There is an abundance of choice available, and something to suit every taste. However, when buying exterior and garden lighting, it’s vital to pay careful attention that lamps are weatherproof, waterproof and safe for the purpose you are using them for. And unless you have bought low voltage or transportable lights, it’s always a good idea to invest in the services of a qualified electrician to install lights safely.
The MR group: MR11 and MR16 From top left to bottom right: MR11 LED bulbs in bollard lights, MR16 LED bulbs in ceiling fan fixture, MR11 LED bulbs in path lights, MR16 LED bulbs in kitchen track light fixture
Phew, now that that’s over, let’s move onto wattage. Watts are the standard unit for measuring electricity. For lighting, there are three basic levels – mood lighting (about 40 watts), task lighting (about 100 watts) and the in-between or average lighting (often 60-75 watts). Most packages will only gives these incandescent numbers, but to calculate the equivalent fluorescent or LED wattage, just divide the incandescent wattage by four. So, if you are looking for mood lighting which is 40 watts on an incandescent bulb, look for 10 watt LEDs.
Want some more info? Check out these additional expert lighting tips and flip through the slideshow below for some great overall lighting suggestions for each room in your home!
– Recessed Lights Keep recessed lights around 60 watts to prevent from turning them into spotlights.
Numbers in each code refer to the bulb’s diameter in one-eighths of an inch. The numbers after “AR” refer to the bulb’s diameter in millimeters.
Tubular (T) bulbs come in a variety of lengths and widths. Depending on their size, these bulbs can be used in applications ranging from chandeliers, wall sconces, and pendant lights to basement and garage troffer light fixtures.
2. Elstead Sheldon Pendant Porch Lantern: £179, Lighting Direct
The G group: G11, G14, G16/G50, G60, G25/G80, G30 From top left to bottom right: G14 LED bulbs in ceiling light fixture, G30 LED bulbs in bathroom vanity, G30 LED filament bulb in porch light fixture, G16 gold-tint LED filament bulbs in ceiling light fixture
– Kitchen Kitchen lights should be bright because you are working with knives and other cooking materials. For dark kitchens and more opaque fixtures, try 100 watts. If you get a lot of natural light, try using a slightly dimmer 80 watt bulb.
Fluorescent lights are gas-discharge lamps that use electricity to excite mercury vapors. CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) are great for the home because they don’t break easily and last for a long time, but they frequently have a slightly green cast that you need to look out for. The color of the light should be listed on the packaging. These are more difficult to find for dimmers (because they can only go from about 30%-100$, not 0%-100%), but some CFLs will work and it will be indicated on the package.
– Porch Light Mary Beth suggest “halogen lights in the 20 watt range should be perfect for a pathway” so you’re not being blinded on the walk to your house. However, “for carriage lights or lanterns [on the porch], bump that up to 40 or 60 watts.”
For more information about differences between these bulbs, check out this New York Times article. To learn more about different types of bulbs (from reflector to globes and everything in between), take a look at this buying guide. And, if you’re thinking about investing in dimmers, here are great DIY instructions.
– Nightstand Lights 50-60 watts is best for nighttime tasks like reading a book or reviewing notes. But, to keep from that seeming too bright in an otherwise dim room, make sure your lamp shade shields the bulb from your direct eye sight.
The BR group: BR20/R20, BR30, BR40 From top left to bottom right: BR20/R20 LED bulbs in bedroom can lights, BR40 LED bulbs in living room can lights, BR30 LED bulbs in home theater can lights, BR40 LED bulbs in kitchen can lights
Numbers in each code refer to the bulb’s diameter in one-eighths of an inch.
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Let’s talk about light bulb groups, their bulb codes, and what applications those bulbs are typically used for.
Understanding common household light bulb shapes, sizes, and styles is important whether you’re converting outdated incandescent fixtures into energy-efficient ones or using LED bulbs for new-construction applications. Every light bulb has identifying characteristics that are represented by a letter or series of letters and a number; these are known as light bulb codes. The letter or letters in a bulb code indicate either shape or special features such as reflector type. Numbers in a bulb code indicate size in millimeters or eighths of an inch. These codes will tell you if a bulb will fit in your fixture and if it’s the right shape.
PAR stands for parabolic aluminized reflector. In traditional incandescent PAR bulbs, a U-shaped reflector is used to maximize brightness and direct light through the front of the bulb in a narrow spot beam or wide flood beam pattern. Oftentimes, LED PAR bulbs will not have a reflector but will still deliver the hard-edged lighting (less of a gradual fade than BR bulbs) that is typical of incandescent PAR bulbs. These bulbs have a shorter body than BR bulbs and usually install flush with ceilings or fixtures, which reduces glare. They’re commonly found in outdoor emergency light, spot light, or floodlight fixtures but can also be used indoors for track lights, recessed lights, display lights, or can lights.
7. Carrie Portable Outdoor Light: £87, Scandinavian Design Centre
Walk into any hardware store and you’re presented with rows full of lighting options. Incandescent or fluorescent? 40 watt or 100 watt? Yellow light or blue light? Somehow, over the past few years, that visit to the local store for a new lightbulb has turned from an easy five minute job to a frustrating event. But, we say enough! Choosing a lightbulb doesn’t have to be this hard, so we’ve put together an all-encompassing guide to make sure you’ve got the right lights for every area in your home.
– Dining Room Chandelier For the best results, keep the total wattage of dining room chandelier between 200-400 watts depending on the room size. So, this can mean two 100 watt bulbs, four 60 or 75 watt bulbs, eight 50 watt bulbs and so on.
– Bathroom Sconces Keep bathroom sconces around 60-80 watts (But, this can be split. So two 40 watt bulbs in a pair of sconces or three 30 watt bulbs above the mirror for example). Pink lights will help compliment your skin tone, but Mary Beth also reminded us that “makeup looks different in different lights. Going out for an evening event where the light is subdued will be a warmer environment, whereas going to the office is a cooler tone.” So, if you do opt for a warm-colored bulb, remember your makeup will look a little different when your in the office.
Let’s start with the basics: incandescent, fluorescent or LED? Each type of bulb has its own benefits and limits, and choosing which style to use in your home is really a matter of personal preference.
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Samantha (Sonderen) Montes de Oca | July 29, 2016 | Home Lighting, Learning Center | No Comments
All of the bulbs in these groups resemble the shape of a candle flame and are often referred to as candle bulbs. Conical (C) bulbs are shaped like a cone. Conical angular (CA) bulbs are shaped like a cone but have a bent tip. Blunt-tip (B) bulbs are very similar to C-type bulbs but have more of a torpedo or bullet shape. These bulbs can be used in chandeliers, wall sconces, pendant lights, night lights, decorative light strands, holiday light strands, and other decorative home lighting applications.
This gloriously minimalist pendant design would work beautifully as an elegant city porch light or on a modern terrace. Despite its delicate frame and heavy use of glass, it is double insulated and covered by a three-year guarantee, so it’s sturdier than it looks. It fits a 60-watt bulb for a soft, warm and welcoming light. It’s a real head-turner of a lamp and an investment you won’t regret making.
Simple and elegant, this heavy contemporary lamp is designed and made in the UK from bevelled glass and steel. A modern version of the candle wall lantern, it would look stunning set in that traditional manner, either side of a main doorway. It is designed with functionality as a key concern, so well finished and water resistant. Also available in black-and-polished nickel.
String lights aren’t just for Christmas. Designed for outdoor use, these retro-themed lights are an ideal way to add a little year-long magic to a city balcony, courtyard or the roof of a gazebo. The 10m long black wire consists of 10 sturdy low voltage perspex bulbs, each of which is designed to replicate a traditional filament bulb for a warm and cozy glow.
The PAR group: PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR36/AR111, PAR38 From top left to bottom right: PAR16 LED bulbs in ceiling fan fixture, PAR30 LED bulbs in recessed soffit light fixtures, PAR16 LED bulbs in eyeball light fixtures, PAR38 LED bulbs in garage security light, PAR38 LED bulb in kitchen can light
The B and C groups: B10, C7, C9, C15, CA10 From top left to bottom right: B10 LED bulbs in wall sconce, CA10 LED bulbs in chandelier, C9 LED bulbs in Christmas light strings, C7 LED bulb in night light
– Overhead Light In The Hall Keep hallways brightly lit because they get little to no natural light. We suggest two or three 50 watt bulbs if there are multiple fixtures or a single fixture with multiple bulbs. For a single bulb fixture, try 80-100 watts.
– ‘Boob’ Lamps This typical ceiling lamps (featuring a domed shade) often have more opaque covers, so we suggest using a 75 watt light.
Standard/arbitrary (A) bulbs are the most widely used and thought of when it comes to household lighting. These bulbs work well for a variety of applications, such as ceiling lights, lamps, vanity lights, kitchen lights, closet lights, porch light fixtures, and so many more.
BR stands for bulged reflector. Traditionally, the inside surface of an incandescent BR bulb is covered in reflector material that is used to gather and cast a wide beam of light away from the bulb. LED BR bulbs don’t require the reflector material. These bulbs can have a frosted, clear, or patterned dome-shaped lens that diffuses light and provides a gradual fade into nonilluminated areas. BR bulbs also produce less shadows when compared to PAR bulbs. They’re a bit longer than PAR bulbs and tend to protrude from light housings but are used in similar applications, such as track lights, recessed lights, display lights, or can lights.
The A Group: A15, A19, A21, and A25 From top left to bottom right: A19 LED filament bulbs in ceiling fan fixture, A21 LED bulbs in bedroom lamps, A19 gold-tint LED filament bulb in porch light fixture, A19 LED fireworks bulbs in string lights
This charming vintage-style light with its pre-weathered verdigris finish would add a touch of New Orleans charm to the exterior of any property. Handmade from solid brass and supplied with a height-adjustable hanging chain, it’s a practical purchase. Sturdy and built to last, it supports a 100-watt bulb (sold separately) to pack a powerful punch lighting even the darkest of porches.
Home Lighting 101: A Guide to Understanding Light Bulb Shapes, Sizes, and Codes
Multifaceted reflector (MR) bulbs are small in size with a reflective, faceted interior. The facets create a concentrated beam of light that can be displayed in a narrow spot or wide flood beam pattern. Because of the directional light they provide, MR LED bulbs don’t require the facets but often still have them. These bulbs are available in a variety of colors and can be used for many applications, including track lighting, recessed lighting, desk lights, and display case lighting. Many MR bulbs operate on low-voltage wiring systems, which makes them great for outdoor and landscape applications such as driveway lights, path lights, gazebo lights, paver lights, and malibu lights that have weatherproof housings.
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PAR36 bulbs are sometimes referred to as aluminized reflector (AR111) bulbs. They’re shaped differently than other PAR bulbs in that they have a fairly low-profile body. The insides of these bulbs are coated in a reflector material or consist of faceted reflectors. LED bulbs don’t require the reflectors but often use them anyway. Similarly to other PAR bulbs, they emit focused, hard-edged lighting in a spot or flood beam pattern. These bulbs run on low-voltage AC/DC wiring systems and are great for outdoor and landscape lighting applications such as architectural lights, driveway lights, path lights, gazebo lights, and paver lights that have weatherproof housings.
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Depending on the bulb, numbers in each code can refer to the bulb’s diameter in one-eighths of an inch or in millimeters.
You can’t go wrong with a classic Scandinavian design. This traditional Nordic wall lamp is beautifully crafted in copper with an easily removable sealed glass dome. It’s also available in a pre-weathered finish, although, it’s worth noting that, over time, even the bright copper finish will oxidise to take on a more vintage appearance. It’s great on its own but we’d go for a pair to make a real statement.
An unexpected find from BHS, this elegant steel wall lantern is very reasonably priced compared to similar models. Its dark matte powder finish and soft, candle-like light (6 to 9-watt ES LED bulb recommended) give it a modern gothic appearance. As one of the smaller lamps, and a glass-panelled design, it would work best in a relatively sheltered spot to add romantic moody lighting, rather than as a main porch spotlight.
9. James Bassant Homefield Nickel Outdoor Lantern: £176, The Conran Shop
Make your plants feel like movie stars with this sophisticated spike spotlight. Small yet powerful, with an adjustable lamp head and dimmer option, this is an incredibly adaptable light. Whether you want to up-light a garden sculpture, or highlight a pathway, it can be easily fixed and repositioned at your whim. It’s brushed stainless steel finish gives it a sleek modern look without drawing attention to itself during daylight hours.
For every light fixture or application, there’s going to be a specific bulb or light bulb shape that will fit best and provide the right type of light. If you understand bulb codes, it’s easy to look at a light fixture and know right away what kind of bulb you’ll need.
Bulkhead lamps may not immediately spring to mind of when considering outdoor lighting, but not only are they incredibly hardwearing and functional (this lamp has a two-year guarantee against corrosion), and they have a real retro industrial charm. Available in a range of finishes, they are most effective lined up along a wall or outdoor walkway, although they work just as well alone to add atmospheric ambiance.
Since the kitchen is such an active location, make sure you have task lighting in key areas such as above the dining room table or over the countertops. Install ceiling lights as well because you’ll want a softer option for entertaining and daytime use.
In general, you can multiply the square footage of a room by 1.5 to figure out the total amount of wattage needed to properly light the space. For task lighting, you can bump that multiplier to 2.5. And, remember to always check the fixture to see what the maximum wattage allowed is since exceeding that number can be very dangerous.
Astro lighting’s elegant pendant lantern is both practical and hard-wearing. It’s modern classic design would enhance any porch. The adjustable pendant chain and easy open-fitting base means it is simple to install and changing light bulbs isn’t an issue. It’s not cheap but this one is a sound investment.
The T group: T7, T8, T10, T14 From top left to bottom right: T7 LED bulb in wall sconce, T14 LED bulbs in bathroom vanity light fixture, T8 LED bulbs in garage tube light fixture, T10 LED bulb in freezer, T8 LED bulb in basement tube light fixture
GX5.3 bi-pin – in low-voltage AC/DC systems GZ4 bi-pin – in low-voltage AC/DC systems GU10 bi-pin – in 120-volt systems
While this information is great, we’ve all heard the mood vs. task lighting tip before, so we want to look at things a little more closely. What watts should you use in an overhead light? What about in a porch light? We reached out to GE Lighting Institute Manager Mary Beth Gotti for helpful tips, so keep reading for the breakdown.
If you’re after solar-powered lighting, see our round-up here.
BR20 bulbs are often referred to as R20 but have the same characteristics of other BR bulb types. The R stands for reflector.
Globe (G) bulbs have a full, round shape and are available in various sizes. They can be used for many applications throughout the home, such as foyer lights, kitchen lights, chandeliers, and ornamental fixtures. The most common type is the large G30 bulb, which is used in bathroom and makeup vanities.
This beautiful, rusted cast iron and copper garden lamp has been designed to subtly fit into its natural surroundings. Uniquely pre-weathered, unlike some of the other lights featured, it’s finished in treated steel alloy to protect against any further alterations. At 80cm it makes an eye-catching garden sculpture in the day and a stunning lighting feature after dark.
– Desk Lights When working at your desk, you want to make sure you don’t strain your eyes and the best way to do this is to find a desk light at about the same wattage as your computer screen. For a room with decent natural light, that should be around 60 watts. For a room with few/no windows, balance the 60 watt desk light with ambient overhead lights or bump that number up to 75 watts.
Get that hygge feeling with this incredibly multifunctional, LED lamp, which lasts six to eight hours per charge. Designed by a group of Danish architects, this lamp skillfully combines style and practicality. It’s lightweight, so great for carrying around from late night BBQ, to the beach to finding your way back to the house, and beautiful to look at with its soft opal glass finish. It’s also fully dimmable, so makes a great night light for little ones.
Incandescent lights are ones that glow as a result of an electric current heating a metal filament. They’re inexpensive and have a great light quality (that’s warm to compliment skin tones), but they burn-out fast as a result of the heat and are being phased out of stores–even though the government-mandated incandescent light ban was overturned in December.
They can also be used easily with dimmer switches and have a wide variety of colors. Our favorites are amber (which creates a glow reminiscent of a fire or open flame), light blue (which filter out the yellow to make a very crisp white light) and pink (which compliment natural skins tines beautifully).
Even a modest urban outdoor space can be transformed and made more welcoming with innovative lighting. A string of outdoor fairy lights can add a touch of magic to a balcony, a contemporary pendant lamp can smarten up a simple porch, and while well-placed spotlights and uplighters can give your garden a whole new lease of life after dark.
1. Astro Lantern: £166, Ocean Lighting Read more 8 best solar-powered lights 10 best parasols 10 best garden furniture 10 best deck chairs
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are semiconductor devices that glow when an electric current passes through them. Because the light occurs at a single wave-length, you can easily play around with color, something that will be indicated on the package.
LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulb (and last up to 16 times longer than incandescent bulbs), but they’re also the most expensive. Lastly, you can buy LEDs for dimmers.