Before Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were even born, the first electric arc light bulbs were created in the 1830s. And even though light bulbs would revolutionize the world, it took some time before they were widely used. Only fifty percent of American households had electricity a century ago. From that time until the 1980s, purchasing a lamp bulb was uncomplicated because there was only one option: the conventional incandescent bulb. Currently, that outdated standard is being phased out, making it more difficult to choose the right kind of light bulb.
But do not fret. We're here to aid in the decipherment of the modern light bulb.
In summary, here are some of the best light bulbs on the market that our team have researched and tested.
Amazon Basics LED Dimmable Light Bulb (Pack of 6) - Best Overall
Ring A19 Smart LED Bulb Starter Kit (Pack of 2) - Best Smart
Linkind A19 LED Dimmable Light Bulbs (Pack of 6) - Best Dimmable
GE 97494 Lighting 3-Way Light Bulb (Pack of 4) - Best Incandescent
Xtricity Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (Pack of 8) - Best Fluorescent
Lepro Dusk to Dawn Light Bulbs Outdoor Lighting (Pack of 2) - Best Outdoor
As Christmas is approaching, don’t forget to check out our reviews of the Best Inexpensive Christmas Tree Replacement Bulbs 2.4 Volt.
The Principle: Lumens and Wattage
The wattage and lumens of a light bulb are two factors to take into account. The wattage of a light bulb identifies the amount of energy it consumes. The brightness of a light bulb is measured in lumens: higher number associated with brighter light.
Before 2012, when this style started to be driven out of the market to give in to more energy-efficient alternatives, the only factor you had to take into account was the wattage of a light bulb because at that time, the market was filled with nearly all incandescent light bulbs.
Because of this, the majority of choices today include both lumens and a "wattage comparable" figure. For example, a common 100-watt bulb emits approximately 1600 lumens of light.
The FTC currently mandates that all light bulbs have a standard label on them that lists the bulb's brightness in lumens, energy consumption and cost, light temperature, lifespan, and wattage. There is a useful brochure from the National Resources Defense Council that explains the new labels.
Types of Light Bulbs
Four major kinds of light bulbs are frequently used by households.
1. Incandescent Bulbs
Incandescent bulbs, also referred to as Edison bulbs, are the conventional filament light bulbs with which the majority of us were raised. Incandescent bulbs are extremely inefficient in terms of energy consumption (they produce 90% more heat than light), which raises power costs and causes global warming (more carbon dioxide produced into the atmosphere is the result of the more electricity being used).
Best Incandescent Bulbs in 2022
Brightown Edison Light Bulbs - Best Edison
SYLVANIA Incandescent Double Life Light Bulbs - Best for Chandeliers
SYLVANIA Incandescent BR30 Floodlight Bulbs - Best for Floodlights
GE G25 Incandescent Light Bulbs - Best Round
Xtricity Frosted Incandescent Light Bulbs - Best Frosted
2. CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Bulbs)
These are the light bulbs with a shape that resembles a spiral tube. They last between 7 and 9 years and are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs by 50-80 percent. The negative? You must be cautious while disposing of CFLs since they require some time to "warm up" to their full brightness and because they contain mercury (the other bulbs on this list do not).
Best CFL Bulbs in 2022
MaxLite MLS26GUWW6 GU24 Base Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb, 26-watt - Best Soft White CFL Bulb
Agrobrite FLC26D 26-Watt Spiral Compact Fluorescent Grow Light Bulb (130W equivalent CFL), 6400K - Best Daylight CFL Bulb
Apollo Horticulture 2 FT 2700K T5 Fluorescent Grow Light Bulbs - Pack of 5 - Second Best CFL Grow Light
3. LEDs (Light Emitting Diode Bulbs)
The most flexible and energy-efficient light bulbs on the market are LEDs. LED bulbs come in a range of types, from the typical "light bulb" shape to jazzier, vintage-inspired creations, and have a lifespan of 9 to 22 years (and sometimes beyond).
Although LED bulbs are more expensive than other types, they are typically the more cost-effective option in the long term due to their extended lifespan and power-saving features.
Best LEDs in 2022
Philips LED Frosted A19 Soft White Light 2700K - Best Overall
Amazon Basics Soft White A19 LED Light Bulb 6-Pack - Best Value
Philips Hue White 4-Pack A19 LED Smart Bulbs - Best Smart
LUMIMAN Smart WiFi Light Bulb 2 Pack - Best Color-Changing
Ascher Vintage LED Edison Bulbs Warm White 60W 2700K - Best Vintage
4. Halogen Bulbs
Another filament-style bulb that resembles incandescent lamps is the halogen bulb. Compared to incandescent bulbs, they are somewhat more energy efficient, although they are still not as efficient as LEDs or CFLs. Halogen lights typically only last between one and three years.
Best Halogen Bulbs in 2022
HELLA Standard Halogen H7 Bulbs - Best Value
Osram H1 Night Breaker Unlimited Halogen Bulbs - Respectable Pick
Temperatures of a Light Bulb: Cool vs. Warm Lighting
When people talk about how "cool" or "warm" a light looks, they're describing the light's temperature. The Kelvin (K) scale is used to measure temperature, and the majority of indoor illumination falls between 2700K and 6500K.
1. Warm White/Soft White
You can find soft white illumination, which is also referred to as warm white, towards the lower end of the spectrum, between 2700K and 3000K. These are the warm, yellowish hues that give a room a comfortable, peaceful vibe.
It works well for floor, table and pendant lights and is a terrific option for living rooms, bedrooms, and other spaces that you want to feel cozy and welcoming. Light bulbs that operate in this temperature range are most likely to mimic the sensation of vintage incandescent lighting.
Bathroom lighting is typically between 2700K and 3200K, never exceeding 3500K because it becomes too harsh at that temperature. We also have an article about choosing the best light bulbs for bathroom vanities in 2022.
2. Bright White/Cool White
The 3100K-4500K range comes next. Cool white lighting emits a bright white light that creates a more neutral environment because it is outside of the yellow tones but not quite in the blue range. This range is excellent for the home office, study, home office, garage, kitchen or wherever else you desire vibrant bright but not harsh lighting.
Light at a temperature of 4500K or higher begins to resemble daylight. (For reference, the sun's temperature at noon ranges from 5000K to 5500K.) At this temperature, light appears bright, clear, and bluish.
Daylight is ideal for reading, lighting craft studios and workshops, and accentuating details and colors. Fun fact: Daylight lamps, which are common in the workplace, are claimed to boost productivity.
If you’re looking for a bright light bulb, you might benefit from reading our post on the best bright light bulbs.
Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. How do I get rid of CFLs?
Because these light bulbs contain the hazardous element mercury, several localities forbid their disposal in the trash. To find out if you can dispose of CFLs and other fluorescent lights in the trash, check with your neighborhood recycling facility or garbage collection agency. Throwing them out is prohibited in the following states: MN, NH, VT, CA, WA, ME, and MA, just make sure to wrap CFL bulbs in a paper bag. If possible, try to recycle them even if it's legal to throw them in the trash because any amount of eco-friendly activity helps.
2. How do I get rid of incandescent light bulbs?
Because incandescent bulbs don't contain any poisonous or dangerous substances, it is safe to dispose of them in the trash. Since they are frequently made of thin, delicate glass, it is usually a good idea to wrap them in a large plastic bag or paper grocery bag to reduce the risk of breaking or at the very least stop glass shards from flying around.
3. How do I get rid of halogen light bulbs?
Halogen bulbs are also free from toxin, so you may throw them in the trash along with everything else. It's not always necessary to cover halogen light bulbs in protective materials before disposing of them because most of them are more resilient than their incandescent cousins.
4. How do I get rid of LED light bulbs?
Since these energy-saving bulbs don't have mercury, you can dispose of them in the garbage. However, because LED light bulbs are made of many recyclable elements, recycling them is a good idea if you can. Keep in mind that recycling facilities may handle LEDs differently than CFL light bulbs, so make sure to separate them before dropping them off.
Our top recommendation for one of the best light bulbs you can buy that combines efficiency, excellent brightness, and price is the Amazon Basics LED Dimmable Light Bulb. The six-bulb set is reasonably priced and provides more than 10,000 hours of illumination. This energy-efficient bulb may be used in any room, consumes just 9 watts of electricity per hour, and can even be dimmed to provide the ideal ambiance for any occasion.