We spent over 36 hours researching and testing over 10 different brands of and types of LED bulbs and found that energy savings, cost, and longevity were the most important factors for consumers who were looking to purchase LED light bulbs for their home. Philips LED Frosted Light Bulb scored high marks in all categories over the competition and is our overall top pick. These A19 LEDs produce 800 lumens of soft light which is the equivalent of a regular 60 watt incandescent and uses 80% less energy. Philips LED light bulbs are non-dimmable and fit standard E26 fixtures and look just like a regular, classic light bulb.
LED Light Bulb Buying Guide
What are LED Bulbs?
LEDs get their name from how these efficient bulbs are made. Each bulb contains a diode that emits light whenever a current goes through it. The lifespan of an LED light bulb is amazingly long. They typically last 3 times as long as CFLs and thirteen times longer than incandescent light bulbs. If you burn an LED light bulb for just three hours per day your LED will last about 13 years before it has to be changed.
LED light bulbs are typically made of plastic and are super easy to maintain since there are no moving parts or filaments. You can purchase glass LEDs that contain a filament that resemble regular light bulbs, making these a great choice if you are looking for a more vintage look.
There are almost no UV rays or heat generated from LED bulbs. This will help reduce your AC costs and can also help prevent heat induced fading from occurring. Keep in mind that LED light bulbs have as much as 80% higher energy efficiency than regular bulbs and up to 40% higher than CFLs. This will lead to long term savings the longer you use them. Many people eventually switch all of their light bulbs to LEDs for this reason.
LED Sizes and Fittings
There are many different fittings and sizes of LEDs available. We have listed the most common sizes and fittings below.
- Semi-globe – These can be used for any fixture that you would normally have placed a globe bulb. Semi-globes will eliminate light waste by channeling the light forward.
- Globe – LED globes are much more efficient that regular globes. They are perfect for bathroom fixtures and other places where you can see the bulb.
- A-shape/Capsule – This style looks just like an incandescent bulb and can be a good choice for fixtures where the bulb can be seen.
- Candle or Flame Tip – If you have wall sconces, covered outdoor fixtures where a candle light looks good, and certain ceiling fans that have light fixtures you will like these LED candle tip LED bulbs.
- Outdoor – You will need LEDs that are wet rated for these fixtures which means they can be used in exposed fixtures outside without worry of the fixture or bulb getting damaged by rain. Most of these outdoor lights tend to be reflector shaped so they make good outdoor flood lights.
- Reflector – Reflector LEDs are good for directional lighting and work well in track lighting fixtures, recessed lighting and ceiling fans.
- Dimmable – Dimmable LEDs are made to be used in light fixtures with dimmer switches. Do not use non-dimmable LEDs with a dimmer switch because it will reduce the lifespan significantly.
- Portable – Portable LEDs can fit in your pocket but are strong enough to provide plenty of light when and where you need it.
- 3-way – 3 way LEDs have 3 different light levels which makes them very good for floor or table lamps. Make sure that you use LEDs that are designed for 3 way sockets for the best savings and results.
LED Color Temperatures
You can get LEDs in a variety of colors including a selection of whites such as
- Soft white – a warm, cozy light great for living rooms, bedrooms, sitting rooms, etc.
- Bright white – a refreshing, cool light that works well in the kitchen or bathroom
- Daylight – Mostly used for security and is a bright light also
Color temperature is used to describe a warm or cool light. The color scale is measured by incandescent light on a 100 point score. LEDs typically score somewhere in the mid-80s. 80 is considered good and an 85 is considered very good.
The brightness of regular light bulbs is measured in watts but since LEDs use a lot less energy the brightness is measured in lumens. A lumen is the amount of light the bulb produces and wattage is the amount of energy a bulb uses. For the most energy efficient LEDs you want choose the ones with the greatest lumens to watts percentage or ratio. The greater the ratio the more energy the bulb saves.
LED Bulb Features
Below are some of the features that LED bulbs can offer.
- Smart bulbs – A smart bulb enables you to connect the bulb to Bluetooth so you can control your lights within a specific range. You can also sync the lights through Wi-Fi and control them from anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi signal.
- Dimmable – A dimmable LED is a bulb that can be controlled with a switch that will raise and lower the intensity of the light. Some dimmable bulbs can flicker so make sure that the bulbs you purchase are compatible with dimmer switches.
- EFR or Enclosed Fixture Rating – If you are looking for an LED bulb for an enclosed fixture you will want to find one that has an Enclosed fixture Rating so you can maximize the lifespan of the bulb.
- Energy Star – If you see the Energy Star label on the light bulb package this means that the bulb has been tested for efficacy, color quality, and the amount of light it puts out.
- Multi-packs – Most online LAAED light bulbs come in larger packs so you can save even more money. The top rated selections we have reviewed above all come in multi-packs that offer consumers more than just one bulb at a time. This will allow you to replace more than one fixture at a time without spending a fortune.
Choosing the Right LED Light Bulbs
If you’re ready to choose some LED bulbs for your home, follow the steps below to ensure you get the right kind for your needs.
1. Decide on the Fixtures – You want to be certain that the LEDs you purchase have the right base size. If you want to replace all of the existing bulbs in your home you should consider starting with the ones that are used the most since this will have the fastest effect on your energy bills.
2. Brightness Levels – A good quality LED will burn just as brightly as an incandescent but will use a lot less power. The brightness level is known as lumens. On LED packages you will find a watt replacement chart that will tell you the equivalent of your LED when compared to the wattage of a regular bulb.
3. Color Choices – The different color descriptions are known as color temperatures. Terms such as daylight white or soft white refer to the type of light the bulb produces. Soft white bulbs are cozier and produce a warm, comfortable light that inspires relaxation. Daylight bulbs produce a much brighter bulb and make whites much brighter. They are great for craft rooms, kitchens, and other rooms you need a lot of light in.
4. Light Direction – Choose an LED bulb that directs the light in the right direction for where you have it. If you are putting an LED in a ceiling fan, vanity light, or chandelier you would want to get an Omni-directional bulb. Bulbs that are not Omni-directional can have more of a spotlight effect and are great for closets, or where you would like a spotlight effect.
5. Warranties – Most LEDs have a good warranty in place, especially since they are supposed to have a super long lifespan. Good companies will stand behind their LED bulbs and protect you from any kind of defects. Make sure you read the warranty so you understand what it covers and what you have to do to ensure that the warranty stays active.
LED bulbs have been around for a while now and they have only increased in popularity as the years have gone by. Purchasing LEDs for the fixtures in your home can make a big difference in your power bills and will save you money that you would normally be spending on replacement bulbs. Since the lifespan is so much longer, you will find that the bulbs don’t have to be replaced for a long time.
The three top-rated LED bulb selections we have reviewed above are a great place to start looking when you’re ready to purchase LEDs for your home. They come from reputable companies that are known for quality. Any one of these would be a good way to start replacing the regular bulbs at home.
If none of these three LED light bulbs will work for what you need, the buying guide will help you sort through the dozens of different kinds of LED light bulbs and help you determine which ones you need. The buying guide will also help you take a look at what you want and help you determine what your needs are.
This knowledge will help you make the right choice for your own LEDs and you will not have to worry about feeling overwhelmed or confused about which ones to choose. The right information such as features to look for and tips on what to do ahead of time to determine your own needs will make shopping for LEDs easy and stress free.