Information on Lighting
Supreme Imports is one of Europe’s largest distributors of light bulbs and lighting products, thanks to exclusive distribution agreements with a number of the world’s leading manufacturers. If there’s a question you have about the bulbs you stock and sell, we have the answers.
It’s all right here on this page.
A light bulb has traditionally referred to an incandescent bulb – a glass container with a filament which is then heated by electrical current to give off light.
Modern halogen bulbs and fluorescent bulbs also work along this principle, although LED lightbulbs are now seeing more and more use on the domestic market. An LED bulb uses an electronic diode instead of a traditional filament, generating more light for less energy.
All of these bulbs are differentiated by brightness (in watts or LED lumens) and by fitting. The most widespread fitting in the UK is the standard bayonet cap, although screw caps are still used for portable lamps and torches.
1835 – The Arc Lamp
Before the invention of the light bulb, British inventors demonstrate that electric light is possible, and perhaps a safer alternative to the widespread gas and candle lighting of the time.
1857 – Geissler Tubes
During the mid-19th Century, German inventor Heinrich Geissler created an early gas discharge tube, which turned out to be the forerunner of neon lighting. Unfortunately, it takes another five decades for anyone to see the potential.
1879 – Thomas Edison
In 1879, Edison patents the first incandescent lightbulb. By experimenting with filaments, Edison’s team is able to extend their bulb’s lifespan from 14 hours to 1,200. The modern light bulb market is born.
1939 – Fluorescent Lights
At the World’s Fair of 1939, American lighting companies demonstrate their efficient and effective fluorescent light bulbs. The energy efficiency of these long strip lights see them adopted for use in armaments factories during the Second World War.
1959 – Halogen Lamps
As inventors and manufacturers seek efficient alternatives to the incandescent bulb, General Electric patents the first practical halogen lamp.
1962 – Light Emitting Diodes
In the 60s, the first LEDs are invented. Dim and usually tinted, these bulbs are widely used in calculators and digital watches. It takes until the turn of the century for white LEDs to become efficient enough to use as bulbs.
1973 – Fluorescent Bulbs
During an energy crisis, General Electric discover that fluorescent tubes can be twisted into a spiral, creating a compact fluorescent light the size of a standard incandescent bulb. Unfortunately, these bulbs prove very expensive to manufacture and prices don’t come down until the mid-1990s.
2005 – Phase Outs
In 2005, Brazil and Venezuela become the first countries to bring in standards that ban the use of inefficient light bulbs. The European Union announced their phase outs in 2007, while countries around the world brought in their own energy efficiency standards. Traditional incandescent bulbs begin to be phased out, replaced by efficient incandescent bulbs and (more often) halogen and fluorescent lighting.
2009 – Affordable LED Lighting
Researchers at Cambridge University announce that they have developed an LED light bulb which will run for 100,000 hours and cost less than £2 to manufacturer. A cleaner, brighter future becomes apparent.
Today – Efficiency
As a result of pressure from legislators and consumers alike, today’s light bulb market is dominated by energy efficient bulbs. Halogen, Fluorescent and LED bulbs have all but replaced incandescent bulbs, and consumers are benefitting from longer product lifespans and lower energy costs.
Following the mandated phase-out of traditional incandescent bulbs across the European Union, the light bulb market is dominated by three types of bulb – Halogen, Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL or ‘Energy Saving Bulbs’) and LED.
Each is available in a range of brightnesses and with a range of caps.
Standard, Affordable Bulbs
Halogen bulbs offer instant, crisp light and have a lifespan of up to two years. Halogen lighting is viewed as the most obvious replacement for traditional incandescent bulbs, and these products have been widely adopted across the market.
Efficient, Energy-Saving Bulbs
CFL or Energy Saving bulbs provide a softer, warmer light and can take a while to reach full brightness. This has led to some consumers viewing them as inferior to incandescent bulbs, although the product’s 10 year lifespan and low running costs make them a favourite amongst environmentally conscious customers.
Premium Quality Bulbs
LED bulbs offer instant, crisp and bright light. These bulbs are a more cost-effective alternative to their halogen and CFL counterparts, offering an unbeatable 25 year life span with a low running cost.
The European light bulb market is a mature, stable market which has taken the phase out of incandescent bulbs in its stride. While the efficiency and lifespan of bulbs means that consumers need to purchase fewer bulbs in total, they remain an emergency impulse purchase driven by a definite need.
In the years up to 2016, the retro-fitting of more efficient lamp and lighting products has delivered significant growth, peaking with a 13% increase in sales between 2015 and 2016. However, this is expected to slow over the coming years.
The falling price of LED lighting has indicated a trend towards higher value LED products in the UK, which should ensure continued growth of 1-5% in the years up to 2020.
The UK market is focused on improving lighting quality, especially at the domestic level. Customers demonstrate little brand loyalty, and advertising spend in this market is small.
Retailers who can demonstrate the value of high quality LED products may be able to take advantage of the shift towards more expensive light bulbs in the medium term.
If you have need of any specific advice on stocking and selling bulbs and lighting products, please contact our team today. We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.