In the last couple of years, traditional incandescent A19 light bulbs (the shape most of us picture when thinking about light bulbs) were phased out of production and importation in the US. These included incandescent bulbs of 40, 60, 75, and 100 watts.
A lot of people have been unhappy about this change because they love the warmth and familiarity of incandescent bulbs. However, there are plenty of good options, including LED A19 bulbs, halogen A19 bulbs(which are actually incandescent bulbs!), and believe it or not … the traditional incandescent bulb you know and may love is still available, despite the regulations.
And that’s where rough service bulbsenter the story.
What is a Rough Service Light Bulb?
Rough service light bulbs are actually just normal incandescent bulbs made with a stronger and/or better supported filament so it doesn’t break as easily. They were originally designed for applications where regular vibrations were more likely to ruin a standard bulb more quickly. Because these are special application bulbs, the regulations banning the production and importation of incandescent bulbs doesn’t apply to rough service bulbs!
With its more durable filament, a rough service bulb is expected to last 3-5 times as long as a standard bulb, so even though they cost about twice as much, they save you money over time. And at about $1 per bulb, there’s no need to hesitate about price.
But you need to know about some differences in order to choose the right bulb for your needs.
Rough Service Bulbs Run Differently
Rough service light bulbs are actually built for 130V, even though you will almost certainly run them between 110V and 120V in any home or business (in the USA). The wattage shown is correct only if you run the bulb at 130V, but at 120V, it will use about 10% to 20% less energy … and produce about that much less light. However, running at 120V also roughly doubles its life.
So as an example, a 75-watt rough service bulb run at 120V will use about 60-67 watts of energy and produce about the same light as a 60-67 watt bulb. So when you replace a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb, choose a 75-watt rough service bulb if you need to maintain the same light level.
Alternately, you can choose a 60-watt rough service bulb and get a little less light if lighting levels aren’t critical. In this way you’ll save some money but have a bulb that isn’t quite as bright.
In the same way, a 50-watt rough service bulb is a good replacement for a traditional incandescent 40-watt bulb.
So if you love incandescent bulbs and you’re not ready to make the switch to CFLs or LEDs, or you simply need incandescent lighting for a particular application, there’s no need to fret -- these rough service light bulbs are sticking around, provide the lighting you’re after, and will last much longer than the bulbs that are no longer being made.