With the increase of energy-efficient lighting options, you have more choices than ever when it comes to buying light bulbs. Learn about the different types of bulbs: CFL, LED, and the sizes available to determine what you need.
Learn the differences between your light bulb options.
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are the most energy-efficient light bulb options. They have lower wattage than incandescent bulbs, but emit the same light output. This allows them to produce the same amount of light, but use less energy. View the chart for key differences.
A few more facts:
An electric current flows between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases. The reaction
produces ultraviolet (UV) light and heat. The UV light is transformed into visible light when it strikes a
phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb.
These bulbs use an electrical current passed through semiconductor material to illuminate the tiny diodes
called LEDs. The heat produced is absorbed into a heat sink, keeping the bulbs cool to the touch.
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In 2017, new US regulations will be put in place that will make it difficult for CFLs to qualify for an ENERGY STAR® rating. Some manufacturers are already phasing CFL bulbs out and are only going to produce LEDs. In the last couple of years prices have also been dropping on LED bulbs, making some more affordable than CFLs.
In 2007 Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act requiring new energy-efficient standards for basic light bulbs. All standard 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs are being phased out and will no longer be produced. Standard incandescent bulbs will still be available to purchase while supplies last. A number of specialty incandescent bulbs, such as chandelier bulbs, will remain available.
Incandescent bulbs use a filament that’s heated to the point of glowing. The glowing filament produces the bulb’s light.
Fluorescent bulbs or tubes are filled with mercury vapor that emits UV light when electricity is applied. The bulbs/tubes have a coating inside that turns the UV rays into visible light.
Halogen bulbs use a filament that’s heated to the point of glowing, the same as incandescent bulbs, but they use less energy.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs are primarily used in larger spaces such as warehouses, commercial buildings or in streetlights. They are filled with sodium or mercury vapor that conducts electricity. HID bulbs don't have filaments like most light bulbs, so they last longer.
Lumens - the amount of light emitted from a light bulb. More lumens equals brighter light, fewer lumens equals dimmer light. Standard 100-watt bulbs produce about 1600 lumens.
Watts - the amount of energy a light bulb uses. The lower the watts, the lower the electric bill. CFLs and LEDs have a lower wattage than incandescent bulbs, but emit the same light output.
Never exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your lamp.
With the phase out of standard incandescent light bulbs, knowing the correct wattage to buy can be confusing. Use the chart to locate an energy saving equivalent.
Lighting labels provide quick hits to help you get the most bang for your buck. They are now required by the U.S Federal Trade Commission to appear on light bulb packaging. Facts include brightness, estimated yearly cost, life expectancy, light appearance, energy used and mercury information.
By comparing the lumens and life of different bulbs of the same wattage, you can select the light bulb
that provides you with the best combination of light output and length of life.
Light color or light appearance is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale. Lower Kelvin numbers means more yellow light; the higher the Kelvin number the whiter or bluer light.
Warm White - 2500K-3000K (standard color of incandescent bulbs). Perfect for bedrooms, living rooms or dens.
Bright White or Cool White - 3500K-4100K. Perfect for kitchens, workspaces and bathrooms.
Daylight - 5000K-6500K. Perfect for reading.
LED, CFL, halogen and incandescent bulbs are available in a variety of shapes and bases to fit your needs. Energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs can be used in table lamps, pendant lights, ceiling fans, wall sconces and other lighting fixtures, the same as incandescent bulbs. Some vintage and decorative bulbs look great on their own. The easiest thing to do is bring your old bulb with you to the store so you’re certain to buy the right one. While you’re there, check out the different energy saving and stylish options that are available.
If you like to keep up with the latest technological innovations, there are several new lighting features to choose from.
Manufacturers have created bulbs that turn on and off via voice recognition.
These LED light bulbs have a built-in Bluetooth speaker so you can stream your playlists seamlessly. There is also color-changing technology that can work independently and features up to 16 colors to fit any occasion or mood.
Control your lighting from your smartphone. Dim lights, turn them on or off, or schedule your lighting to come on before you get home.
Watch our DIY Basics video: Which Light Bulb Should I Use?