If you are past middle age like me, you probably get a little confused when you enter the lighting area of the big box store. We have more choices than ever. Gone are the days when incandescent bulbs were the norm, and your only choice was wattage.
The lightbulb label now gives more information than ever. It gives you three key things. It will tell you the lumens. More lumens mean more light. An old 100-watt bulb produces 1,600 lumens. Watts used to be useful to determine brightness but now it indicates how much energy your bulb is using. An LED bulb uses only 13 watts. The last indicator is temperature. All light has a Kelvin temperature from warm to cool. Warmer is yellow, cooler blue or white. You can adjust as you like but here is a guide for light temperature:
Bedrooms need to be warm and soothing-2700-3000K.
Bathrooms need to be brighter so choose-3000-4000K.
Regular living spaces like bedrooms-2700-3000K.
Kitchens need to be clear and bright-3000-4000K.
Offices and basements need cool daylight-3500-5000K.
As far as choice of bulb one is at the top for energy efficiency and variety: LEDs. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs were all the rage a few years ago; remember the squiggly twisted bulbs? But these are fading fast as LEDs are so much more efficient for energy use and longevity.
So choose your bulb according to lumens, wattage and Kelvin temperatures. That is enough if the bulb is used in a non-enclosed fixture. If you need a bulb for a ceiling fixture, you will need an enclosure-rated bulb. LEDs are very efficient but do give off some heat. Bulbs will indicate that they are enclosure rated.
Most older dimmer switches were made for incandescent bulbs and will not work well, or at all, with LEDs. You will need to change out these switches for LED rated ones if you need this feature. Hopefully this information will make it a little less confusing going down that bulb aisle. For a great variety of every bulb imaginable check out www.bulbs.com
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago