Whether you have finally completed your new lighting layout at home or you just need to update you current home’s light bulbs, figuring out which light bulb is best for your home can often be a difficult task as there are plenty to choose from with many variations of light wattage, color and efficiency. This Light Bulb Guide is meant to give you an easy layout of what to expect with each type of light bulb, based on performance and productivity.

Color Rendering Index (CRI): A light bulbs ability to show light accurately. It is shown on a scale of 0-100, 100 being the most accurate amount of light. Outdoor sunlight has a CRI of 100, so light bulbs with a high level CRI shines the most seemingly natural light.

Lumens: The measure of a light bulb’s brightness; the higher the amount of Lumens, the brighter the light. To compare wattage amount to lumens see the table under “Equivalent Light Bulb Output Guide.”

Color Temperature: The measure of the light bulb’s color when illuminated, visually how warm and cooler the light is, which is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The scale ranges from 2700K to 6500K; cool colors are typically at color temperatures of 5000K and higher and warm colors are at lower color temperatures between 2700K and 3000K. Below is a chart for you to reference:

light bulb color temp scale

2700K to 3000K 3500K to 4100K 5000K-6500K
Warm White & Soft White – the typical color for incandescent bulbs. Cool White & Neutral & Bright White – good for kitchens and work spaces or ambient lighting. Natural or Daylight – good for reading and task lighting.


Bulb Types:

incandescent light bulb

Incandescent Bulb

Incandescent: Incandescent bulbs are probably the most well-known widespread light bulb type – they have been used in our homes since the 1800s. Over the past several years there have been efficiency standards set for all light bulbs; incandescent bulbs are not obsolete but the energy levels have created an update and modification in performance. Here are the general facts:

  • Medium base (standard-style) or candelabra base (decorative-style)
  • Inexpensive but least efficient, with a short life
  • Creates a yellow-white light, popular in residential lighting
  • Clear or frosted glass
  • Brightness can be tailored by wattage
  • CRI level: 100


Halogen: The halogen light bulb is a type of  incandescent bulb but uses halogen gas to produce light to enhance efficiency.

halogen light bulb

Halogen Bulb

  • More expensive than incandescent bulbs
  • Creates a bright white light
  • Have a long life compared to standard incandescent bulbs
  • Good for accent lighting, task lighting and under cabinet lighting
  • Radiates a lot of heat, heating up your home and require more attention
  • CRI level: 100


Xenon: Xenon bulbs are also a type of incandescent light bulb but give off more light per watt than a standard incandescent. The xenon bulb is considered a cousin to the halogen but don’t create as much heat and can be compared to a fluorescent as far as longevity.

  • Creates a whiter and brighter light

    xenon light bulb

    Xenon Bulb

  • Longer life span than incandescent or halogen, about 20,00 hours
  • Compact design
  • Popular for under cabinet lighting
  • Rigid loop, festoon and wedge base
  • CRI level: 100

 



Fluorescent (CFL): Fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, are far more energy efficient than the bulbs listed above, using about 20-30% less electricity and are found to be a good replacement for the standard incandescent light bulb, to follow the new light bulb restrictions, and coincide with the output of light of incandescents; typically a 23-watt CFL will be as bright as a 100-watt incandescent.

cfl light bulb

CFL Bulb

  • Come in a variety of sizes and color temperatures
  • Emits cool and white or warm and bright light
  • Last 10 to 20 times longer
  • More energy efficient, draining a fraction of the electricity incandescents do
  • Cannot be dimmed
  • CRI level: 50-99

 



LED (Light Emitting Diode): LEDs are the most energy efficient bulb on the market today. They are a very good investment as they last about 5 times longer than the previous bulbs mentioned.

led light bulb

LED Bulb

  • Durable and low-maintenance
  • More expensive then most but considered an investment – one LED bulb that burns for about 8 hrs a day is believed to last up to 17 years before replacing it.
  • Dimmable
  • Emits cooler temperatures than other bulbs, about 90% less heat
  • Long life span; about 80,000+ hours
  • Uses about 15% less energy and emit 85% more light output than halogen bulbs
  • Sometimes are not optimal for ambient lighting

 



Equivalent Light Bulb Output Guide:

Below is a table for you to see and compare the light output of the the less energy efficient incandescent bulbs to the CFLs and LEDs mentioned above. This table is the estimated equivalency of wattage and light output for you to reference so you know which bulb may provide the same amount of light as the bulbs you’ve gotten accustomed to or have used in the past. This will also help you understand and assess the efficiency of the variety of bulbs.

Incandescent Bulb Watts Minimum Light Output Lumens Common Energy Efficient Bulb Watts (CFLs/LEDs)
40 450 9-13
60 800 13-15
75 1100 18-25
100 1600 23-30
150 2600 30-52
*Column 1 is measured in Watts, column 2 is measured in Lumens and column 3 is measured in Watts.