How To Buy LED Light Bulbs for the Home Online

My 3 year old CFL light bulbs are starting to ‘go’; by ‘go’, I mean they are starting to no longer work.

Three and a half years ago when we we moved into our current house we undertook all kinds of home renovation projects as you have read about here on; this included replacing the current non-recessed and even some of the recessed ceiling light fixtures with CFL light bulbs (you know, the ones with the curly part inside).

Well, one of the attributes of CFL lights is that they work best when left on a long time (a few hours or so). And, if they are used for short durations their life expectancy is expected to decrease significantly.

Boy, did I underestimate this impact.

Here is a picture of our shared bathroom. What is wrong with this picture?

Ceiling Light With Non Working CFL Light Bulbs How To Buy LED Light Bulbs for the Home Online

Yes, the ceiling light is not working causing 1/2 of the bathroom to be unlit. Yes, we do not spend much time in this bathroom. So, the ceiling light is on anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes at a time.

Here is another situation. Below is a picture of a different non-recessed ceiling light which has two CFL light bulbs installed. You can see clearly that one of the two CFLs has stopped working already, again after only 3 years.

Non Recessed Ceiling Light With CFL Bulbs How To Buy LED Light Bulbs for the Home Online

Below is a picture of its twin in the same hallway which still has both of its CFL light bulbs working, just as a comparison for you.

Non Recessed Ceiling Light With Two Working CFL Light Bulbs How To Buy LED Light Bulbs for the Home Online

I now need to replace, therefore, a few CFL light bulbs in the ceiling . However, if they are only going to last here about three years why not consider LED light bulbs which, while costing more, use much less electricity, have a much longer life expectancy and do not have the premature life expiration caused by short periods of use (like in my bathroom and hallway ceiling light outlets)?

So, how to know which LED light bulbs to buy to replace my now defunct CFLs?

Well, a lot of the online retailers have information where they try to explain if you have this type of CFL or incandescent light bulb you want this LED light bulb.

Here is one of the best pages which explains this for me; it is the Buying Guide: LED Bulbs from The Home Depot’s web site.

Within one single page it explains in every day language (not technical jargon that most homeowners, including me, do not understand):

  • Bulb Shapes
  • Brightness/Energy Efficiency
  • Color Temperature
  • Fixture Bases

In the bulb shape section of the page, there is a very, very nice layout with:

  • pictures of different types of light bulb shapes,
  • their name (Floods, Spotlights, Candle or A-Line),
  • the type of light the type of light the bulb produces (e.g. ‘Floods cast a wider directional light than spotlights…’), and
  • the type of use for each type of light bulb (e.g. ‘…..ideally suited for recessed lighting, outdoor floodlights, landscape lighting and motion sensors’).

This helped me a lot in determining what type of LED light bulb for me to buy to replace my now defunct CFL light bulbs.

Then, there is the part I really like. Near the bottom of the page (which personally I think should be near the top of the page) is a very simple chart which compares the number of watts between an incandescent, a CFL and an LED light bulb. I like this because LEDs are supposed to use less electricity and thereby lower a household’s electric bill when compared to an incandescent or CFL light bulb. So, if I want to replace a a 40 Watt incandescent light bulb, how many Watts of an LED light bulb would I need to produce the same amount of light?

For example, if the light fixture currently has an incandescent light bulb using 60 watts then, based on the chart in The Home Depot’s Buying Guide, you would use a CFL light bulb with between 13 and 16 watts. However, for an LED light bulb you would choose one with only between 6 and 8 watts.


Replacing incandescent light bulbs, the old fashioned kind which have been around for decades, and even CFLs with LED light bulbs which will last much, much longer and use, at least according to this Home Depot comparison chart, much, much less wattage is a no brainer. They will cost more up front yet will provide a lot of $$$ savings in the short, medium and long term.

So, if you are thinking of replacing some of your current house light bulbs because they have stopped working or because they are costing you too much money on your electric bill, consider using the above referenced Buying Guide: LED Bulbs page from The Home Depot to help you decide on the type and wattage of the LED light bulbs.

Continue to the next article in this series on LED lighting for the home where we review more information about how to buy light bulbs of any type on-line.

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  1. kingsun says:

    I think the most attractive feature LED bulbs hold is energy saving, so is money saving. It has been proved that a large amount of money has been saved by using LED bulbs.

  2. Vasile says:


    In my opinion, CFL are really useful for places where the light is on for a long time, otherwise you’ll not get too much savings; a quarter of near-zero consumption is also zero. So don’t bother replacing them in places where the lights are infrequently on (e.g garage door opener, den, etc) unless someone in your family has a habit to forget them on :-) . Keep this in mind when replacing CFLs/incandescents with LED bulbs, which are a lot more expensive.

    Regarding the reliability, in my experience the brand and type is important. Three years ago I replaced all my incandescent bulbs with CFLs. Since then, I had to replace all the Blue Planet ones (Canadian Tire brand), but only one Philips. They carry long warranty (4 or 5 years, I think) and Home Depot replaces them with no fuss, but they’re pretty inexpensive anyway at under $2 each when on sale.


  3. Dan says:

    Hi Vasile,
    I agree with replacing light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs starting with (A) the high volume usage areas and (B) where the light bulbs have gone out.

    While it is a personal thing, I don’t see me buying a CFL when there are now, albeit at a higher initial cost, LED light bulbs. Longer term savings are greater and there is no health hazard of which I am aware for LED’s vs CFL’s which from what I have seen tend to contain Mercury. I have already broken a CFL … as with any type of light bulb it is not hard to break one.


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