Light Bulbs and LED Guide, & Kelvin Color Temperature Explanation

Often forgotten until they go out, light bulbs help light our way in our homes, offices, and many other places in our daily lives.

Light Bulbs and LED Guide, & Kelvin Color Temperature Explanation - Buying Guide

They are truly the indispensable and much needed home décor item. After all, our homes and offices would be dark without them. Did the inventor of the lightbulb ever realize the far-reaching and long-lasting consequences of their invention? Probably not.

So, if you are buying a home or renovating a room in your home or just looking for some new home lighting, it is worthwhile considering lightbulb options when it comes to making a purchase.

Types of Lightbulbs

There is more than one type of light bulb. In fact, there are five main types of lightbulb, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Incandescent Bulbs

The original lightbulb! A distinguishing characteristic of an incandescent bulb is its pear shape and a tungsten filament that glows when an electrical current passes through it. The filament is surrounded by nitrogen gas or a vacuum. It fits into either a screw-in fitting or a bayonet fitting. They are not interchangeable, so if you have this type of lightbulb, try and stick to the same fitting throughout your home.

Most previously built houses have incandescent bulbs. That is because other types of bulbs were either not freely available or have only recently become available. Incandescent bulbs are cheap to purchase but expensive to run and waste a great deal of electrical energy. They are suitable for up to a maximum of 1000 hours of use.

Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent lamps emit light by exciting mercury vapor with electric current producing short wave ultraviolet light that causes a phosphorous coating inside the bulb to glow. This type of bulb is usually a long narrow tube emitting a cool white light in various sizes. Fluorescent lamps are widely found in commercial applications because they are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and emit even amounts of light with high levels of light distribution.

This type of fluorescent lamp in the home is usually in a kitchen or bathroom, where the benefits of a fluorescent lamp are advantageous to the room or space. They are suitable for up to 20000 hours of use.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) work in the same way as fluorescent lamps but are designed to replace incandescent bulbs, particularly in a residential setting. They may use the same fitting as incandescent bulbs and have curved or folded tubes to better fit into the space of an incandescent bulb.

They have the benefit of a longer life span but, at the same time, are not as popular as incandescent bulbs because of their seemingly strange shape and the fact that both compact and regular fluorescent lightbulbs are hazardous to dispose of because of their mercury content.

Halogen Lamps

A halogen lamp is, in a nutshell, an upgrade of an incandescent bulb. It functions in the same manner as an incandescent bulb but uses halogen to improve lifespan. It is often smaller than the standard pear-shaped incandescent bulbs. The tungsten filament in a halogen lamp is sealed in a gas-filled transparent envelope. One of the main advantages of a halogen lamp is its small size making it suitable for compact optical applications. It is less energy efficient than a fluorescent lamp. Its primary disadvantage is that they tend to heat up very quickly.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lamps

Light Emitting Diode or LED lamps are a more recent invention. An LED emits light when a current flows through a semiconductor light source. LEDs come in a variety of colors, but white light requires using multiple semiconductors. There are many advantages to LEDs, including better power utilization and longevity. An LED can burn for more than 35000 hours. The main disadvantage of an LED is that it can be cost-prohibitive.

What to Consider When Buying Lightbulbs

Buying both light bulbs and light fittings requires some forethought, and you should consider the following:

First, there is the question of watts versus lumens.

Watts (W) measures the energy used to power the lightbulb, whereas the lumens (lm) tell you the total amount of light that your bulb will emit. Typically, this information can be found on the lightbulb’s box. Ideally, to keep your electrical bill down, you would like higher lumens per watt. The size of your lightbulb can be significant. Luckily, a small bulb doesn’t necessarily mean weak light. Some tiny bulbs give off a great deal of light.

Consider the room you wish to light up. The term lux refers to a unit of light measurement and measures the light output per square meter. Ask yourself, how much light do you need for your room? Does the lightbulb need to be for ambient lighting or accent lighting, or do you need lighting that is suitable for tasks?

What style of fitting and bulb will suit your décor? Do you need a warm white light bulb or a cool white light bulb, or do you even possibly need a light bulb that emits colored light?

Are there any rules and regulations regarding lightbulbs? Some areas are discontinuing particular kinds of lightbulbs. It is worthwhile considering whether your light fitting will be compatible with a newer bulb if you decide to purchase incandescent bulbs.

The shape of a light bulb varies significantly from traditional to circular to strip bulbs that look like champagne bubbles, so a light bulb can add to your décor in addition to being functional.

A final consideration is the glass in the lightbulb itself. You can now purchase lightbulbs with colored glass if it is suitable for your needs.

Kelvin Color Temperature

Light bulbs are not only one color. In fact, even bulbs that give off white light are not all the same. Kelvin color temperature is used to describe this phenomenon. A lightbulb with a higher Kelvin (K) rating will be a whiter light, gradually becoming bluer, whereas a lightbulb with a lower K rating will be more yellow. Reference Kelvin color temperature as an excellent way to understand lightbulbs marked warm white (more yellow) versus cool white (bluer).

A Kelvin temperature chart is a valuable tool when picking out your lightbulbs. Any showroom you visit will likely have a chart on hand to assist you in making a choice. A lightbulb that is a 1000 K is almost an orangey-red color, whereas a 10000 K lightbulb is a turquoise-blue color. A warm white lightbulb is around 2700 K, a cool white lightbulb is approximately 3000 K, and a cool daylight lightbulb that is the crispest option of the three is 5000 K.

Different areas of your home will have unique Kelvin color temperature requirements. Think about the space and its uses. If it is for entertaining, a more yellow light might be suitable, creating a sense of intimacy and coziness. If you need lightbulbs for your office, a task-oriented environment, something crisper might be better while you complete your paperwork.

Outdoor Lights

Some lightbulbs are more suited to indoors rather than outdoors, but if you want to light up your backyards, then your best options are LEDs, halogen, or incandescent. Of these options, LEDs are best for things like safety. They are robust and long-lasting, and if your outdoor lights are battery-operated, you don’t want to change batteries once a week. LEDs are very energy efficient and can last years indoors or outdoors.

In fact, if necessary, you can leave them on 24/7. Incandescent lightbulb options for the outdoors are great for entertainment areas that offer some protection from the elements. Make sure to choose fittings for your lightbulbs that are weatherproof and treated for corrosion.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Each Type of Lightbulb

Each type of lightbulb comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Consider what is best for you.

Incandescent Bulbs


  • Cheap
  • Easy to obtain
  • Soft light


  • High energy consumption affects your utility bill
  • High watts per lumen, so adequately lighting a space is difficult.

Fluorescent Lamps


  • Long-lasting
  • Offers even illumination over a larger area
  • Good for commercial areas
  • Dimmable


  • It contains mercury, which makes it hazardous to dispose of.
  • Not attractive
  • It flickers annoyingly as it reaches the end of its lifespan.
  • Not dimmable

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)


  • Easy to obtain
  • Cheaper than LED lights
  • It comes in a variety of light colors.
  • Often has replacement options for incandescent bulbs.


  • Should be recycled
  • It contains mercury, like regular fluorescent lightbulbs.
  • Strangely shaped
  • Not dimmable

Halogen Lamps


  • More energy efficient than incandescent bulbs
  • Suitable for an office environment
  • Good for swimming pools
  • Long life span
  • Dimmable


  • These bulbs get hot very easily.
  • Require shielding in case they shatter
  • They can be expensive.

LED lights


  • Energy-efficient, they use much less electricity than any of the other bulb types
  • They are suitable for smart home upgrades.
  • Extremely long-lasting
  • WiFi compatible


  • Expensive, though they are becoming more reasonably priced
  • Not always dimmer compatible
  • Light emitted tends to be bluer and is, therefore, less suitable for bedrooms.

Lightbulb Trends

One of the trends seen most widely in light bulbs is the move towards a greener and more energy-efficient option. Bare bulbs are also making a comeback with pared-back fittings, particularly suited to pendant lights, and nostalgic colored glass bulbs are also gaining popularity. Another style is combining different lightbulb types and light fittings within the same room.

Did you know? You can purchase LED lightbulbs that are internet-capable that you link to your WiFi? They can be customized and controlled remotely. They are frequently referred to as smart lights.

Final Thoughts on Buying Lightbulbs

When it comes to lightbulbs, have a little fun with them while keeping some practicalities in mind. Do be aware of your budget when it comes to buying lightbulbs. Do you want to pay more upfront for LEDs, or do you prefer to pay over the long term using incandescents?

Be aware of the fittings and try and keep them the same throughout. Otherwise, you might find yourself standing in front of the lightbulbs, wondering what fittings you have at home. If at all possible, buy fittings that allow you to change from incandescent to fluorescent to LED. It will enable longevity in your décor. And finally, opt for the type of lightbulb and lightbulb color that suits the surroundings and not the other way round.