old-fashioned incandescent 100w and then which shades will take a bulb like that.

Well we eventually managed to establish the first piece of information but to our utter frustration it seemed that none of the lamp shades, in John Lewis at least, would take anything like that sort of bulb.

A young chap who worked there came to see if he could help, spent five minutes giving me the spiel on how good enery saving lights were but was unable to answer why all the lamp shades available would apparently combust if you put anything more powerful than a glow worm in them and why would I want to spend all that money on a lamp shade if I am then virtually stumbling around in the dark because of the bulb I need to use.

Finally we ended up in Homebase where we managed to buy a couple of glass lamp shades that will apparently take a bulb almost as powerful as we want - we are only exceeding the recommended wattage by about 10%.

So OK I get the arguments for energy saving (though I am deeply sceptical that the bulbs will last as long as they claim as I am sure I have had one blow after less than 2 years) but
a) why can't the comparison information be expressed in a way that is more consistent?

b) why don't the people making lamp shades make them a bit more robust?

Rant over

floatyflo Wed 23-Oct-13 12:17:27


Are you my MIL?


RunsWithScissors Wed 23-Oct-13 12:19:32

I find it confusing, as old bulbs emitted a lot more heat than the energy saving ones. Therefore I would expect lampshades to be able to handle a high equivalent bulb no problem.

Really not good that someone selling them couldn't help.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:22:46

Sorry, you're misunderstanding why lampshades have limits on the bulbs, and you're massively over-complicating the issue. It's nothing to do with equivalences.

The limit on lampshades is about how much heat they can stand. Lightbulbs kick out most of the energy they consume as heat. So 30W is 30W is 30W, irrespective of whether it's a dim incandescent bulb, a fairly bright "energy saving" compact fluorescent or a dazzling array of LEDs.

why can't the comparison information be expressed in a way that is more consistent?

It is. The bulb says "60W" or "15W" or "6W" or something. The lampshade says "maximum 60W" or "maximum 100W" or something. You compare them. That's it. You don't need to scale it up, worry about equivalences, any of the complexity you've gone into. The lampshade needs to be able to cope with the power rating of the bulb, because otherwise it'll overheat. End of.

5Foot5 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:23:50

Why floatyflo?

RunsWithScissors I think it was his Saturday job and he really didn't seem to know much about the stock

5Foot5 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:28:02

friday16 In that case I think it is the lamp shade manufacturers complicating it up because they didn't just say "maximum 60W" or whatever; they all said a maximum and then followed it by giving a type of bulb.

And absolutely none that we saw would claim to be able to handle anything more than 60W. Which is pants - in old bulbs I would only use something like that in a bedroom.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:32:03

And absolutely none that we saw would claim to be able to handle anything more than 60W.

Why would they need to? You can't get 60W incandescents any more, at least through standard retail channels, so lampshade manufacturers only concern themselves with bulbs you can actually buy.

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:37:20

they all said a maximum and then followed it by giving a type of bulb.

Really? I've just looked on the John Lewis website and it says things like All sizes should be used with a max 60W bulb. What's the problem? What CFL bulb are you likely to use in a big room: 20W or so? That's less than 60W, so that's OK. Or you might use 6W of LED bulb if you can stomach the savage cost of buying it in the first place. 6W is, again, less than 60W.

TheBigJessie Wed 23-Oct-13 12:38:56

Just buy a 60watt-capable shade and put a lightbulb that is marked as less than 60 watts. Given I have a 14 watt energy/75 watt light energy saving light bulb packet in front of me, I think it'll be fairly easy to find some 100 watt LIGHT but using under 60 watt bulbs.

jamaisjedors Wed 23-Oct-13 12:41:58

I have noticed this too OP and it seems impossible now to light a whole room with one lightbulb (which we used to do).

I bought one light fitting from IKEA and there you can see the different types of bulb and light them up yourself to see how bright they are.

MrsDmitriTippensKrushnic Wed 23-Oct-13 12:43:48

Equivalent brightness to a 100w incandescent bulb would be a 20w Low Energy Bulb or a 70w Halogen (have a look at this comparison chart )

If by type of bulb you mean E14/E29/GU10 etc, then that's a universal indicator for the bulb fitting - small screw/large screw/bayonet etc and has nothing to do with the maximum wattage.

MrsDmitriTippensKrushnic Wed 23-Oct-13 12:45:44

E29? Sorry, E27 (even though I doubt anyone cares, just hate making typos grin)

friday16 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:47:42

Oh, you can still buy 100W lightbulbs. Indeed, if you're in the mood for burning a hole in your retina while also burning a hole in your electricity bill, you can still buy 150W bulbs. Google for "rough service lightbulbs".

I stockpiled about a hundred assorted 60W and 100W lightbulbs, so I'm OK for the next ten years by which time LEDs should be cheap, CFL should be less shit and X.10 home automation should work with non-incandescent bulbs. But if you didn't lay in a last-time-buy, proper lightbulbs are about £1.50 each by mailorder.

5Foot5 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:57:52

Friday - it might say that on the website but when we were picking up boxes in the shop they varied how they gave the information and mostly gave a type of bulb as well as wattage.

You are right we use something around 23W CFL in the living room but because the boxes expressed the information being specific to a sort of bulb we though we had to get the equivalent to that IYSWIM

Maybe if the Saturday boy had really understood his bulbs he could have cleared up the confusion and we might have bought from there instead of trailing around and getting something from elsewhere

ComtesseDeSpair Wed 23-Oct-13 13:00:01

Wattage is a confusing way to measure light output - it's a measure of energy consumption so it's a bit like using litres of petrol as a measure of how fast a car can go. However, most people have no idea how bright a 170 lumen or a 950 lumen lamp is when they're buying LEDs or other reduced energy lamps. What they do have is experience of how bright a 40W or 100W incandescent lamp is. By using the "equivalent watts" value lamp manufacturers are just trying to make it easy for the typical shopper to have the information they require in order to make an informed decision over which lamp to buy.

Because incandescent lamps waste about 90% of the electricity they consume emitting heat, the highest consuming incandescent lamps pose a fire or damage risk to just about any lampshade not designed for industrial usage, it would be difficult to produce a sturdier one for domestic use. However, you can use a 10W, 1,100 lumen LED described as having the equivalent wattage of a 100W incandescent in any lampshade you like, even if it says not to be used with lamps above 60W; because it's not actually emitting the lampshade-damaging heat that a 100W incandescent would.

ComtesseDeSpair Wed 23-Oct-13 13:04:39

DP is an architect, so this stuff is the fabric of our domestic lives. But it's not difficult to pick up if you have a look at a wattage-lumen converter and once you have an idea of how lumen output corresponds to brightness it's just as easy to buy a lamp by lumens as by wattage and have a good idea of how bright it's going to be.

5Foot5 Wed 23-Oct-13 13:43:39

Comtesse If someone had explained it to us as clearly on Saturday then we might not have found it so much hassle.

We did see a chart that converted wattage on different lamps in to lumens and tries to use that to figure out the equivalent to a 100W incandescent. But it was the fact that the boxes of all the shades we looked at recommended the maximum in terms of not just wattage but also gave a sort of bulb that had us confused.

One thing though - when you say "the highest consuming incandescent lamps pose a fire or damage risk to just about any lampshade not designed for industrial usage" how high do you mean?

100W incandescent bulbs in living rooms with a lamp shade popped on top have been standard all my life - have we been taking our life in our hands?

enriquetheringbearinglizard Wed 23-Oct-13 14:04:06

I just wonder how much power I'm actually saving because whereas we used to have one bulb lighting up a room for all purposes, now the same rooms seem to take three or four dim light lamps - we never have near as much light in a room as my parents used to have from one 'big light' and we rarely use the main ceiling fitment.
What gets me is that the cost of the energy saving bulbs is so high and we seem to end up with some very quick breakages, especially compared to the old bulbs where we've even brought stock with us in house moves and no casualties.

My other bug bear is how many types of different fittings there are now, small prongs, small bayonet, small screw type, large bayonet and large screw. Our table lamps, floor lamps and wall lights all take something different Aaaagh, I never seem to have a spare of the right type at the right time and end up paying top price for what I need. There is no Ikea or other cheap supplier within a reasonable distance that makes it worth a special trip envy

HavantGuard Wed 23-Oct-13 14:15:02

This is really helpful.

machiavelle Mon 11-Jan-16 16:19:20

ok. Just want to clarify. I was just in my local shop selling light fittings and wanted a shade for a bulb which says "23w=94w". They told me (3 of them separately) that I couldnt get a shade from them as none of their shades were safe for anything over 60w and this bulb was 94w. Someone else told me to ignore the 94w and treat the bulb as 20w! I am worried about the danger of fire . Can anyone definitively tell me whether I should take the bulb as being 23w or 94w? It is a Tesco stick energy rating A. I also have other bulbs which are 15w=75w. Again, which wattage am I looking at for my max 60w lampshade? That is also an A. Many thanks.

Theoretician Mon 11-Jan-16 16:30:47

They told you rubbish. "23W=94W" is supposed to tell you how much light the bulb puts out, not how hot it gets, which is what the shade cares about. How hot it gets is determined by how much power it actually consumes, which is 23W.

machiavelle Mon 11-Jan-16 17:59:49


lazyarse123 Mon 11-Jan-16 19:25:29

You can still buy normal bulbs from small hardware shops and energysaving bulbs definitely do not last 6 years, 2 is about right. Glad everyone thinks they are dim thought it was just me. We bought 3 light fittings on a recommendation from a Homebase worker, each fitting had 2 energy saving bulbs in at a cost of £6.00 each, unfortunately we didn''t know that if one bulb went the light doesn't work at all. We have 2 of these in the kitchen and i absolutely hate them. We can't change them because it would mean redecorating the ceiling.

Salunabaluna Tue 12-Jan-16 08:53:14

What a surprisingly informative thread! Thank you posters!

LesBrown Thu 14-Apr-16 18:45:21

I think the original poster meant even when its explained what the equivalents are that lampshades do not accept high luminens bulbs . They tell you the max eg is 47 W (halogen) which is a 60W (incandescent) They wont accept a 70W (halogen) which is the 100 W equivalent she is looking for as am I.Others Ive seen have had Max 11W (Energy Saving) /47W (halogen) again a mere sad looking 60W equivalent. Im looking for any light shade capable of taking a 70W halogen OR a 30W (Energy Saving) something that is up in the 1800 /2700 lumens range. Surely the lampshades of the past that managed to accept 100W incandescent should be able to handle anything below 100W in any other form

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