Where To Get Lamps / Bulbs

updated slightly 7/31/2005.

You wanna know where to get this, that, or some other light bulb? Or where to get them for less? You may have come to the right place, but probably only if you are in the USA. Most suppliers mentioned here are in the USA. Light bulbs for residential use are usually designed for 120 volts. The AC line/mains voltage and frequency is not the same in all countries.

Where to get Decent Regular Light Bulbs For Less!

Lowest price on Sylvania light bulbs - Lowes, to a lesser extent K-Mart!

Lowest price on Philips light bulbs - Sears and Home Depot, except many Sears stores no longer sell regular light bulbs and Home Depot is selling fewer Philips compact fluorescents than they used to.

Lowest price on GE light bulbs - K-Mart, Target, next best is Wal Mart. Home Depot has a few GE models.

Best selection of these - Lowes with Home Depot a close second.

Store brand light bulbs at supermarkets and drug stores are normally decent quality (usually General Electric, sometimes Sylvania) light bulbs, as long as the life expectancy and lumen light output on the package resemble those of name brand ones. (Note that if you compare Soft White with Standard light bulbs, the Soft White ones will be rated for slightly lower light output.)

High prices - Rite Aid, Eckerds, with CVS a little lower.

130V Bulbs!

Please note that 130V bulbs produce only about 77% of the light of 120V versions of the same thing at a given voltage! Power consumption is only reduced about 11 percent. The resistance of the filament decreases with temperature.

Most 130V bulbs have even further compromised light output due to having a cheaper filament design, longer design life expectancy, or a vibration resistant filament design. 130V lightbulbs that are only different from "standard" 120V ones by having a higher design voltage are available at Lowes. At a given line voltage, expect life about 2.5 times that of 120V lightbulbs.

Refrigerator Bulbs!

The price of those tubular bulbs is a minor scandal. Many drug stores and supermarkets are charging about $4.50 for the General Electric brand ones now. Here are some ways around this:

1. If you don't mind buying ones made in Mexico, you can get decent quality Philips ones for about $2.50 at some Sears stores or Home Depot.

2. You can get USA-made Sylvania ones for a similar price at Lowes.

3. K-Mart has USA-made GE ones for about $2.50. The skinnier T6-1/2 ones are about $2.90 at K-Mart. Wal Mart does not charge much more. Target should have similarly low prices.

4. If the bulb in your refrigerator has nothing plastic within about 2 inches above it, and one of those 40 watt appliance bulbs will fit, use that. Just beware that K-Mart seems to be testing the waters with inflationary pricing of 40 watt appliance bulbs while having better-than-average prices for most other lightbulbs!

5. If an appliance bulb is OK AND nothing will drip on it AND you always close the door gently, use an ordinary 25 or 40 watt light bulb.

6. Cheap tubular bulbs made in China and costing around $2 are available in some hardware stores. They don't look as good to me as Philips, GE, or Sylvania ones do, however. 7. Some hardware stores are not keeping up with most supermarkets and drug stores in inflating the price of General Electric tubular bulbs. But if you see any 60 watt ones, avoid them unless you are sure the much higher heat output is OK. 40 watt and smaller tubular fridge bulbs have a vacuum, 60 watt 120 volt ones are gas filled and the gas conducts heat from the filament to the bulb surface.

Halogen Bulbs

By far, the best place to get lightbulbs in general, including halogen bulbs, is at a home center. The better, more reputable major manufacturers are General Electric, Osram/Sylvania, and Philips. Other established, reputable manufacturers such as Amglo, Ushio and Thorn are also good, but produce mainly more specialized types such as photographic and projector bulbs. I would avoid any others as of now. Off-brand halogen bulbs may be prone to reliability problems and may produce less light than the reputable brands.

One particular bulb in high demand is the 300 watt tubular "Type J" halogen bulb for those torchiere lamps. Type "J" bulbs are also Type "T" (tubular) ones, so it is OK to use a similar-looking bulb that fits if it comes in a package saying "Type T" if the fixture has a label indicating requirement of "Type J". Do not use a 500 watt bulb even though in some stores, the 500 is cheaper or the only one there. A torchiere lamp rated for use with no more than a 300 watt bulb is a fire hazard with a 500 watt bulb. The wiring, especially where it connects to things, does not reliably stay cool enough with the higher current. The switch and any dimmer circuitry also do not reliably handle the higher current.

I just got an e-mail from someone that G.E. brand 300 watt bulbs are available at Home Depot for $5.88 for a 2-pack. Compare this against $8 to $13 per bulb at supermarkets and chain drugstores!

As for those little 20 watt bulbs? My favorite is Sylvania, but GE and Philips are at least close. In my experience, the Radio Shack ones are much dimmer and less white in color.

As for halogen bulbs to screw into a regular light socket? My favorite ones are the 100, 75, and 60 watt Sylvania ones. They may say "Capsylite". I don't think the Philips ones nor the odd-wattage Sylvania ones are as good. Neither did Consumer Reports as of October 1992. Lowes should have them at a good price.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps!

By and large, home centers are the best place to get these.

Sylvania brand ones, such as the Dulux EL series which is generally a better one for indoors, are available at good prices at Lowes. Lowes has those nice attractive white globe 15 and 20 watt ones. You may also be able to get some of these at Ikea.

Philips brand ones, such as the 18 watt one that is good oudoors, are available at good prices at some Sears stores and Home Depot. The selection is better at Home Depot. Lowes should also be good.

General Electric ones are also available at Home Depot.

You will usually find a few to maybe a fair variety of General Electric ones, especially the spiral ones, at good prices at K-Mart and Target and probably also at Wal-Mart.

Many people have bad comments on Lights of America. My experience is limited to the extent of possibly being a too-small-sample, but it has not been good. Lights of America may be better with spiral ones of wattage other than exactly 25 watts. If you want their products, you can find them at Home Depot and probably in other places.

I have my experiences, test results, and some Consumer Report's test resultshere.

I would avoid compact fluorescents from dollar stores. I have yet to see any dollar store compact fluorescents, most with claims to replace incandescents of wattage anywhere from 50 to 125 watts actually outshine or even fully match the output of 40 watt "standard" incandescents. This is after testing 14 "brands" and a total of 32 "models"! Furthermore, most dollar store compact fluorescents have a bluish white "cool daylight" color, even many in packages that say "Sun Lighting" and many that come in packages that say "soft warm white light". Many that actually have a "warm white" color have a very purplish "off" color and low color rendering index.

Compact Fluorescent Torchiere Lamps!

These produce supposedly the light of the popular 300 watt halogen torchiere lamps while consuming only about 60 watts. I have doubts of getting quite so much for so little, but they get close enough to be worth it. Electric bill savings could easily be a couple to maybe a few dollars per month! They also don't make as much heat.

As for who makes these and where to get them? I know of three manufacturers:

Emess Lighting
Energy Federation Inc. in Natick, MA
Good Earth Lighting

As for a source of these? I know of LightSite, http://www.litesite.net. A good point in their site is their catalog page, http://www.lightsite.net/catalog.html.

UPDATE 10/10/2004 - Lowes sells these for about $39, and Home Depot sells these for about $37.

Blacklight lamps!

The ones resembling regular light bulbs do not work well. But if you want one, you can usually get them at Spencer's Gifts, and some CD and record stores. Occaisionally, they are available in hardware stores and rarely even in supermarkets. They may be available in home centers, especially Home Depot. Maybe also at Wal-Mart. They are available at Target. A good price is $3. I have also seen these at dollar stores, where the package often says "Black Bulb". Caution - not all dollar store "black bulbs" are blacklights, but some are ordinary bulbs with a dark gray coating. Look at a light through the bulb and look for the deep bluish violet or violet color of the real thing.

But what what you really want are the fluorescent type. They work a lot better. The best prices are at Home Depot. Expect to pay around $12 to $16 for a bulb, regardless of wattage and size. A bulb in a fixture will cost more, and you can also get this at Home Depot.

K-Mart and Wal-Mart sell a few fluorescent style blacklights for approx. $22. One is a 22 watt 8-inch circular tube with a ballast-adapter to fit it in a regular light socket. The other is a 2 foot long "stick" fixture with a 20 watt bulb. Both appear to have cheap or even resistor ballasts, so be prepared for power consumption around 36-40 watts, more heat than usual, and a little less UV/light than usual for the bulb's rated wattage. I believe they now also sell a 15 watt fixture with a real ballast.

You can get fluorescent style blacklights at Spencer Gifts, which is in some malls. Check your phone book. Prices will be higher and quality may not be as good as you can get from Home Depot.

Hosfelt Electronics (http://www.hosfelt.com) (800-524-6464, 740-264-6464) sells a 4 watt fluorescent fixture with a blacklight bulb. The catalog number is 10-113 and the listed price was $4.95 (recent price cut) according to their 99B late spring 1999 catalog. A replacement bulb (F4T5BLB) costs $2.49 and has the catalog number 10-114.

Electronic Goldmine is selling these also. (800-445-0697, 602-451-7454, http://www.goldmine-elec.com.) Their catalog number for the whole unit is G9589 with a price of $6.95. Their catalog number for just a bulb is G9598 with a price of $3.49.

I have doubts on the quality of these particular ("Derma Spec") 4 watt units and bulbs.

There is an obnoxious feature of the 4 watt "Derma Spec" fixture - an automatic shutoff after 1 minute. Go here for the hack to defeat this.

You can get blacklights from Edmund Scientific, but prices are higher here.

You can get these from American Light (see below).

You can get blacklights, incandescent or fluorescent, at some college/university bookstores. One brand that I have seen is "Mr. Light". They even have a 13 watt compact fluorescent screw-in blacklight bulb.
Just beware that one "Mr. Light" fixture that looks somewhat like a blacklight in the color of the glowing bulbs is not a blacklight and it has very minimal blacklight effect and nothing on that fixture nor its package claims that it is one - it is merely a purple decorative light.

Decorative lamps and Lava Lamps!

You can get lava lamps and some other decorative lamps at Spencer Gifts, with stores in some malls - maybe one near you! You can get all sorts of decorative lamps including those strange neon lamps with pink or purple glowing flowers/birds and leaves fluorescing green from the shortwave UV emitted by the neon/argon/krypton or argon/xenon gas mixture. Quality and social conscience may be an issue - some of the special lamps you get there are made in China.

Lava lamps are now available at Radio Shack and some other places. Some college/university bookstores have some decorative lamps.

Mercury, Sodium, and Metal Halide Lamps

The best places to buy one or a few of these is Home Depot or Lowes. Sears also sells the 175 watt DX type mercury lamp at a good price. Expect to pay $9 to $12 for a 175 watt mercury lamp, more for other wattages of mercury lamps. Be sure to pay attention as to whether you are getting a clear mercury lamp or a phosphored one, which is a diffused white one usually having "DX" somewhere in the part number. The DX ones produce slightly more light than clear ones and have color rendering slightly worse than that of an older "cool white" fluorescent lamp, and the light is diffuse. The clear ones are prefered in a few instances where the non-diffused light is easier to direct, but produce slightly less light than the DX ones and have color rendering so bad as to possibly be entertaining. They make reds look dark and often purplish, and make people look greenish and dead.

High pressure sodium lamps will usually cost $20 to $30 for wattages 150 watts or less, and a little more for higher wattages up to 400 watts.

Metal halide lamps of 50 to 400 watts are available at Home Depot and Lowes and usually cost around $30-35.

Another source - Bulbs.com, http://www.bulbs.com.

Specialty Lamps

Sylvania Lighting home page. With a massive catalog including HMI, short arc, etc. lamps.

American Light, a supplier of specialty lamps including projector lamps, microscope lamps, medium pressure mercury vapor lamps, medical and surgical lamps, graphic arts lamps, aquarium and custom fluorescent lamps, and tubular germicidal lamps. They make custom lamps as well. They also sell PL/twintube sockets and semi-oddball sockets.

Pureland Supply, a supplier of specialty lamps such as microscope lamps, photographic lamps, photoflash lamps and large flashtubes, etc. They also supply the usual mercury, metal halide, and sodium lamps as well as ballasts.
Phone: 800-664-6671, Web: http://www.purelandsupply.com

"Puritron"/"Odorout" 4-watt ozone-producing UV bulbs

Where to get these? The answer is, you probably don't. They have been out of production for many years. If you want the 253.7 nM mercury line (germicidal and EPROM-erasing), you are strongly urged to use germicidal lamps that resemble fluorescent tubes electrically and in physical dimensions.

When nothing else can do, there are some desperation measures: Look in long-established appliance repair shops. Look in thrift shops for these bulbs and room-deodorizing lights with these bulbs. WARNING - be prepared to be disappointed. Be prepared to find some other way to get your ozone or your shortwave UV.

Written by Don Klipstein.

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