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How to Choose a Light Bulb

Easy
Difficulty
$4 and Up
Project cost
10 Minutes
Estimated time

Changing a light bulb is just about the easiest task there is, but deciding which light bulb to use can be a lot more difficult. There are hundreds of light bulb options to choose from. Luckily, Aaron Massey, our Home Fixes and Upgrades host, explains the nuances in this light bulb guide. He'll walk you through the different types of bulbs and how to know which is best for your application.  

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Step 1

Types of Household Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs have largely been phased out in the last 10 years, and only last about a year of regular use. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, or CFL’s, last about 9 years, but they too have begun to be phased out. LED technology is continually becoming cheaper. And although LED bulbs are likely more expensive up front than CFLs, they’re typically the most cost-effective bulb in the long run. The reason they’re cheaper in the long run is because they emit more lumens while using less watts, keeping your power bill low.

Step 2

Socket Size

First, determine the size of the socket on the fixture. If you’re replacing an old bulb, it’s best practice to take the bulb with you to the store.

Step 3

Wattage

Check the wattage rating on the fixture you’re installing the bulb into. The rating is usually noted on a sticker on the fixture. Contrary to popular belief, the brightness of the bulb is NOT measured in watts. 

Step 4

Lumens

The brightness of a bulb is actually rated in LUMENS. Most interior bulbs range from around 400 to 2000 lumens. 

Step 5

Color Temperature

The last option is color temperature. Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin (K), and is typically marked on a scale on the bulb’s packaging.  The lower the Kelvin temperature, the warmer or yellower the light. The higher the rating, the cooler or more blue the light appears.

Aaron Massey
Aaron is the mastermind behind the brand Mr. Fix It DIY featuring YouTube series like “Home School’d” and “I Hate My House” where he details the projects of his home remodel and shares his custom builds.

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