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The 6 Main Types of Light Bulbs in 2024

The 6 Main Types of Light Bulbs in 2024

It may surprise you that there are dozens of different types of light bulbs to choose from on the market.

However, unless you have a specialty fixture or unique energy requirements, six main types are suitable for the majority of uses today. 

Even with the dozens of ways you can light up your home or office, there are six main types of light bulbs that will handle most, if not all, your lighting needs.

Of course, each light bulb type will have its benefits and disadvantages. However, knowing the pros and cons of various light bulbs can help you determine the best solution for your lighting needs.

The 6 Most Common Types of Light Bulbs

A few of the main types of light bulbs in a blue-hued room with one floating and glowing


The six main types of light bulbs available can handle a broad scope of lighting needs, help you save money on energy bills, and are more environmentally friendly than ever before. 

So, before you rush out to buy a replacement light bulb, explore these options below for a better alternative in your home or office space. 

1. Incandescent

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The first commercial incandescent light bulb entered the market in 1879, providing a revolutionary product for homes and businesses. This type of light bulb is the traditional style that many homes have used in the past or still use today. 

These light bulbs rely on a wire filament attached to terminals and glow when an electrical current is active. As a result, they aren’t as efficient as other bulb types, putting them at a disadvantage.

However, they’re the least expensive option on the market and are still widely available as a lighting option.

You can find incandescent light bulbs in many different sizes and voltage options to suit a wide array of light fixtures. Some models start at a minuscule 1.5 volts and increase up to 300 volts.

The typical light bulbs in homes will consist of these choices:

  • 40-watt
  • 60-watt
  • 100-watt

Incandescent bulbs are inexpensive to manufacture and purchase. However, they only last approximately 750 to 1,000 hours. This measurement makes them a short-lived option when compared to other types of light bulbs. 

2. Fluorescent (Standard)

Flourescent (Standard)
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The standard fluorescent light bulb is typical in many commercial and industrial settings and has been widely used since 1934. They are easily recognizable by their long glass tube, with each end sporting an electric circuit and two contact pins. 

Also known as fluorescent lamps, these tubes come in five basic types, each indicating a T and a corresponding number to identify their size. Some fluorescent bulbs are only suitable for warmer weather.

Others are significantly larger to create a higher output. These light bulbs are highly fragile, and you should not handle them without gloves to eliminate any skin oils or salts transferring to the glass and causing heating issues.

In addition, fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, making them hazardous if broken and requiring proper cleanup and disposal at all times. 

The average lifespan of standard fluorescent light bulbs will range between 7,000 and 15,000 hours, depending on use. 

3. Fluorescent (Compact)

Fluorescent (Compact)
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As a natural progression from fluorescent lamps in warehouses and office spaces, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) emerged on the market in the 1980s.

This option gave homeowners the advantage of a long-lasting bulb in a smaller size to fit in standard light fixtures. 

Compact fluorescent light bulbs come in various shapes and sizes, making them simple to add to table lamps, dining room fixtures, hallway sconces, and more.

In addition, these light bulbs use only one-third to one-fifth of the energy to emit the same volume of light as an incandescent bulb.

A typical compact fluorescent light bulb will last approximately 8,000 hours, making them a terrific alternative to the archaic incandescent models.

However, they take time to warm up and achieve full brightness. In addition, like other fluorescent light bulbs, compact models contain mercury and require special handling and disposal. 

Compact fluorescent bulbs are now a rarity with the advancements in lighting technology. Instead, home and business owners are turning to more energy-efficient and cost-effective options, like LED light bulbs. 

4. Halogen

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Halogen bulbs are another style of incandescent light bulb that uses a tungsten filament to produce light. These light bulbs are more suitable for applications with projectors or other specialized lighting needs. 

Halogen light bulbs are not readily available worldwide any longer. Many locations, including European countries and Australia, are pushing for more environmentally friendly lighting options, moving away from halogen options.

So, these light bulbs may still be available, depending on where you reside. These light bulbs are more efficient than the traditional incandescent ones, but not by much, sitting at about 2,000 hours of use before they need to be replaced. 

In addition, halogen lights become very hot during use, posing significant burn and fire hazards if not handled or used carefully. These bulbs shouldn’t come in contact with furniture, draperies, clothing, or other flammable materials during use.

5. LED

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LED light bulbs have been available in the market since 1996, giving home and business owners an alternative to other types of light bulbs.

LED bulbs use light-emitting diodes to create an immediate display of light rather than requiring a warm-up period. 

This model is more energy-efficient than incandescent and fluorescent types of light bulbs. In addition, its life expectancy is not affected by the frequency of turning it off and on, unlike fluorescent bulbs. 

LED light bulbs are available in several sizes and can be suitable for several applications. However, you mustn’t use indoor LED lights for outside light fixtures. In addition, some LED bulbs offer various color options and dimmer solutions. 

One drawback to LED light bulbs is using them in light fixtures with dimmer switches. Although homeowners can purchase LED models suitable for dimmer applications, not all LED bulbs will be compatible, making different bulbs necessary to use in these circumstances. 

An LED light bulb will typically last 50,000 hours, equating to almost 14 years of regular use, making them an exceptional choice for many situations.

6. Smart

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Technology continues to evolve and integrate more elements to make our lives easier, and light bulbs are no exception. Smart bulbs entered the market in 2012, allowing users to:

  • Monitor their power usage
  • Dim the lights
  • Change colors using a corresponding digital app

They’re available in various sizes, shapes, and voltage choices to suit virtually any lighting fixture. Smart light bulbs come with a higher price tag when compared to other types.

However, advanced technology comes at a cost because these bulbs can connect through Wi-Fi to your smartphone or digital device. On average, a Smart light bulb uses between 7 and 9.5 watts of energy to produce light equivalent to a standard 60-watt bulb.

This low measurement translates into the bulb operating successfully for approximately 23,000 hours, equalling about ten years of use in a typical home setting.

However, while these light bulbs are a long-lasting option, they’re still not as cost-effective or energy-efficient as standard LED options. 

Things to Consider

Various types of light bulbs and light fixtures in a home depot lighting aisle

Tigard, OR, USA – Mar 13, 2021: The lighting department aisle in the Home Depot in Tigard, Oregon./Tada Images/Shutterstock

Before you go ahead and start replacing all the light bulbs in your home or office, it’s crucial to do some research. 

  • Wattage requirements. Examine the wattage requirements on a light bulb before installing it into a light fixture. A bulb that tries to draw more power than a socket allows can cause heating issues, resulting in safety concerns. 
  • The connectors. Not all light bulbs have the same connections. While some bulbs will screw in, others have terminal posts. Check your light fixture and find a bulb that will fit. Never try to force a bulb into a space that doesn’t fit. 
  • The space’s light requirements. Consider the lighting requirements for the space. Do you need to light up dark corners or just add supplemental light during the evening hours? 
  • Disposal regulations. Check with your local authority before disposing of old light bulbs. Some locations require special handling and disposal of standard and compact fluorescents or halogen bulbs. 
  • Green incentives. Some regions offer incentives for homeowners who upgrade lighting fixtures and switch to LED light bulbs. You may benefit from tax breaks or discounts in your area. 
  • Upfront cost. Replacing all your light bulbs at once can create a significant upfront cost. Consider, as your budget allows, replacing the light bulbs in your home one room at a time, starting with the rooms you use most often. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman buying one of the several types of lightbulbs at a store while comparing two spiral bulbs


If you have any additional concerns about the types of light bulbs available and their uses, see these frequently asked questions below. 

What are the available color options for light bulb types?

Each manufacturer will offer various color options for their light bulb products. However, many types of light bulbs come in a few standard color choices for variety. These selections include soft white, warm or cool white, bright white, and daylight.

Which light bulb is best for a bedroom?

No matter which light bulb product you choose, selecting one in a soft white color option is best for a bedroom space. This lower 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin light source is easier on the eyes but still provides enough light to see.

Which product is the brightest light bulb?

When comparing the six main types of light bulbs, the LED bulb is the brightest option of them all. This choice will produce approximately 170 lumens per watt while remaining extremely energy-efficient.

Can you use a 100-watt light bulb in a light fixture that only allows a 40-watt bulb?

Replacing light bulbs in fixtures can be tricky, especially if each requires a different wattage. However, in many instances, using a 100-watt LED light bulb will draw less than 50 watts of power, making it a perfectly safe option. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions on wattage requirements and usage before installing them in your existing light fixtures.

Which is the best type of light bulb overall?

When comparing the cost-effectiveness, environmental impact, and lighting capacity, LED light bulbs are the best choice overall of all six types available in the market. However, there may be situations where LED bulbs aren’t the best option. Therefore, knowing which types of light bulbs suit each case will help you make the best choice for your home or office.

So, What’s the Best Type of Light Bulb For You?

With the dozens of types of light bulbs on the market, it can be confusing when you need a replacement.

Determining which bulb will suit your circumstances and fit your light fixture is vital to having the best product you can safely use in your home or office. 

Although there are six main types of light bulbs, you may only need to use one or two of them throughout your lifetime, depending on your lighting needs.