With so many choices, the task of replacing a light bulb seems to be getting more and more difficult. On 1st September 2016, the import and production of traditional, incandescent light bulbs or halogen spotlights was banned. The remaining halogen light bulb shapes have now all been replaced with LEDs and LED filaments. However, there’s no need to worry, as you’ll still be able to buy a replacement for your existing bulbs in the new technology and won’t need to change your light fittings. Take a look at our jargon-busting light bulb guide below to help you choose the right one each time.

Why have light bulbs changed?

The simple answer is that the new technology is much more efficient and will save you money on your electricity bill. Light bulb packaging carries an energy efficiency chart, the same as you see on major appliances and everything has an efficiency rating. Old style incandescent light bulbs were ‘E’ rated and LEDs are ‘A’ rated, which will save you around 70% on the running costs*.

The changes may take a while to get used to, but they’ll save you ££££s.

*Based on 2.7 hours at the average electricity price published by the Energy Saving Trust (February 2017)

Step 1 – Choose your shape

A lot of this is down to personal preference but there are a few things you should consider when choosing your light bulb shape. Work out whether your new light bulb needs to be exactly the same shape as the one you’re replacing. For example, a spotlight light fitting will only accommodate spotlight shape bulbs.

You might also want to consider how it will look in your light fitting. For example, a chandelier style light will look odd with anything other than a candle shape. Have a look at the different light bulb shapes available below to help you decide which one’s right for you.

Spirals and sticks were the early designs of ‘Energy Saving’ light bulbs and most homes have some. These shapes can be replaced by ‘classic’ and ‘candle’ shapes respectively in LED or LED Filament which will be even more efficient.

classic light bulbCandle light bulbgolf ball light bulbspotlight bulb


Step 2 – Choose your fitting

Probably the easiest step, as the fitting you’ll need won’t have changed. Choosing the correct fitting will depend on where the light bulb is and it’s probably best to have a look at your old one to work out what it looks like. We’ve listed the most common ones below as well as their name. Wilko packaging has a colour coding system to make selecting the right fitting easier.

bayonet screw fittingsmall bayonet screw fittingscrew light bulb fitting small screw light bulb fittingGU10 light bulb fittingGU 5.3 light bulb fitting


Step 3 – Convert watts to lumens

Traditionally you will have chosen your light bulb by the ‘watts’ – for example a 60W or 100W light bulb.  The changes in LED technology means this measurement no longer works because you can generate the equivalent light output of a 60W lightbulb with just 10 Watts, which is why you save money on your bills.

When you find the right bulb, make a note of the ‘Lumens’ number on the packaging. Lumens are the measure of light, and the higher the number the brighter the light.

The chart below will help you choose both the right ‘Watts’ and ‘Lumens’, and shows you how much money you could save with LED lighting:

Step 4 – Warm white or cool white?

All light bulb packaging has a ‘Kelvin’ scale that will tell you if the light is warm or cool, and this is measured in ‘Kelvin’. If you’re not used to talking in ‘Kelvins’ the chart below will help you work out what colour of light you prefer and what the equivalent kelvins are.

Traditionally the UK has sold ‘warm white’ light bulbs which are around 2700 Kelvin. Depending on the location and the function of the light you may prefer something ‘whiter’ which can give a totally different look as you can see from the images below.

Step 5 – Choose your technology

This is the final step, but in many ways could be the most important. Nearly there! The last thing you need to consider is which type of light bulb to go for; Halogen, CFL, LED or LED filament.

The chart below should help you make your decision.

Throwing away old light bulbs

If you feel spurred into action and want to throw away your old, incandescent light bulbs, remember that they’re not recyclable and should be disposed of in your normal household waste. Don’t be tempted to add them to your glass recycling as they contain metal parts.

LEDs don’t contain anything harmful so can also be disposed of in your normal household waste too.

Now that we’ve (hopefully!) shed some light on choosing the right light bulb, have a look at our blog lighting buying guide which will give you advice on using lighting in your home to achieve different looks.

Find your perfect light bulb online at wilko.com

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