Light bulb buying guideThe hardware store lighting aisle doesn't need to be overwhelming -- let us show you why.
Hey, CNET. I'm Ry Crist and I'm here at the former residence of Thomas Edison here in Louisville, Kentucky. For 134 years, his incandescent light bulb reigned supreme. But that is all starting to change. Thanks to recent legislation that mandates Stricter Efficiency Standards for Lighting. And that means like new bulbs like LEDs and CFLs are starting to become the new normal. This means that replacing your lights is gonna be a whole lot different from here and out. But don't worry because CNET's got you covered with the handy buying guide. So come on, let's talk some lights. So with these new standards and these new bulbs, you're gonna need to know a little bit more about lighting when you're making your next light bulb purchase. They're gonna be a much longer-lasting appliance for you. It's gonna be more of an investment even if they cost more. So you wanna know what you're getting before you get it. The first most important thing you need to learn is what a lumen is, and that is a unit of brightness. A lumen just tells you how bright a light is. The more lumens a light has, the brighter it's gonna be. So when you're looking at two bulbs and you wanna compare exactly how bright they're gonna be, just look at the lumens. Don't worry about the wattage. Don't worry about anything else. The lumens are going to tell you how bright it is. The concrete number, the more lumens the brighter it is. And this is an easy thing to do these days because the Federal Trade Commission made sure that lighting manufacturers put lighting facts on the box and they got these little labels that are just like nutrition facts on food. So if you look at these two boxes, we have an incandescent box here and a halogen box here. The incandescent is a 60-watt and halogen is a 60-watt replacement. It's 43 watts but it's supposed to approximate a 600-watt incandescent. The incandescent puts out 880 lumens and that's a good average number for what incandescent should put out at 60 watts. But the halogen only puts out 565 and that's pretty low. So if you want a nice bright light that approximated to 60-watt incandescent here, this halogen probably wouldn't be your best bet. And understanding lumens will help you figure that out and shop around and get a better bulb. The other principals that you really gonna wanna know and understand is color temperature. The way this works is you've got a scale of temperature from 2700 degrees Kelvin or so to 6000 degrees Kelvin. And the confusing part is that, lights on this end of the spectrum yellow end are considered warm lights. And as they get hotter in terms of color temperature, they're called Cool Lights. So it is confusing. It's not ideal. But just understand that warm lights are yellow on the low end of the spectrum and Cool Lights are blue on the high end of the spectrum. Incandescent have always lived here on the yellow end of spectrum. And CFLs and LEDs have been bought to sit on the blue end but that's not true anymore. There are plenty of bulbs across the spectrum when it comes to CFLs and LEDs, so you're gonna have plenty of options. So if someone tells you, you have the new energy standards, mean the end of yellowy incandescent style light is just something not true. To help you find these options to make it really easy. The manufactures even color-code their packaging in many cases. Here are two bulbs from Slovenia or two packages for bulbs I should say. This one is nice in yellow, this one is blue. And, of course, this is a low-color temperature incandescent type of light. This is a high-colored temperature, cool, bluish, very fluorescent light. And finally, you're gonna wanna be aware of the fact that there are lot of emerging smart light options in the market. You can find bulbs that you screw in and use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to control from your phone. Bulbs you can connect with an existing home automation system like Insteon or Nexia and then sync up with your smart [unk] with your thermostat and with all sorts of devices and they're really kinda cool to play with-- they had a lot of functionality and make your life a little easier. There are also lights like the Philips Hue that change color on demand and then create a party 'cause you sync it up to your music and have all sorts of fun recipes with IFTTT going on. It's just a lot of fun. A little expensive and kind of a novelty but as novelties go, this is the one that I kind of love. For more light bulb tips and guidance, check out the rest of my buying guide and leave a comment. Let us know what you think about lights these days. For CNET, I'm Ry Crist.