Last month, we talked with you about some common light bulb terminology.  This month we want to share with you the different types of light bulbs.

First, let’s quickly dispense with those traditional incandescent bulbs.  They are in the process of being phased out, but are still available.  They are much less energy-efficient than other types of bulbs, although certainly much cheaper as well.

So let’s discuss the different types of bulbs available today.

LED bulbs

LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are the most energy efficient.  While they are expensive, the cost has been dropping and they are becoming more competitive with CFL bulbs. Energy Star-rated LED lights can last 20 years or more given normal use, compared to just one year for traditional incandescent bulbs, allowing you to save up to 80% a year in energy costs.  Unlike CLF’s, they also do not contain mercury. Make sure the bulb is rated for outdoor use if you are planning to use it outdoors.

CFL bulbs

CFL bulbs (the tubular bulbs you generally see at hardware stores) are less efficient, but less costly than LED bulbs.  They can last up to nine years, not as good as LED bulbs but still way better than incandescents.  They can save up to 75% on energy costs.  However, new regulations will make it harder for CFL lights to get Energy Star designation, and some manufacturers are actually phasing CFLs out.  CFLs also are quiet, instant-on and have warmer, color-corrected tones. CFL lights also contain a small amount of mercury.  You also might want to avoid using them in workshops, as they may not hold up to the stress of power surges.  Finally, if the outlet is wired for a dimmer or three-way bulb, make sure the bulb is rated for that. 

Halogen bulbs

Halogen bulbs last about one year, and do not contain mercury.  Not as good as CFL or LED bulbs, but still much better than incandescents.