How to Choose the Best Bulbs for Your Home Lighting Needs

Checked out the light bulb aisle at your home improvement store lately?

You’ve probably noticed that light bulb shopping is no longer what it used to be. Remember when all you needed to do was pick a bulb, check the wattage, and head over to the checkout? Today, there are tons of options available to consumers. You can get bulbs in different shapes, sizes, and specs.

If you’re not sure what you need, it can get scary. Here is some truly valuable information about what you need to know when shopping for home lighting.

Check the Label

It’s a requirement by the FTC for light bulb manufacturers to provide detailed information about their products on the package. Grab a pack and check out the “Lighting Facts” section. Here you’ll find information about the bulb’s brightness, life expectancy, mercury content, wattage, light appearance (cool or warm) and energy cost.

Wattage Vs Lumens

If you’re used to judging a bulb’s brightness by the wattage, you might get a bit confused when picking bulbs.  In reality, the amount of light a bulb gives off is measured in lumens. Wattage is used to refer to the amount of energy used by the bulb. Consequently, the higher the wattage, the more energy it uses.

Light Appearance

Also referred to as light color, appearance is measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. The higher the K, the cooler/whiter the light.

  • Cool White – Ranges between 3500 to 4100 K. This is great for places where you need a lot of light like the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Day Light – Ranges between 5000 to 6500 K and is best for reading.
  • Warm White – Ranges between 2500 – 3000 K. This is best for living rooms, dens and bedrooms.

Types of Bulbs

  • Incandescent bulbs – This is the original bulb designed by Thomas Edison. They’ve been used for years and provide good task and standard ambient lighting. It’s becoming harder to find these kind of bulbs, but they hold a lot of sentimental value. They’re being phased out for more energy efficient options.
  • Halogen bulbs – Thee types of bulbs produce brilliant white light that resembles the color of midday sun. They are an excellent choice for task lighting. They last longer and provide more light than incandescent bulbs watt for watt.
  • CFLs – compact fluorescent lamps are the “modern day” fluorescent bulbs. They consumer up to 40% less energy and outlast incandescent bulbs by up to 20 times.
  • LEDs – Light emitting diodes are the longest lasting and most energy efficient bulbs in the market today. They can produce more than 300 lumens for every watt. You can get LED lamps that are compatible drop-ins for fluorescent or incandescent bulbs.



Given the difference is technology, it is impossible to compare bulbs on wattage alone. Below is a table showing the wattage equitant for every bulb type.


Incandescent CFL Halogen LED
100w 23w 72w 20w
75w 20w 53w 14w
60w 15w 43w 12w
40w 10w 28w 8w






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How to Choose the Best Bulbs for Your Home Lighting Needs

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