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Shopping for light bulbs seems like it should be an easy task until you start to read the boxes. Light bulbs have so many different letter types, colors, watts, and features. Fluorescent, incandescent, daylight replicating. Type A, type C, and type G. What does it all mean?

If your lighting fixture instructions recommend a specific type of bulb, there's likely a good reason why. If you're not sure what kind of light bulbs would be right for a certain area of your home, it definitely helps to know the differences between the sizes and shapes.

Why Do Light Bulbs Come in So Many Shapes?

Light bulbs come in so many shapes for a combination of reasons. Sometimes, the reasons are aesthetic. It wouldn't look great to have visible spiral bulbs in a very delicate chandelier. You want the bulbs to look like they belong there. 

In other cases, the shape will directly correlate with the function of the light. You don't want a giant flood light beaming directly into your eyes when you're applying your makeup. You want something that will illuminate your vanity comfortably. You wouldn't want a tiny candle flame bulb as a security light. A burglar wouldn't even notice it was on. 

The Different Shapes of Light Bulbs

There are technically tens of thousands of different types of light bulbs when you extrapolate on all of the specifications. Each shape will come in dozens, if not hundreds of different varieties. The main shapes that you would use around your home are among the most straightforward in their applications.

Type A Light Bulbs

Picture a light bulb in your mind. It's probably a type A light bulb. These are the light bulbs that appear above cartoon characters' heads when they have ideas. Their ubiquitous shape is a generic and universally recognized silhouette that means 'light.'

These light bulbs are shaped the way they are for utility purposes. This classic shape provides modest to moderate 360 degree illumination and is generally used in any appliance that will hide the light bulb. It doesn't need to look pretty if a lampshade will be covering it, or if it will be secured inside of a fully closed ceiling lighting fixture.

Boundery uses the classic type A shape, as do all of our light bulbs, because it's a tried and true classic.

Type C Light Bulbs

Type C light bulbs are the pretty little light bulbs you put in wall sconces or chandeliers that are intended to look like they're lit by candles. They have a torpedo or soft candle flame shape. They don't ordinarily put out a lot of light individually, because most fixtures or lighting features that use type C style bulbs are intended to hold many of them at once. 

Type F Light Bulbs

Type F light bulbs are the same thing as type C light bulbs, but the tops are pointy. Coating or etching is used on the light bulb to make it appear that the light is softly flickering. It adds an element of realism to the whole 'candle' theme. These are typically used in highly stylized features to amp up their impact a little further than a type C light bulb is capable of. 

Type G Light Bulbs

The 'G' in type G stands for 'globe,' which is the shape of the light bulb. These are the kinds of light bulbs you see on vanities and in bathrooms. They're designed to look like soft glowing orbs and are perfect in situations where you want an even an uninterrupted distribution of light. Their shape makes them more aesthetically pleasing to use without a covering than type A light bulbs. 

Type H Light Bulbs

Type H light bulbs are also called chimney light bulbs. They have an oval base and a cylindrical top. They're the kind of bulbs used in fancy lamp posts or path lights where the decorative top is supposed to resemble a lantern. The shape of the bulb replicates a lantern light perfectly. 

Type R Light Bulbs

Reflector light bulbs, or type R bulbs, are kind of shaped like a cone. The sides of the bulb are coated in a reflective material, so the light can't travel through them. Instead, all the light is reflected and exits through the top. 

Reflector bulbs are typically used for downlighting or spotlighting something. They're great for recessed lighting fixtures, because none of the light gets wasted within the ceiling. It will all beam directly down. 

Type S Light Bulbs

Type S light bulbs are typically used to illuminate signs or marquees. Most people don't have these features in their home, but they still use type S light bulbs in decorative features or as ambient patio lighting. These are the kind of bulbs that work well with string light features. 

If you have signs on your wall, you'll need type S bulbs to replace the bulbs they came with. If the 'O' in your 'LOVE' sign is looking a little dim, unplug the sign and remove the bulb. Bring it to the hardware store and find its twin in the sea of small specialty bulbs. 

Spiral Light Bulbs

Many modern energy efficient light bulbs are spiral light bulbs. They're slowly becoming the de facto replacement for appliance light bulbs. They're often referred to as CFL bulbs, which stands for compact fluorescent lights. They're a simple utility bulb that won't run up your power bill.

Do I Need a Type G Bulb?

Most type G light bulbs have that tiny little end that's designed to screw into smaller decorative features. Since type G bulbs are considered decorative bulbs, it only makes sense. If you use specialized decorative lighting in your home and the bulbs are going to be visible, you might choose to go with a type G over a type C or type F light bulb. It mostly boils down to aesthetic preference.

Some decorative outdoor lighting features work well with type G bulbs, which can be used as an alternative to type S marquee bulbs for mood lighting on your patio. Just use common sense when you put them up. Electricity and water should absolutely never come into contact with each other, so install outdoor lighting features with this in mind. 

Do Type G Light Bulbs Have Special Features?

Type G light bulbs typically won't have special features. They may be pretty, but they're also small. Smaller bulbs aren't compatible with things like smart technology. Boundery uses type A bulbs because their size can accommodate the technology necessary to power those features. 

If you're looking for a light that can sense motion or darkness, a type G bulb won't work for you. They also aren't made to work with LED remotes that change the color or intensity of light. 

Choosing the Right Light Bulbs for Your Home

Your house is likely powered by multiple kinds of light bulbs. Your outdoor security lights are going to be vastly different from your ambient dining room lights -- unless you expect intruders will come to burgle your dessert. 

Some lighting fixtures won't really give you a choice. You have to use a light bulb that fits. You can control how bright that light is and what the tone of the light will be, but you won't have unlimited choices with bulb type. 

Where you do have a choice, you need to consider what you want that bulb to do. Is it a safety bulb to illuminate a feature like a staircase, or is it for an adjustable side table lamp so you can read in bed? Both of these scenarios have different requirements. 

You're always going to get the most versatility out of a type A bulb. If you aren't sure what type of bulb you need and the socket is standard size, go with a type A bulb. You can get a type A bulb that's dimmable and can be adjusted to millions of different colors, and is easy to control with your smartphone. These bulbs are the epitome of options.

The Takeaway

Type G bulbs are pretty little things that have a place in your home, should you choose to use them. They work great in places where you'd like to enjoy ambient or glowing lighting from a visible bulb. 

If you're more concerned with function over form, Boundery is here to serve your most important lighting needs. 


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