When you’re designing your home you’ll find that it’s the small things that really make a difference. However, they are also the things that many people over look, often due to cost. The budget gets blown on the big items and when it comes to finishing touches there is little money left to spare.
Vintage light bulbs are one of these little details; they look great but they can be expensive to buy. Their popularity means that they are often overpriced in DIY stores. Luckily, there are many affordable options online. Here, we take a close look at our top 5 vintage light bulbs, and some important things to consider when buying them
Top 5 E27 Vintage Light Bulbs
#1: LEORX Edison 40W E27
- 138mm height x 64mm diameter
- Pack of 3
These vintage style bulbs cast a soft warm glow which complements both retro and modern décor styles. The simple elongated shape will fit in anywhere and the decorative filaments fill most of the glass bulb. Their life expectancy is 2000-3000 hours but the handy three pack means that you will always have a spare. Best of all, they come with an unconditional one-year guarantee.
#2 Onepre Retro Filament Bulbs
- 118mm height x 80mm diameter
- Pack of 3
Onepre retro bulbs also come in a pack of three. They have a vintage look and feel, enhanced by the ‘squirrel cage’ filament: a long filament which has been wound around inside the lamp to form a distinctive and very visible retro shape. The actual bulbs are round; ideal for adding to decorative light fittings or small lamps. They work well with a dimmer switch, without any buzzing, and emit a soft, yellow light which is very relaxing.
These 60W bulbs are slightly brighter than the others on our list. If you are planning to use your vintage bulbs with a dimmer then these are a really good option for a wider range of light.
#3 Vintage Edison Light Bulb 60w
- 112mmm height x 45mm diameter
- Pack of 3
A small, chunky bulb with a spiral shaped filament, this vintage bulb looks great in both lamps and rustic overhead light fittings. Wound by hand, the distinctive filament is always visible, especially when the bulb is combined with a dimmer switch for a lower light.
The small size of these simple bulbs makes them a great choice for a large light fitting which requires multiple bulbs. They are ideal for ambient lighting in a dining room or hallway.
#4 KINGSO Vintage Edison Bulbs
- 185mmm height x 25mm diameter
- Pack of 6
These unusual long bulbs are a feature in themselves. They have a simple filament which runs up and down the length of the glass and come in a handy pack of six; perfect for settings which require multiple bulbs.
Like the other bulbs on this list, the relatively low light emitted by these means that they are best used as an atmospheric or alternative light source. The unusual shape makes them a fantastic choice as a bare bulb in a desk or table lamp. They are also ideal for a wall sconce setting.
#5 Elfeland Giant Globe Vintage Bulbs
- 170mm height x 125mm diameter
- Pack of 1
The final bulb on our list is an oversized globe which makes an excellent centrepiece when added to an unshaded lamp. Its large size makes it an eye-catching talking point and the visible filament adds an element of interest which it is lit. At nearly £9 for a single bulb, it is the most expensive option on our list but unique and quirky look is well worth it. It fits very well into an industrial styled setting and emits a warm yellow light which adds atmosphere to a room.
Most of us have quickly become used to the clear white light and long life of LED light bulbs but there is sometimes a certain yearning for the softer yellow light of vintage light bulbs. Retro style bulbs have become increasingly popular in response to this demand. However, while they do look amazing in the right setting, there are several other factors to consider when shopping for them.
The lifespan of vintage lightbulbs is likely to be closer to 2000-3000 hours than the 50000 hours expected of an LED bulb. This means that they will need replacing every couple of years. It’s still a relatively small expense but worth keeping in mind. If you really like the design of a particular bulb then consider having a couple of spares to hand so you don’t have to worry too much when the time comes to replace it.
All of the bulbs on our list come with an E27 screw fixing. Vintage light bulbs are also available in a bayonet style. Always make sure you double check which style and size you need before ordering so you don’t end up with bulbs you can’t use.
Part of the appeal of vintage style light bulbs is the visible and highly decorative filament. For this reason, they are usually not very bright; all the bulbs listed below are 40 or 60 watt.
The attractive filament becomes even more visible when you dim the bulb so if you have a dimmer switch or device it’s always worth checking that the bulb will work with it. The bulbs we have selected below are all dimmable.
We all know that modern light bulbs are more efficient than older ones. The actual costs are less well understood. So, how do they compare? Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs cost around £0.016 an hour to run. LED bulbs cost £0.002 per hour. That’s 8x more for a vintage bulb. It sounds like a lot but when you add up the cost over time then it’s really not a huge amount of money. The annual cost of running each type for 6 hours a day will be around £35 and £5 respectively.
Can you use vintage bulbs for your main light?
You can use a vintage bulb in any light setting. However, the relatively low light emitted by most means that you might need a brighter light source for reading or working. The option to switch between the two can work well for most people.
What’s the difference between 60w & 40w bulbs?
LED bulbs are described using lumens (which relates to light output). Older bulbs are described using wattage. A 40W incandescent bulb is roughly equal to 450 lumens, while a 60 bulb is nearer to 800 lumens.
Put simply, a 60 watt bulb is brighter, and consumes more energy, than a 40 watt bulb.
Do they cost more to run than regular light bulbs?
Vintage incandescent light bulbs cost around eight times more to run that more modern LED lights. Over a year, this amounts to less than 10p a day, assuming 6 hours daily use.
How long do they last vs regular bulbs?
They last around 2-3000 hours, compared to LED bulbs which are often expected to last up to 50,000 hours. At 6 hours a day, this is around 330-500 days.
How hot do vintage bulbs get?
Vintage incandescent bulbs lose a lot of their energy in heat, so can get quite hot to the touch. It’s always worth switching off the bulb and checking the temperature carefully before handling it.