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August 30, 2017
So you’ve achieved the “impossible”: you rewired a lamp base start to end without electrocuting yourself aaand it looks amazing. Congratulations! Now it is time to add the finishing touch to your new lamp: the light bulb.
Choosing the right light bulb for a lamp should be pretty basic, right? Well, it’s not going to be just that hassle free if you don’t pay attention to a few details. Light bulbs come in many, many different options, shapes, wattage and lumen capabilities, color profiles and functions. To help you find the right light bulb for your lamp, we put together this short guide. Hopefully, it is going to make it a lot easier and safer to shop for bulbs.
The first thing people know about choosing light bulbs is to look at their wattage amount aka the amount of energy a bulb can produce. This can range between 40-watts to 120-watts.Expert’s Advice: Never exceed the maximum wattage recommended for your lamp. For example, when using our electrical lamp wiring kits it is not recommended to use a light bulb with a wattage over 60 watts.
Bedside table lamp with 60 Watt Soft White (2700K) Philips LED Bulb
Always check the labels on lighting bulbs. In the US retailers are required by the U.S Federal Trade Commission to display on product labels information such as brightness, estimated yearly cost, life expectancy, light appearance, energy used and mercury information.
Expert’s Advice: To get the best out of two (light output and length of life) compare the lumens (the amount of light the bulb gives off) and life expectancy of light bulbs in the same wattage ( the amount of energy a bulb uses) category. If you’re opting between LEDs and other bulbs, know that the first have a much better lifespan, lasting up to 3 times more than CFL and 20 times more than an incandescent light bulb. And from the looks of it, LEDs are only going to get more affordable and an increased lifespan. There is US legislation that mandates LEDs producers to make their light bulbs to be at least 70 percent more efficient than the incandescent bulb by 2020. We highly recommend using Edison Style (E26 or E27) LED bulbs with our electrical wiring kits due to their low heat and energy output.
A light bulb’s brightness is measured in lumens. If you want a light bulb that will help you save energy, the advice here is to find the lumens you need and select the light bulb with the lowest wattage.
Expert’s advice: If you have a lighting fixture that is meant to light up an entire room, like a pendant lamp, chandelier, ceiling fixture, look for a light bulb with a higher number of lumens. The recommendation is usually to go above 1000 lumens for lighting fixtures in large spaces. Basically, more lumens means more brightness. If you’re looking for a light bulb for your table lamps or sconces, which are not meant to light up the entire room, you can go with bulbs with fewer lumens.
Light color or light appearance is essential when adding the final touches to your lamp. Choose the wrong light profile for your room and you’ll dent your lamp’s charm. Remember lamps are more than design, they are all about the mood they set when lit up. Light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale - the lower it is, the more yellow is the light. If you’re looking for whiter or bluer light, select light bulbs with values higher on the Kelvin scale. Take this into consideration when designing your lampshade, the color, fabric or material thickness and embellishments will dim the intensity of the light through the shade.
Expert’s Advice: Light bulbs between 2500K-3000K have a warm white color profile and are perfect for bedrooms and living rooms. They will give off a welcoming, intimate and calming light.
On the other hand, bathrooms, kitchens and work spaces benefit more from bright white and cool white light bulbs. These will have between 3500K and 4100K.
If you’re a reader or spend a lot of time in your office, your reading lamp’s light bulb should have somewhere between 5000K to 6500K.
There are several types of light bulbs available, but they have such various styles, shapes and wattage that it’s really hard to make a choice. The 4 types of light bulbs are LED (1), halogen (2), CFL (3) and incandescent (4). You can use energy-efficient CFL, LED and incandescent light bulbs for all kinds of lamps: table lamps, sconces, floor lamps, pendants or ceiling fans.
1. Philips LED Bulb 16 Pack 60 Watt Equivalent, Soft White (2700K) A19 Non Dimmable, Medium Screw Base
2. Triangle Bulbs T10293-6 (6 pack) - 50 Watt, GU10 Base, 120 Volt, MR16 With UV Glass Cover, Halogen Flood Light Bulb, Q50MR16/FL/GU10, 6 Pack
3. Philips 433557 23W 100-watt T2 Twister 6500K CFL Light Bulb, 4-Pack
4. Incandescent 60A19/CL 560 Lumens 60 Watt Standard Household A19 E26 (Medium) Base Light Bulb
Expert’s advice: Depending on your country and the type of lampshade ring set you’re using, you might require a harp. Generally, in the US & Canada, lampshades require a spider-washer fitter, a harp and finial to secure the light bulb in place.
Learn more about making a lampshade with a spider washer fitter and a harp here.
Until recently, LEDs would not have made the best choice for a table lamp since this type of bulb would usually give off light in one direction. That makes them a really good choice for spot lights. However, thanks to recent innovations, now there are LEDs in the market that give off light in all directions and which you could use for other types of lamps, including table ones. Remember to check the product label before you make your choice.
Different shapes of LED light bulbs, image via Amazon
Some fixtures or lamps have dimmer switches. Not all light bulbs are dimmable though. Incandescent and CFL are compatible with dimmer switches - however, you should make sure this information is available on the label before you make the purchase.
Expert’s advice: When looking at dimmable light bulbs, one thing to take into account is the buzz volume. CNET put to the test a couple of different dimmable LEDs to see which one would rank best and found that that the most silent one was a new generation Philips 60-watt replacement LED.
If you’re environmentally aware, then you should also check if a bulb contains mercury. The mercury content will not impact the light quality or change the way you use it for your lighting purposes. However, it will make it a bit harder to dispose of. Incandescent, halogen bulbs and LEDs do not contain mercury. CFLs contain very low levels of mercury and the mercury remains inside the bulb during use. You can read more about mercury in light bulbs here.
Learn more about light bulbs at Home Depot, in this MIT Technology Review article, on the Energy Star website, in this CNET dimmable LEDs review and at Lowes.
Beautiful designer lamps can cost hundreds of dollars and come with limited customization opportunities. However, when you're going the DIY way, you'll be able to make a beautiful, quality lamp for a fraction of the cost and with endless customization options. We sell lamp wiring kits, styrene, lampshade rings, lamp harps and lamp shade glue - everything you need to make a lamp from scratch and a unique drum lampshade to match it.
Start by checking out our latest tutorials:
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