Choosing the Right Light Bulbs For Your Home
Choosing the right light bulbs for your home can be a complicated process. There are so many different choices on the market that can feel overwhelming.
It can be helpful to know some basic terminology before you start shopping. Terms like lumens and watts will help you compare apples to apples when selecting bulbs. Other important specs to consider include color temperature and shape/base code.
How do they work?
Light bulbs are a simple electrical device that take the electricity we feed it and convert it into light energy. This is an example of the law of conservation of energy at work, which states that electric energy can never be created or destroyed, but instead simply changes form. The light bulb takes the form of a hollow glass container with positive and negative wires embedded inside, connected to a thin filament of tungsten. When it’s hooked up to a power supply, the electric current rockets along through the filament, causing electrons to bang into the atoms that make up the filament. Each bump of an electron causes the atoms to vibrate, releasing energy in the form of photons that we can see. The hotter the filament gets, the brighter it glows.
When the current stops flowing, the atoms of the filament cool down and the filament eventually evaporates, depositing the tungsten on the inner surface of the bulb. This is why they have a listed lifetime of only hundreds or maybe thousands of hours.
Some people choose to use a different metal, like nickel or osmium, in place of tungsten for the filament. This makes the lamp last even longer, but it also reduces the intensity of the light it emits. Other light bulbs have a coated glass that diffuses the light more effectively. The coating is usually kaolin clay, but it can be made with pigments to change the color of the light emitted.
What are the different types?
Light bulbs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are also available in different wattages and have differing color temperatures. These differences affect how well a bulb produces light and how the color of a bulb looks (its “color appearance”).
Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb design is still very popular, but other types are rapidly growing in popularity as well. These include CFLs, LEDs, and halogens.
Incandescent light bulbs use a filament inside of a glass envelope to produce the bulb’s heat and resulting light. These are the most common type of light bulbs. They usually have a standard A shape with a number that represents its size in 1/8ths of an inch. These bulbs can be used in various household fixtures, lamps and sconces (a type of wall fixture).
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are a newer design for light bulbs that is more energy efficient than the traditional incandescent light bulbs. They use less electricity high frequency motion Sensor and last longer than the average incandescent light bulb. They also do not contain any mercury, which makes them safer for the environment than CFLs.
Halogen bulbs use a halogen gas inside the glass to create heat and resulting light. They are very quick to light and have excellent colour rendering, meaning that they reproduce the colours of the visible spectrum very accurately. These bulbs are commonly seen in overhead lighting, lamps and sconces.
How do I choose the right bulb for my home?
The lighting in your home can drastically impact the mood, appearance, and energy of your space. But navigating the lighting aisle at the store can be intimidating, especially when bombarded with jargon like Kelvins and lumens. But don’t let these terms scare you away from making the best choice for your home. With a little education on light bulb brightness and color temperature, you’ll be able to stock your home with bulbs that will serve the right purpose and fit perfectly in any fixture.
When deciding on the type of bulb for your space, start by looking at its Lighting Facts label for its color temperature and brightness rating. The color temperature, or Kelvin score, will give you a general idea of the shade of white that the bulb will emit. A lower Kelvin score will provide a warmer, more yellow tone, while a higher one will provide a cooler, bluer shade.
Next, you’ll want to consider the type of fixture and its function. For example, if you have a chandelier that needs a brighter bulb, go with an LED or CFL that’s rated for at least 2,000 lumens. Then, make sure the base of the bulb is compatible with the fixture, as not all bases are the same. Some will screw in, while others will require a twist and lock or pin base.
How much do light bulbs cost?
Light bulbs use very small amounts of electricity, but light bulbs when you have many in your house, it can add up. That’s why it’s important to consider energy use when shopping for new bulbs.
When choosing a bulb, consider its upfront price, hours used, and the cost of your electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh). You can find this information on your electricity bill or online using our Energy Cost Calculator.
For example, a 60W incandescent bulb would cost about $6 to purchase and operate over 1,000 hours. Plugging that same bulb into the calculator shows that it will cost about $0.11/kWh to run.
While incandescent and halogen bulbs are less expensive up front, they use the most energy and burn out faster than LEDs, meaning you’ll need to replace them more frequently. Plus, they contain mercury, which must be disposed of correctly when the bulbs reach the end of their lifespans.
LEDs are more expensive up front, but they save electricity and costs over time because they last so much longer and use so little power. And since they don’t contain mercury, they’re the eco-friendly choice. So even though the initial cost is higher, you’ll likely recoup that investment within a year or two through energy savings alone. You’ll also spend less on replacements, making them the cheapest option in the long run.