Shop by Bulb Type
This is the most common type of bulb, considered a “standard” bulb. They produce a warm, steady light, ideal for most household applications. They’re generally the least expensive type of bulb, they can be used on a dimmer, and are middle-of-the-road efficient. Expect a standard incandescent bulb to last for 700-1,000 hours.
While incandescent refers to the way the light is created within the bulb, it can actually have different bases. An “M base” is a medium based bulb (sometimes referred to as an “E base”, Edison base or “A Base”). Again, this is probably the single-most popular bulb on the lighting market. And a “C base” refers to a candelabra based bulb (more on that below).
As far as shape, incandescent bulbs can be found in globes, as small, round lamps for a decorative touch, or mimicking a flame
As described above, candelabra-base bulbs are actually incandescent bulbs, shaped to imitate the look of a flame on a candle. These are used on lighting fixtures designed to show off the bulb and not on those with shades.
You might be surprised how many lights use this kind of bulb. In track and recessed lighting, wall sconces, and pendants, halogen is increasing in popularity.
Halogen bulbs offer more light per watt than incandescent bulbs, and if cared for properly, they can outlast them, too. The downside to halogen bulbs is the cost, both in initial purchase and replacements. To maximize the life of your halogen bulb:
- Avoid touching the bulb with your bare hands, since any oil can deteriorate the lamp.
- Also, don’t run the bulb at full power if it’s not necessary.
At the top of the efficiency list for light bulbs, these are in contention for the gold medal, lasting up to 20,000 hours. They far outlast incandescent bulbs and are relatively inexpensive, depending on the type of fluorescent bulb you choose. The most popular commercial type is fluorescent tubes.
In addition to producing light efficiently, fluorescent lights produce very little heat, which is good news for areas with poor ventilation. Unfortunately, most fluorescent bulbs cannot be used with dimmers.
The well-publicized negative to fluorescent bulbs is the fact they contain mercury. This means it should your fluorescent bulb breaks or needs replacing, it’ll have to be properly disposed of.
As the gold standard for contemporary efficiency, it’s difficult to know what CFLs are best known for: their efficiency or their swirly shape. As part of the amazingly efficient fluorescent family, these are used mostly in residential applications, but surely can be used in any application that calls for a medium-base bulb.
According to the ENERGY Star web site, an ENERGY Star-qualified CFL bulb:
- Can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime.
- Uses about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer.
- Produces about 75% less heat, so it’s safer and can cut home cooling costs.
In December 2010, Consumer Reports magazine reported that Philips claims its 12-watt LED bulb has a life of 25,000 hours. Looked at in another way, if you installed one of these babies when the report came out and ran it four hours every day, it might last until Christmas 2027.
Get ready for the future of light bulbs.
LEDs are more efficient than CFLs, but have yet to catch on full force. With that said, the ENERGY Star web site suggests that rapid adoption of LED lighting across the board can possibly deliver savings of about $265 billion over the next 20 years.
Another in the emerging lighting technologies, xenon bulbs have surpassed incandescent and halogen lights in terms of efficiency and light quality. Xenon lights are rapidly becoming the preferred source for automobile lights, thanks to their controlled brilliance.
This type of light is essentially an incandescent bulb filled with xenon gas, which prolongs life span and improves efficiency. Despite their increased brightness, Xenon lights still produce very little comparative heat and are considered extremely safe, since the design include a ballast, which constantly regulates the energy levels and will automatically turn off should the voltage threaten to escalate beyond safe levels.