Light Impressions Update

Last week I revisited the ‘Average Joe’ family to help them improve their lighting.

I came equipped with an assortment of different lamps from my well-supplied stash, including a few CFLs and LEDs, as those might be appropriate for some luminaires.

On closer inspection, it turned out they had replaced almost all their 60 watt incandescent lamps with 11 watt CFLs, like good and responsible citizens have been encouraged to do by their trusted authorities – despite the fact that you get visibly and measurably less light and poorer quality light from such an ill-advised switch. As described in my earlier post, the result was quite appalling.

Worst of all lamps was the one over the kitchen table, a dim yellowish CFL that made the whole kitchen very gloomy and hard to see in. The lovely elderly couple complained over the dimness but it never occurred to them to use another lamp because they had been told an 11 watt CFL should suffice and had missed that halogen replacements even existed. I put in a clear 53 watt halogen energy saver and it was like switching on the sun in their kitchen! The difference really surprised them. Now they could see!

I did the same in the 2 identical living room wall lamps. First I replaced only one of them to let them see the difference both in brightness and how the colour of their rusty red sofa looked more grey in the CFL corner. Also tried the Philips LED lamp and that too did not make colours as vivid as the halogen lamp.

Living room sofa – Halogen energy saver

The dining table already had a beautiful crystal chandelier with a halogen lamp in the middle so no need to do anything there.

A floor lamp with a dim 11 watt CFL got a 28 watt halogen energy saver. We tried different wattages but the family thought 28 W gave just the right cosy feel, with the light still clear enough to see well.

A table lamp that had a sad 7 watt CFL ball got a 15 watt clear incandescent ball. This corner was more grey and gloomy than it looks in this picture:

Table lamp – CFL

Here the difference in light clarity when it was replaced with an incandescent bulb shows very clearly:

Table lamp – Halogen

Then I replaced two frosted incandescent 15 watt ball bulbs in their window luminaires with clear ones. No reason to waste a frosted bulb behind a shade. This made only a slight difference of course, but I wanted to put the precious last specimens of the now extinct frosted bulbs to better use.

Living room window lamp 1 – Clear incandescent ball

The frosted ball got moved to the entrance window lamp (with the 7W CFL ball as backup for when it burned out) to replace a very unwelcoming blue-white clear 3W LED lamp with glaring little light dots seen through a partly clear glass shade.

Entrance window lamp – Frosted incandescent ball

Remember this rule of thumb, folks:

• Frosted or opaque lampshade where you don’t see the bulb – use a clear lamp.

• Clear lampshade, no shade or open shade where you see the bulb – use a frosted lamp.

The difference from these small changes was more striking in real life than shows in the pictures. Being very much an amateur photographer, I found it difficult to capture it on film as the camera keeps trying to compensate for what was lacking in the dimmer and poorer quality bulbs.

All in all, I added another 163 watts to their lighting use. If all those lamps are on an average of 5 hours a day all year, that would make about €9 per year, but as all lamps were indoors and about half the heat from the incandescent bulbs is estimated to help lower the energy bill, that makes about €4.5 per year. That’s about the price of one glossy magazine or two bottles of coke – to be able to both see well and have a nice ambiance in their own home for a whole year.

So do try for yourself and experiment with different lamps to see what type and wattage looks and feels best. It’s not going to cost you as much as you have been drilled to believe. Just turn the light out when leaving the room and it will cost you even less.

Incandescent Home Lighting

In this post, I thought I’d share what kind of lights I use in my own home.

I use mainly incandescent light, but very little of it. As a principle, I only turn on as much as I need at any given moment. For maximum flexibility, I have many more light points than I generally use, so that there is always the right light for different moods, tasks, seasons and time of day. Here are some of them:

Ceiling spotlights with 3 x 40 W incandescent or halogen replacement reflector lamps. I have one of these in every room (3 sets in my L-shaped kitchen) but I only turn them on when cleaning, so they get used only a few minutes per week. They produce an excellent light for vacuuming, as they project the light down onto the floor.

2014-11-09 02.18.32

Around the living room, placed very low, I have several wall luminaires with 25 watt silver-top incandescent lamps for cosy ambiance without glare.

Over the sofa: a spotlight with flexible arm and 25 watt reflector lamp for reading.

In the Holiday season, I turn on the incandescent light strings I have fastened around the arched doorways.

2014-11-09 02.19.28

I also have a couple of salt lamps (made of real chunks of salt) with 15 watt mini bulbs inside. One in the living room and one in the TV room. Perfect for late at night when you want a dim, cosy and extra warm light in order to not suppress melatonin levels.

On the kitchen walls, I have 4 single spotlights, with 25 or 40 W incandescent or halogen reflector lamps. Some of them I’ve connected to a remote control for quick switch-on. These get used several times a day but only for short periods. (Lamp cables I’ve stapled to the wall with special U-staples designed for the purpose.)

Over the stove, sink and countertop I removed the ugly fluorescent tubes and put in 2 or 3 x 20 watt halogen under-cabinet luminaires. The one over the stove could not be screwed to the metal exhaust fan so I fastened it with self-adhesive velcro strips. These lamps get used only when cooking and washing up.

The bathroom already had 3 x 10 watt halogen downlights, which get nicely doubled by the large mirror. The only thing I miss here is a dimmer, as the light feels too bright late at night…

Edit: …so I bought a coloured LED strip that can be set to red in the evening (see Coloured LED review 2).

Red light (photo: Halogenica)

For safe navigation around the house during dark evening hours, I have window lights with 7 watt incandesent mini-bulbs in the most used rooms. Just enough light to see, and makes the rooms look cosy both from the inside and the outside. Here is the one in the kitchen.

For ambient room lighting in the study, I use a 35 watt halogen desk luminaire with built-in dimmer, adjusting the light level to suit mood, task and time of day.

If I need a brighter light, I turn on the other desk luminaire that takes up to 75 watts if needed. I currently use a clear 42 watt halogen energy saver, which gives a crystal clear, sunny bright white light. The wide shade spreads the light nicely over the whole desk and the construction is very flexible. (Used to have one of those asymmetrical desk luminaires popular in the 90s, but that was not half as useful despite its ridiculously high price.)

By the bed I have a similar but older model with narrower shade, onto which I mounted a dimmer when I rewired it. Not the most attractive contraption, but very practical. Can’t stand bright light right before bedtime so it’s perfect to be able to tune it way down to a soft, warm, almost candle-like light. When I want to read in bed, I just turn the 40 watt frosted incandescent bulb up a bit and adjust the flexible arm to just the right angle.

For safe navigation in the middle of the night I have a 1 watt orange LED nightlight (of the ‘golfball’ model described in my Coloured LED Review post). It has a built-in light sensor and turns itself off during the day.

Outdoors: Around the house I have wall lanterns with 60 watt decorative carbon filament lamps. These only get turned on when I’m outdoors at night, which is not that often.

For porch light I use a 53 watt halogen energy saver.

For driveway security light (connected to a light sensor) I use warm-white LED.

Light Impressions – CMH & HPS

More personal impressions, this time from outdoor lights in Stockholm (my own photos).

Ceramic Metal Halide

In Stockholm, the inefficient cool-white High-Pressure Mercury Vapour (HPMV) street lights have now been replaced by warm-white Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) with electronic ballasts. This incandescent-looking light has nice brightness and better colour rendition than previous lamp types, showing the environment in a more flattering light than the spooky blue-white or green-white of HPM, or shades of orange from High-Pressure Sodium (HPS).

Västerbron, Stockholm (photo: Halogenica)

Västerbron, Stockholm

Mariatorget, Stockholm

Mariatorget, Stockholm

In my opinion, this makes Stockholm once again a very beautiful city, while it also saves energy as these are much more effective. Before the light was cold and harsh, now it is warm and soft, almost romantic.

Stockholm skyline, 2012

Stockholm skyline, 2012

In this view, the only light detracting from the overall romantic impression is the extremely bright cool-white Metal Halide floodlight stuck temporarily on the construction crane (I thought its reflection in the water made an interesting comparison). Also note the decorative string of incandescent bulbs on the restaurant-ship in the centre:

Stockholm skyline 2012

Riddarholmen, 2012

Here, one can clearly see the difference between the warm-white CMH lamps to the left, and the somewhat dysmal cool-white Mercury Vapour lamps to the right (in real life, the light from the latter seemed not quite as green, but cooler than cool-white and not attractive):

CMH vs HPMV, Södermälarstrand, Stockholm

CMH vs HPMV, Södermälarstrand, Stockholm

High-Pressure Sodium

I’m glad to see the most of the horrid monochromatic (orange-yellow) Low-Pressure Sodium (LPS) lamps on highways having been replaced by the more peach-coloured High Pressure Sodium (HPS) with better, though far from optimal, colour rendition. Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) would look nice on highways too but that is not practical as they don’t last as long as HPS lamps. Here, on Söder Mälarstrand, Stockholm, the difference between the band of orange-yellow HPS street lights to the right, and the clear warm-white CMH lamps at the bottom, is clearly visible (though this picture is not the best; in reality the first is more orange and the latter more clear-white):

CMH vs HPS, Södermälarstrand, Stockholm

CMH vs HPS, Södermälarstrand, Stockholm

One place I really like HPS is in road tunnels, where they add some warmth to the often cold dark concrete – if the lamps are placed along the tunnel walls and not at a glaring angle.

HPS in Tunnel, Häggvik, Stockholm

HPS in tunnel, Häggvik, Stockholm

Improved High Pressure Sodium 

The beautification of the Stockholm lightscape began in the 1990s, when some of the oldest parts of Stockholm, such as Old Town and parts of Södermalm, received old style wall lanterns, lit by improved quality High Pressure Sodium ‘White SON’. These frosted bulbs are still in use and give a very beautiful light as they have a special diffusing layer which makes the light visibly radiate, and their warm glow is reminiscent of incandescent or even gas lights, but brighter and more efficient – a good compromise between romantic and functional.

Old style lantern, Södermalm, Stockholm

Old style lantern, Södermalm, Stockholm

HPS White SON, Södermalm, Stockholm

HPS White SON, Södermalm, Stockholm

However, these White SON are not as efficient and as other HPS lamps (quality and quantity are usually trade-offs) so EU wants to ban them, which is stupid on so many levels as they are still much more effective and long lasting than traditional incandescent lamps that would be used in such luminaires and are only used in a few select places meant mainly for pedestrians, tourists and people in love.

Light Impressions – LED

Here I want to share my personal impressions of various public lighting solutions. Took some snap shots to illustrate (photography is not my forte, but hopefully decent enough to give an idea).

Cool-white LED

I may have mentioned earlier my unpleasant experience of the Häggvik tunnel north of Stockholm, which has been fitted with cool-white LEDs. The light was so harsh and glaring that my first impulse was to keep my eyes shut until I got out, but that’s not so practical when driving…

Cool-white LED in tunnel, Häggvik, Stockholm

Cool-white LED in tunnel, Häggvik, Stockholm

Found a video of the installation, with better images of the finished results.

These LED lamps have a promised life of 50.000 hours, although economic life is estimated to be shorter by a factor of 0.8 (not exactly sure what that means) which has to be balanced against initial high price while still requiring maintenance every 4 years like other road lamps.

It seems this is one of several experimental installations included in the Swedish Traffic Administration’s project called New Light, aiming to cut road electricity consumption in half by 2016, and funded by the EU-project ESOLi.

Another part of the project includes testing solar powered LED lamps at bus stops in the Kalmar region:

And rubber-covered luminaires for costal areas, making it too slippery for sea birds to land and poo:

Warm-white LED

On a more positive note, I was visiting another Stockholm suburb recently where the old HPM street lights had been replaced by a ‘cobrahead’ with warm-white high-power LEDs. Probably one like this. This was much better than the cool-white LEDs in the tunnel! The light colour was a nice and balanced golden-white, not yellow, pinkish or greenish as the cheaper ‘warm-white’ LEDs often are. Not as glaring as the cool-white LEDs (unless you looked right up at it) and bright enough to light up the street well (at least now in the beginning).

My only objection would be a lack of softness, as the light comes straight down in a rather distinct and harsh way, unlike fluorescent and HID light which diffuses more softly to the sides, and incandescent light (including halogen) which also has a nice glow. Astronomers might appreciate this straight down quality, as it probably causes less light pollution. You could also clearly see the rows of individual light dots that made up the construction, which was not so attractive to look at. (I tried to photograph it but that didn’t come out well.)

If LED light last as long as claimed without losing too much output over time, this might be an option at least for highways where stopping traffic to replace lamps is an extremely costly affair. Better color rendition also gives better vision, which helps keep accidents down.

Then I went to Arlanda airport to check out the warm-white LED lamps in Terminal 2. Huge tubular luminaires, specially designed for maximum reflection, combined with large boat shaped skylights to let daylight in. Quite incandescent-like light colour.Here I managed to capture in the glass reflection all the little light dots inside, which in real life are quite visible to the naked eye. But the depth of the barrel-like luminaires gives a decent enough shield against glare unless one looks straight up at them.

Warm-white LED, Arlanda

Warm-white LED, Terminal 2, Arlanda

But despite there being a great many of these LED barrels, the light was not as bright as the fluorescent-lit Terminal 4.

Warm white LED, Arlanda

Warm white LED, Terminal 2, Arlanda

Warm white FL tubes, Terminal 4, Arlanda

Warm white FL tubes and skylights, Terminal 4, Arlanda

In fact, without the skylights and the additional lighting from Compact Fluorescent downlights and Metal Halide floodlights, it would have been even more gloomy. The ceiling height probably requires a more potent light source. This ad lit by only two Metal Halide floodlights was the brightest thing in Terminal 2:

Warm white Metal Halide floodlight, Terminal 2, Arlanda

Warm white Metal Halide floodlight, Terminal 2, Arlanda

Colorured LED

Two winters ago I was at a Light Event in Djurgården, Stockholm, arranged by Quist AB, that had around 20 different installations with coloured LED light. Really creative and fun! They have also arranged Light Events in other cities, using coloured LED to illuminate everyday spaces in an exciting new way.

Light Event, Djurgården, Stockholm, 2010

Light Event, Djurgården, Stockholm, 2010

Light Event, Djurgården, Stockholm, 2010

Light Event, Djurgården, Stockholm, 2010

Light Event, Stockholm, 2010 (photo: Quist AB)

Light Event, Djurgården, Stockholm, 2010 (photo: Quist AB)

Light Event, Linköping (photo: Quist AB)

Light Event, Linköping (photo: Quist AB)

Light Event, Uppsala (photo: Quist AB)

Light Event, Uppsala (photo: Quist AB)

This is how LED light is best used, in my opinion. For decorative purposes, it seems LED light has infinite potential.

Light Impressions – CFL

Thought I’d share som personal light experiences here. (Click on thumbnails for bigger photos.)

Now that leading manufacturers have finally managed to get their phosphor mix right so as to create a more natural looking light, I don’t so much mind warm-white CFLs and mini-tubes, e.g. in wall lanterns or downlights in various office buildings, hospitals, garages etc., where they create a softer and more varied lightscape than the more uniform lighting from fluorescent tubes.

CFL spotlights, Arlanda, Sweden
(photo: Halogenica)

CFL in recessed downlights SEB bank office, Sweden
(photo: Halogenica)

What I do mind is if they use only CFL, as that tends to feel as inspiring as a cloudy november day… Many retail store lighting designers have learned to combine fluorescent, HID and halogen light for best effect. Linear or compact fluorescent for general lighting, HID (often warm-white Metal Halide) for bright floodlighting, and halogen for sparkly spotlighting of special items. In my opinion, this works well enough in a commercial environment.

One might also assume that more CFLs get safely recycled along with the other mercury-containing FL tubes and HID lamps in the public, commercial and industrial sector, than in private households.

At home, alas, CFLs do not work so well…

Most of my friends and family use very little light, but go for quality instead of quantity. They use incandescent or halogen lamps but only a few low watt or dimmed down lamps at a time, and naturally turn them off when leaving the room. Some have pre-installed fluorescent tubes in the kitchen or bathroom. Some use CFLs here and there. But I’d never seen a whole house lit only by CFLs.

The ‘Environmentalist’ family

Then I was invited to the home of a family of passionate alternativists, the type that lives in an eco village and only buys organic food etc. Wonderful people in every way. Unsurprisingly, they had not waited until the ban to replace all their incandescent bulbs with ‘eco-friendly’ CFLs.

This was the most poorly lit house I have ever visited! And I’m not one who likes bright light anyway (I’m often fine with a 7 watt window lamp for room lighting and a dimmed down 40W bulb for reading) so it wasn’t that. It was the combination of very poor light quality and and the CFLs having passed that best-before-date when the light was still bright enough to compensate somewhat for the poor quality. The effect was as if someone had filled the house with a grey mist. I was struggling to see anything and thought it a shame  to show such a nice home in such an unflattering light.

The scary thing is that if one lives in that poor quality and gradually weakening light every day, one adapts to it and doesn’t notice until someone else points it out (which I did, as politely as I could). But it must surely still be straining to never really see well in one’s own home.

It was an interesting experience as I had only suspected it from the information in manufacturer catalogues and consumer tests but never actually seen first hand how dysmal CFL light gets towards the end – except for in a test bulb at IKEA where it was very obvious to me that the CFL did not give anywhere near as much light as the ‘equivalent’ incandescent they showed for comparison.

“Economic life”

Since this light loss is well known in the lighting industry, lamps used commercially are usually replaced long before they burn out. When life rate is calculated, something called “economic life” is used, which it is never the whole life of each individual lamp. That’s why you don’t so often see in public how weak the light gets with time. This “economic life” is of course nothing private consumers are informed about, only that the lamps last so and so many hours before they burn out (on average, at optimal temperature, if not turned on-and-off too often etc). But if that light is pretty much useless for half or one third of those hours, then it follows that their useful life is markedly shorter and that you have to remember to replace them before they burn out.

Compare visually instead of trusting labels

My suggestion is to always keep one new incandescent bulb of each wattage for reference. When you buy a CFL, e.g. one that claims to give the equivalent output of a 60W bulb, compare them to see that it really does so in the beginning, and then again after some time to see if it still does. Keep doing this now and then. (And dust them off  while you’re at it.) Yes, extra hassle, I know. But everything about them from cradle to grave is extra hassle, that’s part of the deal. If you want hassle-free lamps, try Halogen Energy Savers.

The ‘Average Joe’ family

In May, I was invited to the house of a family who I suspect are fairly representative of most middle class Swedes today. They also had a very nicely designed home. But again I was struck by the poor lighting. They had probably not had their lamps for as long as the Environmentalist family, so one could still see well enough. But the light quality left much to be desired.

Dull light from CFL bulbs in the living room, which really took away from the otherwise cosy design. In the entrance hall a floor lamp with a CFL bulb which gave even dimmer light, accompanied by a sharply glaring cool-white LED of the clear bulb type with little dots in it (not meant for use in open luminaire). In the restrooms were glaring CFLs with a pinkish tint that did not complement the otherwise pretty design. And over the kitchen table was a dim CFL bulb with a yellow tone that made the kitchen even more dull than the rest of the house. The only real light in the house was a tiny halogen spotlight in the kitchen that sparkled and glowed. Compared with the golden white, crystal clear halogen light, the kitchen table CFL looked really bleak and dead.

Public restrooms

Using a public restroom in Sweden after the bulb phase-out is a real lottery as far as lighting goes.

• Some restaurants have installed 12V halogen spotlights, which gives an exclusive impression, even if the cheapest wall materials are used.

Halogen in restaurant restroom
(photo: Halogenica)

• Others use recessed downlights with old type compact fluorescent tubes. That works well enough, but doesn’t give that warm and luxurious feeling of halogen, even with better tiling.

CFL tube in gas station restroom
(photo: Halogenica)

• A growing number of shops, restaurants etc have unfortunately started using CFL bulbs in their restrooms – which is The Number One Application CFLs Should Never Be Used For!

1. because of the poor light quality (where many want to check their looks or touch up their make-up); 2. because the bulbs expire quicker and get dimmer sooner if flicked on and off often; 3. because that single bulb is not where you make energy savings; 4. because most CLFs take way too long to light up. One flicks on the switch – almost nothing happens… a dim yellow-grey mist… (Lighting a match would probably give more light, and quicker.) By the time one is finished, the light might have worked itself up enough so that one can see to wash one’s hands. Barely. This is not acceptable.

I’ll post a photo next time I find another poorly lit restroom. In the mean time, here is a picture from a supermarket, where one can see clearly the difference in brightness between curly tube (to the right) and enclosed bulbs (and this is at their brightest and not enclosed in a sealed luminaire):

CFLs in supermarket
(photo: Halogenica)

One day at my local supermarket, I got fed up with the slow and dim CFL and told them they need a regular incandescent or a halogen in the restroom. Nothing happened for another couple of months… So then I went and found a 53W Halogen Energy Saver  bulb in their lamp stall, took it to one of the staff and said: “Put this in! NOW!!” He complied and now one can see again. 🙂

Feel free to do the same if you’re not happy with the light in public restrooms. 😉


CFLs are rarely used for street lighting as they are not as bright or long lasting as High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps. Here, in a cobbled old part of Södermalm near Mariahissen in Stockholm, I found one exception: warm-white CFLs in downward-facing luminaires with white diffusers. The light colour was good enough but as always with CFLs, it lacked sparkle and life. Some of the luminaires had blackened for some reason, and that did not look good. But overall, they looked better than the horrid old cool-white Mercury Vapor lamps which they replaced.

CFL, Stockholm
(photo: Halogenica)

Another example from the same area. These porch lights had clear glass with a droplet pattern (possibly original from the 1920s). One had a Halogen Energy Saver and the other a fairly new-looking warm-white CFL. The Halogen sparkled and glowed while the CFL looked generally flat (even more so in real life). The indoor lamp in the middle looked like a cool-white CFL in a white globe.

Halogen vs CFL, Stockholm
(photo: Halogenica)

Tip of the day: Never use different types of bulbs together – unless you want to study visible differences in light quality, quantity and colour. 

Lamp Guide

Now that the market is being flooded with such a confusing profusion of different lamps to replace the incandescent bulb, it is more difficult than ever to find the right lamp for the right place.

Swedish national TV consumer program Plus last week tried to sort it out with the help of Kalle Hashmi at the Swedish Energy Agency, STEM. [1] My translation of his unusually informed and balanced recommendations:

• In closed luminaires it is not advisable to use CFLs as they get too hot which shortens their life. Where you have very short burning time, such as in a closet or the bathroom, the lamp life will shorten significantly if you turn it on and off a lot. In such a situation you could preferably choose a halogen lamp.

• If temperatures are too low [= outdoors in northern winters] the [CFL] lamp does not perform at its best. The lamp is made to function best in 25 degrees [C]. In such a situation we think the best option is to use an induction lamp. Very expensive but on the other hand it lasts 100 000 hours.

• When you get older, 60+, you need more light to be able to see, and our ability to distinguish colours and contrasts diminishes. Then we need to choose a light that solves all three problems.

• When it comes to contrast, for example, it is usually limited to reading text, black on white. Then you need to choose a CFL with higher effect, e.g. 15W and you can use a correlated colour temperature around 4000K, but only for reading.

• When in a situation where colour rendition is very important, where you need to match colours, then it is very important to use a mains voltage halogen lamp because it has much better colour rendering capacity. It can be a situation like cooking, where all colours seem matte to the eyes. So what an elderly person perceives as ‘brown’ may actually be burnt. With halogen you see better.

• CFLs are not the answer to all our prayers. When it comes to colour rendering they are not as good, and they also contain mercury. LEDs will be the dominating technique, but it’s better to replace low voltage spotlights with LED spotlights than replacing standard bulbs for general lighting.

My comments: Good advice all of it, except for the recommendation to use cool-white CFL for reading.

Some research suggests that contrast decreases rather than increases with higher correlated colour temperature (blueness) and that certain blue wavelengths may harm rather than help in cases of macular degeneration. [2] The small traces of UV which some naked CFL tubes emit may at close range may also worsen cataracts and skin conditions. [3] If you sit closer than 30 cm for more than an hour per day, the the British Health Procection Agency recommend that you use a covered CFL with an extra outer bulb. [4] 

I would instead recommend frosted incandescent or halogen for reading, as clear bulbs tend to give disturbing light patterns on the page and most LEDs are either too dim or too directional. Unfortunately, thanks to the European Commission, that’s no longer an option.

Replacing spotlights with LED is a better idea as LEDs are already directional by nature and perform better as reflector lights than as omnidirectional light trapped in a bulb – if you don’t mind the slightly lower light quality and paler colours which can be seen clearly in this comparison between ‘warm-white’ & ‘daylight’ LED and incandescent downlights:

More tips:

For those who prefer a daylight-simulating light, despite the lower contrast, white LEDs are naturally cool-white already and need no special phosphor mix like CFLs to achieve a daylight look.

But daylight lamps usually look best in the daytime. At night the cold light can look and feel more unnatural when contrasted against the dark as we humans are traditionally used to firelight at night (though cultural and individual preferences may vary).

• Where warm-white incandescent type light with perfect colour rendering is needed, there exists no replacement other than halogen (which is also incandescent). No CFL or LED has that special sunny feel and warm glow which makes colours come alive. 

 In traditional environments with antique furniture and art, CFLs and LEDs tend to look particularly out of place, whereas they may look acceptable with more contemporary designs, even if a bit dull. 

• When it comes to mood lighting of your dinner table, cosy corner or favorite restaurant, CFL and LED have zero romance factor whereas the warm light of halogen or incandescent spots on dimmers will complement candle light and create an attractive, romantic and relaxing atmosphere.

In rooms where you’re mostly sitting down and relaxing (like the living room), use many low-watt (7, 15 or 25 watt if incandescent) lamps placed low around the room, e.g. on walls, tables or in windows, rather than one bright ceiling light. Can be complemented with floor reading lamps and ceiling floodlights to be turned on when needed. Avoid up-lighters and torchieres.

• Around children, I’d use only warm-white LED lamps (which are cool to the touch) or low watt frosted incandescent bulsb in enclosed & shaded luminaires. CFLs contain mercury and can break and should therefore never be used around children or pets. Clear halogen lamps can get too hot, bright and glaring. One exception is IKEAs Snöig series of desk, walland floor luminaires where the halogen lamp is well protected from curious fingers and eyes.

• For night-lights, I recommend LED. Even if you only save 6 watts per lamp, they’re usually on all night, every night, and come in different colours. 

• Coloured lights, e.g. holiday lights, car and traffic signal lights, stage lighting etc. can be replaced by LED. LEDs come already coloured in various colours and are often ideal due to their smallness, low energy use and lack of excess heat. Paying for premium quality incandescent light, only to filter out most of through a colored glass, is truly a waste! 

Detailed home lighting and lightbulb guide:
The Lamp Guide

More lamp comparison photos:
Snarkish Forum
Newest Lightbulb Tech Combines Advantages of Incandescent, Fluorescent, and LED
LED Tints

TreeHugger CFL guide:
Be Careful When You Shop For Compact Fluorescents

EU Commission’s interactive & multilingual Bulb Selector

Lighting design tools:
GE Lighting Style
Philips Lighting Design tool

1. Plus, SVT, 17 sep 2009
2. Artificial Lighting and the Blue Light Hazard
3. SCENIHR: Light Sensitivity
4. HPA – Emissions from compact fluorescent lights