Choosing a light bulb used to be easy — there was only one kind available. Now you have the choice of incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL) or halogen. The following information will help you understand the types of bulbs available. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.
Like most aspects of home improvement and home building, the lighting industry has developed its own language. Here are a few of the industry's most often used terms:
SAFETY NOTE: Never exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your lamp!
Good Idea: When replacing your bulb, make sure you take the old bulb with you to match the base size and bulb style. When replacing an appliance bulb, make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendation.
Incandescent bulbs are available in a variety of colors to change and enhance the look of your room:
An incandescent bulb is the most common type of bulb. They are inexpensive and available in a variety of colors and styles. Incandescent lamps are popular for their warm, pleasing colour that complements skin tones:
Standard light bulb shape available in variety of wattages, clear, frosted/pearl, and colored/pastel styles. Colored/pastel styles create a soft light with a gentle hint of colour to add the finishing touches to your home. Some are available in a shatter-resistant material.
An indoor bulb used for directing light such as a spotlight or recessed light.
A round bulb that is used when a light fixture has no shade (such as vanity lighting). Globe bulbs are available in varying sizes.
A decorative bulb that creates the mood of romance. Candle bulbs can be used with dimmers for accent lighting and in chandeliers.
The filament in the bulb resembles a flickering flame. These bulbs are used in chandeliers and candelabras.
A decorative bulb shaped like a bullet. This type of bulb is often seen in night lights.
Flame-shaped bulb with wrinkled glass usually used with dimmers for accent lighting.
Parabolic Aluminized Reflectors (PAR)
Outdoor flood bulb that is resistant to damp areas. PAR bulbs are used for spotlighting or as flood lights. PARs are also available in halogen.
Tube-shaped bulb used mainly in picture and undercabinet lighting.
Specialty bulb made specifically for a ceiling fan. Ceiling fan bulbs are also available in bullet and flame shapes.
Used to highlight a vanity fixture.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) are the most energy-efficient of all light bulbs. They use 67 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last longer:
Made for 3-way table lamps. This bulb last six times longer than standard A-line bulbs. Fits lamps with a harp > 8".
Made for incandescent dimming circuits. Dims to as low as 10 percent light output. It lasts 13 times longer than a 100-watt A-Line.
Has a shatterproof cover. Lasts 16 times longer than a 75-watt A-Line. Available in the buglight version that filters the wavelength of light that attracts bugs.
Looks similar to an incandescent bulb, yet lasts six times longer than a 60-watt A-line. Fits most table lamps with a harp > 8".
Great for table lamps. Lasts eight times longer than a regular A-line bulb. Spiral shape provides better light distribution than other CFLs.
Fluorescent light bulbs have been traditionally a linear light source, but also come in u-shaped and circular. Fluorescent tubes will not work without a ballast. Fluorescent bulbs last longer than incandescent.
Colour has been a big issue for many years with fluorescent bulbs. Now, you can get a wide variety of options to enhance your indoor environment:
Fluorescent bulbs specifically made to provide "natural" light to indoor plants. The light output contains blue, green, red and orange spectrums to promote plant growth. The bulbs are available in 20 W and 40 W.
Fluorescent tubes available in lengths of 24" to 48".
Fluorescent lamps used in nonlinear fixtures.
Fluorescent bulb used in undercabinet light fixtures with a ballast on one end only.
This bulb is specifically made for fish tanks. For tanks with fish only, the bulb should provide lighting that minimizes the growth of algae and maximizes the colour of the fish. In tanks containing coral and plants, the spectrum of the light becomes a factor. There must be adequate amounts of red and blue light for photosynthesis.
Both incandescent and halogen light bulbs use the same technology and filament to produce light. However, halogen bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but cost a little more.
All the benefits of halogen — longlife, good colour in the classic shape.
Parabolic Aluminized Reflectors (PAR)
Outdoor flood bulb that is resistant to damp areas. PAR bulbs are used for spotlighting or as flood lights.