Light Bulb Buying Guide: Understanding Incandescent, Fluorescent, CFL, LED & Halogen Lighting

Incandescent Bulbs

Under new energy standards, don’t expect to see incandescent bulbs on the shelves much longer. That said, they are the most commonly used bulb, and the least expensive. These bulbs have a significantly short lifespan of about 2 years, and their design can cause them to use more energy. Besides lamps and fixtures around the house, you’ll also see incandescent light bulbs in a lot of your appliances. Ovens, microwaves, and refrigerators commonly use them as well.

Fluorescent Bulbs

You’ll likely find fluorescent light bulbs inside a laundry room, kitchen, or other utility areas around a home. They cast a flat, cold, and harsh light that can last up to 20-thousand hours. They can easily light up a large area while using up a low amount of energy.

CFL Bulbs

CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp. Just by the look of them – they stand out with their spiral shape. They need time to warm up to full brightness – emitting a softer glow and using the minimal amount of electricity. This bulb just like the fluorescent – contains mercury. It can be used in different fixtures and lamps around your home. CFL’s can last between 7 to 9 years and are usually less expensive than their biggest rival – LEDs.


  1. Great Information! There are so many different types of light bulbs on the market now it’s confusing. There’s CFL, LED, fluorescent, halogen, incandescent. There are also different types of light ranging from soft white to bright daylight.


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