Choosing lightbulbs: Tips for a first-time homeowner

Congrats on the new home! With a homeowner's deed comes extra responsibilities. You no longer have a…
Choosing lightbulbs: Tips for a first-time homeowner
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Congrats on the new home! With a homeowner’s deed comes extra responsibilities. You no longer have a landlord to call when the grass needs mowing, or your porch light burns out. Here’s the 411 on choosing lightbulbs.

Reaching for any old package of lightbulbs simply is not going to work. Before making a purchase, know how the bulb you’re replacing works. If you have a lamp or light fixture on a dimmer switch that offers a variety of brightness settings, you need a three-way or dimmer bulb.

When the garage light, porch light or any outdoor light burns out, only choose light bulbs labeled for outdoor use. These are created to be moisture resistant so snow and rain won’t damage the internal elements.

For standard indoor use, you have several options. Choose slender, decorative candelabra bulbs for ceiling fixtures or accent lamps. These usually come in lower watt ratings, so they don’t give off as much light. For brighter options, choose spiral compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or globe-shaped incandescent lightbulbs. Pick bulbs rated from 75 watts to 125 watts to use in ceiling-mounted fixtures that illuminate a large portion of a room.

OK, so now you know what you need. But, did you realize light bulbs come with various types of bases? If you can remove the old bulb, and take a look at the base, now you can learn about these three basic lightbulb styles.

Screw base: this is the most common lightbulb base type. This style comes in several diameters. You thread the lightbulb into the fixture using a clockwise motion. After a few spins, the bulb is snug and ready to turn on.

Bayonet base: this lightbulb simply pushes into the socket. It may have one or two bayonet-style prongs to hold it in place. These are rare in the United States, but may be needed if decorating your home with a lamp from another country.

Mogul pre-focused base: this lightbulb has a smooth end like a screw base, but pushes in like a bayonet. Simply press the bulb into the socket and then give it a quarter-turn to lock it into place.

Still not sure what you need? Take a photo of the socket on your light fixture and head to a home improvement store. Whether you ask for assistance or use the helpful lightbulb selection charts, you’ll be choosing lightbulbs for your new home in no time.