Choosing the Right Lightbulb: PART ONE

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

Often, we don’t put much thought into the types of lightbulbs we buy. I mean, it’s just a lightbulb, right? Well, yes, it’s a lightbulb but making the right choice surrounding which bulb type you choose could save you money and keep your home safe.

What if I told you that lightbulbs had progressed a great deal since the first lightbulb was invented more than 150 years ago? As technology has advanced throughout the years, the lightbulb has been revamped, and now there are five different types of lightbulbs, with varying types of shapes, styles, sizes, and bases!

The five most common types of lightbulbs are:

  1. Halogen

  2. Incandescent

  3. LED

  4. Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)

  5. Fluorescent

The type of lightbulb you choose will depend on the type of appliance you intend to use and the type of lighting you prefer. The maximum wattage types are also an important consideration before purchasing lighting for your home. This blog post will discuss these types of lightbulbs today.


Halogen lightbulbs are also known as quartz halogen or tungsten halogen lamps. These bulbs are a form of incandescent lighting and are composed of ductile tungsten housed in a gas-filled bulb(1). These lights are best suited for workspace and outdoor lighting (such as security lights) as it produces an instant brightness rated from 10-35 lumens per watt. Halogen lighting is also found in lighting used for automobiles, movie production lighting, and under cabinet lighting. Halogen bulbs are also known for their high CRI or Color Rendering Index making them a favourite for artists and painters.


Incandescent lighting is the most popular form of residential lighting available today. While these are often the first lightbulb consumers reach for, they are not very energy efficient. This is because the lightbulb contains a metal material called a filament. These filaments have a high melting point that allows the bulb to be on for long periods and is supposed to reduce the risk of catching fire or melting (though house fires can still occur)(2). A critical note about incandescent lighting is to ensure that the wattage of the incandescent bulb being used doesn’t exceed the amount of wattage maximum recommended by the appliance or fixture you are using. Not taking this into consideration can cause a devastating fire in your home or office. Incandescent bulbs start at 40 watts and go up to 100 watts, and have a variety of light colouring depending on your preference. Lighting can go from dim, soft lighting to bright white lighting to natural daylight typed lighting.

LED Lighting

LED lighting is quickly gaining popularity in consumers’ homes for its energy efficiency and low operating costs. LED lightbulbs come in all shapes and sizes and have a life expectancy of 25,000 hours or more. LED lighting is safe, too, as it contains no mercury and uses a semiconductor to convert energy into light(3). LED lighting also comes in a variety of lighting colours and shapes similar to incandescent lighting. In addition, these bulbs also boast a lower wattage at a higher lumen output.

For some extra benefits to using LED lighting, check out the handy chart below:

Chart Courtesy of eartheasy

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

Originally designed to replace incandescent and halogen lighting, the CFL bulb is a gas-discharged lamp that emits electricity from cathodes to react with a mercury vapour contained within the glass bulb. This is called inelastic scattering(4). CFL bulbs are considered more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they lack efficiency compared to LED lighting. Since these bulbs contain mercury, appropriate disposal is essential and proper care should be taken if the bulbs break. To recycle these bulbs, search recycling centres near you and wrap the bulb in paper before recycling it.

Fluorescent bulbs

The last type of bulb we’ll cover today is the fluorescent bulb. These bulbs come in three different types: cold cathode, hot cathode, and electroluminescent. They use mercury phosphors that react to electrons which creates light(5). Fluorescent lighting is often prevalent in commercial buildings, automotive shops, decorative signs, and aquariums. Like compact fluorescent lighting, fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent but still use more energy than the LED versions or similar bulbs.

While sometimes standing in your local hardware store trying to choose the right lightbulb can be frustrating, it doesn’t need to be! If you keep in mind the wattage maximum on your appliance or fixture and buy the proper lightbulb base, then the skies the limit! For more helpful information on choosing the right lightbulb for your space, stay tuned for part two of this exciting series!

Sources: The Business Lighting Experts. (n.d.). Compact Fluorescent. 

Department of Energy. (2013, 06 4). Top 8 things you didn’t know about LEDs. 

Edison Tech Center. (n.d.). The Fluorescent Lamp. 

Edison Tech Center. (n.d.). The Halogen Lamp. 

Edison Tech Center. (n.d.). Incandescent Lamps

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