Light bulb shopping

tungsten bulb,fluorescent bulb and LED bulb

Buying a light bulb seems like an easy task, right? Wrong. With so many different kinds of light bulbs out there, not to mention figuring out how many watts or lumens you need, it can be easy to leave the store with the wrong kind of bulb.

Let’s start with the basics. What kind of bulb should I get? Your best option would probably be an LED light bulb. These guys are a little more expensive than a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL), but they last longer and offer better lighting. CFL light bulbs also contain mercury, making them difficult to dispose of after they burn out. LEDs do not contain mercury and are easier to dispose of.

Once you decide on a bulb, you need to decide how many watts or lumens you need. It’s very important to know that watts are a measure of electricity and lumens are a measure of brightness. Therefore a higher number of watts does not mean a brighter bulb like some people think.

To see how many watts you should look for in a bulb, check the light fixture it’s going on. That should tell you the maximum wattage it’ll take. It’s important not to go higher than this number because the bulb can overheat and damage the fixture or start a fire.

Starting in mid-2011, the Federal Trade Commission required marketers to put a new label on light bulb packaging that used lumens as the main measure of brightness.  However, these labels do not include wattage. If you are having trouble converting wattage to lumens take a look at this chart.