How do I choose the correct light bulb?

Have you ever needed to replace a burnt-out light bulb but then asked yourself why there is an entire aisle in your hardware store dedicated to nothing but light bulbs? Here is a guide to simplify your search and help you choose the correct bulb.

LED or Incandescent (Type)

Base (Fit)

Wattage (Brightness)

Kelvins (Color)

Dimmable (Yes or No)

LED or Incandescent

Are you looking for an LED or incandescent bulb? These are the two most common types, although there are others. LED bulbs are very popular because the bulbs don’t get as hot, last longer, and are more energy efficient. But ultimately this is up to you and most lights will accept either.


Determine which base will fit into your lamp or light fixture. This doesn’t mean the style, design, or even always the shape of the bulb. Most bases come in a variety of styles. But the base of the bulb that screws into the lamp or light must match. Some common bases include A19 and E26. However, if you have a candelabra bulb, for example, that will likely be base E12. These are represented by a letter, or series of letters, and a number, often referred to as light bulb codes. Check your fixture or instructions before you buy.


Wattage is the brightness of the bulb. The higher the wattage the brighter the bulb. Lights and lamps have tags letting you know the maximum wattage allowed. When choosing a bulb always know your max wattage because you never want to exceed it. You can always put in a 40-watt bulb in a 60-watt maximum but never the other way around. NOTE: If your light has a 60 max wattage but 3 bulbs that max wattage is not per bulb so you would need to get 3 bulbs with no more than 20-watts per bulb.


Where wattage is the brightness, kelvins are the color. Do you prefer a very white light (5,000 kelvins)? Or very yellow (2,700 kelvins)? Maybe somewhere in-between (3,500 kelvins)? Depending on the color you prefer, you will usually be somewhere between 2,700 and 5,000 kelvins, with the higher number being whiter and the lower number being yellower. Did you know they now have LED’s where you can adjust the kelvins like a dimmer? No need to choose only one color!

Is it dimmable?

Will you be dimming this light? If so, you need to make sure the light bulb is rated as dimmable. If you are using an LED bulb it must indicate that it is rated for dimming. If you have a dimmer switch but the bulb isn’t rated as dimmable, it will not dim properly if at all. This is oftentimes when you can see flickering of bulbs or other issues with your light not functioning as you intend. Dimmers are also rated for a maximum wattage so be sure to check that too.

CAUTION! Before replacing a light bulb, be sure to turn off the lamp or light switch controlling the fixture. Better yet, turn off the circuit breaker in your electrical panel.

As always, we hope we’ve made your day brighter! If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please visit

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