Buying Guide

Types of LED Lights

What is LED Lighting?

“LED” stands for light-emitting diode, the technology behind LED lighting. 


Incandescent bulbs have a thin metal filament that heats up as electricity passes through it. When heated enough, the filament glows to produce light.


An LED light works by having an electrical current pass through a semiconducting material – the diode. The tiny diodes within an LED bulb cast light when electricity is applied. This technology doesn’t rely on heat to produce light and has greater energy-efficiency than incandescent bulbs.


To light up a room, an incandescent lamp might use 60 watts of electricity while an LED bulb will produce the same amount of light using about 10 Watts.


Topping the list of LED light advantages is efficiency but low maintenance is another selling point. LEDs have an exceptionally long lifespan of more than 10 years because there is no filament to burn out. As manufacturers work to refine the production process, the upfront costs of LED lighting have come down and that contributes to long-term savings.


Another benefit: LEDs emit almost no heat or UV rays, which can help reduce air conditioning costs and help keep fabrics and furnishings from fading.


LED lighting comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and temperatures for use throughout the home.

General Purpose Bulbs
The profile of four types of LED lights.

Standard LED Light Bulbs 

These bulbs disperse light at a wide angle throughout a room and are ideal for reading lamps, hallways and other common fixtures like semi-flush and flush-mount fixtures.


Can Lights

Also known as recessed lights, can light LED bulbs fit into sockets – or cans – mounted through the ceiling for downlights.


Flood Light Bulbs 

Flood LED bulbs are designed to emit a strong but wide beam of light to illuminate a broad area and are mainly used in exterior applications.


Globe Light Bulbs 

LED globe bulbs emit light in every direction, making globe light bulbs ideal for bathroom vanities and pendant lights.

Accent/Decorative/Specialty Bulbs
Standard Light Bulbs

Candle Light Bulbs 

Candelabra LED bulbs, also known as candle bulbs or chandelier bulbs, emulate the shape of a candle flame and work best in accent lighting, wall sconces and decorative fixtures.


Track Light Bulbs 

Track lights are often used for directional lighting, task lighting for a work area or to highlight something specific such as artwork oand other decorative features. 


Edison Light Bulbs 

Edison LED bulbs, or vintage bulbs, are all about aesthetics and ambience. These are best suited for decorative fixtures and should be paired with accents that match a design theme.


Tube Light Bulbs 

LED tube lights, also known as linear light bulbs, have a functional style designed for more professional applications like office buildings, kitchens and work spaces.

Other Types and Features
The inside of a home with recessed lights.

LED lights are not limited to replacement bulbs. Some fixtures, including certain models of ceiling fans and recessed downlights have integrated LED lighting.


LED technology is also found in some flexible light strips or tape that can be used as under-cabinet lights for additional task lighting in the kitchen or to provide ambiance or decorative accents in other living spaces.


Holiday lighting can be replaced with LED Christmas string lights that will reduce energy consumption and also pose less of a fire hazard because LED lights emit only small amounts of heat.


Some types of LED lighting are dimmable. Be sure to check packaging to determine if the bulb is compatible.


Look for ENERGY STAR-certified LED bulbs, which have been tested for color quality, light output and efficiency.


Smart LED bulbs connect to a Wi-Fi network to allow remote control of the lights. Features such as dimming and color-temperature tuning are available and some models don’t require a smart-home hub for operation.

Color Temperature
A chart showing differences in color temperature.

The term "color temperature" is often used as a way to describe how warm or cool the light appears and broadly fall into three categories.


  • Soft white LED bulbs provide a warm, comfortable light that is good for cozy spaces like bedrooms and living rooms.
  • Bright white LED bulbs have a cool and refreshing light that is best used in kitchens, bathrooms or garages
  • Daylight LED bulbs emit light to mimic energizing daylight. It’s good for reading or intricate projects and can be used in bathrooms, kitchens or basements.
LED Brightness
A chart comparing watts and lumens.

The brightness of all types of LED lights is measured in lumens. The more lumens, the brighter the bulb.


Traditional incandescent bulb brightness is measures in watts. Because LEDs use far less energy than incandescents, a better way to gauge the brightness of LED bulbs is to compare lumens. 


For example, a traditional 60-watt light bulb will emit around 700 lumens. An LED bulb with comparable brightness level uses less than 10 Watts of electricity.

Lumens = the amount of light the bulb gives off 

Wattage = the amount of energy a bulb uses


To choose the most energy-efficient light bulb and not sacrifice brightness, check the lumens per watt ratio on the bulb’s packaging. The greater the lumens-to-watts ratio a bulb has, the more energy-efficient it is.