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Basic Types of Light Bulbs

Choosing the right light bulb is just as important as choosing your light fixture or shade as they can give your room ambience and character. This guide highlights the key things to consider to help you choose the perfect bulbs for your home.

 

LED Light Bulbs

An LED is a long-lasting light option that is best used to illuminate small areas, like under-counter task lighting. Also available for outdoor use, the bulb emits light when an electrical current passes through a semiconductor material. As soon as these two elements meet, it creates the light.

Pros:

  • Long life, if used in a suitable environment. Saving future maintenance & cost. A lifespan of 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or about 18 to 46 years.
  • Dramatically higher efficiency & lower power usage compared to incandescent lights (up to 80% cheaper to run). 
  • Good LEDs can produce 100 lumens of light per watts of electricity (Halogens are more around 10 to 15 lumens per watt).
  • LED technology is UV and IR free

Cons:

  • Bulbs can be heavy
  • Not all LED bulbs are dimmable
  • Some options are expensive


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL)

CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs, are sometimes called twisty or spiral bulbs. Available in linear, U-shaped, and circular options, fluorescent bulbs infuse a flat, cold light into a living area. Oftentimes, A CFL is installed in spaces where the light is frequently left on (kitchen, entryway, hallway). Light is emitted in a CFL by driving an electric current through a tube containing argon and a small amount of mercury vapor. This generates an invisible ultraviolet light which triggers the fluorescent coating inside the tube to emit a visible light. Use these bulbs in an open air fixture, which lets air circulate so the bulb is more efficient.

Pros: 

  • Cost-effective
  • Efficient: CFLs are up to 400% more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
  • Use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs
  • Life span is approximately seven to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs

Cons: 

  • Life will be reduced significantly by turning them on and off too frequently.
  • Contain small hints of mercury
  • They do not have dimmer compatibility
  • Take longer to turn on

 
Halogen Light Bulbs

These bulbs are the closest to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Enclosed in halogen gas, their filaments burn hotter but use less energy. Offering a natural daylight or "white light," a halogen bulb emits light like an incandescent bulb; an electric current heats a wire filament until it starts to light up. Commonly used in under-cabinet or ceiling lights, colors often appear sharper when illuminated by a halogen bulb. 

Pros:

  • Uses less energy than an incandescent bulb
  • A lifespan of about one year
  • Dimmable
  • Does not contain mercury

Cons:

  • Short lifetimes compared to LEDs and CFLs
  • Not as energy efficient as LEDs or CFLs
  • May not last as long as an incandescent bulb


Incandescent Light Bulbs

The oldest and largest category of light source. The familiar “Edison-base” bulb is still the most common light source in most residential applications. A popular option, an incandescent bulb will illuminate your space with a warm light. Available in various shapes and sizes, this bulb is designed to produce light when a wire filament is heated by an electric current in the bulb. 

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Does not contain mercury
  • Usually lasts between 700 to 1,000 hours or about one year
  • Dimmable

Cons:

  • Uses more energy compared to other bulbs