How to choose the right light bulb

It might seem straightforward but choosing the right light bulb requires a little bit of knowledge.

There are four main types of light bulbs you can use in your home. They are:

  • LEDs (light-emitting diodes)
  • Halogens
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs)
  • New internet-enabled light bulbs, controlled via an app on your smartphone or tablet.

LEDs are by far the most energy-efficient bulbs, certainly more than CFLs and halogens, which are the other efficient globes on the market. LEDs generally cost more than CFLs and halogens, but they can last up to 50,000 hours, or a dozen years, before you need to change them. LEDs can also be decorative, with ornate filaments such as zigzag or butterfly shapes, allowing you to make a feature of your bulbs.

Halogens are most commonly used as downlights. They produce a bright powerful light, and can be used with a dimmer. This lets you alter lighting levels and the mood in a room, and come in a wide range of shapes and colours.

CFLs are fluorescent tubes bent into a shape that fits a standard light fitting. The new internet-enabled light bulbs, such as Philips Hue, allow you to choose from 16 million colour hues via an app on your smartphone or tablet. This lets you can create infinite moods in a room.

There is some language you may need to understand about lighting. Lumens tell you how bright a light bulb will be. Lumens range from about 450 to 1600. An 800-lumen LED globe is roughly the equivalent of a traditional 60-watt incandescent globe. Check the packaging for lumens details.

When assessing the number of lumens you require, consider how you’ll be using the space the bulb is going into. A relaxed living room, for example, won’t require the brightness of a work zone such as the preparation area of the kitchen, or a laundry.

Colour temperature refers to how warm a colour appears to the human eye. It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K), which describes the light appearance produced by a globe. There are three main colour temperatures you will find on light-bulb packaging:

  • Warm white – a soft white light (2700K-3000K)
  • Cool white – a bright white light (3500K-4100K)
  • Daylight (5000K-6500K)

As a guide, soft white is ideal for relaxed spots such as living rooms and bedrooms, bright white is suitable for preparation areas in the kitchen, and daylight works well in bathrooms.

If you have a 4WD vehicle and need new lights, here’s an article to help you choose the right type.