How To Choose Light Bulbs For Your Home: Table/Floor Lamps

Architect Louis Kahn once said, “Just think, that man can claim a slice of the sun.” What a beautiful way to describe lighting!

Of course, choosing light bulbs for your home doesn’t always feel so empowering, because there’s a little bit of leg work to get there. The finished product is what you’re looking for: A room with lighting that’s just right and adaptable to any situation, whether you’re entertaining, relaxing, or working around the house. Do you envision sophisticated light fixtures with dimmer controls, sparkling chandeliers, decorative pendants, or all of the above?

This post is the first in a new series that will help you realize that vision. After all, every light fixture needs a light bulb. We’ll start with the easiest category – table and floor lamps …

Chances are, your household lamps take the classic “A-lamp” shaped light bulb. You have a few options here:

  • You can stick with the tried and true incandescent light bulb, making sure to comply with the maximum wattage specified on the lamp. You’ll get a good amount of light output, but there’s a whole lot of heat that comes with it, and it’s as about as inefficient as you can find. Read on if you want to branch out to something a little more energy bill friendly.
  • The halogen light bulb is ideal for those incandescent lovers out there. It’s actually a type of incandescent – it just has a bit of halogen gas added inside the glass envelope of the lamp to lengthen the lifetime a little. The thing is, halogen lamps still give off a lot of heat, and the strides in efficiency are not very far. Still, halogen A-lamps are good alternatives to standard incandescent lamps.
  • Cue in the compact fluorescent lamp,  or CFL. Its designating feature is the corkscrew design, but you can find many options with a covering to emulate the shape of the incandescent A-lamp. It uses 65 to 75 percent less energy than the incandescent A-lamp, which makes its expected lifetime a good bit longer. Two things to note: CFLs are not recommended for lamps that will frequently be turned on and off, because that shortens their lifetime. Also, CFLs have a bit of a delayed start time, especially in cold temperatures. So, if you think you’ll be using it for less than 15 minutes at a time, and you’re not happy waiting a few moments for full light output, opt for another light bulb. For more information on CFLs, see here.
  • Many people haven’t heard of the CFL’s cousin, the cold cathode fluorescent lamp, or CCFL. Unlike CFLs, CCFLs are very rarely affected by frequent on-off cycles. Also, there’s no delay in start time – they turn on instantly to full light output! They have the same corkscrew design, also available with a covering. They tend to be slightly more expensive than the CFL, but you can’t beat the price for the performance and efficiency. See a selection here.
  • Newest to the A-lamp scene is the LED lamp. Compared to the traditional 60 watt incandescent, this baby uses just 14 watts of energy while still producing 95% of the light output. The best part is its estimated lifetime is a whopping 23 years. Can you imagine?! It’s admittedly pricey, at over $25 a pop, but if you factor in that you won’t need to buy another for over two decades along with the energy savings, you’ll see that the lifetime cost is very reasonable.

Tomorrow, we’ll share tips on choosing light bulbs for recessed cans. Stay tuned!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.