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Tools & Tips

Which Light Bulb is Right for Me?

Choosing the right light bulb is a balancing act between energy savings, comfort, durability, cost, and compatibility. Each area of a home or office will require different types of light and present different opportunities for savings. Use the chart and information on this page to pick the perfect light bulb for your lighting needs.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs provide rich and warm light quality, excellent color rendering, and controllability, but are the least efficient.

CFL screw-in bulb
Screw-in CFL Bulbs

Screw-in CFL bulbs are energy efficient and have the longest life of all light bulbs. However, they provide less pleasing light, start up slowly, may flicker, and are not disposable because of their mercury content.

halogen bulb
Halogen Bulbs

Halogen bulbs, an efficient variety of incandescent lighting, are up to 30% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. When dimmed by 30%, they offer many benefits of CFL and standard incandescent lights without the drawbacks.

General Rules

Use a halogen bulb with a dimmer where:
  • Light quality is important
  • You want energy savings with ambiance
  • You want to control the light with dimmers, timers, or sensors


Use a CFL bulb, possibly with a dimmer, where:
  • Light quality isn't important
  • There is no risk of children or animals breaking the bulb
  • You want maximum light with minimum energy consumption
  • You don't need sensors or timers
When selecting a light source you should consider the following:
Energy Savings Energy Calculator
Incandescent Low Voltage Fluorescent LED
  1. A dimming ballast is required when dimming a 4 pin compact fluorescent (CFL).
  2. Limited dimming available.
  3. Dimming range depends on the LED driver used.
  4. CRI 85 to 100.
  5. Color temperature 2700 to 3000K.

Superior Superior
Adequate Adequate
Not adequate Not adequate

Standard Halogen Electronic Low Voltage Magnetic Low Voltage Linear CFL pin CFL screw-in LED LED screw-in
Efficiency Reduced energy usage Not adequate Adequate Not adequate Not adequate Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior
3000+ hours lamp life Not adequate Superior Adequate Adequate Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior
Location Living spaces Superior Superior Not adequate Not adequate Adequate Superior Not adequate Superior Adequate
Utility spaces Superior Adequate Adequate Adequate Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior
Office spaces Not adequate Adequate Adequate Adequate Superior Superior Adequate Superior Adequate
Price Low operating cost Not adequate Superior Not adequate Not adequate Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior
Low price Superior Adequate Not adequate Not adequate Superior Superior Superior Not adequate Not adequate
Controlability Timers and sensors Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Not adequate Superior Superior
Fully dimmable Superior Superior Not adequate Superior Superior Superior Adequate2 Superior3 Adequate
Performance Instant start-up Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Adequate Adequate Adequate Superior
No pop or drop out Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Adequate Superior Adequate
Sustainability Mercury-free Superior Superior Superior Superior Not adequate Not adequate Not adequate Superior Superior
Easily disposable Superior Superior Superior Superior Adequate Adequate Not adequate Superior Superior
Quality Excellent color rendering4 Superior Superior Superior Superior Not adequate Not adequate Not adequate Adequate Adequate
Flicker-free operation Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Superior Not adequate Adequate Adequate
Pleasing color temperature5 Superior Superior Superior Superior Adequate Adequate Not adequate Adequate Adequate