Types of Light Bulbs

Learn how to choose the right bulb for every fixture in your home

Assortment of hanging light bulbs

From indoor lamps and overhead lighting to patio lanterns and headlights, there’s an appropriate bulb for every fixture. Read on for an explanation of the different options available to you, and see the chart below for a detailed illustration of light bulb base types and light bulb base sizes.

Types of bulbs chart
Types of bulbs chart

Light Bulb Shapes & Application

Table Lamps
Pendant Fixtures
Ceiling Fixtures
Ceiling Fans
Wall Sconces
Recessed Cans
Accent Lighting

Common Bulb Base Types

Most common applications, including lamps, recessed flush mount flood lights are going to have these base types. The Pin Type bases are typically used for track lighting & landscape bulbs. Be sure to look at your fixture to determine the base type.

LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs, including smart light bulbs, are a great option for everyday use. These fit a variety of fixtures and use less electricity to emit the same amount of light as incandescent varieties, making them an energy-efficient addition to any room. Their brightness is measured in lumens instead of watts, and they tend to be pricier than other bulbs, requiring a higher up-front investment.

Made without hazardous ingredients, they are environmentally friendly and have an exceptional lifespan.

Tip: For sunrooms and indoor herb gardens, try LED grow light bulbs. Use LED night lights for kids’ rooms and LED flood lights for backyard patios or front porches.

CFL Bulbs

CFL light bulbs usually come in a spiral-shaped design and emit a softer glow. They contain mercury and can take a while to warm up to full brightness, but they use minimal amounts of electricity. CFL bulbs are usually less expensive than LED bulbs, and they can be used in many different fixtures around your home, including indoor lamps and outdoor post lights.

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Ideal for laundry rooms, kitchens and other utility spaces, fluorescent light bulbs use very little energy and offer optimal brightness. They give off a crisp, white glow that can last up to 20,000 hours. Fluorescent black light and colored light bulbs are are also available to fit your unique design and entertainment needs.

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are affordable and energy-efficient bulbs that mimic the warm glow of incandescent lighting. They are great for indoor and outdoor flood light applications, and unlike CFL bulbs, they don’t need time to warm up. These have a shorter lifespan than other varieties and usually burn out after 9-12 months of regular use.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are widely available and universally accepted inside many homes. They have a significantly shorter lifespan than CFL and LED options, and their design uses more energy. Incandescent bulbs are susceptible to temperature changes, but the budget-friendly price point makes them easier to replace.

Tip: Many appliance light bulbs are also of the incandescent variety, including oven, microwave and refrigerator light bulbs.

Vintage & Decorative Light Bulbs

Vintage light bulbs add a decorative touch to the conventional light fixtures in your home. Also known as Edison light bulbs, they come in many shapes and sizes and are distinguished by the antique-style filament in the center. Use candelabra bulbs to complement chandeliers, sconces and ceiling fans, and globe bulbs are great for custom lighting pieces in the den or dining room.

Automotive Bulbs & HID Headlights

Automotive light bulbs come in very specific sizes and are often available in packs of two. These bulbs were designed to emit bright beams of light for all driving and road conditions. Make sure to look for bulbs that are compliant with the Department of Transportation regulations.

Some higher-end car manufacturers use HID bulbs in place of LED and incandescent headlight bulbs. Check your owner’s manual to verify which works best in your vehicle.