With so many bulb options, how do I know I'm getting the right bulb for my fixtures?
We run into this question all of the time with builders, electricians, and retail customers. So, why not blog about it?
LED's (light emitting diode) are in. They are incredibly energy efficient and the technology going into them has gotten so much better. When they first came out, the biggest complaint about LED bulbs was that they gave off a blueish hue. That is a problem no more! Manufacturers have remedied the issue to the point where if the bulb is not exposed, you will most likely not be able to tell the difference between the LED and a standard incandescent. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient, put out the least amount of heat, and cost the most money up front.
CFL's (compact fluorescent) bulbs are tricky. They are exactly how they sound, a compact version of a fluorescent tube light. These bulbs are incredibly energy efficient as well. The biggest complaint about CFL bulbs is how slowly they turn completely on. This problem has been addressed by manufacturers, however it still exists. Has it gotten any better? Yes, but if you are looking for bulbs to put in areas that you quickly move in and out of (pantry, closets, basements, bathrooms etc) then I would suggest going with a different bulb. CFL's are a great option for cutting energy costs in your outdoor lights or any other light that stays on for an extended amount of time.
Halogen bulbs have been around for quite a while now. They work really well in lighting up small fixtures and are probably used the most in can lights and under cabinet lighting (although LED is posing a big threat). The biggest issue with halogen bulbs is how hot the bulbs can get. I'm not saying I've ever been burned by one...but man it hurts! The new "halogen incandescent" 53W is what you will see taking the place of the regular incandescent 60W bulb.
With all of these bulbs operating on different wattage, the management for light output is in lumens (lm).
When buying new bulbs be sure to check out the lumen output. This will help you get closest to your desired brightness.