Energy-Saving Light Bulbs – a definition

The light bulb was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879. Back then, the UK population was a significantly less than what it is today, there were no cars on the roads and no planes in the sky. Any overseas holiday was a cruise of sorts.

The world has changed hugely since 1879, and so has the technology that goes into light bulbs. However, traditional incandescent bulbs were only truly usurped as the go-to bulb by energy-saving light bulbs a handful of years ago. This was well overdue, as incandescent bulbs expend over 90 per cent of the energy they suck-up in outputting heat, rather than light.

In an increasingly energy- and environmentally-conscious world, those old bulbs have no real place – and are in the process of being forcefully phased out.

Rules of energy saving

Although there’s no hard and fast rule in terms of the exact savings required by these new light bulbs, compared to the old type, to define them as ‘energy saving’, the two most popular technologies use between 70 per cent and 85 per cent less. And as they last much longer, the savings will be felt in your pocket as well as by the environment.

CFL – the good, the bad & the ugly

The most common type of energy-saving light bulb is the CFL bulb, which stands for compact fluorescent lamp. Oddly enough, the first type of compact fluorescent lighting was developed not that long after the first incandescent bulb – back in 1890 but never made it into bulb form until 1976, some 84 years later.

However, it’s only in the last decade or so that they’ve gained real prominence on the high street. In 2007 when the UK government announced the UK phase-out of incandescent bulbs, the backlash against CFL bulbs said that they produced weak, ugly light that took an age to get up to full power. CFL bulbs were admirable in their aims, but not always so admirable in their performance.

Today, that’s simply not true. Most domestic bulbs are “instant on”, giving near-full power from the moment you flick the switch, and you can pick the colour temperature you’re after. Warm, or with a cool blue-ish tint – whatever you want.

There are many types of CFL bulbs out there. Perhaps the most familiar is the spiral. It’s cheap to buy and as there’s no extra layer beyond the fluorescent tube, its light output efficiency is excellent.

If you’re after something that has a look a little closer to the incandescent bulbs of old, we offer CFL bulbs that emulate both the traditional rounded bulb shape and the more elongated candle type. The latter is particularly strong as a decorative bulb – with a more elegant look than the slightly more efficient spiral shape.

CFL derivatives

There are CFLs that look almost nothing like light bulbs too. 2D bulbs unwind the fluorescent tube of other CFL bulbs to give even better light dispersal. They’re perfect for stair well, wall light or bulk head fittings, where function takes a lead over form.

Most CFL bulbs are designed to fit in exactly the same housings as old incandescent bulbs, but there are also pin-fit bulbs for fittings that incorporate everything but the bulb itself. The benefit of these bulbs is that they’re cheaper to produce – and hence cheaper to buy.

LED bulbs – not perfect but getting there

The other main type of energy saving lightbulb is CFL’s competitive and plucky younger brother – the LED bulb.

LEDs work in a completely different way to fluorescent bulbs, but offer comparable levels of energy efficiency. One of the key benefits of LED lights is that they do not contain Mercury, a poisonous substance found in CFL lights.

LED lights also solve one of the lingering problems of CFLs, whose lifespan drops significantly if they are turned on and off frequently. They also often offer better lifespan in general – LED lamps can last for up to 30,000 hours where some CFLs are only rated at 8,000 hours. However, this remains light years – or at least light days – ahead of incandescent bulbs.

The downsides of LED bulbs include that they’re generally significantly more expensive than the CFL type, and while they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, they’re not always available in as high-power variants as CFL. For example, you won’t find a 60W-equivalent LED candle bulb… yet.

Halogen – a low energy alternative

There’s a third type of energy saving bulb too. CFL and LED are the kings of energy saving, but we can’t forget humble halogen. We offer energy saving halogen bulbs, which don’t contain harmful mercury and generally cost peanuts compared to CFL of LED bulbs. However, they remain much less energy-efficient.

The savings speak for themselves

Forgetting their life-spans for a minute, the clearest way to work out the energy efficiency of a bulb is to calculate its lumens per watt rating. A lumen is a standard unit of brightness. CFL and LED bulbs work out at around 50-70 lumens per watt.  Halogen bulbs can manage around 20, while old incandescents will struggle to reach 15 lumens per watt.

Over the space of a year, the energy benefits of using CFL and LED lights is obvious – especially as they tend to last 5-10 times as long. Consumer body ‘Which’ has calculated that a single energy-efficient bulb will save you over £30 on your power bill over five years, and their calculation didn’t factor-in rising energy prices or inflation.

As incandescent bulbs continue to be phased out across the world, we’re only likely to see improvements in today’s energy-saving bulb technologies. What we should all be looking forward to is improvements in LED lights that’ll see prices of LED bulbs start to tumble. For now, why not check out our huge selection of energy saving LED bulbs?

Take a look at our full range of energy saving light bulbs.

Alternatively, if you are looking for more inspiration, advice and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

LED lights lead the way

The growth of LED lighting and its technology in recent times has been exponential, and although research and development is expected to plateau in a few years’ time, we are currently experiencing the LED boom period.

LED – before today

One of the key milestones in LED’s evolution was the invention of a high brightness GaN LED by Shuji Nakamura, whilst working for the Japanese LED giant, Nichia, in 1993. The brilliant blue light produced by the GaN LED could be converted to white light with a yellow phosphor coating—a discovery that allowed white LEDs to go into production soon after.

When white LEDs first became available their typical luminous efficiency was a modest 5 lm/W (lumens per watt), which even compares unfavourably with the usual 10-20 lm/W of an incandescent lamp. However, we’ve come a long way since the advent of white LED. According to American LED manufacturers, Cree, 2009 marked the beginning of the LED revolution. Back then a warm white LED lamp had a typical efficacy of 27-54 lm/W (stats collated by the by U.S. Department of Energy). By 2012 this had risen to 70-100 lm/W, which is more or less where we are now.

Breaking records

The achievements of lighting R&D labs in the past few years have provided a glimpse into what might be possible in the not-so-distant future. In early 2010, Cree broke the 200 lm/W LED efficiency barrier with a 208 lm/W measurement under lab conditions (in layman’s terms this is raw LED chip performance before it is wrapped up in LED lamps, and fittings). In 2011 Cree were at it again with a new 231 lm/W record, whilst competitors Osram claimed an impressive 142 lm/W lab record for a warm white light source (efficiency normally being greater in cool white LED light sources). The company that essentially started it all, Nichia, have also been making ground-breaking research and development progress in improving LED output and efficiency.

Improving quality

Other challenges in LED development have been in areas such as reduced production costs, more stringent quality control and better colour accuracy. Two or three years back Havells-Sylvania conducted a survey that found 85% of consumers to be unhappy with the quality of LED lights, which was something of a shock to the lighting industry. For all its sins, incandescent light has an inherently high quality light output, so that’s an area where LED R&D is strongly concentrated. In early 2013 Cree introduced a range of LED downlights that combined an impressive 90 lm/W efficacy with a high CRI (Colour Rendering Index) in excess of 90.

The fruits of many years’ hard work are beginning to ripen …

LED light bulbs

The inherent properties of LED make it well suited to many applications and various types of lamp:

A retro-fitting GU10 mains powered reflector bulb is well served by LED technology, especially since CFL equivalents tend to be too large for existing fittings and notoriously do not provide instant light unlike LED. Of course there are the usual benefits over a halogen equivalent, including a lifespan up to 25 times longer, minimal heat output, and a massive energy-saving advantage. The directional nature of LED makes it a natural choice for a spotlight too, whereas an incandescent source relies heavily on the classic reflector design for a concentrated beam of light. Lyco recommends the Sylvania 5.5W LED GU10 Spotlight as a worthy replacement for a 50W halogen equivalent!

A GLS (General Lighting Service) bulb was traditionally an incandescent lamp used commonly for domestic or industrial purposes. The filament-burning variety of these bulbs has become scarce following the recent EU phase-out, so why not invest in an LED equivalent such as Philips Master LED 13W GLS Bulb? This high quality 75-watt equivalent lamp draws just 13 watts of power, boasts a 25,000 hour lifespan, and comes supplied with a reassuring 3-year guarantee. For a smaller outlay Lyco stocks a selection of non-dimmable Philips LED GLS Bulbs in a choice of wattages.

LED Outdoor Lighting

Nowhere is the potential of LED technology more clearly defined than outside, where its economical use of power allows for greener, safer lighting schemes. Three LED outdoor products are described here:

Part of the fantastic potential of external LED lighting is its coupling with solar panel technology to produce what essentially becomes free, naturally-powered lighting! Solar-powered LEDs can usually gather enough juice during any day, regardless of weather, to illuminate a property or space overnight. Installed batteries are recharged, and the light is subsequently triggered either by movement sensor or a photocell (light sensor). With this in mind, Lyco offer an exciting range of LED security lights, whilst our LED Solar Lights category offers you a broader choice of daylight-powered light fittings.

One thing that makes LED so versatile is its robust nature. Being a solid-state form of lighting there’s no delicate filament or abundance of easily shattered glass, which makes LED vibration and shock-proof. It’s therefore an ideal candidate as a walkover light for oft-trodden areas such as garden decking. Usually, as with the Larch LED Walkover Lights, these lights are low voltage and come in kits of three lights with transformer and cabling. You can invariably either add individual lights or subsequent kits.

LED Garden spotlights are great for highlighting features of your garden, whether it’s that carefully assembled rockery, a spectacular tree or shrub, or a water feature. They’re particularly effective in this role again because of the inherent directional nature of LED lighting, which in turn means very little output from an LED light is wasted. Cool-running and usually low voltage, these and other LED garden lighting solutions are often safer than equivalents. They are child, pet and lawnmower friendly, since they negate any chance of a harmful shock.

LED Indoor Lighting

Regardless of whether you’re an architect, specifier, designer, electrician or end-user, LED as an indoor lighting solution is the wisest future-proof choice! To help illustrate its dominance: Swedish home furnishing giants Ikea have pledged to sell only LED lighting products by the year 2016.

LED lamps and luminaires are also an asset when trying to meet UK energy-conservation targets in new domestic property builds. Whether you install retro-fitting LED lamps or dedicated LED fittings, they add to your energy-saving tally (DER – Dwelling Emissions Rate). A technology that enjoys massive support amongst the lighting designers of today, your creative palette will never be dry when you turn to LED!

Some great choices are available for indoor LED lighting:

In a working environment LED ceiling panels such as the Robus LED Ceiling Panel provide a vastly more efficient and attractive alternative to old-fashioned arrays of flickering fluorescent tube. High quality LED panels such as the Robus are designed to produce an attractive, diffused light with an even spread of illumination, and they’ll save you significant money in running costs and non-existent maintenance costs. These are ideal as easily installed, retro-fitting panel replacements in offices, hospitals, schools, or any other place where quality of light and low energy usage might be appreciated!

The possible uses for LED downlights are many. In a business environment they’re ideal for foyers and reception areas, corridors, washrooms, canteens, and small offices. They’re also great for home use in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. One smart choice in LED downlights is the Dimmable Spotlight, which is fire-tested for 30, 60 and 90-minute ceilings, and boasts an IP65 rating that makes it suitable for installation in most areas of a bathroom. Switching to LED has saved many businesses literally thousands of pounds in their annual energy and maintenance costs, thanks to phenomenally long lifespans and around 80-85% extra energy-efficiency over incandescent solutions.

No technology is better suited to cabinet lighting than LED. Extremely compact designs are possible through the compact size of an LED, while its cool output makes LED ideal for interior cabinet and display lighting with less likelihood of burnt hands or heat-damaged exhibits! Under-cabinet lights are a perfect application for LED, too, with recessed or surface-mounted pucks being easily installed. One such possibility is the  set of 3 LED downlights, available in white or chrome finish. Again, the directional nature of LED makes it perfect for this type of focused task-oriented application, with more wide-spreading beams being possible where necessary through diffusion.

The Future

A recent proprietary survey by McKinsey & Company—a global management and business adviser—predicted LED will be the most commercially viable ‘clean’ technology in the year 2020.

In the near future LED prices are expected to steadily drop because of new and less expensive manufacturing processes, whilst the real-world luminous efficiency we’ve discussed is expected to creep towards the 200 lm/W mark by 2014. Development is intensifying at a remarkable rate, in part because of commitments made by several Asian countries to meet LED percentage targets in the year 2015.

Top lighting designers and vendors are committing more and more to the technology that stands head and shoulders above all others as an eco-friendly and cost-effective lighting solution for now and the future. Exceeding the expectations even of Haitz’s law, LED has rapidly become incredibly efficient at an ever-dwindling cost. With a vast range of high quality and exciting products already on the market, few investments can be more worthy, or are more likely to give you a quick return, than LED.

Seeing stars –LED streetlights

If you live in an urban environment—and 90% of UK dwellers do—you’re permanently cut off from the night sky by what is known as light pollution. This concept would have been totally alien to our distant ancestors, who enjoyed a deeper, more profound connection with the universe. Indeed, you can easily get a sense of what you’re missing by travelling to certain rural areas of Britain, where the skies are still impressively dark—lit only by a clear night and thousands of multi-coloured stars.

The light pollution that has the greatest collective impact on our mood and sense of place is probably ‘sky glow’, which is the type of noise pollution that prevents us from seeing stars. Sky glow refers to the enshrouding glow visible above urban areas, caused by poorly directed or controlled artificial illumination. Installation of LED streetlamps directly addresses this problem, and at the risk of becoming repetitious it does so through its directional nature. In fact LED lighting is often a little too focused for its intended purpose, so LED streetlight design tends to include a modifying lens for greater coverage of pedestrian areas as well as the road.

Across the world cities are adopting LED lighting, sometimes powered by solar energy but always with numerous advantages over existing solutions:

  • Lifespan – an LED streetlight will last around 3-5 times longer than a conventional high pressure sodium street lamp, drastically reducing maintenance costs.
  • Energy saving – around 40-80% less electricity is used by LED than in a conventional street lamp.
  • Colour accuracy – many street lamps produce a monochromatic light that makes it impossible to discern colour. Greater colour accuracy in LED allows increased safety and versatility in surrounding road markings, as well as being preferential for crime reduction purposes.
  • Ambient temperature – LED lights are inherently resistant to extremes of cold.
  • Environmentally friendly – lower CO² emissions, and no mercury or lead content.
  • Controllability – instant-on light with no warm up time.

So much more than just a passing phase, LED lighting has the potential to deliver us in some small way from whence we came, and provide a better world for all.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Norlys – professional outdoor lighting

Norway, home of Norlys

Norway is a land of extremes. It shares its 13 degrees of spanned latitude with harsh areas such as Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia, and although its climate is more forgiving than those places you still might experience temperatures ranging from 30°C in the summer to -40°C in the winter. In Europe this amplitude is remarkable.

Equally astonishing, especially through British eyes, is Norway’s wild seasonal variation in daylight hours. Above the Arctic Circle this ranges from constant daylight, known as ‘midnight sun’, to unremitting 24-hour darkness, depending on the month. In southern Norway this is diluted to around 4 hours of darkness or light during longest and shortest days. Little wonder then that Oslo-headquartered company excels in the manufacture of exterior lighting. The designs of Norlys’ lighting are influenced by the challenging diversity of Scandinavian climate and geography..

Choice of the professional

You only have to look at Norlys’ background to begin to comprehend why they’re the choice of the professional designer or specifier when it comes to choosing outdoor lights. Their understanding for the effects of various harsh environments and ability to respond with materials and products of outstanding quality make them a market-leader.  A commitment to using the best raw materials, and to stylish yet functional design, lends credence to Norlys that is difficult for peers to match. Their range of products is hallmarked by outstanding beauty and durability.

Material choices

Norlys are uncompromising in their choice of manufacturing materials. They produce a large range of galvanised steel and copper products using a zinc alloy to provide comprehensive protection against even the harshest of elements. Other fittings are produced in steel, stainless steel, and aluminium. Single-piece polycarbonate lenses are frequently used in light fittings at up to 4mm in thickness, which protects formidably against damage by either the elements or mankind!

Powder-coated and painted aluminium and steel products are subjected to a high level multi-stage surface pre-treatment to ensure robust resistance to corrosion.  Norlys use a closely-monitored chemical process and even employ in-house chemists in one of the most exacting and advanced light manufacturing systems in Europe.

Product Ranges

Named after Scandinavian places or European cities, Norlys’ ranges are cosmopolitan in their wide-ranging scope, and they’re sold across more than 20 countries. If you’re looking for an exterior lighting scheme for a business premises or the home, Norlys are sure to have the perfect product to suit any environment.  There are a great many ranges to choose from, including Paris, Roma,Stockholm,Glasgow, and of course,Oslo. Some of the more recent additions include Asker,Voss,Valencia and Geneve.

Spotlight on two best-selling ranges

Both very individual and yet derived from that famous Norwegian flair for style, practicality, and sheer quality, the following are a couple of Lyco’s best-selling Norlys ranges:


The Lund range, which is named after a city in southern Sweden, features a simple and elegant contemporary design. The availability of a galvanised steel finish means you can turn to the Lund range for lighting a coastal property. A black painted steel version is also available, with a 15-year anti-corrosion guarantee supplied with either finish.


Named after Germany’s biggest port and second-biggest city, the Hamburg range is a stunning range of circular outdoor wall lights, available in a variety of finishes. These are tough lights manufactured from cast aluminium, and fitted with vandal-resistant polycarbonate lenses. Having undergone a rigorous 9-stage pre-painting surface treatment to ensure longevity, the Hamburg also comes with a reassuring 25-year anti-corrosion guarantee.

Buy with confidence

Underpinned by an incredibly rigorous manufacturing process, Norlys offer long 15-year and 25-year anti-corrosion guarantees on their products, which leaves other external lighting manufacturers in their wake. Usually you’ll find exterior lights are guaranteed for 1 to 5 years.  Founded in Norway in 1992, and hailing from a country that is the EU’s main source of primary aluminium, Norlys have set up an incredible ISO 9001 accredited factory in Europe. Their production capability includes aluminium die casting, cast finishing, surface treatment, machining, and tooling.

Whether you’re a specifier or end-user, you can choose from the Norlys ranges with complete peace of mind. There’s no false economy or façade; if you want uncompromising quality and outdoor luminaires that are fit for purpose, choose Norlys.

Take a look at our full range of Norlys Lighting

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Genting Casinos – LED conversion case study

Lyco – a name you can trust

For many years now Lyco, one of the UK’s leading lighting suppliers, have been the company to turn to when it comes to improving your business lighting. Some of the UK’s biggest names have trusted Lyco to help them convert to a more efficient form of lighting. Such conversions not only improve the way that the company presents themselves in terms of their lighting but also save them time and money, which ultimately makes them more profitable in the long run. The return on investment for the client is always at the forefront of any Lyco LED conversion project.

The following case study relates to Genting Casinos in the United Kingdom.


Leading UK lighting experts Lyco help the UK’s largest casino group Genting to ‘go green’ by replacing all their lighting with the very latest in LED technology.


Lyco undertake a feasibility study and cost analysis to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions by installing a suitable LED solution across Genting sites.


Genting sites were all different. This meant that the installation engineers had to adapt to meet the requirements of each building. It was also important for the success of the project to gain ‘buy in’ from the Managers of each site. Once the level of energy and maintenance saving had been substantiated they were ‘sold’.


The main benefits of the Genting Casinos conversion to LED were:

  • Energy savings of up to 90%
  • Maintenance cost and time spent replacing the current light bulbs vastly reduced – instead of replacing bulbs every 3 months they would only need to be replaced every 3.5 years
  • Carbon emissions reduced by 762 tonnes


The conversion programme, project managed by Lyco, was completed on time and within budget. Genting Casinos will see a return on their investment within one year.

Let Lyco help

If you have any queries regarding upgrading your business lighting to LED or need some general advice on LED conversions please do not hesitate to contact Lyco on 0843 317 7820 and we will be more than happy to advise and assist.

If you want to know more about how upgrading your business lighting will help cut costs, reduce maintenance and improve efficiency please read our LED Conversion – How much will I save? feature.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.