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Every Type of Light Bulb and Why You’d Need It

Every Type of Light Bulb and Why You’d Need It

Every Type of Light Bulb and Why You'd Need It
If you practically need a headlamp to find your way around your home, you're in need of some new lighting. The right light bulb can transform a murky coal mine into a space full of radiance and positivity. You can play with the shapes and bases of different bulbs, but ultimately, you need to know the requirements for your room and fixture. Use this guide to compare different types of light bulbs and find one that will cast the perfect homey glow.

Light Bulb Types Chart

Light Bulb Type Edison Halogen Fluorescent LED
Common Locations garage
laundry room
all rooms
Color soft white cool white bright white daylight
Brightness low medium high high
Energy Efficiency low medium high high


Use this comparison chart of light bulb types to cross-reference energy efficiency, appearance, and basic features like color temperature and brightness. Read on for more info that will help you decide which bulbs are best for your home.

Incandescent Bulbs: Cozy Yellow Warmth

Three pendant lights in a bedroom

If you need a bulb on a budget (or your vanity mirror), incandescent will do in a pinch. This is the classic bulb your dad always picked up at the local hardware store. Warm and yellow, it’s a helpful choice for your garage, closet, or laundry room — basically, places that can get a lot of mileage out of a fast burner.

Unfortunately (but fortunately for the environment), this type of light bulb is currently in a “while supplies last” situation. As all 100 to 400 watt bulbs are being phased out, you’ll mostly find incandescents are being made exclusively for antiques or specialized lighting styles. So unless your fixture needs these bulbs to look its best, you might want to invest in a newer type of bulb. Our Light Bulb Conversion Guide can help you make the switch.

Halogen Bulbs: Pure White Light

Chandelier with halogen bulbs in a closet

Halogen bulbs are similar to incandescents, but they burn hotter, so it’ll feel like the face of the sun when you’re near it. You’ll want to wear gloves when handling halogens because your skin’s oils will create weak spots that can cause your bulb to burn or even explode. Don’t worry if you’ve already handled one — just wipe it down with a little rubbing alcohol and let it dry.

The glowing filament of a halogen bulb can really bring out the vibrant colors in a room. Use this type of light bulb in your track lighting or pendants for moody speakeasy vibes or for a dramatic floodlight effect.

Fluorescent Bulbs: Cool Blue Frost

Fluorescent light fixture in modern kitchen

Fluorescents get a bad rap. You might only know them as the flickering illumination in every off-the-highway public restroom, but they last longer and brighter than most bulbs. Plus, they do it while using less energy.

Whether emanating from a curly or flat bulb, this blue-white fluorescent glow is a reliable choice for less-used spaces where you won’t mind the harsh UV rays. The overhead in your attic or basement and the work area in your den are perfect spots for fluorescents. Just be careful when throwing them away. Breaking a fluorescent bulb can release a small amount of mercury, which is especially dangerous to pregnant women and kids.

LED Bulbs: Best Bang for Your Buck

LED chandelier in a mid-century modern dining room

Ranked from “good” to “best,” the light bulb lineup definitely goes incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, LED. The majority of light bulbs these days are LED, which stands for “light emitting diode.” They come in almost every shade you could hope for, and last longer than any other type of bulb.

The only “bad thing” about an LED bulb is that its output can decrease over its lifetime. That being said, some LED bulbs can last as long as 20 years. Although they may cost more upfront, LED light bulbs will definitely save you money in the long run. Use them in stairways, under cabinets, or for lighting your landscaping during the holidays — these types of bulbs will be there when you need them most.

That’s it. You’re the light bulb expert now. Put your knowledge to use by swapping out the bulbs in your current lighting, or you could check out some stylish new fixtures that light up your home in more ways than one. Our Tips on Buying Home Lighting will start you off on the right foot.