How To Buy LED Light Bulbs, Your LED Light Bulb Replacement Guide
Buying LED light bulbs doesn't have to be anymore confusing than buying regular old lightbulbs. The difference is we are familiar with how to buy incandescent bulbs, and we just haven't overcome the small learning curve that has kept us from being comfortable from buying LED's. If this sounds familiar, its okay, your in the right place, and after you read this short article you will be shopping like a pro once more!
STEP 1 BULB SHAPE For most applications selecting the correct shape will be a simple step. Look at the bulb you are replacing, check the label, and replace it with an LED bulb of the same shape. Examples of bulb shape are A19, PAR 20, PAR 30, PAR38, MR16 etc.
A Style bulbs are the standard lightbulb for residential use. They are commonly found in table lamps. 19 is the standard size, so A19 bulbs are the most common bulb for your house light.
PAR, BR, and R shape bulbs are the traditional flood and spot light bulbs you see in recessed can lights, some track heads, and safety/security lights on the corners and exterior of your home or building. The PAR has a flater front of the bulb and clearer light, the BR and R are round in the front and often protrude from recessed lighting fixtures slightly. They are an older style of bulb. With LED, the differences between PAR and BR/R bulbs are mostly aethetic, but there can be slight differences in the light quality, especially if the front cover of the bulb is frosted vs clear.
MR - Multifaceted Reflector. MR bulbs are similar to PAR/BR/R in that they are directional spot or flood lights. They are smaller in diameter and invented more recently. You often see MR bulbs such as MR16's in track heads as well as recessed fixtures.
CANDELABRA - Candelabra bulbs are the small flame shaped bulbs found in chandeliers.
SIZE - The number following the bulb shape abbreviation is the diameter across the front of the bulb. For example with an MR16 the 16 is the size. Size is measured in 8ths of an inch, so 16/8 = 2 inches. Meaning a MR16 or PAR16 would be 2 inches across the front of the lens.
STEP 2 - BRIGHTNESS Bulb brightness is measured in Lumens. If you only remember one thing remember LUMENS = BRIGHTNESS. For reference you can check the wattage equivalency which explains how bright the bulb will be by comparing it to an old incandescent bulb. Most people remember that 60 watt bulbs are about average, and 75 watt were quite bright, while 100 watt were really bright! And that can help. But if you remember that a 40 watt is the same as 450 Lumens and 60 watt are about 800 Lumens while 100 watt were 1600 Lumens, you will never have to worry about wattages again. Wattage should be thought of as how much energy a bulb uses, not how bright it is. Low wattage is better as long as it gives you enough Lumens.
Lumens are based on watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the lumens. The efficiency of an LED light bulb is measured in Lumens per watt. Cree First to Break 300 Lumens-Per-Watt Barrier which is pretty insane to have done so early. We weren't expecting this for a couple more years down the pipe.
STEP 3 - COLOR. Bulb color is measured in temperature (K). The K means Kelvin, but you don't really need to know that. Lower temperature is warmer in color (think yellow), and higher is cooler (think blue/white).
3000K = Warm yellow glow, like a traditional house light bulb.
3500K = Neutral, well balanced light.
4100K = Cool, Bright, Clean
5500K+ = Daylight. Despite what people think daylight does not always look great indoors. Just put your furniture outside and you will see what I mean. It does however make you feel more alert and awake.
STEP 4 - BASE There are several different base types for most bulbs. A, BR, R, PAR and some other bulbs come with an Edison E26 Medium type base, which is just the standard screw in base. Chandelier bulbs have an E12 Candelabra base and MR bulbs come in GU10, which twist and lock in place, and GU5.3 which are bi-pins that push in. There are also mini-Edison screw in bases, for smaller bulbs. If you are replacing a fluorescent bulbs make sure you have an the right pins on the end to go in. If the base of the bulb does not match the fixture then you WILL NOT be able to use the light bulb.
The Rock Star Team at LEDlightbulbs.com is here to assist you with choosing the perfect LED bulbs to replace your old halogen, CFL and incandescent ones. Write to us and let us know what you need after hours firstname.lastname@example.org or Live Chat or call (800)628-2962 during normal business hours.