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Understanding Light Bulbs: How do I choose the right one?

With changing technologies and new government standards, what once seemed easy can now be overwhelming.  That said, with a few facts in-hand selecting the right light bulb can be easy.

When selecting light bulbs, there are a few questions to determine the right choice for your space:

  • Where will this bulb be used?
  • How often and for what periods of time will the bulb be used each week?
  • How much light do I need in the space the bulb is used?
  • Is it important to have a pleasing or true color in this space?
  • What type of fixture will I use the bulb in?
  • Will I need to dim this bulb?

Here is a chart to breakdown the basics of the traditional bulb.  Below we are comparing 60 watt equivalent light bulbs.  The information is an approximate range to help you determine the best bulb for you.

Bulb-Comparison-Chart-v3 (1)

A few notes regarding the chart.

  • The cost per year is based on 3 hours of use per day.
  • Light output is measured in lumens, not watts, so it is important to use the lumen measurement when comparing bulbs.  This is the only way to really know how the bulb will perform.
  • Pricing will vary depending on the quality and features of the bulbs.  You will find that you typically “get what you pay for.”
  • Many different types of bulbs are dimmable, but you do need to make sure your dimmer type matches your bulb type.  Incandescent and Halogen typically dim on a standard dimmer, but fluorescent and LED need to have dimmers that will handle that those types of bulbs.  The bulb must also be rated for dimming.
  • The color rendering index (CRI) tells us how true the color appears.  (We’ve all been in a spot where you can’t tell if it’s blue or black, or have seen your gray look green under certain light.) Halogen and the old Incandescent will have a CRI of 100 – truest color rendering.  Fluorescent and LED can range up to 90 CRI…this is a very important number when looking to convert your home to these bulbs.  Look for something with a rating of 85 or higher that will keep your green, green and your taupe, taupe.
  • Bulbs create light in different ranges of the spectrum.  Incandescent light feels warm and yellow glowing at a color temperature of 2700 degrees Kelvin.  A cool white fluorescent bulb will provide a much bluer light at 4100 degrees Kelvin.  Each has their place, but will look better in a matching color scheme.  For warmer tones of brown and creams, a 2700-3000 Kelvin rated bulb usually looks best.  If your space is full of grays and blues something in a 3500-4100 degree Kelvin will accentuate those colors.
  • When using enclosed fixtures, the heat will not escape quickly, so bulbs can run too hot and burn out quickly.
  • The typical household bulb throws light in many directions (omni-directional).  This means your fixture may not
    “light” the same way using LED vs. incandescent.  Sometimes this matters, sometimes it doesn’t.  Find whichever best suits the space and fixture you are using it in.

Stop by or call –  we can answer your questions and help you determine what your best option is.  


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