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Choosing the Right Bulb to Light Up Your Home

How many hours does it take to pick out a light bulb? Many. Especially if you’re living in the dark age of incandescents and wattage, and left scratching your head in the hardware aisle of the local box store. What’s a homeowner to do with all the different types of light bulbs and confusing packaging changes found in the market? And what the heck is a lumen? We’ll cover all that and more in our in-depth look at bulbs...

Shedding Light on Today’s Bulb Choices

Diverse in price point, looks, and features, today’s bulbs offer more choices than ever before. Leaving hot, inefficient incandescents in the rearview (thanks, Uncle Sam), here are a few less gluttonous choices for your home…

  • Halogen Incandescents
    Energy efficient halogens aren’t being phased out, and can save you 25% on energy costs. They render color and texture well, making them a great choice for mood lighting, task lighting, and showing off art.
  • Fluorescents/Compact Flourescents (CFLs)
    Energy Star CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last 10 times longer than comparable traditional incandescents. They contain a small amount of mercury, and must be handled appropriately when disposed and if broken. They don’t render color as well as incandescents, but are still a great fit for closets, laundry rooms, and garages, as well as
    table lamps and ceiling lighting with open or “drop-bowls.”  Temperature sensitive, fluorescents don’t perform well in extremely cold or hot conditions.  
  • LEDs
    Energy Star LEDs use about 25% of the energy and last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescents. They work wonderfully around steps and stairways, with cove and small track lighting, under cabinets, and in desk lamps. Their added durability and performance in cold temperatures also makes them a great fit for outdoor and holiday lighting applications. LEDs don’t dim well, though technology is improving. Color temperature varies widely, so check labels carefully.
  • Smart Bulbs
    Typically LEDs, these internet-accessible bulbs can be controlled and scheduled remotely, customized (brightness, color), and come with an array of features from presence-sensors to built-in cameras and speakers. (Stay-tuned for more in-depth blogs.)

What Wattage to You Need?

Thanks to new FTC-required lingo, “Lighting Facts” labels look a lot different than their predecessors. This is to help consumers avoid picking bulbs based on wattage for brightness. What’s the big wattage deal? It measures the POWER a bulb consumes – not its brightness. Enter “lumens.” The higher the number, the brighter the bulb, with standard ranges in the 250-2,600 range. This means since wattage ratings no longer determine brightness, you’ll need to know your lumens to achieve the desired level of light:

  • 100 watts = 1,600 lumens
  • 75 watts = 1,100 lumens
  • 60 watts = 800 lumens
  • 40 watts = 450 lumens
  • 25 watts = 200 lumens

Who’s Kelvin?

Kelvins measure color temperature, from warm to cool, as “soft white” does not mean the same from brand to brand. All bulb types come in a wide range of color temperatures. Here’s a cheat sheet:

  • Warm and inviting
    2,700-3,000K
  • Cool and bright
    4,100K
  • Neutral
    3,500K
  • Daylight-mimicking
    5,500-6,500K

Energy Saving Light Bulbs Save a Pretty Penny

Upgrading your ancient incandescents to more efficient alternatives not only improves the look and feel of your home, but provides the same amount of light for less money. For the same 25,000 hours of use at $0.12 per kWh, electrical consumption drops dramatically, from $180 with an incandescent, to $42 with a comparable CFL - $30 with an LED. Plus, energy efficient bulbs produce about 75% less heat, helping you save additional summer cooling dollars.

Upgrade your light bulbs but still feel like you’re living in the dark age? The experts at Rainbow International® are happy to make your day a little brighter. Contact us today.