Types of Light Bulbs – How to Choose?

Nowadays, visiting a lighting shop can be overwhelming because a revolution has taken place in the lighting industry over the past years.

The old energy-hogging incandescent lightbulb that has dominated lighting for more than a century is phasing out. More efficient LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, bulbs are taking over.

LEDs are a technology entirely different from incandescent bulbs, and a learning curve comes with the transition.

Keep reading to learn about the types of light bulbs and how to choose the right one for your home or office.

Types of Light Bulbs

There are mainly four types of lightbulbs, including:

  • Incandescent
  • Compact fluorescent (CFL)
  • Halogen
  • Light-emitting diode (LED)

a. Incandescent

These are the type of bulbs most widely used and are typically the least costly.

They emit a warm light, can be used with dimmers, and usually last up to a year, but not as long as CFL or LED lightbulbs, but longer than halogen lightbulbs.

They are not as energy-efficient as other forms of lightbulbs.

b. Compact Fluorescent (CFL)

Depending on the model you choose, these energy-efficient bulbs will emit a large array of colours.

They also take some time to warm up and get brighter. Use these to illuminate large rooms, such as cellars, large spaces, and kitchens.

They are less expensive compared to LEDs and can last longer than incandescent lights. These lightbulbs are designed with Mercury, so you want to treat them carefully.

c. Halogen

Halogen lights are designed to emit a white light that simulates high-noon daylight.

They are energy-efficient and dimmable, perfect for recessed lighting, pendant lights, and lighting under the cabinet.

Of all the four types of lightbulbs, halogen lights have the shortest lifetime. However, they warm quickly, so they should be kept away from materials that are fire-hazardous.

d. Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

It gives off no heat, contains no mercury, and emits a bright light, one of the most energy-efficient lightbulb types.

They have directional light, so that they are excellent for illumination tasks. Some light fixtures are built-in with LED lights and are referred to as integrated LED lights.

They are long-lasting (up to 50,000 hours) and are ideal for difficult areas to access.

How to Choose a Lightbulb?

1. Check Your Bulb Base Size and Shape

Depending on where you’re using them, light bulbs come in a range of sizes and shapes. In some households, the regular light bulb used is an A19 bulb with an E26 base. The E implies an Edison Screw on the bulb, and the 26 means that the base is 26mm diameter.

A refers to the shape of the bulb. A is for arbitrary and is the shape we all think of when we imagine a light bulb (C is for candle, G is for globe, etc.). The size is indicated by the number 19. A lighting specialist, such as Lightmakers can help you through the code names.

2. How Much Light You Need?

Wattage is no longer the only way to determine a direct replacement for the just burned out bulb.

So, when you visit a lighting shop, look for the number of lumens instead of watts, the indicator of how much light a lamp produces instead of how much energy it consumes.

Usually, you’ll see a watt equivalent as well, but look for the lumens to be sure.

3. Choose the Right Colour of White

White light usually has a cast. It could be the incandescent light bulb’s cool, blue light of daylight or somewhere in between.

Manufacturers and lighting specialists prefer to use terms such as “soft” or “warm” or “daylight.”

These terms are sadly not standard for everyone. It would be best to look at the colour temperature calculated in Kelvin degrees to evaluate the direct colour substitution.

4. Colour Temperature Scale

  • 2700 – 2800K: Warm, yellow light
  • 3000 – 3200K: Still slightly yellow, warm light
  • 3500 – 4000K: A neutral, bright white light
  • 5000 – 6500K: A slightly bluish, bright white light

5. Will You Need to Dim Your Light From Time to Time?

Not all light bulbs, especially compact fluorescent and LED bulbs, can be dimmed or used in 3-way fixtures.

For you to know if the bulb can indeed fit with your dimmer or 3-way fixture, the packaging should explicitly state that the bulb is “dimmable” or “3-way” fixture.

6. Will the Light Bulb Be Used in an Enclosed Fixture or Recessed Can?

Light bulbs used in sealed fixtures and recessed fixtures heat up faster than in open fixtures. If used in these fixtures, LED bulbs are particularly susceptible to heat and won’t last as long.

Be sure to look for a bulb rated for use in an enclosed fixture if you want your LED bulb to last longer.

  • Final Thoughts

Look out for the Energy Star mark when you buy new bulbs besides the lighting design. Energy Star certified light bulbs are certified to meet energy efficiency requirements and will have labelling to tell you precisely what you are purchasing.

The Energy Star label displays the strength of the bulb (in lumens), colour (i.e., colour temperature), lifetime, energy consumption, and what it would cost to run for a year.

All that information makes it easy for you to compare bulbs, particularly if you’re considering different kinds of bulbs.

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