This article originally appeared on Schoolhouse, a Portland-based company in the Food52 family of brands.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lighting is a great way to save energy, reduce electricity costs, and contribute to a more sustainable environment.
And now that incandescent light bulbs are officially phasing out, we thought we’d help by creating a quick guide to help answer one of our most popular lighting questions: How do I get the incandescent lighting look with an LED light bulb?
The short answer—It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to achieve the warm and cozy appearance of incandescent light bulbs using LED bulbs, you can look for options specifically designed to replicate the look of traditional bulbs. These light bulbs are often referred to as Edison-style LEDs. They mimic the filament design and warm color temperature of incandescent bulbs while offering the energy efficiency and longevity of LED technology.
How Do I Choose the Right LED Bulb Type?
When replacing your exposed bulbs, look for LED bulbs with a “vintage” or “Edison-style” design. These bulbs have visible filaments that resemble the filaments in traditional incandescent bulbs. They come in various options, including standard A19, ST19, G25, and more. Experiment with different styles and shapes of vintage LED bulbs to find the look that best matches your aesthetic preferences.
If you’re looking to replace a frosted light bulb, you will want to pay close attention to color temperature and lumens (more on this below).
Pro Tip: Frosted LED bulbs diffuse the light they emit, which reduces direct glare and creates more gentle and uniform illumination throughout the room.
What Is Color Temperature?
The warm and cozy appearance of traditional bulbs is largely due to their lower color temperature. While we used to think of LED bulbs as emitting cold, blue light, advancements in technology have led to a wide range of LED bulbs with various color temperatures, including warm and soft options that closely mimic the warmth of traditional incandescent bulbs.
Pro Tip: Look for LEDs with a color temperature around 2700K. This will give you a soft, warm glow similar to incandescent bulbs.
Are LED Bulbs Dimmable?
LED bulbs can be dimmed easily to create a softer and more intimate atmosphere. Look for light bulbs that are labeled as dimmable or dimmer compatible if you want the flexibility to adjust the brightness according to your preference.
Pro Tip: If you have a dimmer switch, ensure that both the LED bulbs and the dimmer switch are compatible with each other to avoid flickering.
What is the Difference Between Lumens vs. Wattage?
A simple way to think of it is brightness vs. power. Lumens measure the brightness of a light source while Watts measure how much energy is required to illuminate a bulb.
When choosing light bulbs, it’s important to prioritize lumens over wattage, especially if you’re aiming for a specific level of brightness. Many packaging labels now prominently display the number of lumens a bulb produces to help consumers navigate illumination options. Keep in mind, you can choose an LED bulb with a lower wattage but a higher lumen output to benefit from energy savings while maintaining the desired brightness.
Pro Tip: The higher the lumens, the brighter the light bulb. To determine how many lumens you will need, take into account the room’s size, function, and your personal preferences.
And that’s all there is to it! By selecting the right type of LED bulbs with a warm color temperature, you can enjoy the cozy and nostalgic glow of incandescent bulbs while reaping the benefits of long lasting LED technology. For more information, read our light bulb buying guide or check out the Schoolhouse FAQ section.