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Light Bulbs: Types and Uses

We use light bulbs everywhere: our job, our house, our car. The list goes on.

Light bulbs are used in so many places, but how do you choose which one to use? Learn about the different types of light bulbs available as we break them down into five categories.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are the most commonly used light bulbs. They are the least expensive light bulb option. Incandescent bulbs usually last about one year. They can be used with a dimmer switch. Incandescent light bulbs give off a warm light, and are typically used in homes. These light bulbs are inexpensive, but aren’t as energy efficient as their counterparts.

Learn about the different types of light bulbs available and what they're used for.
Learn about the different types of light bulbs available and what they’re used for.

In 2007, Congress passed the U.S. Energy and Independence Act of 2007. The act stated that starting in 2012, incandescent bulbs would be phased out. The act began with a phase out of 100-watt bulbs and then 75-watt. As of 2014, 40-and 60-watt bulbs could no longer be produced in the United States. As incandescent light bulbs are phased out, they will be replaced with more energy-efficient light bulbs, such as light emitting diode(LED) light bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

These light bulbs use a lot less energy and last much longer than incandescent lights. This new version of fluorescent lamps provides better light quality, and turns on instantly. CFLs are typically used in homes. One major disadvantage is that CFLs contain small traces of mercury. It’s not a concern while they’re working, only when they break. When a CFL finally burns out, you will need to recycle it. Following CFL replacement guidelines will help your home be more energy efficient.

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs give off what will come closest to natural daylight. Halogen lights are more expensive than incandescent lights, but are more energy efficient. They last longer than your typical incandescent light bulb. However, they do burn at a higher temperature. If you plan on changing a halogen light bulb, wear gloves. Oil from your skin can get on the bulb, which makes the bulb warm up too quickly. If this happens, the bulb can explode. Halogen lights are mostly used for under-cabinet lighting, spot lights, security lights, workshops and vehicles.

High-Intensity Discharge Light Bulbs

HID lights are typically used in commercial spaces. This includes large retail stores, gas stations, gyms, and stadiums. They are not used to provide an aesthetic lighting quality, but to produce a lot of light in a large area. They should not be used in a space where lights will be frequently turned off and on. As of recent, HID lights are being used in car headlights. These kinds of lights give off a cool white/blue or warm yellow color.

LED Light Bulbs

These are the most energy efficient lights available. Unfortunately, they are not really meant for lighting an entire room. LED lights are used generally for under-counter uses and outdoor use. Developments are being made to make home-friendly versions of LED lights. Current home options are made in clusters, and are much more expensive than fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs.


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