28 January 2013

L'Ampoule « baïonnette »

Apparently, light fixtures and bulbs that use a bayonet-style mount are common not only in France but also in Great Britain, Australia, and other countries. They don't seem to exist — at least not for household lighting — in the U.S. or Canada.

For me, les ampoules électriques à baïonnette have long been a famiiar feature of French lighting systems. The bayonet has always seemed to me to be an old-fashioned style of light socket compared to the more familiar screw socket invented (I think) by Thomas Edison — even though Edison invented it in 1909. I believe they are making fewer and fewer bayonet fixtures as the years goes by.

This old bayonet style bulb has been in use in our downstairs panty for who-knows-
how-many years. It's been giving us light for 10 years now, and it still works fine.

Here at our house outside Saint-Aignan, we have at least four light fixtures and two old lamps, all of which were here in the house when we moved in 10 years ago, that require ampoules baïonnette. I guess we should have changed them by now, or will need to do so someday soon.

 Maybe it's this elaborate tungsten filament that has kept the old bulb burning for so long.

The fact is, however, that you can find compact fluorescent bulbs with bayonet sockets fairly easily — at SuperU or Intermarché, for example. Having two different kinds of sockets is just another complication you face when you're replacing a light bulb here. Not to mention the fact that the so-called Edison screw sockets come in at least two sizes, large (E27) and small (E14)...

You have to have a stock of all of these kinds of bulbs on hand in case a bulb somewhere in the house needs to be replaced.


  1. We have so many different kinds of light fitting in our house that we have a huge box full of spare bulbs, just to be able to replace one for each fitting.

    Someone somewhere will be able to do the maths that works out how long one of the new bulbs has to last in order to be more cost effective than the old ones. The new ones cost about ten times as much as the old ones so they have to last ten times as long, less an amount to account for the reduced cost of electricity required.

    My maths isn't up to it but I still can't see them as a bargain !!

  2. I remember those elaborate filaments in light bulbs, long disappeared. I really dislike modern fluoro bulbs. As you said, they take forever to come warm up and the light is not nice. I stockpiled old style bulbs, but halogen replacement bulbs are not too bad. Thirty years ago in Australia all we had was standard bayonet fittings. Oh, there were fridge and sewing machine lamps that were different. You would not believe how many different spare bulbs with different bases we now have in our apartment. We only have one Ikea lamp and no spare bulb for that one.

  3. Ken... all our new light fittings... installed five years ago now... are bayonet and it is difficult to find ES sockets on anything but the pendant lamps in the bricos...
    we, like Jean... and probably you... have a huge box of different strength, different fittings bulbs.
    I would prefer the ES as a standard... the bulb is much easier to fit... something about the pointy end and the fact that the screw bites immediately, to my mind.

  4. I remember Walt mentioning in a blog post a few years ago his struggles with finding a bulb that was the right size (I think it was Walt? might have been Dedene?)--went to the store but didn't have the definite measurement of the base :) It's true that this is not usually an issue here in the U.S. The base is either clearly very tiny, or of a standard larger size.

  5. I was never any good at changing bayonet bulbs, so may years ago, I changed all the light sockets to screw bulb sockets. This way I can change any bulb myself.
    Your bayonet bulb looks like a keeper...doesn't look like it will ever give out. That's the beauty of the older made stuff...built to last.

  6. Actually, we have a couple of lamps that use that kind of bulb. They're sold everywhere.

  7. That bulb is kind of pretty--sculptural.


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