The light bulb is the most valuable invention since human-made fire.
If you’re looking for information on types of light bulbs, this detailed article is for you. From their distinctive characteristics to the best type of bulbs for multiple purposes, we’ll answer all of your bulb-specific questions and more. You may also learn some tidbits of information you wish you had known before today.
Table of Contents
Types of Light Bulbs
Our guide features different light bulbs organized by shape, color, size, and base.
Light Bulb Shapes
Incandescent bulbs are the most common types of bulbs. These bulbs have a tungsten filament that glows when the current passes through them. This filament is surrounded by a vacuum or nitrogen gas. Sometimes the sudden current flow causes the filament to heat and burn out. Incandescent bulbs only work for up to 1000 hours and may cause energy waste.
The incandescent bulbs are the most used bulbs since the invention of bulbs and are only recently replaced by the newer versions, including LEDs, Fluorescent, and HID bulbs. Also, incandescent bulbs come in different sizes, including globe, candies, and mushrooms.
These bulbs are perfect for when you need bright light but want to save money. They are also ideal for outdoor lighting and a shop or barn.
A fluorescent lamp is more complex than an incandescent bulb. This type of bulb uses fluorescence to produce visible light. An electric current passes between two cathodes, exciting mercury vapor, producing short-wave ultraviolet light. The phosphorous coating at the outside converts the radiant ultraviolet light into visible light.
Fluorescent lamps use minimal energy to produce light and can last longer. But, these are difficult to discard due to mercury filling.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)
The CFL can replace incandescent bulbs in homes and commercial buildings. It produces the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs with less power. It has multiple tubular loops filled with mercury and slightly resembles the incandescent bulb.
CFLs have a longer lifespan of up to 10000 hours, are more energy-efficient, and have higher luminous efficiency than most other light bulbs. But, the mercury makes them difficult to dispose of.
Halogen bulbs are a better version of incandescent bulbs in which tungsten glows when heated. The bulb doesn’t contain any mercury and lasts about a year. Plus, these bulbs are smaller in size as compared to incandescent bulbs.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
LED bulbs are becoming increasingly popular because of their energy efficiency and a range of light colors. LED is a semiconductor device in which electricity is applied to the negatively charged diode, resulting in the flow of electrons and photon release. The photons combine to emit light from the diode.
A LED bulb consists of multiple diodes producing the required amount of light. The LEDs are highly energy-efficient and can produce brighter light with less energy. A LED can emit colored light without using color filters, and you can ask your Electrical and Lighting Distributor Bay Area to provide a LED of any color you want.
These bulbs are energy-efficient and long-lasting. They produce high-quality, bright light and are great for overhead lighting. Also, these bulbs are suitable for outdoor lighting and are used as spotlights in sports complexes and other outdoor venues.
Flame Shaped Bulb
These bulbs are ideal for use in chandeliers or lamps. This bulb type creates a soft light source and does well as accent lighting. The interesting design and shape add a lot of depth and complexity to your lighting. You have the option to dim some flame-shaped bulbs, so it’s important to choose the right type if you want to dim the lights.
These strong bulbs are used in the spotlight by homeowners and business owners. You can use them to provide accent lighting for rooms or brighten up the space where you work.
This type of light bulb is ideal if you want constant light without the concern of accidental dimming or flickering. They are a popular choice for offices, retail stores, and schools.
Circular Fluorescent Lamp
These light bulbs give off the brightness of fluorescent light in a circular shape.
These light bulbs come in high-pressure and low-pressure options. The high-pressure sodium bulbs produce reddish-yellow light, while low-pressure ones produce a balanced white light.
Learn more about the sodium lamps here.
Reflector Light Bulb
This type of light bulb is a fantastic example of modern technology. The tiny reflectors inside the bulbs help direct light to a specific area. These are the best light bulbs to use if you want spotlights installed in your living room because they help focus and concentrate light in one direction.
LED Strip Light
LED strip lights are a nice way to have maximum brightness in your home or office. Not only will you save money using LED strip lights, but you will also enjoy plenty of direct light for any tasks you are working on. They have an acrylic lens for even light distribution and many applications, such as garden centers, parking garages, and loading docks.
Light Bulbs Color
Soft White Bulbs
These bulbs range from 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvins. Their color temperature is warm and yellow. And they give off a cozy vibe which is ideal for bedrooms, dens, and living rooms.
Warm White Bulbs
These bulbs range from 3,000 to 4,000 Kelvins. Their color temperature appears yellowish-white. You might prefer this color temperature in your kitchen and bathroom.
Bright White Bulbs
These bulbs range from 4,000 to 5,000 Kelvins. Their color temperature falls between blue and white and helps brighten kitchens, offices, and other workspaces.
These bulbs range from 5,000 to 6,500 Kelvins. Their color temperature has a blue tone. The best places to use this bulb are your vanity and where you read and work.
Light Bulb Sizes
These bulbs have the classic bulb shape and are suitable for most lighting purposes in commercial and residential areas. They are pear-shaped and have a base known as an Edison screw. The most common “A” series bulbs include A19, used in most lamps, and A15, used in appliances and ceiling fans.
It’s effortless to remember the shape of B series bulbs because these round bulbs have a small tip on the end. They are decorative bulbs and are suitable for chandeliers and other lights.
You’ll notice S Series bulbs used in outdoor signs. You will see S Series bulbs at theatres, restaurants, casinos, and hotels.
F Series bulbs look like flames and are only suitable for decorative indoor lighting. That’s because F Series bulbs aren’t built for high humidity, bad weather, or extreme temperature fluctuations. However, they are great for adding a little spark to a lamp or chandelier in your home.
These globe-shaped bulbs may vary in size. You can buy some floodlights in the G series, making for an attractive appearance in your yard. However, you may want to use them as ornamental lighting. They look amazing in bathrooms or around a vanity mirror in the bedroom. No matter where you use G Series bulbs, they will add drama and flair to the area.
R series light bulbs are a great choice if you’re into track lighting or recessed lighting. They have a unique shape to help direct the light forward and not sideways. Use these light bulbs to enhance light direction in your home or store.
They’re perfect for drawing attention to something you want to show visitors.
These lights come in many sizes and are suitable only for track or accent lighting. The bulb size you need will depend on what kind of track or accent lighting you have. MR Series bulbs have both commercial and residential applications.
These bulbs are tubular and have many different uses, including lighting in boats, medicine cabinets, and bathroom fixtures.
While most bulbs are made of glass, it is possible to find some made from flexible plastic. Depending on your unique requirements, this may be something that you are interested in buying.
Tungsten Halogen Double Ended
These straight tube bulbs are used in wall and desk lamps and sometimes for landscaping lighting. The type of tungsten bulb you buy will determine what kind of light it emits. It’ll also determine if it is rated for outdoor or indoor use.
These straight bulbs are longer than regular bulbs and have several indoor and outdoor uses. They provide great ambient lighting. While you can use these bulbs outdoors, they are more common for ceiling fixtures, wall-mounted fixtures, portable lamps, vanities, and even commercial applications.
Low voltage halogen light bulbs are perfect for landscaping lighting. You can choose from different beam angles, including narrow, wide, and very wide. This will allow you to focus the light as much or as little as you’d want. AR series bulbs work great as spotlights, floodlights, and wall lights.
ALR series bulbs have an oversized top with a small base, allowing them to project light forward, making them ideal for floodlights and spotlights. They have residential and commercial applications and do a great job keeping the outside of a home lit up during the night when you want extra security.
Bulk reflector lights feature a silver lining to ensure that the light produced doesn’t spread out and is directed toward one direction.
This makes them perfect for showcasing something in a garden or providing plenty of light from a flood lamp.
BR series bulbs were created following a mandate that reflector bulbs need to be more energy-efficient. And you can use them as a substitute for incandescent R lamps.
RP, MB, BT
These three light bulbs are more decorative than other choices that you can find on the market. RP series bulbs are the smallest and aren’t suitable for lamps or another lighting. They’re suitable for smaller sockets such as a chandelier and nightlight.
MB and BT series bulbs are larger and have larger bases to fit into average-sized sockets. These bulbs function like regular light bulbs and are a great way to improve your home’s lighting.
PAR series bulbs are permanently sealed together and feature at least one filament and a parabolic reflector. They are commonly used for headlamps in trucks, cars, and vans. These bulbs come in many different sizes and voltage ratings. Because of the design, the whole thing needs to be replaced when the bulb breaks. However, the hard shell uses tough glass that can easily withstand damage.
BT series light bulbs have many applications, such as canopy lighting, car dealerships, and sports arenas. These bulged tube light bulbs produce high-quality light and are very reliable. You can use them as a replacement for incandescent bulbs.
E series bulbs are available in various sizes, but their shapes remain relatively similar. There can be shorter E series bulbs and longer and skinnier ones. The size and shape of the bulb that you choose will vary depending on the application.
ED series bulbs are similar to E series bulbs and come in many sizes, although they are usually larger than E series bulbs. They also have a dimple on the tip, and their base is slightly different. They’re suitable for car dealerships, parking garages, industrial lighting, and sports arenas.
Light Bulb Bases
E10 Mini Screw
These small bulbs are great for flashlights, lanterns, and decorative optical fiber lights. While the bulb life varies, they usually last for about one thousand hours.
E11 Mini Candelabra
The mini candelabra bulbs are ideal for interior lighting. These bulbs have a standard E11 base and contain highly reactive gases that use less energy to produce a bright glow.
These small bulbs have a diameter of 12 mm. They make perfect night light bulbs but are also suitable for the vanity mirror in your bathroom or a chandelier.
There are many light bulbs that you can buy with this base, although it is not as popular as the E26 base. If you want this kind of bulb but can’t find it in a local store, you can shop online on Amazon.
This light bulb base is suitable for much smaller bulbs. You can find bulbs with this base, such as the T6, R12, AND S11, but you will need to do searching to find these bulbs. Some common bulbs that use this base are appliance bulbs or desk lamps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few more tidbits you’ll find helpful when it comes to light bulbs.
What are smart light bulbs?
These are Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs that you control remotely. The technology in smart bulbs allows you to save money on your electric bills by completely controlling your lighting. Here are a few of the fun features smart light bulbs have:
- Some smart light bulbs have location-based controls that can turn your lights on or off based on your smartphone’s location. This unique feature is called geo-fencing.
- Since smart light bulbs are remote operated, you’re able to use your smartphone to switch your lights on or off regardless of your location.
- You can also pair smart light bulbs with other smart devices such as thermostats and security systems to coordinate modes and minimize your energy use while you’re away from home.
- Some smart light bulbs are dimmable or color-changing.
What are motion-activated light bulbs?
Motion-activated light bulbs have sensors to detect motion triggered by someone moving in the area near the light. While you don’t have to purchase a motion-activated bulb for your motion sensor lights to work, you can turn regular lights into motion-sensor lights with smart light bulbs that have motion detection capabilities.
How can I get a broken light bulb out?
All you need to remove a broken bulb from its socket is needle-nose pliers, safety glasses, and gloves. Then follow these easy steps:
- Turn off the electricity.
- Put on safety glasses and gloves.
- Use needle-nose pliers to unscrew the broken light bulb.
- Safely discard the broken light bulb according to the recycling guidelines.
- Put in a new bulb.
- Turn electricity back on, and you’re all set.
Note: Working with electricity may be dangerous. If you’re uncomfortable, consider hiring an electrician for assistance.
Which light bulbs contain mercury?
Fluorescent bulbs, ceramic halide bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs, and high-pressure sodium bulbs contain mercury.