A lot has changed over the past few years, for the humble light bulb. From the traditional incandescent type, that you could literally cook under, to some of the brightest and long lasting lights ever seen outside of a lighthouse. Choice is a good thing, which is good news since there is a lot to choose from, but how do you choose? Have a look at our 4 top tips for choosing your light bulb.
Get the Fitting Right
The first thing that you need to do, is find out what kind of fitting you need. The most common type is the screw cap, but these come in various sizes. What you are looking for is bulb description that looks something like E27 Screw cap bulbs – where E27 represents the size. If you aren’t sure, take your old one along to the store with you. Just in case.
Decide if You Want to Pay a Little Extra
Aside from cap fittings and sizes, you also need to choose between the types of bulb. The compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs for short), halogen and the LED type. Choosing the right bulb could save you a little pocket change each year, and could go toward other home projects.
CFLs are relatively cheap, and they can be bought in a wide range of sizes and ‘power’. When they were first introduced, as a standard energy saving bulb, they were slow to brighten up. This issue has been largely rectified, however. Aside from being cheaper than most, these bulbs are also efficient. Four times the efficiency of the old incandescent type, they actually pay for themselves over time through energy savings.
Halogen bulbs are similar to an incandescent bulb in terms of the colour of the light, and also its quality. This is because they both use the same type of filament. Also, because of the filament, these can also be used for cooking. In terms of energy used, there is almost nothing to separate these from their incandescent cousin.
LED lights use very nearly 90% less energy than the older, run of the mill standard light bulb and so these are by far the most energy efficient lights on the market. This is an important thing to remember, because an LED are more expensive on the shop floor. But, that being said these do typically last around 25 years. A single LED bulb could, over its lifetime, save you around £150 – £170 in energy used.
Choose the Right Colour, and Brightness
How bright do you want your bright? Bright. This is purely personal choice, but do give it some thought. Brightness is measured in lumens, or wattage. Colour, on the other hand, is measured on a Kelvin scale.
Lumens and wattage
Brightness used to be measured solely in watts, which is a measure of power if anything. But, we all knew where we stood with wattage as it was fairly simple to understand. Since the explosion of the energy saving bulb (not literally, we hope), this unit of measurement wasn’t very useful since the wattage dropped but the brightness usually didn’t. These days light bulb output is measured in lumens, which is a more useful and accurate measurement.
Simply put, the higher the number of lumens the brighter the light being emitted. To give you a rough idea, something like 400 lumens is enough table lamp like the one you might have next to a bed. To light a room, though, you may need a total of around 2,000 lumens (not from one bulb, mind).
Use this chart to see equivalent watt and lumen output for old-style incandescent and the three-types of energy-saving bulbs (LEDs, halogens and CFLs).
Now that you know what type and size bulb you need and how many lumens you require, the next job on your list is deciding on the colour. Sadly, this is a little more complex than choosing red over green.
The Kelvin scale
Have you ever switched on a new light, only to feel like somebody just put on the surface of the sun? Sometimes there is such a thing as ‘too white’. There is also the blue colour that some lights emit, which can be just as annoying and off putting for a lot of lot people. If you have heard of the words Kelvins before and thought, I thought meant heat? You’re right. The Kelvin scale is actually used to measure heat, usually in things like furnaces.
For our purposes, the only thing we need to worry about is that Kelvin is used here to represent the ‘warmth’ of the light – otherwise known as colour temperature. The majority of people are used to warm colour emitted by the old style light bulb, and also halogens. Stark white can be very off putting at first.
The midday sun is somewhere around the 5,500 Kelvin mark sunset is about half that. For comparison purposes, the old incandescent bulb is around 2,700k.
Light colour can change the look and feel of a room in an instant, and can actually affect your mood too. Keep these things in mind on your way to the store.
Buy The Right Shape
With everything else decided, you just have to choose the right shape now. There is a lot to choose from. Each shape and size bulb will the light around differently, so try and be as accurate as you can when buying a new bulb.
For instance, a round bulb will throw its light in an almost 360 arc. If you are simply replacing one, then a good idea might be to take the old one with you
Aside from light spread, you need to be it looks good too. You don’t want something that is going to stick up from the shade of a lamp, after all.
If choosing the right light bulbs for you and your home is harder than you thought, you aren’t alone. Hopefully, though, we’ve helped to make it just a little bit easier.
Incandescent lightbulb photo credit: Flickr
Unlit lightbulb photo credit: Flickr