If you need bulbs for your home, you need LED bulbs. They are cheaper, more efficient, and longer lasting than conventional incandescent bulbs. Best of all, LED bulbs in 2020 are much, much cheaper than they were when LED bulbs first started getting popular (in 2012 or so).
LED Bulb Buying Guide
This article is a buying guide for all kinds of LED bulbs, but it’ll focus on the A19, which is the most popular bulb size in homes and work places. When you think “bulb” you are thinking of the A19 bulb size/shape with a traditional E26 base.
Furthermore, we’ll focus on affordable, safe bulbs for budget-focused homeowners. These are bulbs made by brand we know and trust, not necessarily the cheapest ones you can find online.
Best Overall LED Bulb
LED bulbs last a long time — something like 25,000 hours. That’s nearly 17 years if you use it 4 hours a day. What that means is that if you can deal with a slightly higher upfront cost, then it’s worth it to buy the best bulbs you can. This might be a little bit uncomfortable at the start (especially if you are buying a lot of them), but then you can just forget about bulbs for years at a time, all while saving money versus incandescent and CFL bulbs every time you turn on the lights.
This section focuses on the best LED bulbs you can get in 2017. Keep in mind that the best bulb at 60W-equivalent is usually also the best bulb at 75W and 100W. We’ll note when that’s not the case.
Cree’s LED bulbs have been a go-to of our for years. They are well made and nicely designed. They offer reliable service from a company that does nothing but lighting. For general home use most people will want a 60W-equivalent soft white bulb.
This bulb is most popularly sold through Home Depot, so you’ll likely find the best deals there, but you can find them online as well. At Home Depot these bulbs generally sell for about $3 each, which is a great deal.
Cheapest LED Bulb
We get it: bulbs traditionally were cheap, cheap, cheap, and they lasted long enough, so you want them to be cheap. That’s totally understand able! In 2017 you can get a very good LED bulb for cheap, even under $2. It’s possible to even get them for less, but at some point you’ll be sacrificing too much in tersm of reliability and safety. Our picks are super affordable and also high quality.
The Sylvania 74765 is a quality bulb that can be found online in 24-packs for about 24, shipped. That’s a ridiculously good deal on a nice bulb from a quality brand. These are 60W-equivalent bulbs so they are good for general use, and they have sufficiently high construction quality and light quality that most people won’t regret spending more.
Yes, you read that right: 16 LED bulbs for $25. That’s $1.56 per bulb! Five years ago you could barely get one bulb for $15, and now you can get a better one for about 1/10 the price — that’s progress! Keep in mind that 16 bulbs is a lot, so you’ll be good on light bulbs for some time. Also keep in mind that these bulbs are non-dimmable 800-Lumen so they aren’t going to be ideal for every situation! This variation is 2700K which is warm light. If you want a bluer, cooler tint then you want the 5000K pack which costs an extra $2.
Best 100W LED Bulb
You want a lot of light? Then you are looking for a 100W-equivalent bulb. That’s 1600 lumens, which is how you get big rooms brightly lit.
- GE Lighting 13909 Energy-Smart LED 16-watt, 1600-Lumen A21 Bulb: We like this 100W LED bulb so much because it’s reliable, as bright as it’s supposed to be, and it’s just $8. That’s a killer price on an affordable, excellent bulb. This is a worthwhile pick, just keep in mind that it’s an A21 size, so it’s slightly larger than a conventional bulb (A19). The cost is kept done by making the cooling area slightly larger, but that won’t affect the majority of buyers.
Watts to Lumens
Incandescent bulbs — the ones most of use grew up with — were sold using watts. A 40W was good for reading, a 60W was the most common one used for lighting homes, 75W was pretty bright and also used for general lighting, and then 100W meant you needed maximum brighthess. It all made sense. LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy of an incandescent bulb, so watts don’t really makes sense any more. Instead bulb makers use lumens, though they tend to mention the “watt-equivalent” amount as well. Here is a chart to learn what brightness you want and what bulb you need.
|Watts||Lumens||Actual Power||Common Use?||LED Bulb Pick|
|75||1110||$11.5||More light||Amazon Basics|
|100||1600||14||High ceilings||Philips 455717|
What is color temperature? What is 2700K?
Incandescent bulbs are pretty much burning and, like most things that burn, they put out a soft yellow light. This tone is described in terms of degrees Kelvin, with lower number being known as “warm” and higher numbers being called “cool” (because of the blue tones they take on).
On the other side of the spectrum you have 5000K (a popular 5000K bulb option), which is a blue tone that is more often found in Asia and Europe, and most often associated with fluorescent lighting. You should get what you prefer — lower number for yellower light and a cozy feel or higher numbers for whiter and then bluer light with a more industrial, hospital feel.
It’s worth nothing that lighting does extend past 2700K and 5000K, but those are the most common ends of the buying spectrum.