In this day and age, buying a lightbulb has become a lot more complicated than it used to be. You can’t simply go out, and buy a similar watt bulb, and expect it will be exactly the same as the other light bulbs in your room. The fact of the matter is the bulb may not even work in your fixture. There are a few things you need to take into account, in order to ensure that you buy the right light bulb for your fixture.

There’s no need to worry. The process isn’t that complicated. All you need to do is keep a few facts in mind, when you make a trip to buy your next light bulb. In order to learn more, follow along below.

Check Bulb Base Size and Bulb Shape

In order to ensure that the light bulb you purchase is the correct fit for your fixture, you’ll have to ensure you purchase a bulb with the proper base size and shape. Light bulbs come in many shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, the standard light bulb used in the U.S is a A19 bulb, with an E26 base. This may sound confusing, but it’s rather simple.

The E stands for Edison, and means that the light bulb has an Edison screw, and the 26 means that the base is 26mm across. In Europe, you’re more likely to find E27 light bulbs. The A, on the other hand, is a reference to the shape of the light bulb. A stands for arbitrary and is the shape you normally imagine when you think of light bulbs.

If you see a C instead, this stands for candle, and G stands for Globe. The number 19 refers to the size. If you would like to see an appropriate light bulb shape chart you can navigate here. You’ll also find a light bulb base chart, which you may find useful.

Figure Out How Much Light You Need

Most people assume that watts is the best measure to determine whether or not a light bulb will suffice as a replacement for your old light bulb, which burned out, however, this is no longer the case. It’s in fact, more important that you locate the number of lumens. The lumens measurement will let you know how much light a light bulb produces, rather than how much energy it uses. Although, you’ll see a watt equivalent, it’s still best to look out for the lumens measurement. Feel free to follow the guidelines below, as well.

  • If you used to buy 40 watt bulbs, find a light bulb with 450 lumens
  • If you used to buy 60 watt bulbs, find a light bulb with 800 lumens
  • If you used to buy 75 watt bulbs, find a light bulb with 1100 lumens
  • If you used to buy 100 watt bulbs, find a light bulb with 1600 lumens

You’ll note that the fixtures you own will display a maximum rating for the number of watts they can safely handle. If you end up buying an energy saving bulb and would like a brighter light, you can buy a light bulb that offers more lumens and still stays within the maximum watt range. For example, a 9 watt LED bulb actually offers the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. This means you can safely and easily move up to a 15 watt LED bulb, that would offer the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Choose the Appropriate Color for Your Light Bulb

You’ve probably noticed that white light bulbs have a color cast. Put simply, these light bulbs can be warm, emit a yellow light, cool, emit a blue light of daylight or somewhere in the middle. You’ve probably heard terms such as “warm”, “soft” or “daylight.” Although these terms are quite useful, it’s much easier to determine the color cast by looking at the color temperature. The color temperature is measured in Kelvin degrees. Follow the guidelines below in order to determine which light bulb color temperature is best for you.

  • Warm, yellow light: 2700 – 2800K
  • Slightly yellow, warm light: 3000 – 3200K
  • Neutral, bright white light: 3500 – 4000K
  • Slightly blue, bright white light: 5000 – 6500K

Please keep in mind that smart LED lights have the capability to change their color across the spectrum of white light, and many can produce various other colors as well. You may think it’s silly to own a light bulb capable of emitting different colors, but you’ll be surprised to learn that different colors work best for specific tasks. For example, you may prefer a blueish, white light in the morning, but want a warmer light at night, before bed. Recent studies have shown that blue light can cause sleep problems. This is why is can be quite advantageous to own light bulbs that offer various different colors.

Do You Need a 3 Way Light Bulb?

If you own a fixture that supports multiple lighting levels, you may want to ensure that you purchase a light bulb that can be dimmed. Compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs often can’t be dimmed. Please note the packaging on the light bulb your purchasing, in order to ensure it has the capability to be dimmed.

Will Your Bulb be Used in an Enclosed Fixture or Recessed Can?

As you’ve probably guessed, light bulbs that are used in enclosed fixtures and recessed fixtures heat up more quickly than bulbs that are used in open fixtures. Most especially, LED light bulbs are quite sensitive to heat and put simply, won’t last long when used in enclosed fixtures. In order to ensure that your LED light bulb last longs, you should look for a light bulb that is well-rated for use in enclosed fixtures.

Which Type of Light Bulb is Best for You?

Before you learn about the different types of light bulbs, you should keep in mind that you should only purchase light bulbs that have the energy Star label. The Energy Star label will certify that the light bulb you’re purchasing has been tested to meet the energy efficiency standards. Furthermore, the Energy Star label will also show the light bulbs brightness, color, lifespan, energy usage, and what it will cost to run it for a year. This information is very useful, and provides everything you need to know about purchasing the right light bulb for you. There are different types of energy saving light bulbs that you can purchase. In order to learn more, follow along below.

  • Energy Saving Incandescents: These light bulbs possess a lower wattage, and have a tungsten filament, similar to standard light bulbs. These light bulbs are surrounded by halogen gas, instead of nitrogen or argon. Put simply, these light bulbs provide bright light, with a greater efficiency. These light bulbs will last about three times as long as traditional incandescent light bulbs.
  • Compact Fluorescents: Compact Fluorescents, or CFL’s, for short are curly, bulb sized fluorescents. Admittedly, earlier versions of CFL’s offered harsh light, however, more modern versions tend to offer various color options, and are even designed to look similar to traditional incandescent bulbs. The benefit of CFL’s is that they offer 75% energy savings over incandescent and last about ten times longer. Yes, you read that right, ten times longer.
  • LEDs: LED’s are by far the most efficient option you can choose when it comes to purchasing light bulbs. LED’s are about 75-80% more efficient than traditional incandescents and last 25 times longer. You can’t go wrong when it comes to purchasing LED’s. These light bulbs will be with you for the long haul, and certainly won’t disappoint. IF you’re a stickler for energy efficiency, you should buy an LED lightbulb. They are relatively cheap, as well.