Which Light Bulbs Are Right For You?


 

set of light bulbs

With so many types of light bulbs available, it can be overwhelming to select the right ones. Read this guide to determine what you need for your fixture, space, and budget.

Factors to Think About

*Lumens (brightness)
*Wattage (energy used)
*Appearance (warm vs. cool)
*Bulb lifespan
*Estimated yearly cost
*Contains mercury?
 
When shopping for light bulbs, take a look at the Lighting Facts label on the packaging in order to compare different bulbs. The label looks similar to a Nutrition Facts label:

FTCLightingFacts
Lumens
Lumens represent the amount of light emitted from a lightbulb. The more lumens, the brighter the light. When purchasing light bulbs, start by comparing how bright of a bulb you want before factoring in other characteristics, as lumens are the same across the board. The number of lumens needed to light a room depends on the size, color of the walls, and how much light you prefer.
 
Watts
Watts are the amount of energy a light bulb uses. The higher the watts, the higher the electric bill. (CFLs and LEDs have a lower wattage than incandescent.) When purchasing bulbs, follow instructions provided by the lighting fixture about the maximum wattage. A bulb with too high of a wattage can create a fire hazard due to the production of excess heat. It can also damage the light fixture.
 
Today, light bulb packaging shows the number of lumens. If you’re used to looking at wattage to figure out how much light you need in a room, check out this helpful chart below.
 
Energy Chart

Types of Light Bulbs

Incandescent
Incandescent bulbs are the traditional bulb type, but today, standard 60- and 40-watt bulbs are no longer produced or sold. This has been the case since 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires incandescent light bulbs to be 25 percent more efficient.
 
Halogen Incandescent
Halogen bulbs are perhaps the closest alternative to incandescent bulbs, but with a longer lifespan. While more energy-efficient than incandescent, they are still not as efficient as CFL or LED bulbs. These inexpensive bulbs produce a crisp, bright light, and do not fade with age. They operate at high temperatures, which can cause burns if touched, but they do not contain any mercury. Halogen bulbs are commonly used as task lighting — think spotlight or flood light bulbs.
 
CFLs
Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) emit a similar light output in the same color range as incandescent bulbs, but consume significantly less energy. CFL bulbs can be used anywhere a typical incandescent bulb would go, including both indoors and outdoors. These bulbs may take a few minutes to reach their maximum output.
*CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, and care should be taken to prevent breakage, as well as to dispose properly.
 
Fluorescent
Fluorescent lights need a controlling ballast to operate, but new ballasts eliminate the buzz and flickering often associated with fluorescent lights. In addition, fluorescent lights are now available in a wider variety of colors and sizes. Fluorescent lights are energy-efficient, but like CFL bulbs, require a warm-up time and proper disposal. They also produce a small amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which some people may be sensitive to.
 
LEDs
Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs) are just as energy-efficient as CFLs, but with a longer lifespan. In general, LED bulbs are pricier than other options, but are becoming more affordable as they grow in popularity. LEDs are cool to the touch and do not contribute to indoor heat buildup. They come in a variety of whites and colors, and are also shock-resistant.
 
Smart LEDs
These “smart bulbs” have all the characteristics of traditional LED bulbs, but connect to your home Wi-Fi to be controlled by a smartphone or other smart home device. These bulbs will set you back a bit more than your average LED bulbs, but allow you to change the color, set an on/off timer, and more.

 

Which Kitchen Countertop is Right for You?


Considering a kitchen remodel? Not all countertops are created equally.

 

With so many options on the market, it can be hard to decide what countertop material is right for your kitchen. While it may be tempting to choose a countertop based on aesthetic alone, it’s important to consider the pros and cons, durability, cost, and maintenance before making a decision. That’s why we’ve created a list of some popular options as well as some need-to-know details about each.

 

GraniteKitchen CountertopOnce only found in high-end kitchens, granite has made its way to the heart of more and more homes. This durable, natural stone comes in a vast array of colors such as beige, black, brown, red, white, and green. Because of its porous nature, granite must be sealed on a yearly basis. Even when properly sealed, it’s important to wipe up oils, wines, acids, and sodas immediately, as well as use a stone cleaner for routine cleaning. Cost varies depending on color and complexity, but has become more affordable with granite’s increase in popularity.

 

QuartzKitchen CountertopQuartz, often resembling granite or marble, is an engineered mix of mineral and resin. This extremely durable, low-maintenance material is a great alternative for busy kitchens. Quartz is harder and less porous than granite, thus, it does not require sealing or polishing. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns and looks great in both traditional and contemporary kitchens. Quartz is scratch, stain, heat, and acid-resistant.

Note: Because quartz is manufactured, it doesn’t have natural color variations and vein. When shopping, looking at a small sample rather than a big slab will suffice.

 

MarbleKitchen CountertopMarble is a timeless and stunning option for a traditional or contemporary kitchen and is usually the most expensive option. Carrara and Calcatta marble are synonymous with luxury and instantly give your kitchen an elegant look. However, marble is very porous and has a high probability of becoming stained. If you choose marble, it’s important to seal it frequently and properly. Also be wary – chips and scratches may occur.

 

WoodKitchen CountertopThose opting for a warm, traditional cottage kitchen may gravitate toward butcher-block-style wood countertops. These countertops do require regular maintenance in order to maintain the wood’s natural beauty, so it’s recommended that you oil the surface with a mineral oil every four to six weeks. If not properly cared for, wood countertops will warp and crack. On the plus side, properly sealed wood countertops are sanitary and you can cut directly on the surface without damaging knives. Wood is also heat-resistant, which means you can place hot pots and pans directly on the surface.

 

TileKitchen CountertopTile countertops are a great choice if you want something inexpensive that’s easy to maintain. Tiles come in a variety of different colors and styles and may be mixed and matched. In addition, you can install tile yourself. Make sure to use tile that is rated for floors or countertops, as wall tile is too thin and will crack easily.

 

LaminateKitchen CountertopLaminate is perhaps the most cost-effective option available. Not only is it durable, it’s also low-maintenance. Laminate is a great selection for those on a budget or those who want to keep up with trends. Laminate comes in far more options than the familiar wood copycat – both neutral and bright colors are available. Laminate countertops are water resistant but susceptible to scratches and heat damage, so be sure to use cutting boards and trivets when preparing and serving food.

 

ConcreteKitchen CountertopConcrete counters are growing in popularity, as they are now available in a variety of stains and colors. Concrete is a suitable choice for those with a tight budget and interested in self-installation. Cast concrete counters are stain resistant when properly sealed, but may develop small cracks. If you’re a perfectionist, concrete counters may not be for you; even when professionally installed, minor inconsistencies in color and texture may occur.


Need even more guidance? Take the quiz below to find out what countertop material is best suited for your taste, budget, and lifestyle.