Light Bulb Terminology | Light Bulb Specifications Explained
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Light Bulb Terminology

Light Bulb Terminology

Selecting light bulbs used to be a relatively easy decision.  You go to the store.  You find the bulb with the appropriate wattage.  You buy it.
Things are much different today.  There are several different types of bulbs.  Next month we will talk about the different types of light bulbs.  This month we will give you a primer on important terms and other specifications and features.


While most people think watts measure the amount of light a bulb produces, that is not true.  Watts measure the amount of electricity a bulb uses to produce light.  So the fewer watts, the lower the electricity bill.


The amount of light produced by a bulb is actually measured in lumens.  One lumen equals the amount of light produced by one candle.  So the more lumens, the brighter the light.  The goal, of course, is to produce the  most lumens with the fewest watts.

Light appearance

Light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale.  Lower numbers mean more yellow light, while higher numbers mean more whiter or bluer light.

  • Warm white light of 2500K to 3000K is appropriate for bedrooms, living rooms or dens
  • Bright or cool white light of 3500K to 4100K is good for kitchens, work spaces and bathrooms
  • Daylight is 5000k to 6500K and is optimal for reading

Watts, lumens and appearance all will appear on a bulb’s package, along with expected life and estimated yearly energy costs.

Innovative features

Light bulb technology, like other technology, continues to produce innovative features.

  • Voice-enabled bulbs that turn on and off via voice recognition
  • Bluetooth bulbs that have Bluetooth speakers to stream music
  • Bulbs that change colors – up to 16 colors –  to set the appropriate mood
  • Smartphone enabled bulbs that allow you to dim lights, turn them on and off in real time, or schedule them to turn on and off at designated times

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