A light bulb moment

More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.


Light bulbs, it used to be so easy.

When one blew, which wasn’t that often, you would simply take it out and replace it with another. Job done.

Not anymore. Not these days.

Back in the not so distant past, light bulbs came in only one fitting (at least here in the UK) and this was the bayonet fitting. You pushed the bulb in and twisted it, and did the reverse to remove it.

Nowadays it’s not so easy.

Why? Because light bulbs these days come in a whole range of sizes and fittings. Here’s just a few…

Bayonet cap light bulb

It’s smaller brother, the small bayonet cap

Then there’s the Edison Screw, which comes in a range of sizes –

5mm Lilliput Edison Screw; 10mm Miniature Edison Screw; 12mm Candelabra Edison Screw; 14mm Small Edison Screw; 27mm Edison Screw and the 40mm Giant Edison Screw

And that’s before we get on to halogen bulbs or fluorescent and led strip lights.

So, the light bulb in your bedroom has blown. You get a chair, stand under the light fitting and remove the bulb. That’s the easy part.

To your dismay you find the bulb is a screw fitting. All the other bulbs in your house are bayonet fittings. Or are they? You can’t remember.

Checking the cupboard downstairs, you find you have an ES bulb (that’s a screw fitting to you and me) but, would you believe it, when you offer it up to the light fitting you find that what you have in your hand is an SES (Small Edison Screw bulb) and no use whatsoever.

Rechecking the cupboard, you have no ES bulbs, only bayonet and this one SES bulb.

When did it all become so much more complex?

Why do we need all these different fittings for bulbs?

Instead of having just one 40 watt bulb and one 60 watt bulb as spares you now need a whole range of spares in different sizes and fittings. Crazy.

And, let’s not even get started on what happened to the 100 watt bulbs and, more lately, the 60 watt bulbs. Again, back in the old days, in a large room you would have a single 100 watt bulb (a bayonet fitting, of course). But these got banned by the European Union back in 2009, followed by a ban on 60 watt bulbs two years later.

Now, to get a decent amount of light, you have to have three or four lower wattage lights placed strategically around the room. So, logically, you’re going to get through more light bulbs and, therefore, be more often in the position of not having a spare of the right size or fitting.

And this is progress?

And then, to add insult to injury, there’s the cost.

Again, light bulbs used to be cheap but now they costs anywhere up to £4 or £5 for a normal everyday bulb. So, you have to buy more of them (because of the plethora of different fittings) and they cost more.

You’ll have noticed that I’ve talked about 60 watt and 100 watt bulbs. Well, I shouldn’t have, because that’s changed too. We’re supposed to talk about ‘lumens’ now, not watts. But, of course, none of us do.

And – what’s more – even if you still talk about the wattage of a lightbulb, well, that’s changed as well. Take a look at the packaging for a lightbulb below.

28 watt is, apparently, the same as 37 watt.

Pardon? Or should I say ‘What?’

The definition of a watt is as follows:

The watt (symbol: W) is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units (SI) defined as 1 joule per second and can be used to quantify the rate of energy transfer.

(from Wikipedia)

So, someone explain to me how 28 watts equals 37 watts.

As I said, the whole thing is crazy!

But, that’s progress and, as we know, progress is a marvellous thing. Isn’t it?

Thanks for reading. Oh, and remember to switch the light off after you – the bulbs cost a fortune you know!

Jack Diamond


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(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)