The Best Light Bulbs for Each Room in Your Home

Different rooms benefit from different light bulbs

I've put together a large amount of information on light bulbs and specific room lighting, and I hope you find it useful.

Each room in a house can benefit from different lighting. From the kitchen to the laundry room and everything between, it's a good idea to consider a variety of light bulbs to find the one that you like best. I have some opinions of my own which I will provide here to give you some ideas.

With consideration for the energy policy act of 2007 (EPACT) which created energy efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs (banning some of the most inefficient) in 2012, I will focus on energy efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescents and LED light bulbs.

The Kitchen

A kitchen.
A kitchen.

The kitchen is a room where lighting has great impact. It is all too easy to make mistakes in food creation with the wrong lighting, so choosing the right light bulb is very important. LED light bulbs could very well become the best in this area with their specific zone lighting, but compact fluorescent light bulbs are an excellent choice if you don't have billions to spend on LED technology.

Light Your Kitchen with LED Light Bulbs

You can find LED light bulbs in a variety of color temperatures. For a kitchen I would recommend a higher color temperature around 5000K to 6500K (6500K being daylight color) with as high a CRI as is reasonable to purchase. CRI is an acronym for Color Rendering Index, which is a measure of how "true" colors show up under the light of any given light bulb. As an example, the sun has a CRI of 100, so anything above 80 will represent colors very close to the way they show up in natural sunlight.

Ovens Still Use Incandescent Light Bulbs

An especially important place where you need good lighting is the oven. If you have a poor quality light bulb in your oven it can cause foods to appear under or overcooked, which throws a nasty wrench in the perfect meal. To my knowledge, specialty incandescent light bulbs are still needed for oven light bulbs; these types of incandescents will likely be safe from the incandescent ban of 2012.

The best light bulbs for kitchens will be high CRI with relatively high color temperatures. Specialty incandescent light bulbs with high CRI are best for ovens.

A bathroom with "warm" lighting.
A bathroom with "warm" lighting.

The Bathroom

The bathroom is another example of a room requiring unique lighting. As a room where a person generally decides whether or not they are looking suitable to leave the house, it needs to have the right tone of light. While high color temperature daylight bulbs are great for kitchens and other rooms, the bathroom benefits from lower color temperatures closer to the light of incandescent light bulbs.

Consider Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs for Bathrooms...

Compact fluorescent light bulbs with color temperatures around 2700K best match incandescent light, which has long been the light under which we scrutinize ourselves. "Warm" light is optimal in bathrooms because our skin simply appears better under it. Though it is probably a topic for another hub, the way we think we look is often more important than the way we actually look.

...or Let LED Light Bulbs Light the Lavatory

This is another application in which LED light bulbs would work very well. A few low-watt LEDs above a mirror directed at an angle would be perfect to illuminate face and hair. I would again recommend lower color temperature light bulbs. Your current best bet for energy efficient bathroom lighting would be compact fluorescent light bulbs.

If you prefer incandescent, then halogen light bulbs are also an option to consider.

This "modern" living room is rife with danger.  A coffee table, ottoman, AND mini side table, all no doubt plotting sinister deeds.
This "modern" living room is rife with danger. A coffee table, ottoman, AND mini side table, all no doubt plotting sinister deeds.

The Living Room or Family Room

Some call it the living room, others call it the family room, but at its base this room is simply a lounging zone. While I prefer daylight compact fluorescents for every room, most other people seem to prefer warmer color temperatures. As a place that often has crazy obstacles like coffee tables and ottomans it's important to have good, wide lighting in a living room.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, Versatile and Energy Efficient

I would recommend compact fluorescent light bulbs for living rooms, as their excellent light spread provides the illumination you need to avoid falling victim to those tricksy coffee tables and ottomans. Color temperature in this case is really up to preference; as I've said before I enjoy daylight (6500K) lamps which provide a bright white light with a slight tinge of blue. This kind of light coming from a light bulb is fairly uncommon, so if you prefer more traditional light you would want to peruse color temperatures around 2700K to 3500K. That's a good range of warm color temperatures for any living room.

The Media Room

I remember in years past when a TV was the entire entertainment center, speakers included, and it usually just sat in the living room. Nowadays we have these separate "media rooms" with monstrous flat screen TVs and stereo systems and DVD/Blu-Ray players, massive arrays of technology that astound the mind.

Dimmable Light Bulbs Make Media Rooms Magic

I've found that dimmable light bulbs fit media rooms best. A little ambient light can help eye strain, and it's also nice to have if you need to leave the room for any reason. You can find dimmable compact fluorescents now that match up splendidly with old dimmable incandescents. A warmer color temperature once again is optimal, as it matches the color temperature of most movies and television. This synergy of color temperature makes for a very pleasant atmosphere while watching movies or playing video games.

Less fixtures are required for media rooms, as there is generally a reasonable amount of light produced by the TVs and monitors, etc. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are great in media rooms because their energy efficiency can help offset the immense energy usage of entertainment centers.

More to come!

I'll touch on the other rooms in my next hub; basements, garages, bedrooms, home offices, etc. Come back soon!

Comments 17 comments

DawnaT profile image

DawnaT 6 years ago from U S of A

Definitely looking forward to the garage segment! Specifically garage door opener lights. Ours burns our far to often.

blark profile image

blark 6 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

Yeah, that garage door opener fixture is rough on light bulbs; the vibrations and and frequent on/off cycles take their toll.

I'll start with the garage, and link one particularly mighty light bulb that should be able to withstand the ordeal of garage door opening for much longer than you're used to!

delrond profile image

delrond 6 years ago

Looks like an awesome hub mate. I'm currently missing a light buld so i should take some of your advice.

Thanks for your kind comment on my other hub.

blark profile image

blark 6 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

You are most welcome! I'm pleased that you found my hub and comment useful.

John J 5 years ago

what type of lights show "true colors"? I constantly pick out a pair of pants in my closet, look at it in the bedroom and think it's a shade of brown. I get outside or at work where it is brightly lit (and lots of windows), and they're really GREEN!... So what type bulb shows true colors??

blark profile image

blark 5 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

Hi John; sorry about the delay in answering. I'd recommend getting some halogen light bulbs for really good color rendering. Under halogen light bulbs, those pants will look just about the same as under the sun.

Janice 4 years ago

I am pondering over which lights to order for the bathroom above the mirror lighting. I am debating over which light to get due to the bulbs they take. Florescent or halogen...which would you recommend as I am confused on the best choice. Some of the other lights require bulbs that I am not familer with. Please help with all this confusion.

blark profile image

blark 4 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

Janice, consider this; the lights in the bathroom usually aren't on for very long periods of time, and so there are more instances of turning them on and off. Fluorescent lights can lose durability if they're turned on and off too frequently. Halogen lights can be turned on and off as frequently as you want without losing durability.

That said, either choice you mentioned (halogen or fluorescent) would work. It depends on what kind of light you prefer.

mcdroid profile image

mcdroid 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Well done on the hub - using the correct light bulbs is vital for a quality atmosphere in the home!

Kate 4 years ago

I am an artist and looking for bulbs that will not distort colors at night. Can you suggest something? Thanks. kd

Anthony 4 years ago

Thank you very much for this information! I'm replacing my exterior fixtures and wanted your opinion on outdoor bulb temps. Should I go with a warn bulb or something brighter?

alisha roy 3 years ago

For a general approximate example, a 60 watt incandescent bulb puts out light in the range of a 13 watt CFL bulb. In the long run, usage of CFLs is certainly doing ‘good’ to the environment as well.

blark profile image

blark 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

Kate, please pardon my lack of response! If you want colors to show up the same as they do under sunlight, you'll want a light bulb with as close to 100 CRI (Color Rendering Index) as possible. Halogen light bulbs will generally provide the light you need; I would recommend trying some for true colors at night.

blark profile image

blark 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Author

Anthony, my favorite CFL light bulbs are daylight bulbs, 6500K color temperature. Bright white with a tinge of blue. They're quite striking at night, especially outside.

Barbara 3 years ago

My beige carpet looks like it has a pinkish hue in the daylight. Room gets a good bit of sun. Any suggestions?

gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 2 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

Thanks for an informative hub! I learned a great deal about different types of lighting and their appropriateness in different rooms. I appreciate your hub! Thanks again!

Elliott Shifman profile image

Elliott Shifman 22 months ago from Chicago, Illinois

This is very great information. I'm going to have to go around my house and install the right kind of light for each room. Thanks #elliottshifman

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