What are the different types of LED bulb?

Despite being over a hundred years old, Light-Emitting Diodes (or just LED) technology is experiencing its popularity’s peak for less than a decade now. Despite humble beginnings and not so great, modern LED light bulbs are by far the best alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs and CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) – both from the energy savings and longevity perspectives. Today’s LED bulb market is full of many different shapes, sizes, colours and features, which makes picking them a bit hard, especially if you don’t know the available options. That’s why we’ve come up with this simple guide that will help you find the perfect LED light bulb for your lighting fixture or chandelier.

What bases can LED light bulbs have?

A bulb’s base/cap determines the fitting it will work with. Choosing the right base type is essential, and you should always check your lighting fixtures’ fitting before buying any bulbs. A bulb’s base is designated by a letter (or letters) and number, which tell us about its type and diameter (in most cases). LED lights in the form of bulbs can come with varying caps, but there are three most common ones – bayonet, bi-pin and Edison.

Bayonet

Bases of the bayonet type are smooth cylinder-shaped caps with small side notches (most commonly two) that lock the bulb in its socket. Bayonet bulbs can come in one of two types – single contact (SC) or double contact (DC). This refers to the number of electrical connectivity contact points, which can be seen on the cap’s bottom. In the UK and Ireland, the most common bayonet is the B22 (27 mm, including notches).

Bi-pin

Designated with the letter “G”, these bases compose of a varied number of pins (most commonly two). The number after the designation refers to the width of the gap between pins’ centres (mm). Some of them can be installed by simply plugging them into the sockets, while others need some additional twisting to be locked in place. There are also special indicators after the number, like: “S” (single-pin), “D” (double-pin), “T” (triple), and “Q” (quadruple). The most common bi-pin bases used in home lighting are G9 and GU10 – the second one is often used in reflector lights.

Edison

Definitely the best known and the most common bulb base used in almost all European countries. It’s probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think about a light bulb. The Edison screw base is designated with “ES” or “E” and is probably the thing you need for your overhead lighting fixture. Edison screws come in varied sizes, but the two most popular are by far E27 and E14.

Shapes of LED light bulbs

A bulb’s shape not only determines its decorative value, but also the space required to fit it in properly. As for the base, the bulb’s shape also has its letter and numerical designation – the first indicates its type, while the latter informs us about its diameter. So the higher the number, the bigger/thicker the bulb. For example, a G125 bulb would be a globe with 125 mm of diameter. Shapes of LED bulbs can be roughly divided into four categories – A-shaped, decorative, reflector and speciality.

A-shaped

Definitely the most well-known shape – it’s the standard shape of an incandescent bulb. And it’s probably the first thing that pops to mind when you think about light bulbs. They’re commonly used in all sorts of desk, ceiling, or wall lighting systems. It would be the safest bet if you just want to replace your old incandescent or fluorescent bulbs with LED lights. They’re practical but not very decorative. The most common A-shaped bulb in most parts of Europe is the A60.

Decorative

Variously shaped bulbs that aim at providing ambient lighting and adding to the overall decor. A popular option for wall sconces, chandeliers or other more decorative fixtures. There are numerous groups of LEDs in this category, but the most popular among them are:

Chandelier

Slick bulbs modelled after candles and flames. Despite what their name might suggest, they work great in all sorts of decorative fixtures, especially those with a more vintage look. They come in varied shape options like Bullet (B), Conical (C) or Conical Angular (CA). The CA ones are sometimes called Bent Tip or Flame Tip (F) due to resembling flames. When it comes to the most popular chandelier bulb, the title definitely goes to C35 with E27 base.

Globe

Spherical bulbs most commonly used for vanity lighting, but also work well with light stringers, wall sconces and big decorative fixtures. Their distinctive shape certainly catches the eye of the beholder. Globes are mostly on the bigger side – the popular ones are G95 and G125.

LED filament bulbs

With their special, thin-bar diodes that recreate the look of classic incandescent bulbs, giving your fixture that sought-after vintage vibe. LED “filaments” can be fitted into bulbs of various shapes, including ones designed specially for them like Tubular, Oversized or classic Edison (shaped after his first design). When it comes to picking this type of bulb, ST64 is a quite popular choice.

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Reflector

Also known as flood- or spotlight bulbs. Their characteristic feature is a highly reflective coating that can direct and focus their light. Depending on the type, they create wide or narrow beam angles. As you might expect, they’re designated with the letter “R”. Bulbs in this category come in many types – here are some of the most popular ones:

Aluminium-faceted Reflector (AR)

They are mostly used for retail displays and architectural lighting, e.g., highlighting sculptures and monuments. Many of them are made for low voltage applications (with 12 or 24 V), but some can go up to 120 V.

Bulged Reflector (BR)

These are reflectors with special mirrors added into their neck (creating the titular bulge) used for grazing or washing a flat surface with light (e.g., walls, lawns, or hedges). They are also suited for recessed and track lighting.

Mirrored Reflector (MR)

Due to being fitted with special mirrors, their beams can be focused into a single focal point. This makes them a suitable alternative to traditional halogen spotlight used in recessed, track and landscape lighting.

Speciality

A mixed category that refers to bulbs meant for specific applications. This makes them rather situational and thus less popular than the aforementioned categories. Due to it being an expansive category, let’s just take a look at two common examples:

  • Straight-Sided (S) – quite popular option for sign stringer or patio lights. Can be fitted with LED filaments for some extra oomph.
  • Tubular (T) a.k.a. miniature indicator bulbs, tubulars find their place in landscape, automotive and instrument lighting, or as an alternative for small halogens.

This concludes the most common types of bulbs with LEDs that are available on the market – keep in mind that we’ve just scratched the surface of all possible options. Most of the above-mentioned LED lights can be found at https://lucasled.ie/led-bulbs-fitting-light.

Basic features of LED lighting

Besides their low energy consumption and high energy efficiency (they produce the same amount of light while consuming far less energy), LED bulbs can have a few bonus features that make them the best currently available lighting option. The most basic of them are:

  • Compatibility with dimmer switches although non-dimmable lights are still common, many LEDs enable you to adjust their brightness practically on the fly.
  • RGB+CCT options some LED lights can have their colour be changeable with a dedicated controller.
  • Waterproofing certain models of LED light can be used in damp or even wet locations (look for that indication in their product description).

LED bulb – trustworthy light source

LEDs are by far the best option that today’s lighting industry has to offer – they’re great sources of illumination that come in various bulb shapes and sizes. With a bit of digging, you can find truly unique designs. They’re also the best option for anyone who wants to lower their electricity bills or make all of their light fittings as eco-friendly as possible.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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