Knowing the Different Types of Light Bulbs

If you’ve been down the lighting aisle of a hardware store in the last couple years, you might be scratching your head at all the new and strange options in front of you. Take a deep breath, and let us guide you through the different varieties of light bulbs on the market.


These are the standard bulbs that most of us think about when we think of a light bulb. Incandescent bulbs work by using electricity to heat a tungsten filament (a resistor) within the bulb. Most of the energy consumed by the bulb is given off as heat, making it comparatively inefficient. Their effective lifespans are comparatively short, too, as the filament wears out.

Halogen Incandescent

These create the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, but they also save around 25% on energy costs! They tend to be a bit more expensive than traditional bulbs but are cheaper than LEDs or CFLs.


You’re probably quite familiar with the long glass tubes seen on department store ceilings. This type of bulb contains mercury vapor that converts UV light to visible light. Because these bulbs contain mercury, they can be dangerous if not handled correctly. In most places, there are regulations for proper disposal. Though their light is often unattractive, they’re more energy efficient than incandescents.

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)

CFL lighting is diffused, so colors appear duller than under incandescent light, and they’re usually not dimmable. But if you find one with the right color temperature, CFLs can work nicely in table or floor lamps. They’re quite efficient and last longer than incandescents.


Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are currently the most energy-efficient light bulbs available. Though they used to be quite expensive, prices have dropped significantly in recent years. With lifecycles which far surpass those of most other bulbs on the market, dimming capabilities, color options, and extreme energy efficiency, LEDs are an all-around-great option for most uses.