TIPS & TRICKS

How to choose the right lightbulb

Knowing how to choose the right lightbulb for your project can get a little overwhelming, but we’re here to help! 

Installing a lightbulb might seem pretty straightforward, but take a walk down the hardware store’s lighting aisle and you’ll soon realize there are so many choices. 

Knowing how to choose the right lightbulb for your project is important because there are different wattages, codes, and diameters that’ll change depending on whether you’re installing a warm dining room light or an outdoor floodlight, for example. 

When choosing a bulb at the store, they will all start with a letter which indicates their shape/type, followed by a number that indicates the bulb’s diameter. It can get a little overwhelming, but we’re here to help dive into the specifics:

Lightbulb types

Incandescent
Fluorescent
CFL
LED
Halogen

Incandescent

Incandescent bulbs are what you think of when you think of a standard lightbulb. They have a filament that is heated to emit light, so they’re high on the energy use scale and have an average life of about one to two years.

Fluorescent

Fluorescent bulbs are ideal for hallways, offices, and large spaces that need lots of light. Fluorescent bulbs convert UV light to visible light. They use low energy, contain mercury and have an average lifespan of between two and seven years.

Compact Fluorescent

Compact Fluorescent bulbs are smaller versions of the fluorescent tube bulbs. They have an average lifespan of between seven and nine years, use only a small amount of energy and contain mercury. They can be used in many different fixtures and are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs.

LED

Light Emitting Diode bulbs have a very long lifespan between nine and 22 years. More commonly referred to as LED lights, they don’t use much energy or contain mercury, and are great for everyday use. They’re the most energy-efficient of all the lightbulbs on the market.

Halogen

Halogen bulbs have a filament that emits a glow when heated and are most similar to the standard incandescent bulb but use less energy. They’ve got an average lifespan of between one and two years and come in middle-of-the-pack as far as energy use goes.

Lightbulb shapes

Standard
Candle
Globe
Bulged Reflector

Standard (A)

Standard bulbs are the most widely used in household lighting and often are accompanied by the code (A) for Arbitrary. They’re used for a variety of fixtures like lamps, ceiling lights and vanity lights.

Candle (B&C)

Candle bulbs (B&C) are pretty self-explanatory and are generally shaped like a candle flame where they’re more rounded at the base and taper smaller toward the end. This type of bulb is often used in instances where it isn’t the main source of light in a room, like for chandeliers, night lights or string lights, for example. Numbers you’ll find for candle bulb codes: B10 (1 ¼ “ diameter); CA10 (1 ¼” diameter); C7 (⅞” diameter); C9 (1 ⅛” diameter); and C15 (1 ⅞” diameter).

Globe (G)

Globe (G) bulbs are rounded and spherical in shape, and are often used for household fixtures like foyer and kitchen lights or chandeliers. The most common type is the G30, which has a 3 ¾” diameter, but you will also find: G11: 1 ⅜”; G14: 1 ¾”; G16/G50: 2”; G60 2 ⅜”; and G25/G80: 3 9/64”.

Bulged Reflector (BR)

Bulged Reflector (BR) bulbs have wide beamed angles which work to provide a lot of light to an area. They’re most often used for track lights, recessed lights, display lights and can lights to provide the primary lighting to a room. Numbers you’ll find for Bulged Reflector bulb codes: BR20: (2 ½”); BR30 (3 ¾”); and BR40 (5”).

Lightbulb color temperature

Warm white bulbs
(2,000-3,000 Kelvin) will give off a yellow-white hue and give a cozy, inviting feel to a room. They’re best used for areas like garages, office areas, bathrooms and kitchens.

Cool white bulbs
(3,500-4,500 Kelvin) are a more neutral white that give off a crisp appearance compared to warm white. They’re also best used in garages, office areas, bathrooms and kitchens.

Daylight bulbs
(5,000-6,500 Kelvin) give the feel of natural sunlight and therefore have a more blue-white appearance. They’re often used in hallways, commercial spaces, and for reading and task light functions.

Once you’ve got the right bulb selected grab one our Light Fixture Kit to help with your project .

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