How to Choose LED Light Bulbs for Home

BR30 LED lights for HomeIf you are considering replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs, you’re not alone. Millions of homeowners will be making the switch to LEDs over the next few years.

Most LED bulbs are energy efficient and last many years, but they’re not all created equal in the other areas that count.

In this post I will explain how to choose LED light bulbs for home that, in addition to being energy efficient and long-lasting, are as good or better in brightness, light color, and appearance as the incandescent light bulbs they replace.


Traditionally, when you think of the brightness of a light bulb, you probably think in terms of watts. For example, a 100-watt light bulb is brighter than a 65-watt light bulb. And when comparing the same types of light bulbs, that’s likely true.

However, when comparing a standard incandescent light bulb to an energy efficient LED bulb, using watts as a measure of brightness no longer works. This is because LED light bulbs produce much more light per watt of energy used. Some LED bulbs can produce as much light as a 100-watt standard light bulb while only consuming 15-watts of energy.

So how can we compare the brightness of two types of light bulbs if not by watts?

The answer is lumens, which in simple terms is a unit of measurement for how much light is contained in an area.

So how can we find out how many lumens a light bulb produces?

Enter the new Lighting Facts label…

The New Lighting Facts Label

Lighting Facts label
(Click to Enlarge)

In an effort to shift comparing a light bulb’s brightness and efficiency from watts to lumens, the Federal Trade Commission has introduced the new Lighting Facts label.

This standardized label lists the performance specifications of a light bulb and is now a requirement on all light bulb packaging (very similar to the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods).

Most recessed lights use a BR30 65-watt light bulb. On average, these light bulbs produce about 600 Lumens. So when looking for a LED equivalent, look for one that has a light output of 600 or more.


Color Temperature

Color Temperature (Light Color) is the measurement of the color of light expressed in Kelvins (K). The lower the number, the “warmer” the color of light.

A standard incandescent light bulb has a color temperature of about 2700 Kelvin. LED bulbs are available in a wide range of color temperatures that range from 2700K to 5000K. For residential applications, I recommend staying below 3500K. When you get above 3500K, it can make a room feel stark and cold.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI represents a light’s ability of to display colors correctly in comparison with a natural light source. Think of it as the quality of the light. Incandescent lights have the highest possible score which is 100. Anything above 90 is considered excellent.

Light Bulb Appearance

As the LED light bulb market evolves, I have seen some really futuristic light bulbs on the shelves of Home Depot and Lowes.

example of a LED light bulb for home

Personally, the last think I want to see in a recessed light is a light bulb that belongs on a space ship. Here is an example of great LED light bulbs are as similar to a standard incandescent light bulb’s appearance as possible. They have a nice frosted cover on them that, once installed, makes them almost impossible to tell the difference between them and the incandescent bulb they’ve replaced.

Have a comment or question about LED light bulbs for your home? Just leave it in the box below and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.