How to Buy Light Bulbs on eBay

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How to Buy Light Bulbs on eBay
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How to Buy Light Bulbs on eBay

Whether a wall sconce, central light unit, or a spotlight needs a new bulb, there is a vast choice of bulb styles, and eBay has an extensive range to choose from. Different fittings require light bulbs with a different type of base, most commonly the bayonet cap, the Edison screw cap, or a variation of one of these types. Light bulbs range from small, decorative faux flames, to large, brilliant globes.

The type of bulb to purchase depends on the budget, energy, and cost efficiency concerns. Incandescent bulbs are the least expensive type to purchase, but cost the most to run and use large amounts of energy to produce small amounts of light. Much of the energy used produces wasted thermal energy. Tungsten halogen bulbs have a long lifespan, but can pose a fire hazard because of the amount of thermal energy produced. Fluorescent bulbs are somewhat expensive to purchase but cost considerably less to run and produce far more light per unit of energy than incandescent or tungsten halogen bulbs. High intensity discharge bulbs are the most expensive type, but are very energy efficient. However, they produce a less pleasing light cast than other types and so are less common in the home.

Types of Light Bulbs

There are numerous different types of light bulbs, which are suited to a variety of lighting applications. Each type uses a different amount of energy, has a different level of energy efficiency, and has a different appearance. eBay has all different types of bulbs available and also has different colored bulbs. They are available in packages of single bulbs or in multipacks. The correct choice of bulb depends on the intended purpose, the available budget, and energy and environmental concerns.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are standard light bulbs, which were the most common type in households prior to the increase in popularity of fluorescent bulbs and increased awareness of energy costs. They emit a bright light with a yellowish cast. Incandescent bulbs are available as clear or pearled glass. These bulbs have a tungsten filament inside, and the glass is filled with an inert gas. When the electrical circuit is closed, a current is passed through the tungsten filament, which, with the gas, produces a warm, bright light. Because of the nature of this light emitting circuit, a great deal of thermal, or heat energy is produced. This heat energy is released into the surrounding environment and wasted. This makes incandescent bulbs extremely inefficient and also considerably more expensive to run than other light bulb types, despite incandescent bulbs being the least expensive initially.

Tungsten Halogen

Tungsten halogen bulbs work similarly to incandescent bulbs. The gas inside the bulbs is halogen, which helps to improve the lifespan of the bulb. The light produced tends to be brighter than incandescent bulbs. However, despite the increased lifespan, these bulbs still produce huge amounts of thermal energy, which is dispersed into the surrounding environment. The bulb also reaches significantly higher temperatures than other types of bulbs and can cause serious burns if touched while hot. The high temperatures produced are also a significant fire hazard in some situations. Tungsten halogen bulbs do have a long lifespan and so need to be replaced less often, but are initially more expensive than incandescent bulbs.


Fluorescent bulbs have a phosphorus coating which emits a diffuse, soft light with a yellow cast. The bulbs are filled with a gaseous concoction, including argon gas and mercury. When electricity passes to two cathodes, the gas is excited, and produces radiant energy. This energy is not visible to the naked eye, but is converted into visible light as it makes contact with the phosphorescent coating on the bulb. These bulbs are initially more expensive than halogen or incandescent bulbs, but they have a substantially longer lifespan. Additionally, fluorescent bulbs produce hardly any excess thermal energy, and, therefore are much more economical, costing much less to run annually. They use and waste less energy, making them a good choice for the environmentally conscious, as well as frugal individuals who want to conserve energy usage to reduce their bills.

High Intensity Discharge

High intensity discharge bulbs emit a very bright, powerful light. The bulbs are filled with a metallic, gaseous, chemical combination which, when heated, gets excited and eventually vaporizes producing a high intensity light. There are numerous different chemical combinations used in high intensity discharge bulbs, which produce different colored lights and different intensities. These bulbs are more expensive than other types, but are very energy efficient, produce a larger amount of light per unit of energy, and have a considerably longer lifespan. Previously only used as floodlights or for large public area lighting, these bulbs are becoming more popular in the home.

Light Bulb Comparison

The table below gives a clear, easy to read overview of the main bulb types used in the home. It provides information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each to allow readers to assess which light bulb is best suited to their requirements.

Type of Bulb




Inexpensive when purchased; produces a pleasing, yellow light; can be used with dimmer controls

Not energy efficient; produces large amounts of wasted thermal energy; expensive to run; short lifespan; needs replaced regularly

Tungsten halogen

Less expensive than some types; longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs; produces more light per unit of energy than incandescent

More expensive than incandescent; produces more wasted thermal energy; bulb reaches very high temperatures; risk of burns; fire hazard


Longer lifespan than incandescent or tungsten halogen; produces very little wasted thermal energy; far less expensive to run than tungsten halogen or incandescent; more energy efficient; more; environmentally friendly; need replacing less often

Initially more expensive to purchase than incandescent or tungsten halogen

High Intensity Discharge

Very bright light; more energy efficient than other types; considerably longer lifespan; produces significantly more light per unit of energy; costs less to run than other bulbs

More expensive to purchase than other bulbs; light cast may not be as soft or pleasing as other types

The table above describes the advantages and disadvantages of the main types of household bulbs. This gives readers the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the different varieties available, allowing them to make an informed purchasing decision.

Bulb Fittings

There are many different types of bulb base caps, or fittings. Purchasing a bub with the wrong cap means it will not fit into the socket, and, if it does squeeze in, it will not function correctly and can be a hazard. It is therefore essential that users carefully check which kind of bulb base will fit their socket. Some of the more common types include the bayonet cap, which users twist and push into the socket, and the Edison screw cap, which screw into a threaded light fixture. There are also light bulbs available with protruding pins, either two or four, which attach to pin receptacles within the light socket.

Buying Light Bulbs on eBay

eBay has an extensive range of light bulbs. Fittings, materials, and colors of all kinds are available and can be found by performing a simple search from the eBay homepage. If you know the specific type of bulb you require, using the exact bulb information to search will provide fewer, more accurate search results.

You should make sure the bulb you purchase has the right kind of base cap to avoid wasting time and money and potentially damaging your light fixtures. The base cap information should be clearly displayed in the item description portion of the listing. However, if this information isn’t present, or you are unsure, you can easily contact the seller and ask them to clarify the information for you before you commit to a purchase. You can then wait for the seller to respond before you buy.

Choosing a seller with a high percentage of positive feedback will enhance your eBay experience, and makes for a smooth, quick, straightforward transaction. For fragile items, such as light bulbs, it might be wise to ensure the seller offers shipping insurance, in case the bulbs get damaged in transit. Alternatively, if you want to avoid shipping altogether, you may be able to find the light bulbs you require locally, within a predefined distance of your ZIP code. If the seller is agreeable, you may be able to pick up the bulbs yourself after the transaction is complete.


Sitting in the dark is not usually a viable option for most people today. Therefore, after sunset, lights are typically required in the home. There is a wide range of different bulb types and fittings. This guide gives you an overview of the most common types of household light bulbs, along with a basic understanding of how they work and their advantages and disadvantages.

Incandescent bulbs come in a range of sizes, color and styles. They are inexpensive to purchase, and emit a bright light with a yellow cast. However, they are very energy inefficient, producing lots of wasted thermal energy, and, therefore, costing more to run. They also have a comparatively short lifespan. Tungsten halogen bulbs, while having a longer lifespan, are more expensive to purchase and get incredibly hot, making them both energy inefficient and a fire hazard in the home.

Fluorescent bulbs are more expensive to purchase, but they have a much longer lifespan. They are also significantly more energy efficient, producing very little wasted thermal energy, and have a considerably longer lifespan. High intensity discharge bulbs are the most expensive type of bulb to purchase, but they have the longest lifespan. They are very energy efficient, but are less common in residential settings because the color of light emitted is often not as pleasing as other bulb types. Day or night, whenever a consumer wants to make the purchase, the light is on at eBay.

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