What lightbulbs do you use? It might not seem like a big deal, but your choice matters. There are seemingly endless options that vary in price, design, and features. These small devices can also contribute to steep energy bills, so you should think twice before you buy.
Here’s what you need to know.
Basic Lightbulb Terminology
Take a look at your closest lamp. Can you identify which type of lightbulb sits inside? If you can’t, you’re not alone. They can be tricky to differentiate even when you look at the label.
Here’s some lightbulb terminology that can make your search easier:
- Lumens: These designate how much light a bulb emits. If you want a softer light for your bedroom, for example, you should pick a lower number.
- Watts: Wattage points to how much energy a lightbulb uses. Those with lower wattages will use less electricity, so you should always choose lesser wattage amounts. This trick can save you money as a result.
Keep lumens and watts in mind while you explore which lightbulbs to buy.
What Kinds of Lightbulbs Are There?
There are five common lightbulb types. These versions include incandescent, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and halogen. Let’s look at each option so you know how to pick the best one.
If you unscrewed a lightbulb anywhere in your house, you’d probably find incandescents. These lightbulbs are arguably the most well-known version available. They come in a few different shapes and sizes, including globe and mushroom.
There are mostly downsides to incandescents, especially as other versions become more advanced. These lightbulbs last a few thousand hours, so you usually have to buy replacements within a year. That means material waste. They also contribute to energy waste, since they’re less efficient.
LEDs are today’s alternative to incandescent lightbulbs. They last longer than other lightbulbs, so you get more bang for your buck — especially when you consider that LEDs use much less energy. LEDs have become more affordable over the years, too.
These lightbulbs come in various colors and shapes. It’s possible to use them for almost every space. However, you should remember that due to differences in frequency, you might not be able to install them in places like your garage. Be sure to double-check whether your pick will be compatible.
Take a look at your office’s ceiling whenever you’re at work. There’s a significant chance you’ll see several bright fluorescent lightbulbs. These lightbulbs usually come in tubes.
If you need “tube lights” for a space like your bathroom, garage, or basement, you can expect them to shine for around 30,000 hours. However, you should be aware that fluorescents often contain mercury. This factor makes them tricky to throw away.
4. Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
CFLs are known as the “twisty” lightbulbs. They do well in overhead fixtures in places where you might need harsher light to complete projects. These lightbulbs can save you more energy than most other options, excluding LEDs. Keep in mind that CFLs contain mercury, so you need to take extra precautions when you toss them.
This option uses less energy than incandescents. That said, you can still be more energy-efficient with LEDs and CFLs. If you want a natural-looking light, your best bet would be a halogen lightbulb. Be sure not to use halogens in small fixtures like lamps. They can burn at very high temperatures.
Each lightbulb has distinct features, so you should consider what purpose your lightbulbs will serve before you buy them.
How to Pick the Right Lightbulbs
Everybody needs to find the right lighting sources for their home. Yet it might be a bit overwhelming to choose between different lightbulbs. However, you can make the right decision without much work. Ask yourself questions like:
- Do you want soft or harsh light?
- What size works best for your fixture?
- How important is energy efficiency?
Then, you want to think through any fancy features. Some homeowners opt for dimming lightbulbs in order to achieve different lighting effects. Others look for lights that are compatible with smart devices like Google Home or Alexa.
These points will help you determine which lightbulb you should pick. If you want to save money and energy, you should always start with LEDs. That said, you might need one that shines much brighter. There’s no one-size-fits-all option for lightbulbs, so your selection will depend on you.
Everything You Need to Know About Lighting Your Home
If your local hardware store’s lightbulb selection seems endless, you might have trouble figuring out which one would work best. But it’s easier than you think after a little research. This guide should help simplify your search.
Written by Evelyn Long
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she publishes home improvement and green building advice for builders and homeowners alike.
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