Choosing A Light Bulb

I mentioned in my last post that I would be creating an in depth guide to choosing the right light bulb, and here it is. There are many factors at play in deciding which light bulb is best for your need, and choosing the right light bulb is more than a matter of appearance. Not only can the type of bulb determine the feel and brightness of the light, but it can be important in ensuring safety and saving money as well.


The first thing you will need to do when choosing a new lightbulb is make sure that it is rated for the use you need. If its wattage falls outside the range allowed for by your light socket, you could be in trouble. If you accidentally install a light bulb which wants more power than your fixture is safely set up for, you could be at risk of injury or fire, and at the very least are exposing yourself to more frequent bulb failures.


Next, check the size of the bulbs. Not every fixture will need its bulb to be a specific size, but many will have at least some constraint. Ensuring that the light bulb fits properly in its housing without contacting the surrounding area is critical in making sure that your installation is safe and will last. Make sure that when mounted, the light emitting area of the bulb will be in the ideal location for each specific housing.

Color and Texture

All lightbulbs do not emit the same colors or brightness of light. Intensity of light is measured in a few ways, such as in lux or foot candles. A higher number provides more light. However, don’t just get the highest number that you see. First, you want your light to match other lights surrounding it. If you are replacing one light in an array, it will be ugly and incredibly noticeable if one of the lights is producing much more light than the others. Second, aside from matching, you want an amount of light which will not strain your eyes. Too little light, and you will struggle to see detail for whatever task you have. Too much, and the glare could give you a headache.

Additionally, different light bulbs give off different colors of light. White light is a combination of many different colors. If you compare and contrast the stark bright glare of lamps in an operating theatre with the cozy warm glow of a reading light, you should be able to visualize the difference between many different textures of light. For this, again, match the texture and color of light emitted by each bulb with your desired ambiance.

Type of Bulb

There are also many different types of bulbs, which use a variety of different methods to produce light. Here, I will go over three basic types you are likely to see in your local convenience store.

First, you have incandescent bulbs. These are the classic bulbs which most of us see in a variety of places. They look like large balloons, and typically can be purchased very cheaply. However, this cheap price can be misleading. They have a relatively short life expectancy, and so you might expect to buy many of them over a period of time. This not only will cause you to spend more money, but also causes you to take additional trips to the store, wasting your time and energy. Finally, these bulbs consume a lot of energy for the amount of light they produce. With you paying for electricity, over years of operation, this extra energy can add up to be a substantial cost.

Second, you can use CFLs, or compact fluorescent bulbs. These are the bulbs you see which are typically thin tubes, bent into a spiral or square shape. While these cost a bit more than incandescent bulbs, they typically more than make up for it in life expectancy and energy use. They use less energy to produce the same amount of light, and are typically much cooler in operation. This not only can decrease your air conditioning costs, but can also be a factor in extending the life of the bulb. A lot of the time, while these will cost more at first, they will more than pay for themselves over their lifespan.

Finally, you can use LED lighting. LED lighting is relatively new, and is being rapidly improved and changed. However, as a general trend, LED bulbs will be much more expensive than either incandescent or CFLs. Additionally, many people dislike the color of light they emit. However, they have the bonuses of incredibly long lifespans and very small energy costs. You will have to do the math yourself depending on current prices, but there are absolutely situations where buying an LED bulb will save you money in the long run.

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