How to Purchase the Right Light Bulb

Pro Tip
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5 Min
Haylie Lapinskas

How to Purchase the Right Light Bulb

HomeDepot light bulb aisle

I see so often people staring at the vast array of bulbs at Home Depot. Just standing there. They don’t even know where to start. Eyes glazed over! Pretty soon their head will start to spin.

Yes, lighting is very difficult, and it can totally mess up a space if you don't get the right bulb selected. This is one of those areas that Interior Designers study. Lighting selections can be extremely intricate.

But I wanted to break down the basics. Here are the key points of Light Bulb selection - tips and tricks 101! There are a few tips that can make your Home Depot trip less intimidating and hopefully stop your head from spinning (I swear I'm not sponsored, although I should be for all the $$ I spend there!!)

Step 1: Break the Bulb Down

There are many many bulb shapes and base types. But about 80% of bulbs are a standard A shape with a medium base, or in fancy terms an E26 base. This is your most common bulb and base.

There are also the typical tubular or candelabra bulbs. These are usually more decorative or have a smaller socket

Bulb shapes
These are the types of shapes:
Bulb screw bases
These are the types of bases

Step 2: How to determine the Base Size

The best way to know what base you need is to look at the bulb you are replacing. Even take it to Home Depot. You can compare the size of base there. Most bulbs even have the shape and base size printed on the glass. Look here first!

Step 3: Determine the Color Temperature.

This is where I see the most confusion and mess ups. Color temperature is how warm or cool the light is.

Ignore those bold labels that read “DayLight” or “Warm Light”. These mean nothing. It’s like clothing sizes. Each brand says they are a size 10 but they all fit totally different. What you need to look for is either 3000K or 2700K. This is the color temperature. It will usually be in small text on the box.

So what does 2700K vs 3000K feel like? 2700k is the warmest coziest color temperature. It feels the warmest and usually is the most desired color temperature.

2700K color temperature

3000K is a little bit cooler in color. It reads a little more blue than 2700K.

3000K color temperature

Either will work for your home, but the number one thing to remember is you want all your color temperatures to match. Don't put a 2700K bulb in a lamp and a 3000K in your ceiling lights. It will look funky.

Color temperature

Step 4: Understanding LED vs Incandescent

Most people are familiar with LEDs but have you used them in your home yet? Most people think they are too blue and feel like a hospital. But LEDs have come a really really long way.

Technology has improved and LEDs now emulate light very similar to their counterparts, Incandescent. Again, the biggest thing here is to look for the color temperature. Remember 2700k or 3000K!! Anything higher will feel like a sterile hospital.

Step 5: Going fancy?

Light bulbs can pretty much do anything these days! They can sense daylight, connect to your wifi and play music. Alexa can even control them! Of course this all comes with a price tag!

My recommendation is to figure out what you need. Are you looking to have your outdoor lights on when you come home at night? Then maybe sensor lights make sense?

Are you looking to have music throughout the entire house? Then yea, maybe wifi connected bulbs make sense!

Really you can do anything these days with bulbs.

And those are the basics. This is just skimming the surface. We didn't even talk about lumens, light output, and foot candles. Guys, people go to school for this, and technology is always changing! There is always more to learn! As Interior Designers, this is what we take on for you! You don’t really need to know all the ins and outs. Just ask the question!

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