So you’ve completed the hard part, choosing which light shade is going to create the look you want for your space. Next up you need to decide which light bulb is going to complete the look.
There are a range of factors to consider when selecting a light bulb. Some of these are functional and others purely aesthetic but all worth considering. First it’s important to determine the function of the room and the atmosphere you are trying to create. Check out our article on layering light to help plan what type of light you will want from each light source.
Three main bulb types
This is traditionally the standard bulb used in most New Zealand households. These bulbs are the least efficient and often have the shortest lifespan. They are gradually being phased out as better alternatives are becoming cheaper and electricity savings outweigh the initial purchase cost. Due to the inefficiency and short life span, it’s best to stay clear of these bulbs and even look at replacing any existing incandescent bulbs you have with LED or CFL bulbs.
Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs)
This is the classic energy saver bulb, typically using about 75% less energy than their incandescent equivalent. They usually emit a cooler light but warmer varieties are available. CFLs are somewhat more expensive than incandescent bulbs and often have a frustratingly short life span. It is also worth noting that CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury so it is good to be careful when disposing of them.
LED and LED filament
The most advanced technology when it comes to lighting, LED bulbs are often significantly more expensive but have major energy savings and huge life spans (up to 25 years). LED bulbs now come in a range of shapes and sizes, with some styles matching the classic filament incandescent bulbs developed by Thomas Edison. An LED filament bulb uses approximately 8% of the power that a typical incandescent bulb uses. For example, a 5 watt bulb emits about the same amount of light as a 40 watt incandescent bulb. LED filament bulbs also come in a variety of colour tones and strengths to suit your space.
Light strength and warmth
Light strength has typically been displayed in watts for an incandescent bulb but this can become confusing when selecting a a CFL or LED bulb which would have a much higher light output per watt. It is because of this that it is best to look at lumens. For example a 5w LED bulb would put out about 500 lumens which is about the same as a 40 watt incandescent bulb.
Below is a guide of the equivalent light outputs:
If you are using multiple light sources by layering light in your space, it is best to use bulbs with a lower light output to ensure the light level is comfortable and is still area-specific when necessary, i.e. task or ambient lighting.
The warmth of the bulb is measured in Kelvins (K); the higher the kelvins the cooler the light is. For example, regular daylight, which is a very cool white light, is approximately 5000-6000K. Candle light on the other hand is a much warmer light at approximately 1600K. The ideal lighting is a soft or warm white generally between 2300K-2700K.
Shape and size
If the light bulb is going to be exposed for the particular light shade you are using (or even not using for a bare bulb style), it is then also important to think of the shape and size of the bulb. When the bulb is visible, it is great to go for a filament style bulb where the filament can be seen, particularly for mid-century and industrial style lighting. Bare bulb pendants look great with larger over sized dolly bulbs such as the G95 or G125 shape.
If you need any advice on selecting the right bulb for your lights, feel free to get in touch as we love talking lights and are happy to help in any way we can – firstname.lastname@example.org