Light Bulbs Buying Guide

Light Bulbs
  • Getting Started

  • The use of incandescent bulbs across the US began decreasing the moment Congress decided to pass Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. This act laid down some strict rules and standards in the energy sector with an aim of making energy greener, cost effective and long lasting. This was done in style in such a way that all inefficient bulbs had to be replaced with more efficient bulbs capable of consuming minimum energy for cost effective purposes. Environmental consideration was also a factor as this act came into effect. These standards meant that all incandescent bulbs and all close relatives were to be phased out if they failed to follow the set standards. This move led to a decrease in the users of incandescent bulbs across the US with time.

    This was a change that brought good news in the world of lighting because CFLs and LEDs came and a good number of people fell in love with them because of their ability to consume minimum energy which meant they were cost effective. With these types of bulbs everyone now has a variety of options to choose from. There are very many nice options available in-terms of the best bulbs for lighting which therefore make it a bit challenging when it comes to finding the right bulb. The other factor likely to determine whether a person is ready to do as EISA mandates is the willingness of an individual to move on from old bulbs known for excessive consumption of energy to the new bulbs well known for saving energy hence pocket friendly. Let’s now look at some of the considerations when planning to buy a light bulb.

  • What to Consider

  • Consider the fitting and shape of your bulb

    This is an important aspect that must be considered when buying a light bulb. Don’t be like other people who just buy blindly without considering this important info about light bulbs and fittings. The shape and type of fitting determines a lot when installing a bulb. There are very many options to choose from when it comes to light bulbs and different fittings. Choose a bulb with the right fitting which makes it easy when it comes to installation. You can as well consider your preference when it comes to fitting your bulb. Does the fitting you settle on the best whether indoors or outdoors.

    The other factor you must consider when buying bulbs is the shape. The shape of the bulb goes hand in hand with the fitting. We have a representation of the most common shapes you can choose from below.  However, you can always do your research to find out the different types of bulbs available in the market. What we have provided here are the most common types of fittings that you are likely to get whenever you want to buy a bulb for your home office or other household needs.

    The different shapes of light bulbs available provide different angles and spread of light ranging from a narrow light to a 360o spread of light. Apart from considering the shape and fitting of the bulb when switched on, you also need to consider the other side of the coin especially when the light is switched off. How will the bulbs look when they are not on? This is something you have to consider when buying light bulbs.

    Annual Running Costs

    There are many CFLs out there which are affordable and bright enough to give your household the best lighting and tone. Although earlier CFLs used to be dimmer, this has changed recently and CFLs have improved in the past few years. Studies indicate that they are about four times brighter than incandescent bulbs. However, not everyone prefers CFLs considering the quality of light they give. Compared to LED bulbs, CFLs are a much cheaper option. The running cost of a lighting bulb is something you need to consider when buying a bulb for your household, kitchen or bathroom.

    Go for the best light bulb color and brightness

    Before going for a light bulb make sure you know the type of light you need. This therefore means you must understand brightness requirements. This can as well translate into the output of light or wattage. Like in the old days when incandescent bulbs ruled the lighting world, a period when watts were considered while buying a bulb, today you’ll find bulbs which use less energy but produce the quality brightness. Wattage, Kelvin scale and CRI are factors you need to understand as you plan to get the right bulb. Let’s find out how these terms determine the brightness and color of a lighting bulb.


    Gone are the days when brightness produced by light bulbs was measured in watts. Wattage was used as a measure of power when nearly every household was filled with incandescent bulbs. The introduction of energy saving bulbs brought a new measure of brightness produced by bulbs. Today the brightness level of bulbs is measured in what is known lumens. The brighter the bulb the higher the number of lumens used.

    A bed-sized table lamp with 400 watts would be appropriate for that matter and it is recommended that the suitable bulb for a living room should be able to produce between 1500-3000 lumens.

        •  Kelvin scale. The Kelvin scale is normally used to measure the color of light. The temperature produced by a light bulb can also be measured by a Kelvin scale. Many manufactures usually indicate the color temperatures on the packaging of a light bulb. Manufacturers indicate the color temperature that a light bulb will emit when switched on.

    The color of light produced by a bulb is an important consideration when buying a light bulb because color affects so many things including mood and several items in the room.

        •  Color Rendering Index (CRI). Most bulbs are normally given a CRI score. CRI can be defined as the ability of a source of light to represent a variety of colors. For instance you want a bulb which produces light that makes your vegetables look green and not some other strange color. Look at the following images for more explanation of good and poor CRI.

        •  Buy light bulbs as per your needs. Why exactly do you need to buy light bulbs?  How can you find out the right lighting bulb as per your needs? Well, you first have to do a detailed research and go through different light bulb reviews and guides. Choose the bulb you need and do a background check to find out whether it meets your requirements. You don’t want to buy a bulb which will cause problems and cost you a lot yet there are very many bulbs which can meet what you expect.


    When being manufactured some light bulbs end up with in-built hardware which can block projection of light reflecting it upwards. It is always advisable to go for a bulb that spreads light in all directions. For a person who needs a bedside light for reading or lighting a section in a room it is advisable to consider directionality of the light. Look for a bulb capable of giving 360o light output.

    Which type of light do you want between warm and cold?

    When buying lighting bulbs especially the LEDs, you must always consider whether you want warm or cold light. The standard temperature of light is normally measured in ‘Kelvin’. When a bulb produces very orange light it means the Kevin number is low. When it comes to indoor lighting, people prefer a slightly yellow glow or sometimes what is known as warm white. Slightly yellow lighting can be good in a kitchen and bathroom.

  • Types of Lightbulbs

  • LEDs

    When these bulbs arrived they were a game changer and other types of bulbs such as CFLs and incandescent found it hard gaining ground. LEDs are cost effective in such a way that they are capable of using only a fraction of the wattage that incandescent bulbs use. The wattage of these types of bulbs is normally between 4W and 22W. Manufacturers approximate that they can be used for 20,000 hours.

    LED bulbs do not burn out like incandescent bulbs normally do. Instead of burning out, LED bulbs normally experience a decrease in amount of lumens which makes them dimmer with time. They take long before finally becoming dimmer. They are better than incandescent bulbs because of the low amount of energy they consume.

    However, it does not mean that LEDs do not fail or do not have a disadvantage. Apart from their cost, LEDs are actually a better option when it comes to light bulbs.


    They came and replaced incandescent bulbs but unfortunately a better option arrived later in the name of LEDs. Although not many people received CFLs warmly due to the white light they produce. People preferred the warm tone produced by incandescent bulbs. Their approximated average life expectancy is 10, 000 hours.

    The whitish color that CFLs produce can be described as less pleasing aesthetically as some users claimed back in the days. Some people believe that switching them on and off regularly reduce their life expectancy. There is also this general belief that CFLs normally take a second or two to light fully after switching on.

    There has been advancements in the technology used in producing CFLs since 2007 when EISA was signed into law. Today you can find an ‘instant on’ CFL and a variety in color options including dimmable ones.

    The most common downside about CFLs is the fact that they do not last for long enough. Using them in outdoor activities is not recommended because they can sometimes fail to turn on when temperatures are extremely down.  However, this should not worry you because actually some cold-cathode CFLs can be used in temperatures as low as -10F.

    Incandescent bulbs

    Their wattage lies between 40W and 150W and they can last up-to 1000 hours. EISA actually never banned the use of incandescent bulbs but what it actually did was setting energy standards and explaining the minimum acceptable lumens per watt recommended for a light bulb. The EISA act expected manufacturers to produce more efficient incandescent bulbs. There is actually more room for improvement of incandescent bulbs in-terms of energy consumption.


    These are listed under incandescent bulbs with halogens trapped inside. There is also a filament which burns after these halogens recycle tungsten gas to make the filament bright hence producing light. These bulbs can be useful to any individual who is ready to replace bulbs often and users who prefer using incandescent rather than LEDs and CFLs.

  • Important Manufacturer Information

  • Apart from the information which has been covered about light bulbs and what to consider when planning to get the best light bulb, it is also important to settle on a bulb that you’ll enjoy for a very long time. Manufacturers are required to include important information about their product on the packaging of bulbs so that users can find it easy when choosing which bulb to buy.

    Federal Trade Commission clearly gave out the right information to be included in packaging of bulbs and any manufacture who defies this requirement will be obviously facing the full force of the law. The packaging of light bulbs should include important information such as color temperature, lumens and estimated costs and any other important information that Federal Trade Commission believes is right.