An incandescent light bulb, lamp, or globe is an electric light, which produces light with a filament wire heated to a high temperature by an electric current passing through it, until it glows. The hot filament is protected from oxidation with a glass or quartz bulb that is filled with inert gas or evacuated. The light bulb is supplied with electrical current by feed-through terminals or wires embedded in the glass. Most bulbs are used in a socket, which provides mechanical support and electrical connections.
Incandescent bulbs are manufactured in a wide range of sizes, light output, and voltage ratings, from 1.5 volts to about 300 volts. They require no external regulating equipment, have low manufacturing costs, and work equally well on either alternating current or direct current. As a result, the incandescent lamp is widely used in household and commercial lighting, for portable lighting such as table lamps, car headlamps, and flashlights, and for decorative and advertising lighting.
Fluorescent lamps or fluorescent tubes are low-pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamps that use fluorescence to produce visible light. An electric current in the gas excites mercury vapor which produces short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb to glow. A fluorescent lamp converts electrical energy into useful light much more efficiently than incandescent lamps. The luminous efficacy of a fluorescent light bulb can exceed 100 lumens per watt, several times the efficacy of an incandescent bulb with comparable light output.
Fluorescent lamp fixtures are more costly than incandescent lamps because they require a ballast to regulate the current through the lamp, but the lower energy cost typically offsets the higher initial cost. Compact fluorescent lamps are now available in the same popular sizes as an incandescent and are used as an energy-saving alternative in homes.
A halogen lamp, also known as a tungsten halogen, quartz-halogen or quartz iodine lamp, is an incandescent lamp that has a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine added. The combination of the halogen gas and the tungsten filament produces a halogen cycle chemical reaction which redeposits evaporated tungsten back onto the filament, increasing its life and maintaining the clarity of the envelope. Because of this, a halogen lamp can be operated at a higher temperature than a standard gas-filled lamp of similar power and operating life, producing light of a higher luminous efficacy and color temperature. The small size of halogen lamps permits their use in compact optical systems for projectors and illumination.
High-intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps) are a type of electrical gas-discharge lamp which produces light by means of an electric arc between tungsten electrodes housed inside a translucent or transparent fused quartz or fused alumina arc tube. This tube is filled with both gas and metal salts. The gas facilitates the arc's initial strike. Once the arc is started, it heats and evaporates the metal salts forming plasma, which greatly increases the intensity of light produced by the arc and reduces its power consumption. High-intensity discharge lamps are a type of arc lamp.
High-intensity discharge lamps make more visible light per unit of electric power consumed than fluorescent and incandescent lamps since a greater proportion of their radiation is visible light in contrast to infrared.
An LED lamp is a light-emitting diode (LED) product that is assembled into a lamp (or light bulb) for use in lighting fixtures. LED lamps have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is several times better than incandescent lamps, and significantly better than most fluorescent lamps, with some chips able to emit more than 100 lumens per watt.
Some LED lamps are made to be a directly compatible drop-in replacement for incandescent or fluorescent lamps. However, LEDs do not emit light in all directions, and their directional characteristics affect the design of lamps. The light output of single LEDs is less than that of incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps; in most applications multiple LEDs are used to form a lamp.