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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

user1492520381 Tue 18-Apr-17 14:18:02

The 'rant' about light bulb(s) and lamp shade manufacturers seems justified to me, but doesn't go far enough, there are other issues. I'm
1. Dissatisfied by the troglodytic effect of 'low energy' bulbs,
2. Concerned by toxic mercury in CFL bulbs, and,
3. Thoroughly alarmed by the suggestion that LED bulbs may harm health:

nightofjoy Sat 30-Apr-16 00:42:29

So has anyone found suitable shades anywhere for 15w led bulbs then?

Ideally fairly small...

NotCitrus Thu 28-Apr-16 14:49:43

I wish more bulbs would give lumens prominently - I know it's not the manufacturers' fault that the old system was misleading, because people perceived watts as a measure of brightness so now they try to explain actual watts as equivalent brightness to 'old watts', but it would be great if retailers had a chart showing brightnesses in lumens, example old-style-bulb wattage, and typical new wattage.

I want bulbs as bright as old-style 100W or ideally 150W ones. The longlife bulbs were never good except for the free ones from the electric companies (I got at least 4 houses worth). Now we just buy LED lights which generally work well except for one dodgy batch from Ebay.

Theoretician Thu 28-Apr-16 14:09:48

As someone said three years ago when the thread started, it really is as simple as comparing two numbers and seeing which is higher.

What seems to confuse people is two watt figures appearing on the bulb. Maybe it's the bulbs that need to be more clearly labelled, so that people understand which one of these is the actual consumption.

Theoretician Thu 28-Apr-16 14:06:43

I agree, it would take very little time and effort to make the labels clearer by having a breakdown of max wattage for each type of bulb.

Re-read the thread, the type of bulb is irrelevant. All you need to know is (a) what wattage the shade is rated for and (b) the actual wattage of the bulb. (What it is equivalent to is neither here nor there.)

Once you know those two numbers, you need to ensure that shade wattage is greater than or equal to bulb wattage.

nightofjoy Thu 28-Apr-16 13:52:44

Well not really that simple at all. If a shade says max 40w, but the bulb says 15w = 100w, do we assume the bulb is safe and go by the smaller number, or treat the 15w LED bulb exactly like a traditional bulb?

I agree, it would take very little time and effort to make the labels clearer by having a breakdown of max wattage for each type of bulb. Also miffed that shades aren't built wo withstand more output!

OhtoblazeswithElvira Thu 14-Apr-16 21:01:57

grin at your name

UterusUterusGhali Thu 14-Apr-16 20:52:26


Mumsnetters really do know everything! smile

unlucky83 Thu 14-Apr-16 19:27:19

AFAIK LEDs the glass bit doesn't get hot but the solid bit does. And pretty sure CFLs are the same.
And it does matter ...I had an enclosed light fitting for my stairs - was here when we moved in and it kept blowing the bulb (60w incandescent) eventually found a small label inside that said max 40w - too dark for the stairs.
So I got a new (also enclosed) fitting that said max 60w (and had a poncy type of bulb) I stuck in a CFL equivalent to 60 w and it was fine but it dimmed over time (As all CFLs do - a (good) few years ago Which did 'best buy' CFLs and that was one of the criteria they measured - how long they lasted without significant dimming - and I find even LEDs do the same).
I thought I'd get a more powerful CFL (equivalent to 100w - so 15W? I think at the time) so when it did dim it would still be acceptable. It would have cost the best part of £10 (poncy type). Except it only lasted a couple of weeks before the electrics inside it went faulty and it started working intermittently .
(Another annoying thing about low energy bulbs - had the same with halogen under counter ones and an LED as well as this one - good old fashioned bulbs blew and that was it, never worked again - for this I actually thought it couldn't be the (new) bulb, had the fitting off, switch covers off, mulitmeter out etc thinking it was a loose wire/faulty switch, until I worked out it had to be the bulb).
Anyway I thought it just must be a faulty bulb and took it back. Got a replacement (different 'better' make) and a couple of weeks later same problem. I got a new one equivalent to 60w - no problems for years (except has dimmed again sad)
And I will take them back if they don't last very long - always keep the receipts, and note where they are fitted - they aren't cheap! I have spotlights in the bathroom - gradually switched to all CFL reflectors years ago, when they were £20 each, now moving onto to LEDs - I once worked out I have spent at least £160 on bulbs in the last 10 years for just that room. So if it says it will last 10 yrs on for 2hrs a day, even if it was on 24hrs a day it should last more than 6 months...

OhtoblazeswithElvira Thu 14-Apr-16 19:21:17

shock This is incredibly, unnecessarily complicated.

Yanbu OP

Oldraver Thu 14-Apr-16 19:10:12

I have recently bought DS a new bedside lamp and it says you cant change the bulb in it...who thought that was a bright (or not so when the bulb goes) idea

FretYeNot Thu 14-Apr-16 19:03:12

I have never understood this until now! I suspected it was the lower figure that mattered for the lampshade but wasn't sure. Now I will be able to advise customers and know that advice is solid.

I'm not surprised the chap didn't know. I've never had any training on any of the stock we sell (though we're just a discount shop, not a hardware shop).

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

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

What a surprisingly informative thread! Thank you posters!

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.

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


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 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.

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

This is really helpful.

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

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?

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.

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.

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

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.

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