How to Choose Which Light Bulb

Let’s face it, light bulbs aren’t the most exciting things in the world, and when you’ve got five different ones facing you – two cheap and the rest rising to a galactic price, you may be tempted to save yourself some money and opt for a cheaper one.

The appeal of buying cheap to rectify your blown bulbs at home may seem like a canny purchase at the time. When you get back and replace those dud bulbs with brightly lit beauties you marvel at the restored light and ponder how much better the hall looks.

Weeks go by and you’ve forgotten all about those new light bulbs, almost taking them for granted, basking in their shining glory. However, little do you know, that just around the corner those relatively new bulbs are going to leave you in darkness once more.  Use this blog to help decide which light bulb is right for which fixture and area in your home.

which light bulb

Image source: ArchDaily

Don’t blame the bulb..

If you don’t have the hindsight to peer back into the past and recollect the time you spent standing in front of those bulbs picking the cheapest, you’ll probably feel let down. As you begrudgingly step into the car to head for your local electrical wholesalers, you continue to bemoan the light bulbs for their quality and poor performance. However, it’s worth remembering that the issue isn’t the quality of the bulbs, it was the decision to welcome them into your home with the view that that, will be that.

Lesser used areas can deal with the cheap bulbs but the inside of your home should be a completely different story. Home lights are constantly switched on and off, always in use and are a lot more prone to over-exhaustion. That clever stunt you thought you pulled whilst selecting your new lightbulbs has truly backfired, going ‘cheap’ saw you spending less money there and then but in the long run the amount you’ve spent on replacing cheap with cheap, would have been saved if you had bought mid-range to expensive bulbs at the beginning.

Over a period of three years, the maintenance costs attached to buying cheap light bulbs way surpasses the costs of buying a decent mid-range to expensive bulb at the start.

best light bulbs

Image source: Pinterest

Every little helps

You may think that energy efficiency is a bit played out, experts pretentiously pointing to graphs and charts, harping on to us to ‘do our bit for the planet’, but however preachy it may seem they do portray a slice of truth. If Bob from Kingston-Upon-Hull is replacing his halogen bulbs with LEDs then his actions alone aren’t necessarily going to save the polar bears. Just like how Jane from Bodmin washing up yoghurt pots ready for the recycling isn’t going to scale down the impact of Russian air pollution.

Having said this, we should all take a huge conglomerate slogan of ‘every little helps’, because it really does. Even if you’re coming at this from a selfish angle, integrating energy efficient lamps will see your monthly energy bills decrease as well as having a knock on effect to the energy consumption used worldwide.

light bulb types

Image source: Pinterest

The transition to LEDs

There was a time where LEDs were a very niche and specialist area, where only high-brow functions and rich homeowners could adopt LED lighting. Over time many manufacturers (mainly in China) traded in traditional incandescent bulbs to make way for LEDs.

This small step towards energy efficient lighting saw the production cost of LEDs drop. More and more factories started to manufacture them, resulting in a bigger presence of LED lamps in mainstream stores with the general public becoming increasingly aware of their benefits.

So where do we stand now? Well LEDs are certainly the front runners of energy saving lightbulbs. They will probably continue to be a dominant force in years to come, however pinning all the plaudits on LED bulbs and settling for this current complexion wouldn’t be wise. Instead of celebrating the current ‘winner’, creators should still be looking for innovative ways to improve the efficiency of lamps and lighting. For the likes of you and I though, we can only work with the things we have, meaning LEDs are our best bet if we’re looking to:

● Reduce the time, effort and money spent on lighting maintenance.
● Change the light bulbs less often.
● Cut down the amount spent on energy bills.
● Create different lighting ambience, using colour changing LEDs.
● Be kinder to the environment.

Tom Bray currently works for a national electrical wholesalers – Direct Trade Supplies – and has been writing content for magazines and websites for the past five years.

For help and advice on how to make your home and lighting more energy efficient post a job in our Electrician category. Up to three tradesmen will get in touch to quote on your job. You’ll be able to view their individual profiles, complete with previous customer recommendations, to help you decide who to hire.

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17 comments

  1. I DISAGREE ENTIRELY. Having been forced by government legislation to buy grossly overpriced new-style bulbs, which have a guaranteed much longer life, I have found that they are constantly blowing, often within weeks and much more frequently than the old-style bulbs…..but how do you prove this to the retailer? It is a total con and a rip off! Sorry but this is fact. I now buy old-style bulbs at a fraction of the cost which is well worth it.

    1. Interesting story Paul! Thanks for getting in touch. Having lightbulbs blow within a few weeks doesn’t sound good. I purchase newer bulbs myself and they always seem to last months rather than weeks.

      1. I agree Paul. Also, we have different bulbs in nearly every room. It costs us a fortune. I much referred the 40watt/60watt bulbs

    2. My observations: At my home (just outside Bedford) energy efficient bulbs operate well beyond the published hours. In Milton Keynes they operate for about 5% of the time before they blow. In Bedford we have a smooth ‘spike free’ power supply, in Milton Keynes the power supply is ‘spikey’. I have written to the bulb manufacturer but they would not comment, all they did was send me a large box of free bulbs. More research needed I think to overcome early failure.

      1. That’s very interesting to hear Chris! I agree with you – LEDs seem to be a controversial topic. More research would definitely be welcome.

  2. Well, I don’t actually like the quality of light generated by LEDs, even ‘warm’ ones. The best light fixture I ever
    bought -( 20 years ago when they were new on the scene) – was a dichroic ceiling light from IKEA; one of those long sgttips with several positional bulbs on it. The quality of light is extremely attractive, warm and spirit lifting – and I have only ever changed one bulb in all these 20 years! Am sure the newer models wil have been designed for a shorter life to generate more sales…

  3. Absolutely agree. Built in obsolescence has become the way of the world. And buying lightbulbs, which used to be simple, has become a stress-inducing nightmare.

  4. Bought a LED bulb for my new fan. Electrician turned up and one I had bought did not dim and therefore was no good. Went back to retailer and was told would have to be a halogen which, according to the news today are being banned by the EU. Great.

  5. I have been replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent low energy lamps since in the late 90s. Some of those have lasting until now. However, some replacements for 60w spotlights had a very low lives, so better than incandescent bulbs. Now I have no such bulbs but various areas of my present abode have been with furnished with halogen bulbs of types GU10 and GU5.3. The former I like the latter I do not, for where each of these I bought produced considerable interference with FM radios. I returned all of them to the retailer and returned to halogen bulbs of GU5.3 type.

    Perhaps your readers should be warned of this fact.

  6. I totally agree with both Paul and Maureen. we also have an incredible number of different light fittings to contend with which make shopping for replacements even more arduous.

  7. I write the date I first used my CFL bulb and they seem to last years.

    I need a new one. I want a 20 watt spiral with a bayonet fitting. Neither Morrison or Tesco have them in stock.

    LED bulbs are too expensive and don’t give enough light. 830 lumen is not enough.

  8. I have one old style lamp in my hallway. That bulb is now more than 16 years old and it is on nearly every night and sometimes during the day too. The test of the house has new style lights. And they always blow, lasting just months. I tried cheap, and also the expensive brand names and supermarket own. They are all rubbish. The light is too weak. I mourn the day of the old lightbulb. These energy saving light bulbs are a joke and total rip-off.

  9. I agree with Paul. We have bought many of the modern bulbs which say on the pack “lasts 2000 hours” or words to that effect and after a few weeks they have blown and they are not cheap. Most reliable and best light quality are the old fashioned incandescent bulbs of which we still have a stock

  10. Interesting topic. I switched a lot of my bulbs to expensive low energy bulbs a couple of years ago. My wife and I then found that we were, in reality, living in a twilight world. What is the point of saving energy if you can’t see properly what you’re doing? So we switched several of them back. Little wonder a lot of people suffer from SAD,

  11. Totally agree that these LEDs are a con. We have around 17 Halogen GU10s in our kitchen diner which look great. A decent quality LED replacement bulb (35W equivalent) costs around £8 each and we switched to these 2 yrs ago at great expense. They claim to last 25000 – 50000 hrs which based on 4 hrs use per day should give 17 yrs life. Absolute nonsense. 75% failed between 12-18 mths of use. Now compare – A 35W GU10 halogen costs £1.20 and costs 55p to run for 1 yr (11p/kwh) based on 4 hrs per day. An LED at £8 each costing 11p a yr to run would therefore need to last over 12 yrs to break even with a halogen lamp and I very much doubt that’s going to happen based on our experience and the consumers to date.

  12. Accepting the comments about the cost and light output of some LED bulbs, the main problem is that many suppliers deliberately tell lies about their product or at best intend to deceive, so it does require a degree of technical knowledge to be able to select the right LED bulb for the application, unlike the case with old incandescents. However, I too stocked up on the old incandescent bulbs but found that those that were sold more recently were of very inferior quality, often lasting only a couple of weeks, so I have now accepted that for the foreseeable future I must negotiate the minefield of LED selection with the inevitable cost, including new dimmer switches. All a very poor show for the consumer but we are stuck with it.

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