Be brighter with bulb basics from ALA

Bright Ideas - October 2021

Posted by American Lighting Association on Thursday, January 20, 2022


Issue #128


October 2021

Light Lessons

Be brighter with bulb basics



Shopping for light bulbs can be intimidating without adequate information. With so many choices and terms that may be unfamiliar, bulb shopping can be enough to make anyone break out in a cold sweat. To alleviate confusion, the American Lighting Association teamed up with Bulbrite to produce a new video about how to choose a light bulb.


As explained by Cathy Choi, president of Bulbrite, the main things to think about when shopping for a bulb are desired brightness and preferred shade of white.


Brightness is measured in lumens. The bulb package will list the lumens as well as how it compares to the old bulb standard measurement of watts. A bulb with 450 lumens produces the same brightness as a 40-watt incandescent bulb. Similarly, 800 lumens is equivalent in brightness to a 60-watt bulb.


Equally important as brightness is the shade of white light emitted. The light’s shade is measured in kelvins. Think of the various shades of white like the wide range of white colors on a paint swatch, with some cooler and some warmer.

Chart courtesy of Bulbrite

To create a warm, soft light – similar to light produced by an old-fashioned 40-watt incandescent bulb – look for a Kelvin (K) range somewhere between 2,000-3,000K, with 3,000K producing a middle-of-the-road neutral white. For softer, warmer incandescent-type light go lower than 3,000K to 2,700K or even 2,200K. For a crisper, whiter light – more like daylight – and for tasks like homework or sewing, go up to 5,000K or higher. LED bulbs are generally available for up to 6,500 – similar to overcast daylight – but use them carefully as rooms and complexion tones may appear stark or cold.

Different applications require different bulbs. The right bulb for a kitchen or bathroom will not be the same for a den or bedroom. It’s not just a matter of lumens or kelvins. The type of bulb matters as well. For example, in a ceiling or area that needs light to shine on a specific spot, use a reflector bulb to push light toward the task.


For anyone hesitant to make the switch to LED bulbs, consider that they are money and energy savers. They look the same, but LEDs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. While an incandescent may consume 100 watts of electricity, an LED used the same way will use about 10 watts. That means a lower electricity bill. And an LED bulb will last 10-20 years, while the incandescent will burn out in a matter of months.

Alora Lighting

To view the full video about choosing light bulbs, click here. For more information, go online to or stop by a local ALA-member showroom where a trained lighting pro can make sure you get the perfect light for each particular application.

Progress Lighting


Looking for design inspiration?

Pick up Lighting magazine at an

ALA-member store.


Lighting magazine covers the top trends, bulb-buying tips, and the latest technological innovations in lighting. To purchase a fabulous fixture or to simply browse the latest lighting styles in person, stop by a local ALA-member store. That's the only place to find trained lighting experts to answer your questions and to pick up a free copy of Lighting magazine.


Lighting magazine is presented by the American Lighting Association in partnership with Meredith Publishing/Better Homes and Gardens.

American Lighting Association

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