The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

21 September, 2017

All plants need light to grow. Plants use light to create the energy needed to make the food they need to grow and a plant’s growth rate and longevity is dependent upon how much light it receives, according to the Texas A&M Agricultural Extension website. Living in a house or apartment with limited access to sunlight does not mean you cannot grow plants. Artificial lights can be used to supplement natural sunlight or, in some cases, replace it completely.


Sunlight is the best light for plants. The rainbow effect created by holding a prism up to sunlight is a visual description of the colors in the light spectrum. Plants need the red and blue parts of the light spectrum, with red being more important than blue. Indoor plants placed within 10 feet of a sunny window receive the natural balance of red and blue rays they need.

  • All plants need light to grow.
  • The rainbow effect created by holding a prism up to sunlight is a visual description of the colors in the light spectrum.

Artificial Light

Artificial light allows plants to be grown anywhere in a home; however, not every light bulb will suffice. Improper light exposure can result in weak, spindly plants with pale leaves, whereas exposure to proper lighting can produce plants with shorter, stronger branches of dark green leaves.

A simple incandescent light does not meet a plant’s requirements. They provide the red rays that plants need, but not the blue; in addition, incandescent lights create excessive heat. Fluorescent light tubes are a good source for providing light for plants; however, there are a variety of fluorescent tubes. The “cool white” fluorescent tubes, as well as special plant fluorescent lights are selected by many indoor gardeners, according to the University of Missouri.

Light to Plant Spacing

Place plants within 10 feet of a sunny window. After time, the plant will “reach” towards the window; rotating the plant will keep the plant’s shape even.

  • Artificial light allows plants to be grown anywhere in a home; however, not every light bulb will suffice.
  • They provide the red rays that plants need, but not the blue; in addition, incandescent lights create excessive heat.

Plants using only artificial light should have the tips of their leaves placed six to 12 inches from the light. As with sunlight, the plant might “reach” for the light bulb; rotate the plant or place it directly under the light source. Plants should receive 16 to 18 hours of artificial light each day.

Gardeners who start seeds indoors often use artificial light. The seeds’ containers should be placed less than six inches from the light source. As the seeds germinate and grow, move the light source upward to keep it no closer than six inches above the planters.

Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile. Read more.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Energy-efficient light bulbs are a great way to save money on your energy bill, not to mention keep your bulbs lasting longer. But there are multiple kinds of light bulbs out there, and multiple kinds that are energy efficient. Here’s what you should know about the different types of light bulbs and which ones are worth buying.

There are only a handful of bulbs that are actually meant for household use, so we’ll focus on those in this guide. Each type of light bulb acts differently and uses up different energy amounts, so let’s take a look at the ones you’re most likely to run into, and which are best for you.

Incandescent: Old and Cheap, but Not Very Efficient

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Incandescent light bulbs use some of the oldest technology around, which dates back to the early 1800s when the first conception of an incandescent light bulb was introduced by Humphry Day. It wasn’t until later that century when Thomas Edison created an economically-viable incandescent bulb that would later become a staple in every household.

Incandescent bulbs achieve light by heating up a wire filament using electricity, which then produces a glow, and the enclosed glass globe prevents the heated wire from combusting and catching fire by blocking out oxygen.

It’s really simple technology, and these bulbs are really cheap. They’re the bulbs you’ve probably been using in your house most of your life. However, they use up the most electricity out of the bunch, so they aren’t the best option for your wallet in the long run. Most household incandescent light bulbs use anywhere from 40 watts to 100 watts of electricity. That may not seem like a whole lot, but wait until we talk about some other options.

Fluorescent: Not Ideal for Most Household Uses

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Fluorescent lights are mostly used for commercial and industrial purposes. You’ll see them in most public buildings like grocery stores, schools, banks, etc., and that’s because fluorescent lights give off a lot of light, which is useful in larger spaces. However, anyone can buy them and use them in garages, workshops, and other similar areas.

Furthermore, fluorescent lights use less energy than incandescent bulbs overall. So while a 60-watt incandescent bulb can put out around 800 lumens, a typical fluorescent tube can put out around 3,000 lumens using only 35 watts or so. One of the fallbacks, though, is that fluorescent light takes some time to heat up and achieve full brightness, whereas incandescent light is instantaneous.

Fluorescent lights are also a bit more dangerous, since they contain mercury gas on the inside. These lights work by sending an electric current through the mercury gas, which produces an ultraviolet light that then makes the fluorescent coating on the inside of the tube to brightly glow, which creates the light. If a tube breaks, the mercury gas can escape, which is dangerous to breathe in.

CFL: Middle-of-the-Road in Efficiency, Dangerous if They Break

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

A few years ago, CFL bulbs were seen as the saving grace to incandescent light bulbs. CFL stands for compact fluorescent light, so as you might have guessed, CFL bulbs are simply a more compact version of fluorescent tubes, and were made to replace household incandescent bulbs.

CFL bulbs work the same way as regular fluorescent tubes, which also means they take a bit of time to warm up and contain harmful mercury gas. However, they’re also much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. For instance, a CFL bulb can easily replicate a 60-watt incandescent bulb, but will only use around 15 watts to achieve the same brightness. Plus, the cost of CFL bulbs is pretty low. However, they’re still not the best in terms of energy efficiency.

LED: Costly, but Very Efficient, and Worth It In the Long Run

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

The gold standard right now in the lighting industry is LED, which stands for light-emitting diode. LED is a technology that has been around for a while. If you look at your TV, speakers, or anything else that’s electronic, you might notice a small little light indicating whether or not the device is on. Those are tiny LEDs.

LED lights in the form of light bulbs, though, are still rather new, thus they’re more expensive than other types of light bulbs. However, LED bulbs last way longer than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Even the cheaper, less reliable LED bulbs can last around 10,000 hours, which is about 10x longer than an incandescent bulb. Plus, they’re safer than fluorescent bulbs–they don’t even get very hot.

However, any decent LED bulb is rated at around 25,000 hours, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to replace the bulb anytime soon. Even if you left an LED bulb on for eight hours every single day, it would take around 8.5 years for it to reach the end of its lifespan. So, while you’re spending more up front, you won’t have to replace LED bulbs nearly as often as other types. Plus, you can take advantage of utility rebates to save money on these LED bulbs.

All smart bulbs (like Philips Hue, Osram Lightify, GE Link, etc.) are LED bulbs, so when you spend big money on a smart light kit, you’ll have the confidence knowing that the bulbs will last for a significantly long time. Plus, there are all different kinds of smart bulbs you can buy as well.

One downside to LED bulbs, though, as that they can sometimes emit a faint humming noise if you dim them down. It’s not terribly annoying, but if it’s dead quiet and you’re listening for it, it can be pretty apparent.

In the end, we’d say LED bulbs are the bulbs to get. They’re a bit costly, but you can easily find some for as low as $2.50 per bulb, and the energy savings over the long run is definitely worth it.

Don’t be left in the dark—here’s everything you need to know.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Okay, so we can all agree that light bulbs aren’t the sexiest topic to discuss in the world of interior design. But provided you don’t live in a dungeon, shopping for light bulbs is simply a part of life. With the extensive array of options and confusing technicalities regarding bulb types, picking the right option can be an overwhelming task. That said, using the incorrect bulb type can burn through unnecessary energy, increase your electric bill, or simply disrupt the ambience of your home. Mastering the basics of light bulb types will make shopping a breeze, and can actually change the way you live (and spend).

So watts the difference? Here’s a foolproof guide to help you make sense of it all.

TERMINOLOGY: Lumens vs. Watts

If you know even the smallest amount about light bulbs, chances are you’ve heard of lumens and watts. These two terms refer to the input and output of bulbs.

Lumens refers to the light output, a.k.a. how bright the bulb is. The more lumens a light bulb has, the more light it omits. It’s important to understand lumens, as this measurement is listed on all light bulb packages. Many experts suggest using this formula to determine how many lumens you need in a space:

Hallways: Square Footage x 7.5

Bedrooms: Square Footage x 15

Bathrooms: Square Footage x 75

Kitchens and Dining Rooms: Square Footage x 35

Watts refers to the amount of energy a bulb uses. Traditionally, higher wattage equals more lumens, which equals more light emission, though this has changed with the increase in energy efficient bulbs (like LED bulbs). When it comes to choosing a light bulb, it’s more important to consider the lumens over the watts.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes):

LEDs, CFLs, fluorescents and incandescents: learn where each bulb works best.

Related To:

Each light bulb has its pros and cons, and certain bulbs work better in different spaces of a home. Our light buying guide takes a deeper look at the different bulbs to see where each should be used.

LED Lights

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

These days, it’s hard to tell LED bulbs from incandescents. In this photo, the bulb on the far right is an 18-year-old incandescent. The other two are LEDs.

These days, it’s hard to tell LED bulbs from incandescents. In this photo, the bulb on the far right is an 18-year-old incandescent. The other two are LEDs.

LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” This lighting technology is extremely energy-efficient, and it’s the one you’re most likely to find at the store these days. LEDs can provide both directional and diffused light, making them great for under-counter task lighting as well as overall room illumination. Prices are competitive with most other energy-efficient technologies, but LEDs are still more expensive than many task-specific incandescent bulbs such as nightlights and appliance lights. While these bulbs usually last longer than incandescents, non-dimmable bulbs may burn out more quickly in areas with frequent power fluctuations. As such, you may want to err on the safe side and purchase dimmable bulbs. In addition, you can now find WiFi-enabled LED bulbs that work with Google Home, Alexa and other “smart” devices that allow you to brighten and dim lights – and even change their colors – just by speaking.

Posted by Jared Mullane 12/09/2019

With the arrival of electricity way back in the 1800s, it wasn’t long until this form of energy would be readily harnessed to light up homes throughout the world. One of the first by-products of electricity was the humble light bulb – an invention that revolutionised the way we see different spaces.

Nowadays, light bulbs are an essential feature of every home and have transformed the way houses are designed. Whether a bulb needs replacing or it’s time for fixtures to be updated, there are many types of light globes to choose from. Rather than sitting in the dark, we’ve amassed a guide that’ll brighten your knowledge on light bulbs.

What is a Light Bulb?

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

A light bulb is an electrical instrument that transfers light across dark spaces. Light bulbs are an essential component of a permanent or temporary fixture, such as a lamp, ceiling fitting or torch, and are usually switched on at night or in areas where the lighting is minimal. Most light bulbs are replaceable and will vary in energy output known as lumens or wattage, as well as size, shape, style and price.

Types of Light Bulbs

There are four main types of light globes commonly found in Australian homes, all of which vary significantly. Each light bulb has its own strengths and weaknesses, but suitability will depend on individual circumstances. Choosing the right light bulb can be surprisingly complicated, especially as there are so many features to think about, like energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and price.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Incandescent Light Bulb

Incandescent light bulbs are generally cheap to purchase yet expensive to run, generally offering a low level of brightness. Best suited for smaller rooms, incandescent bulbs have a shorter lifespan of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 hours and are less efficient than other bulbs. In Australia, incandescent lights have gradually been phased out of production to make way for better cost-effective options.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Halogen Light Bulb

Halogen light bulbs are normally found in directional or downlights, particularly in outdoor spaces or ceilings. Halogen lamps have been criticized for using up to four times as much energy as LED globes and are set to be removed from Aussie shelves from September 2020. Although halogen lamps are cheap to buy upfront, these bulbs will cost more to run in the long term.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Otherwise known as CFLs, a compact fluorescent lamp is a bulb commonly found in workplaces, but also around the home. In contrast to an incandescent or halogen bulb, compact fluorescent lamps last between four and 10 times longer, and only use about 20 per cent of energy to produce the same amount of light.

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

LED Light Bulb

LED stands for light emitting diode, and is one of the most energy efficient lighting technology on the market. LED globes generally cost more to purchase upfront, but use less energy and produce greater lighting than CFLs, halogen and incandescent bulbs. Some LED products offer smarter lighting capabilities, such as having remote access to lighting and being able to dim lights.

Light Bulb Types Chart

Here is a snapshot of the most common types of light bulbs available to buy in Australia. Keep in mind there are numerous variations of these types of globes, which we’ll go into further detail below.

Other Light Bulb Specs

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

With so many options of lighting fixtures these days, bulbs come in all different shapes, sizes and styles. This includes globes that are circular, linear or angled to fit a specific fixture, and can often be customised for retro, vintage or chandelier lighting. Some LED light bulbs can even be remotely controlled using an app, as well as changing the colour scheme or dimming the lighting ambient temperature.

Light Bulb Base Types

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

Whether it’s a halogen lamp or LED bulb, chances are it’ll have one of the following bases or caps. The base is the bottom part of the globe which connects the bulb to the light, either by plugging in or screwing into a fitting or socket. Here are the three most common light globe bases:

  • Bayonet: Fits into socket with a twist lock
  • Screw: Fits into socket by twisting clockwise
  • Bi-pin: Similar to the bayonet cap, a pin or bi-pin clicks into socket with a twist lock

If you’re unsure about which type of bulb base a light requires, check the existing globe when replacing. Read more about how to change a light bulb here.

What is the longest lasting light bulb?

The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

LEDs generally have the longest lifespan of all light bulbs, offering around 15,000 to 30,000 hours of light. Given the higher efficiency of LED bulbs, most households will benefit from switching to LED technology, however it will depend on the lighting fixture, as LED may not be compatible. Keep in mind that longer lasting light bulbs will attract a higher upfront cost, but will usually pay off over time due to its lower energy consumption and time between replacement.

Want to know more about the running costs of light bulbs? Read our comprehensive guide here.

Which light bulb should I choose?

Choosing a suitable light bulb for your home depends on a variety of factors, like positioning, shape, size, style, energy efficiency and its impact on the environment. From downlights to spotlights and rustic globes to vintage lamps, finding the right bulb isn’t as black and white as it once used to be. With so many options to choose from, a bit of knowledge and research will go a long way when settling on a particular light bulb.

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How To Choose Light Bulbs For Your Home: Recessed Cans

Posted by Chris Johnson on Aug 16th 2015

This is another article in a series dedicated to helping you create a home with beautiful lighting by choosing the best light bulbs. Recessed lights can be a little complicated, but once you’ve got the basics down, it’s smooth sailing!

The first thing you’ll need to do is determine which light bulb size your recessed light fixture takes. Here’s what you’ll see among recessed lighting options: BR30, MR11, MR16, PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR38, R20, R30, R40.

Wow. Let’s break that down a little:

The number following the letters in a recessed light bulb indicates size: it’s the diameter of the light bulb in eighths of an inch. So, a BR30 is 30/8 inches, or three and 3/4 inches. An MR11 is 11/8 inches. So, you can swap out a PAR30 for an R30 or a BR30 – they are all the same size.

The PAR denotes the light bulb has a parabolic aluminized reflector on its inside, directing light out. That PAR coating maximizes the light output that you’ll get from the light bulb. If brightness is your #1 priority in a recessed light, choose a PAR lamp in the appropriate size. The majority of PAR lamps are available in a flood beam spread, but spot beam PAR lamps are also out there. Many PAR lamps are approved for use in wet locations.

The MR indicates the light bulb has a multifaceted reflector on its inside. The facets help gather light from the filament to create a very concentrated light beam. MR lamps are primarily available in smaller sizes – they are all about beam control, which is typically desirable for a narrower light beam. You can choose your beam spread (i.e., narrow flood, flood, spotlight) for many MR lamps.

Moving on to BR: Want to take a guess on what it stands for? This is another reflector lamp to maximize brightness, but this time, the light bulb itself has a bulged shape to direct light out. One disadvantage of the BR lamp is that it’s a little longer than the PAR and MR, which means it tends to sit lower in the recessed fixture – and perhaps, protrude from the bottom of the recessed light fixture.

Finally, the simple R. As you might assume, it stands for reflector in this case. There is a mirrored coating on the back of the light bulb to improve light output.

Now that we have those light bulb names deciphered, you should know that they are available in an array of light sources, including incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent, cold cathode fluorescent, and LED. Halogen is probably the most popular of the bunch for recessed light fixtures. It renders colors very well, it’s affordable, and it gives you a lot of light output.

If you’re looking for efficiency, though, halogen is not your target. LED has a higher price point, but it also gives you a longer lifetime and lower energy use!

CFLs and CCFLs are also viable energy efficient options, but remember you should avoid the CFL if the gradual start-up drives you crazy – or if you plan to turn the lights on and off frequently. (You’ll lower the lifetime of a CFL if you use it in less than 15 minute intervals). CCFLs give you the efficiency of a CFL without the delayed start-up (or the diminished lifetime from frequent power cycles).

September 01, 2017 2 min read

You must read this before buying any Edison Vintage LED bulb.

The most misleading information given on LED vintage bulbs is the wattage equivalent. Every web site out there which sells LED vintage bulbs and all the manufacturers making those bulbs have this piece of information listed on their bulbs. What they don’t tell you is whether it is equivalent to Vintage Edison Incandescent bulb or a standard incandescent bulb. There is a big difference between the two.

Here is the deal:

Vintage Edison incandescent bulbs like we sell here produce far less light (lumens) per watt. This means that a 60-watt vintage bulb will give you about 300 lumens when a standard incandescent 60-watt bulb will give you 800 lumens.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

So, when you read the description of LED vintage bulbs and it states that this bulb is 60 watts equal or 40 watts equal you really don’t know what are they comparing it to. One thing I can tell you for sure is that every manufacturer or web site does it differently. This is the reason you should only look at the lumens and know lumens equivalence. Here at, we show wattage equivalence to the standard incandescent bulbs and not Edison vintage incandescent bulbs.

Below is the wattage equivalent chart for replacing standard incandescent bulbs.

  • To replace a 75W bulb, choose a bulb with about 1100 lumens.
  • To replace a 60W bulb, choose a bulb with about 800 lumens.
  • To replace a 40W bulb, choose a bulb with about 450 lumens.
  • To replace a 25W bulb, choose a bulb with about 200 lumens.
  • To replace a 15W bulb, choose a bulb with about 100 lumens.
  • To replace a 10W bulb, choose a bulb with about 50 lumens.

    LED Vintage bulb color

    When choosing an LED vintage bulb you now have different options on the color temperature. This is the color of light the light bulb will emit.

    This chart shows you the different color temperature range.

    The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

    Keep in mind that the LED Vintage Edison bulbs currently are available in a range from 1800K to 3000K. As you can see in the chart if you want your LED bulb to look like the incandescent Edison bulb you will choose a color temp of 2200K -2400K. If you don’t want the light to be as warm or yellow as the Edison bulbs then you should choose 2700K – 3000K.

    Using LED Edison bulbs in enclosed fixtures:

    To use Edison LED bulbs in enclosed fixtures you need the bulb to be rated or approved for enclosed fixtures. Many of them are not and most consumers do not know that they should be looking for a feature. Using the wrong LED bulb will unquestionably shorten the life span and increase the likelihood of premature dimming of the LED bulb.

    When shopping for LED bulbs for enclosed fixtures make sure to read all the bulbs’ features. If it does not state listed or approved for enclosed fixtures then it is not. View our collection of Enclosed Fixtures Approved LED Bulbs.

    The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

    Related Articles

    • How to Pick Paint Colors for a Room
    • Energy Efficient Replacement for Fluorescent Light Bulbs
    • Energy & LED Lights
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    • How to Light a Small Bedroom

    Fluorescent lights, whether they come in tube or CFL (compact fluorescent light) form, are energy efficient and last a long time, but until recently, the light provided by this type of fixture was not always flattering or true to life. Skin tone, painted walls, fabric, art and food may appear a different color from their actual color. Fluorescent lights are now available in different styles that alleviate at least some of the problems inherent with this kind of lighting in the home.

    Keep it Warm

    Warm — sometimes called soft white on CFL packages — fluorescent light resembles the light from an incandescent light bulb. Colors from the warm side of the color wheel appear close to their natural color, while colors from the cool side of the color wheel can appear distorted and dulled. Mixing a color with its complement produces a grayed or muted color. If you mix red — from the warm side of the color wheel — with green, its complement, the red becomes dulled. Under warm light, the red may appear close to its natural color while the green appears muddy. White may appear yellowish, but this calming light is well-suited to bedrooms and general living spaces.

    Cool the Light

    Cool light fluorescent bulbs produces a blue-tinged light. A cool color, such as blue, looks more natural under a cool fluorescent light than it does under a warm light. Under warm light, it may look gray. Colors from the cool side of the color wheel, from blue-green through blue to violet, look their best in cool light. Red through orange and yellow to yellow-green may look muddied under cool light and white may appear blue-tinted. This light is suitable for workrooms and bathrooms since cool colors are sometimes invigorating.

    Have the Full Spectrum

    Full-spectrum fluorescent lights, sometimes called daylight on the package, can closely resemble natural light, and colors will appear most natural under it. If your room has colors from both sides of the color wheel, or mixed patterns and textures. this is a good light source to reflect those colors or for reading rooms or areas. These fluorescent bulbs tend to be on the high end of the cost scale of the fluorescent line, but if color accuracy is important to you or the work you are doing, they may be the bulbs you find most pleasing.

    Choose by Type

    A North-facing room that is typically cool may benefit from warm fluorescent light, and a South-facing, sun-heated room may benefit from a cool light. But, mixing the fluorescent and natural lights in one space may work against each other, producing a muddy light all-around. Consider using full-spectrum light or testing the lights in the desired spaces.

    The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose

    This article will review different kinds of aquarium lighting, when you would want to use each, and general information to keep in mind when choosing the correct lighting for your tank. For more advanced assistance please visit our aquarium forum for specific questions on your setup.

    The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to choose
    There are many different options when it comes to lighting your aquarium. Add too much light and you endanger your tank to excessive algae, and removing algae from your aquarium is not an easy task. Add too little light and your fish, plants, and coral will not grow properly. So you have to use some sort of light source and unfortunately natural sunlight could possibly be the worst thing for your tank unless you wish to purchase an expensive chiller.

    What to Consider when Purchasing New Aquarium Lighting

    Are you buying lights for use in a reef tank?

    Are you buying lights for a planted aquarium?

    What is the expected lifetime of the bulb compared to it’s price?

    Will you be using a timer to automatically control the lights?

    Is a fully assembled light fixture or retrofit kit going to fit better on the top?

    Common Lighting Options for Your Aquarium

    • LEDs
    • Normal Fluorescent
    • Compact Fluorescent
    • Metal Halide

    LED Aquarium Lighting

    LED Lighting consists of small diodes attached to a circuit board. A wide variety of options are available including complete fixtures, light rails and tubes, single pendants and flood lights. They are now creating fixtures for primary and supplemental aquarium lighting. Customize lighting colors and intensity on repeatable schedules, though the price can be very high.

    Brands: Coralife, Marineland, OceanRevive

    Price Range: $10-$2,500

    • Energy efficient
    • Long lasting
    • Produce little heat
    • Some units can adjust color ratios
    • Saves money over time
    • Less hassle changing lights more often
    • Not the most affordable option initially
    • Unnecessary for fish only saltwater aquariums

    Normal Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting

    Convenient option for aquarium lighting manufacturers and hobbyists. More efficient than standard incandescent bulbs and produce less heat. There were a lot of choices when fluorescent first came out and now there are even more choices. Lately the government changed regulations and you should check for compatibility if putting in an old fixture. Color Typically range from 15 to 40 watts and have Kelvin ratings from 3,000° to 10,000°.

    Brands: Aqua Medic, Blueline, Aquatic Life

    Price Range: $6-$900

    • Convenience
    • Low heat
    • Can create certain peak wavelengths
    • Many options to choose from
    • Good for fish only saltwater tanks
    • Shorter lifespan than LED
    • incompatibility between lamps
    • more expensive over time

    Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting

    Low heat and more light intensity is a major advantage of the compact over general fluorescent. Useful for small integrate aquarium systems and possible to construct your own lighting system though there are many ready-made systems available to fit any size aquarium. Many configurations may seem confusing and it can be easy to buy the wrong one. Stick to purchasing the same brand lamp as the original hood manufacturer. Typically range from 10 to 100 watts and have Kelvin ratings from 5,000° to 10,000°.

    Brands: Coralife, Aquatic Life, Zoo Med

    Price Range: $9-$700

    • High light intensity
    • Good for small systems
    • Many options to choose from
    • Medium heat (hoods often come with a fan)
    • Incompatibility between bulbs and hoods (2-pin & 4-pin lamp configurations)

    Metal Halide Aquarium Lighting

    Common in reef aquariums they produce an intense light with various color temperatures. Some manufacturers combine with fluorescents since they produce so much intense light. Might need to run a small fan across the lamps to remove heat from the water. Typically range from 175-1000 watts and have Kelvin ratings from 5,000° to 20,000°.

    Brands: Coralife, Aqualight, BlueLine

    Price Range: $20-$2,700

    • Intense light
    • Various color temperatures
    • Great for reef tanks
    • Produce a lot of heat (might have to purchase a chiller)
    • Not the most energy efficient
    • Light bulbs are more expensive

    A common practice among hobbyists is to combine different forms of lighting to achieve the proper spectrum and intensity in the tank. They might use a metal halide bulb along with Actinic fluorescent tubes. This would satisfy the needs of corals and obtain a visually appealing appearance.

    The most recent technology in the aquarium lighting department and the latest craze with aquarists are the new low cost LED setups. Many people like LEDs because they are cheaper to run than other types of lighting and can easily be customized with different colored LED light-bulbs that can be used to create specific colors within the aquarium and the corals themselves.

    Aquarium Lighting Tips for Different Tanks

    The different types of light bulbs you can buy and how to chooseThere’s no one correct lighting system, the choice should be made by analyzing mix of organisms and aquarium size against how much you are willing to spend. Keep in mind how much lighting is required for specific inhabitants. The specifications of the lighting system must be relevant to the dimensions of the tank.

    Fish-only tanks require just a simple light system to show off the fish and tank setup. Be sure to add sufficient light for the depth and size of your tank, but you need not be concerned about supporting plant photosynthesis.

    Planted tanks require correct lighting to truly be successful, plants won’t thrive with the wrong lamp. For best results, use a daylight lamp with an actinic Actinic light is either light that affects photographic film, or will facilitate photosynthesis or stimulate light sensitive species. white or actinic day lamp. Remember, intensity is important and large/deep aquariums might consider using HO or VHO lamps.

    Reef Tanks require adequate light. The combination of the right light intensity and wavelength will help coral thrive. For best results choose at least one actinic lamp and a few daylight lamps. Because of the differences in light design, intensity, and number of bulbs, be sure to research and experiment with your lighting to find optimum coverage.

    More Aquarium Guides and Helpful Tips

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