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Simple guide to what type of bulb you should buy for your lampshade

We don’t sell our lampshades with bulbs / lamps… Both in the retail outlet as well as when we sell it online. And so, we are always asked, “What bulb should I be using. Can you please recommend ?”. We always tell them what options are available, and what their pros and cons are and allow the customers to decide. Sometimes we just tell them what they need to buy and they do it. Here’s is what we tell them and this you can also use to decide what best suits your need for the lamp you are using / purchasing.

In this post we shall look at the types of bulbs available and what is our recommendation for you.

The tungsten / incandascent bulb

The traditional one. Been used from time immemorial. I remember, as a child, we used to have 100 watts bulb. But luckily, I only find the 40 watts and 60 watts ones which is also rare given that people have moved to alternatives. 

Strictly, we do not recommend these bulbs. The usual reasons – Not energy efficient and generate a lot of heat. Try turing on a 40 watts bulb and sit next to it for 10 minutes. You will start sweating crazy from the heat. Switch it off and try touching it after 5 mins. It would still be super hot.

  • Price : About 15 to 20 Rs
  • Warranty : No

So keep away. There is no second thoughts on it. Which leaves the competition between the other two types of bulbs.

CFL / Compact Flourescent Light

I really do not know the technicalities behind the design of the bulb or how it works in giving energy efficient results. But it certainly is recommended for your lighting needs when you are conscious about enery efficiency. One of the advantages of the CFLs is that they have a wider angle of distribution of light which allows for the light to cover the entire parts of the lampshade that are above and below the bulb. While LEDs are more energy efficient, we recommend CFLs for narrower shades – Shades that are about 6inches or lesser in diameter. This is because the CFL allows for almost equal amount of illuminating in the parts above and below it.

Does it heat up too ? Yes it does. But much less compared to the tungsten lamp. Light up a CFL for a while and turn it off. You can see feel the (moderately low) heat for a good 30 to 40 seconds after it is switched off. 

  • Price : About 110-160 Rs
  • Warranty : Usually the electrical shops give a one year warranty. They will write the date of purchase on the bulb and you can take it back to them if it stops working within a year
  • Recommended Wattage : 11 Watts to 15 watts for sufficient lighting in a living room. 
  • Compatibility with bulb holder : Available for B22, E14 and E27 bulb holders
  • Our recommendation : Go for it for narrower lampshades. For all other practical purposes, read on.
LED / Light Emiting Diode Lights

Most energy efficient. Again, am not qualified enough to quantify the efficiency it brings in, but most certainly works much better than the other two, in terms of electricity savings in a year. We see it evidently in our showroom where we use LEDs (about 15 of them which are on at the same time for about 4 hours every day) and the bimonthly bill does not really bit our pockets. 

Here’s a simple test. Turn on an LED bulb for lets say about an hour. Try touching the bulb with your finger while it is still on. You will be able to comfortably touch it much unlike the case of CFLs and tungstens.
Only drawback though : They come with a plastic attachment in the bottom which does not allow for a wider angle of light spread. This is why we do not recommend them for narrow shades. When used in them, the part of the shade about the bulb will be bright, while the part of the shade below the plastic covering will be dark. You may not have this problem with wider shades. 

  • Price : 150-210 Rs
  • Warranty : Similar to CFls
  • Recommended wattage : 8-11 watts for sufficient lighting in a living room. You can reduce the wattage if you are looking to use as night shades.
  • Compatibility with bulb holder : Available for B22, E14 and E27 bulb holders
  • Our recommendation : Always go for LEDs when you have wider shades. Or if the lesser angle of light spread is not a problem, just go for LEDs always. 
What colour lamp should I go for

For lampshades, we always always always and always recommend the yellow lamps. This is because the yellow lamps give a very warm effect to your ambience and the patterns and textures on the fabric shades also light up beautifully under the yellow lamps. If you have a shade that would cast shadows on the wall, yellow lamps are your best choice because whites will not do that trick for you. 

But be careful while buying. Because the yellow colur lamps are called WARM WHITEs which can be a little confusing. The White coloured lamps are COOL WHITEs. While this is our strong recommendation, choice of colour is subjective and we have seen customers go with COOL WHITE and some with even RED and ORANGE coloured LED Lamps. Use our recommendation as a  guideline and but always pay heed to your personal tastes.

Hope this will help you a bit with choosing the kind of bulb that you may want to have for your lamps. Do leave a comment and let us know if you found this post useful.

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