For the best lighting efficiency, use fluorescent lights of any type. Install standard fluorescents in workspaces where you can stand the blue-tinged light, hum and flicker.
Use compact fluorescents in living spaces for a more 'friendly' ambiance. Use halogen lighting for outdoor applications where temperature causes problems with fluorescents.
Use LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting for applications that normally use small incandescents...task lights, nightlights, pathway lighting, exit signs, and flashlights. Don't use incandescent lighting at all if you can afford to avoid it.
These lights were a huge advance in energy efficient lighting--very efficient, with 10 times longer life than an incandescent bulb. Plus, the light quality is much warmer than normal fluorescents, they fit in most normal light fixtures, and flicker is hardly noticeable. Models are available for any application, including spotlights with reflectors.
I highly recommend these lights in both 120 volts AC and 12 volts DC models. The AC versions are available at any hardware store and are very inexpensive for efficient lights ($8 to $15 each).
DC compact fluorescents are more expensive because of limited demand for 12 volt ballasts, but only the ballast is different for AC and DC compact fluorescents--the bulbs are the same!
We may soon be able to buy interchangeable compact fluorescent bulbs and ballasts for both 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC systems. Currently, interchangeable parts are available from electrical suppliers.
The only drawbacks to keep in mind for compact fluorescents are 1) they are not very bright at cold temperatures, and 2) the quality of light is still not as good as halogen or incandescent bulbs. I personally use 12 volt DC halogen bulbs for reading lights, while lighting whole rooms with compact fluorescents
These really are a very good, energy efficient method of area lighting, and are widely available. They are the most efficient room light available. Problem is, the quality of light is very irritating to some people. It's too blue, and the flicker is extremely annoying to me. Perhaps this is a reaction to my lifelong aversion to large office buildings with windows that don't open!
But fluorescents make great energy efficient lights for shops, garages, etc. where you don't have to spend too much time in the winter. I also use them for under-cabinet countertop lights in the kitchen.
You can always check with a lighting expert at your local electrical supplier. These guys are the pros and should be able to answer any of your questions.
Well, gotta go feed the goat, check back soon for more handy guy tips.
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