Product Type: Philips gadgets
Newest Review: ... of eight years and you are comfortably recouping the outlay. You might want to look at more powerful bulbs. Philips' 18w bulb gives... more
You light up my senses
Philips Energy Saver
Member Name: davidbuttery
Philips Energy Saver
Advantages: Extremely reliable, easy to find, get up to full brightness quite fast
Disadvantages: More expensive than supermarket brands, no lookers
It's rapidly getting to the point where you can't describe energy-saving light bulbs as "the new sort" any more - they've been with us now for quite a few years, and just recently sales of new 60-watt bulbs of the old incandescent type were stopped. Before long these will be what almost everyone thinks of when someone says "light bulb", at least until LED technology improves to the point at which that can take over. Philips' own "Energy Saver" brand is one of the most firmly established, having been in the market almost from the start.
One of the minor irritations about moving over to these bulbs is that their wattage ratings are different. For example, an 8-watt bulb roughly equates to an old-style 40-watter. 11W is about the same as the old 60W, and 20W similar to a 100W bulb. Most manufacturers appreciate this and add a note somewhere on the packaging to inform customers; Philips achieves this with by the simple and effective method of adding a small old-bulb graphic with "40W" (or whatever) plastered across it. This should be reassuring to those who are only now moving over to these bulbs.
When they first came onto the market, Energy Saver bulbs were very expensive, and even now they're usually considerably dearer than supermarket own brands. Prices vary enormously as bulbs are a very common promotional item - I've seen these sold for 50p each more than once - but on the whole you can expect to pay £3 or £4 for a Philips bulb, set against perhaps only a pound for some supermarket versions. You really are paying for the brand name here, but although the price differential seems very high at the till, given the lifetime of an energy-saving bulb it doesn't actually make a huge amount of difference in the long run.
I was given an 8W bulb recently at an energy efficiency fair in Worcester, and that is the one that I have under review in particular. This wattage is most suitable for small lamps, or perhaps rooms like sheds or attics where there is no need for brilliant illumination. I use mine in a little table lamp, and it does very well there. Mine has a bayonet fitting, but I believe Philips also sell them in screw-fit. The bulb is quite a bit smaller than the earliest energy-saving types, which means that the old problem of being physically unable to fit them into many lamps has all but gone. They're still not very attractive to look at, though, with their odd "curved tube" shape.
For those who don't mind too much about aesthetics, there are several more important considerations. The first of these is of course energy use. It's hard to tell between different brands of these things, as they're all rated A on the EU Energy scale marked on the box. Philips claims a 10-year life, but read the small print and you'll see that this actually means 10,000 hours - meaning you'd have to burn the light for no more than about 2 hours and 45 minutes per day to reach the 10-year figure. Fine for lamps, but the higher-wattage bulbs used for main rooms might well be on for longer than that, so I'd suggest a realistic lifetime of five rather than 10 years for those.
Talking of small print, the Energy Saver's box is packed with it. Most of this is simply the basics: the aforementioned lifespan, and the warning that (as with most bulbs of this type) they are not suitable for dimmer or electronic switches. You woudn't think this would take up so much space, but Philips have really gone to town with the internationalisation, and the relevant text is provided in no fewer than 30 languages, from Armenian to Slovak. Don't look for English under "UK", incidentally: that's Ukranian! You need "EN". On the base of the box is "Made in P.R.C." - which is, unsurprisingly, the People's Republic of China.
As with most energy-saving bulbs, the Philips one is just a little bit slow to get up to full speed in terms of luminance. There's a very slight delay between your flicking the switch and the bulb coming on; it's well under a second but is still slightly disconcerting if you're used to the instant response of an incandescent light. Then there are just a few seconds when the bulb isn't quite at full brightness, and for a moment it can seem as though it's going wrong. Don't panic: it gets up to speed pretty quickly, and once there the light is fine. Some people report headaches from this type of bulb, but I've never suffered from that.
All in all, there's very little wrong with Philips Energy Saver light bulbs. If it weren't for the fact that they're often so much more expensive than other brands I'd be more than happy to give them five stars in spite of their less than elegant appearance. They still rate four with some ease, however, and I've never had one break or go dud on me straight from the box, which is certainly a step up from old-fashioned bulbs! However much some may pine for incandescents, they're increasingly part of lighting history, and it's these things that are the future. It's a good job, then, that Philips made a decent job of this type early on.
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