Exploring the Types of Light Bulbs for Your Home

Before you dig too deep into home lighting ideas, there are a few things you might want to understand about different light bulb types—and even light bulb base types. With a variety of bulbs on the market, it can be hard to make your mind up about what you want. But a large variety also means there’s plenty of opportunities to add design to your space by simply changing out your light bulbs.

LED & CFL Types of Bulbs     

Traditional bulbs were called incandescent. You’ll still see this option at the store and probably for a much cheaper price, but incandescent bulbs use up a lot more electricity so they’re less friendly on your electric bill and less friendly to the earth. Halogen light bulbs are also a type of incandescent bulb and while they typically last longer than a traditional incandescent, they’re still an energy suck.


By comparison, CFLs or compact fluorescent light bulb types are about 35 percent of the energy that an incandescent bulb does. However, these bulbs typically take a little bit more time to warm up. They’re also not a favorite among some consumers, who don’t enjoy the type of light they put out.


LED stands for light-emitting diode. First invented in 1962, they’ve only become widely popular fairly recently. LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb. They also last about 25 times longer. According to Energy.gov, by 2027 widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh of electricity—the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 electric power plants or a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.

Determine How Much Light you Need

We’ll get into watts and lumens in a second, but first—figure out how much light you’ll need in a given space. This is determined based on square footage and foot candles. A foot candle measures how bright a light is one foot away from its source.


The chart below gives a guide for the number of foot candles you will need depending on the space. To determine the number of total lumens you will need in a space, multiply the square footage of your room (length x width) by the number of foot candles. So for a living room that’s 200 square feet, you would multiply 200 by 15 (pick a personal preference within the range). You would need a total of 3,000 lumens to properly light your space. Now let’s get into lumens by selecting the right bulbs.



Foot Candles Needed

Living Room


Kitchen General


Kitchen Stove


Kitchen Sink


Dining Room









Find the Bulb You Need

Select the Correct Wattage

Wattage is a measure of electrical power. Don’t overthink this one, just get the wattage that your light fixture requires. When you don’t, you risk over lamping. This occurs when you put a higher wattage bulb than your light fixture requires. It can cause overheating, melting, and other damage. And a higher wattage won’t create a brighter space. Keep reading for that solution.

Select Your Light Bulb Base Type

Most light fixtures will call for a standard, medium-sized, E26, or 26 mm screw. It won’t matter if you go with an LED, incandescent, or CFL—you’ll still be shopping for this type of screw to fit most fixtures.


However, if you are working with a decorative light fixture that looks on the smaller side, you’re probably dealing with a candelabra screw (C7). The second most common light bulb base type, s typically called an E12.

Select Lumens

In some situations, you might want the brightest light that you can get. Say a workspace or an area where you need light to focus on small details. In other areas of your home, something warmer can make your space feel cozier.


Light brightness is measured in lumens. The brightest household LED light available on the market right now is 5,000 lumens. The next one up from that is about 3,500 lumens. This is probably more lumens than you will need, however, in a single bulb. A typical 60w bulb will produce about 800 lumens, although some might offer less to give you an option when you’re looking for something moodier.


Select Light Tone: Yellow Light vs. Blue Light

Light tone can be measure in kelvins. Or it might simply be labeled as a tone on the box. Today, this might also be impacted by the color of the glass.

Light Type




Noon-time sunlight


Overcast sky


Blue sky



An extra warm LED is about 2700k and similar to a classic incandescent light, while a warm white bulb is about 3000k—still warm, but slightly clearer. Cool white is about 4000k, offering a crisp, bright white that is less moody and good for work situations (2700k is sometimes confused with 27,100 as a light type, but this number actually represents a battery type that powers very bright flashlights).


You’ll also find that you can buy bulbs with different types of glass. Clear glass will offer the brightest light. Amber glass can also be bright but gives all light a warmer feel and vintage look. Milky glass offers a more diffused light with a midcentury, modern-inspired look. You can also get mirrored glass, which directs light upwards. This is good for decorative looks and secondary lighting.

Bulbs might not seem like the most exciting decorative elements of your space—that’s because they also serve a practical purpose. But blending different light bulb types can help craft the perfect space for getting through all of the micro-moments that life has to throw at you.



Contributed to Your Home blog

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Published 9.14.2021

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