Choosing A Bulb for Your Light Fixture

December 20, 2020

How to Choose the Right Bulb for Your Light Fixture

You may not have ever put much thought into the type of light bulbs you have in your light fixtures at home. Right now, you might be thinking that a light bulb is a light bulb, and it doesn’t really matter does it? The reality is, however, that it does matter, and using the incorrect bulb can not only be visually unappealing, but dangerous as well. 

Having a basic knowledge of the different types of light bulbs and their features will ensure you select the proper ones for your fixtures. Aside from safety reasons, certain bulbs can change the aesthetic of a light fixture or even a whole room based on the wattage, color, size, etc. We compiled some tips and information below to guide you through the process.

Base size. The size of the base needed is a great place to start when choosing your bulbs, as it helps to narrow down your options. Light bulbs sizes are created using a specific format, with the letter signifying the shape of the bulb and the number signifying the size. The standard light bulb base size is typically E26, where the E stands for Edison and the 26 notes that it is 26 millimeters across. Smaller sizes, such as flame tipped or candelabra styles, are E12 in size.  

Incandescent vs LED. There are two main categories to consider when deciding on bulbs for your home. Incandescent is the classic or old-school type of bulb and works by producing heat to generate light. The pros of these are they are inexpensive and produce a more multi-dimensional color than other types. The cons are they have a relatively short lifespan, and they are not energy efficient. 

Light Emitting Diode, or LED, bulbs on the other hand work by conducting electricity through a semiconductor like silicon or selenium to produce light. LED bulbs are much more energy efficient, have a longer lifespan, produce higher light quality, and have no warm-up or cool-down period. The main downside to LED bulbs is the expense: they tend to be the priciest option with regards to upfront cost but usually save you money in the long run.

LED bulbs tend to be the more popular option these days due to the many advantages, but some still choose incandescent based on personal preferences. Obviously, you must ensure if your light fixture is compatible with one or both, which can affect your decision.

Lumens and Watts. To fully understand what type of bulb you want or need, you want to know a little about how they are characterized with lumens and watts. Lumens refers to the amount of light emitted from the bulb. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be. 

Wattage refers to how much energy is used by the light bulb. The lower the wattage is, the less electricity you are using, so that is something to keep in mind especially if you are trying to keep energy costs down. For instance, LED bulbs have a lower wattage than incandescent but produce the same amount of light, so they use less electricity.

Light fixtures will have a maximum wattage for bulbs used in them; it is particularly important to never exceed that number to maintain safety.

Color. Here is where not only the mood you want to set but also functionality come in to play. There are several different colors of light to choose from. Highlighted below are some of the most common colors.

Soft white is the most yellow of the whites and is what you get with most standard incandescent bulbs, but LED’s also come in soft white as well. Soft white gives off a warm glow and is recommended for living spaces and bedrooms.

Warm White is somewhere between white and yellow but brighter than soft white. Warm white is usually found in bathrooms or kitchens where a brighter light is needed.

Bright white is just as its name implies, a very bright white with a hint of blue tone to it. Bright white bulbs are also typically found in bathrooms or kitchens and tend to look best with white décor or furniture.

Daylight bulbs lean the most towards blue and are great for reading as they give off a very bright light and don’t strain the eyes as much as the other colors can.

Style. The style of a bulb can change the look of a fixture and therefore can be important to the overall look you are trying to achieve. Clear glass gives off a much brighter light than the muted look of frosted glass, so think about which you prefer. 

Candelabra style bulbs look great in chandeliers without globes or shades or in any fixture you want to showcase a beautiful bulb. Edison bulbs are super trendy these days and can add some style to an otherwise boring fixture, but they can be tough on the eyes if not covered with a shade.

Surprisingly, this is the tip of the iceberg with regards to the many different types and styles of light bulbs. The options are endless, but by making a few important decisions and knowing what is compatible with your fixture, you can find the right fit for you!

Farmhouse Style Cage Pendant with Flame Bulbs

Modern Chandelier with Globe Light Bulbs

Rope Chandelier with Edison Bulbs


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