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Lightbulb types: a definitive guide to lightbulbs for the home

Halogen, LED, CFL… the humble lightbulb has come a long way! Discover the different types of lightbulbs you can choose from here.


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Light affects our daily life and the lightbulbs we choose can make or break the atmosphere we create in our homes - not to mention add to our energy bills! Here we explain how to change a lightbulb and which types are best for different areas of the house.

Don’t forget to recycle lightbulbs when you’re done with them. Check your local recycling regulations – most can be taken to larger recycling centres.

Different types of lightbulbs

There are lots of different lightbulbs available which can make the question of how to choose lightbulbs daunting to answer.

Here are the key lightbulb types you should know about:

  1. Halogen: these are the oldest of all the bulb types and are often the cheapest. They have a shorter life span than some modern types so you may end up changing them more frequently.

  2. LED (Light Emitting Diode): these cost less to run and last much longer. They're a good eco-friendly option.

  3. CFL (Compact Florescent Lights): like LEDs, these are energy efficient because they produce less heat and waste less energy. They are also a good green option.

Which of these bulbs you choose will depend partly on where it will be used. Opt for brighter lights in workspaces - such as the kitchen or study - and softer, warmer lights for spaces where you want to create a calmer atmosphere - like the bedroom or living room. Read our article on choosing the lighting for your home for more inspiration.

How does a lightbulb work?

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Different lightbulbs work in different ways:

  1. Halogen bulbs pass electricity through a filament. As the filament is heated, light is produced (just like fire). 

  2. LED bulbs use a semi-conductor. Electricity sends tiny electrons into this semiconductor and the movement between them produces light.

  3. CFL bulbs generate ultra-violet light by sending electricity through a tube filled with argon and a little mercury. This reacts with a fluorescent coating on the tube to make visible light.

Safety Warning

Always switch off the power before changing bulbs or doing any work with electrics. If you have to use a ladder to reach the bulb then make sure it is well supported.

How to change a lightbulb

Need to switch in a new type of bulb? Here’s an easy guide to changing the lights in your home:

  1. Make sure the power is switched off or unplugged. When dealing with electrics, safety is paramount.

  2. For screw-base lightbulbs, turn anti-clockwise until you can remove it fully. For slot-base lightbulbs, pinch the sides and turn the bulb anti-clockwise for half a turn to release it.

  3. Insert the new bulb - screwing or turning in a clockwise direction - and ensure it is secure.

  4. Switch the power back on and test your new light is working.

  5. Dispose of your old lightbulb responsibly by checking if it can be recycled.

Those are our top lightbulb tips and hints. The type of bulb you choose can make a big difference both to the feel of your home and your energy prices, so consider which ones are best for you. If in doubt, get advice from your local DIY store. 

  • Find out what bulbs you have at the moment.

  • Have a look at your energy costs and see whether switching to a more energy efficient one might help. 

  • Follow our guide on how to change a lightbulb safely.

  • Keep a supply of spare bulbs at home so you're never left in the dark!

Originally published