How to Choose the Best Light Bulbs for Every Room in the House

2018 Mar 26
Posted in: Electrical
buyer's guide for the best light bulbs for every room

The lighting in a room can make or break its ambiance and/or functionality. But so many options exist when it comes to choosing light bulbs. And the worst part is that every room in your home has different lighting needs.

So where do you start? Don’t worry. We’ll provide a quick and easy guide to choosing the best light bulbs for the following rooms in your home:

  • Kitchen
  • Living room
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom

First though, let’s take a quick look at some of the common terms you’ll see as you’re shopping for the perfect light bulb.

A glossary of lighting terms

  • CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps)—an energy-efficient light bulb that saves you up to 75% in energy costs when compared to standard incandescent bulbs. These light bulbs are slightly less expensive than LED bulbs ($2–$15 per bulb) but emit 80% of their energy as heat, which contributes to heat buildup in the home and can increase air conditioning costs. These bulbs can last up to 9 years.


A CFL light bulb.
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  • LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)—an energy-efficient light bulb that saves you up to 86% in annual electric costs when compared to standard incandescent bulbs. These light bulbs are slightly more expensive than others ($5–$35 per bulb) but do not contribute to heat buildup in the home, which helps save on AC costs. These bulbs can last for over 20 years.


An LED light bulb.
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  • Lumens—the measurement of a bulb’s brightness. Household rooms typically need anywhere from 400 to over 10,000+ lumens, depending on what you use the room for. The higher the lumens count, the brighter the light a bulb will give off.


Where to find lumen information on the light bulb packaging.
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  • Color temperature/Kelvin—a light bulb’s “ Kelvin temperature” determines the color of the light and is measured in degrees of Kelvin from 1,000K to 6,500K+. The lower the Kelvin temperature of the light, the “warmer” the light (red, orange, yellow hues). The higher the Kelvin temperature of the light, the “cooler” the light (yellow, white, blue hues).


The Kelvin lighting scale.
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  • Ambient lighting—the general overall lighting that fills the room. This lighting should give off a “gentle” brightness and be layered with task lighting or accent lighting depending on the room.

 

  • Task lighting—compared to the room’s ambient lighting, task lighting should be a smaller, more concentrated light that illuminates just a work or reading space. Task lighting is typically close in lumen count to the ambient lighting.

 

  • Accent lighting—a concentrated, bright light that is used to draw attention to a particular feature/area of the room. Accent lighting should always be brighter than both task and ambient lighting in order to create shadows/depth around the object it’s highlighting.

Want to learn more? Just check out our blog, “How to Choose the Best Light Bulb for Your Home” for an in-depth explanation of LED vs CFL vs incandescent bulbs, lumens and color temperature.

Now that you better understand these “light bulb terms”, let’s look at how you can apply this knowledge when choosing bulbs for the following rooms in your home.

The best light bulbs for the kitchen

Your kitchen is a task-oriented room that’s used primarily for food prepping and active social gatherings. That said, you want to choose a bright, crisp ambient light that’s paired with even brighter task lighting throughout the room.

Our professional recommendations for kitchen light bulbs:

  • Bulb type—LEDs for a brighter effect without the higher operating cost of a CFL or incandescent.
  • Lumen count—4,000 to 7,000 for the ambient lighting (the cumulative lumen count of all bulbs used for ambient lighting) and 450 per area for surrounding task lights (i.e. under cabinet lighting or track lighting).
  • Color temperature—choose a bulb with 3,000K–4,500K for a crisp “white” light.

Other pro tips: If you also eat in your kitchen, consider either adding a light dimmer to lower lumen count during meal time or use bulbs with a lower Kelvin temperature (2,000–3,000K) above the area/nook you use for eating.

The best light bulbs for the bedroom

Because your bedroom is primarily used for relaxation and sleeping, we suggest using only warm and dim bulbs. Exposure to any light, especially “blue” light (high Kelvin temperature), can present sleep problems.

Our professional recommendations for bedroom light bulbs:

  • Bulb type—Even though they’re super inefficient, we often suggest incandescent bulbs—but only for the bedrooms. That’s because these bulbs emit the lowest amount of blue light and promote restful sleep. Unfortunately, even LED bulbs that appear white produce blue light that can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Lumen count—1,500 to 3,000 for ambient lighting (the cumulative lumen count of all bulbs used for ambient lighting). If you’re a bedtime reader, you can add task lighting (i.e. table lamps) with a lumen count of 300-400 per area.
  • Color temperature—2,000K to 3,000K for ambient lighting but use 5,000K for task lighting.

Other pro tips: Don’t point any light sources directly at the bed. Point table lamps away from the bed and angle overhead ambient light toward the dressing area.

The best light bulbs for the bathroom

Your bathroom is extremely task-oriented so we suggest mimicking the lumen count and color temperature used in your kitchen.

Our professional recommendations for bathroom light bulbs:

  • Bulb type—LEDs for the white, direct light they offer.
  • Lumen count—4,000 to 8,000 lumens for ambient lighting (the cumulative lumen count of all bulbs used for ambient lighting) with a minimum of 400–800 lumens per task light (mirror lighting).
  • Color temperature—4,500K

Other pro tips: Avoid the common mistake of installing a single, overhead light above the mirror. These light fixtures are unflattering because they shine directly down on your head and cast harsh shadows on your face. Asymmetrical lighting also produces shadows so we suggest installing a task light on each side of the mirror.

Need help from an Arizona electrician?

Want professional advice on the best lighting design for your home? Or do you already have the fixtures and just need them installed?

Either way, we can help.

Just contact us and we’ll send over a trained electrician who can design and/or install your lighting to make your life brighter!

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