Choosing The Right Light Bulb

The good news about light bulbs is that a homeowner now has several to choose from above and beyond the notoriously inefficient incandescent light. What are the best light bulbs for home or business use?



These lights switch on when mercury vapor is ionized inside of a tube. The excited electrons give off ultraviolet radiation, which is turned into visible light thanks to the coating on the inside of the tube. Though people do not care for the cold, blue light they give off, a fluorescent lamp can last up to 45,000 hours. They are also affordable, and the fluorescent rings that many people have in their kitchens cost between $8 and $10.



The typical incandescent bulb only burns between 750 and 1000 hours, which means that if a bulb was left on all day and night it would last for less than month and a half at best. But incandescent, which are now being phased out, were popular because they gave off a warm, pleasant, full spectrum glow.

They work because electricity runs through a tungsten filament, which mostly produces heat. Light is a byproduct. Incandescent bulbs cost about a dollar each. Their affordability is another thing that made them popular.



Halogen lights are more efficient types of incandescent lighting. The light halogens give off is famously brilliant, but the bulb is very hot and should not be placed near flammable objects. Halogens work via the reaction of an electric filament and halogen gas. They are often tiny bulbs but can last up to 3500 hours and cost about $8 each.



LED means “light emitting diode.” LEDs, considered the top lightbulbs by lighting experts, have semiconductors instead of filaments. They seem expensive, with an average cost of between $5 and $12 per bulb, but over time they pay for themselves. An LED light can last if 50,000 hours. They are cool to the touch, which allows them to be installed in areas where other lights can’t be. They are safe to have in a home with children and pets.


Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

These light bulbs give off a glow that is warmer than the traditional fluorescent tube while remaining efficient and cool. At a cost of around $1.60 per bulb, they can now be bought in the same shapes as incandescent bulbs. Like traditional fluorescent lights, CFLs light up when electrons excite mercury gas inside the bulb.