Have you shopped for light bulbs lately? Wow, talk about overload! Even small grocery stores have a lot of options. We want to save energy, but who wants to sacrifice good light quality, endure flickering or a light that has to “warm up” to its full brightness?
We did a little research for you, and put together some handy info. And now that LED bulbs are getting less expensive to buy, they make a lot of sense for many applications but not for everything. Here’s what we think!
Do you prefer warm light or cool white? We prefer the warm, soft glow of traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs but feel guilty about how much energy they consume. We look for information on the packaging of any light bulb that’s around 2700K for a warm, inviting light similar to incandescent light.
Bright white lights are from 3000-4100K and full daylight is 5000-6500K. Avoid any bulb in the “cooler” range for your nightstand, as it might keep you awake! Many LED and CFLs are in this range, so read the packaging. This information might be on the front or the back.
Does the light stay on for a long time when it is on? Some bulbs, such as many CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), burn out quickly when they get turned on and off frequently. For closets, bathrooms and lamps that aren’t on for longer than a few minutes at a time, choose LEDs.
Is heat an issue? You might not want a hot bulb in a lamp in a child’s room or at the top of a closet, where shelves stacked high could cause a fire. Choose an LED since they don’t emit much heat which is part of their charm and makes them more efficient. Halogen bulbs are very hot, followed by incandescent bulbs and CFLs.
Do you want to dim the light? Some CFLs and LEDs are marked “dimmable” but you might need to install a special dimmer or even buy a special fixture for the purpose. Otherwise you might get an annoying high-pitched buzzing or ringing sound. For now, choose incandescent or halogen bulbs if you want dimmable light.
For a while, CFLs sure seemed to be “the thing.” Why wouldn’t you use them? CFLs are more efficient than incandescents. But the negatives include emitting almost as much heat as incandescents, and sometimes a cold light quality, flickering and a very dim light when you turn them on. Plus, in many cities you can’t put CFLs in the trash because they contain hazardous mercury.
Sure seems like a lot of benefits to LED bulbs. When would you NOT want to use them? The technology of LED is improving by leaps and bounds, but there still isn’t a good looking LED bulb we would use in an open chandelier or in any fixture or lamp where you can see the light bulb itself. We would bite the energy bullet for appearances in this situation, and buy an attractive specialty incandescent or halogen bulb.
Can you still buy incandescent light bulbs? Yes! For a long time you should be able to find incandescent bulbs for chandeliers and appliances. Some of these may be in higher wattages, up to 60. We’ve “cheated” with the smaller appliance bulbs in certain places, particularly on nightstand lamps where we want a dimmable, warm glow that won’t keep us awake. If you have a lamp shade designed to clamp onto the bulb, you’re out of luck however.