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The good, the bad and the eco: our ultimate guide to choosing the right bulb

5 / Mar 2020

Home Lighting Tips

We’ve come so far since the old-school incandescent bulbs were all the rage. Now, as with everything else, it’s all about going eco-friendly and choosing the most energy-efficient bulb on the market. The trouble is, there’s a lot of choice!

We put ourselves in buyers’ shoes and sifted through all the questions you might have when trying to make sense of the options available on the market. Here are the key things you need to ask if you want to find the best light bulb for your fixtures:

How to choose a light bulb with the right fitting?

This is essential, because, as the name suggests, the bulb would not fit otherwise! If you’ve already got light bulbs in your fixtures, the easiest thing to do is bring one with you to the shop – or your desk, if you’re shopping online. If you’re buying brand new lighting, you need to take note of the type of fitting they’re made for and ensure you’re ordering the same style. There’s a reason why this is number one on the list – few things are as annoying as bulk buying light bulbs just to return them the next day!

How many lumens do I need to light my house?

There are a few factors to consider when it comes to getting the lumens right on your light bulbs. Think about the size of your room, how high the ceiling is and how light travels around the space. How much natural light do you get? It’s also worth making note of any need for task lighting, as this directly affects your choice of lumens.

Find out more in our Basic Guide to Lumens.

What LED bulb should I buy?

Again, we recommend taking a few things into consideration. Start by deciding on a colour temperature – if you want the lamp and objects in the room to appear warmer (redder), choose a lower colour temperature (counterintuitive, right!).  You’ll also need a high Colour Rendering Index (CRI) if you’re looking to recreate the effect of a traditional light bulb with an LED one. We recommend level of 93 or higher.

With the right colours and temperature, your LED bulb only needs to be about 350 lumens to provide light quality equivalent to that of a traditional halogen lamp (50w).

Find out more about choosing the right LED bulb.

What’s the best light bulb shape?

Working our way from the base upwards, it’s now time to decide on the shape of your light bulb. Bulb shape is about more than just aesthetics – it can determine how much light spreads throughout the room and at what angle. Your choices vary from the wide illumination of golf and globe bulbs which disperse light at nearly 360 degrees to the focused task lighting that a spotlight or a downlight can provide. There’s no right or wrong answer here – what you choose is based on your taste and the main purpose of your fixtures.

Is the light bulb for an enclosed fixture or recessed can?

LED bulbs in particular are very sensitive to heat, so using a light bulb intended for an open fixture in a recessed or enclosed one will shorten its lifespan. To keep your LED bulb from overheating and maximise its longevity, check the packaging to make sure it’s rated for enclosed fixture use. 

Does the light need to be dimmable?

Now we’re getting into the cosmetic details. If you’re a fan of dimmable lights, we suggest you take extra caution when buying light bulbs, especially if you’re going down the LED route. You won’t be able to use just any bulb with a three-way fixture or a dimmer, so make sure it explicitly says on the packaging that your light bulb is fit for the purpose.

Browse our range of light bulbs.

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