What Light Bulb for Ceiling Fan: Type, Size and Wattage

Ceiling fan light bulb types come in a range of sizes and base shapes, and you have options to LED, CFL and other bulb types. So it is important to know your light bulb size and type before you order replacement bulbs or go to the store in search of them.

Tip: If you are going to the hardware store to buy bulbs, take one of the bulbs with you to be sure to get the same replacement size and type.

Light Bulb Types

What type of light bulb goes in a ceiling fan?

There are three types of ceiling fan light bulbs – incandescent, which is pretty much being phased out, LED, which are very popular and CFL light bulbs.

Common Ceiling Fan Light Bulb Types:

LED Light Bulb

CFL Light Bulb

Incandescent Light Bulb
Average Life (Years)9-22 Years7-9 Years1-2 Years
Wattage2.5 – 16 Watts3 – 120 Watts5 – 500 Watts
Energy UsageLowLowHigh
Color TempSoft White, Bright White, DaylightSoft White, Bright White, DaylightSoft White

* This table from Home Depot.

Each of the common ceiling fan light bulb types has its pros and cons.

Incandescent bulbs are cheap but don’t last long. And they use a lot of energy to produce the light. While the average life is 1-2 years depending on use, these bulbs can sometimes burn out in a few months.

CFL bulbs were all the rage when they first came out. They’re available in a wide range of wattages. And they use less energy than incandescent light bulbs, but they’re not the most energy efficient choice. CFL bulbs contain mercury.

LED bulbs are now the standard for the lighting industry. For example, Hunter, a major manufacturer of ceiling fans, switched entirely to LED in 2018 on their ceiling fans and light kits. LED lights last the longest. Some are rated for 25000 hours. And they are the most energy efficient.

However, LED light bulbs contain small amounts of arsenic, lead and nickel.

Tip: If your ceiling fan is high off the ground, and changing the bulbs is difficult, it is essential to have long-lasting LED bulbs of the highest quality to minimize the need for changing them.

Light Bulb Base Types

This is where things get a little tricky. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t standardized light bulb base sizes, so there are various options, but only one base type will work in your fan.

There are several models of ceiling fans that utilize light base types such as Bi-Pin, E10, E14, and E27.

Base TypeModel Sample
E27Home Decorators Collection Grayton 54 in.
Hampton Bay Cedar Lake 44 in.
Bi-PinFANIMATION Kwartet 52 in.
E10Big Ass Fans Haiku L 52 in.
E14Home Decorators Collection Aberwell 56 in.

Note: This data is based on 500 popular ceiling fans sold by Home Depot in stores and online.

The letter is the type of base. The number is the size of the base.

The most common ceiling fan light bulb base types: E12 and E26, are used by many manufacturers. Hunter went to E26 for all its fans and light kits, which makes getting replacement bulbs easier. It is the most popular size and base.

These are standard screw-in type bulbs. The E12 is candelabra size. The E26 is the standard medium sized base. The E14 is a common European size, but it is being used more in US manufacturing.

As you can see from the chart, those common ceiling fan light bulb base types are far from the only ones available.

Light Bulb Shape and Size

There is a second code to know about with light bulb size and shape. The code for the base is covered above. There’s also a code for the shape of the bulb.

Light bulb sizes are measured in 1/8’s of an inch. An A19 bulb, which is considered the “classic” shape, is 19/8 of an inch in diameter at its widest, or 2.375 inches.

Many base types are manufactured in more than one light bulb size, as this list shows. The first number is the base size and type. The second number is the bulb size and type.

  • E10: A19
  • E14: T25
  • E27: A19
  • E12: B12, C7
  • E26: A15, A19, B10, ST19, T12

Here are common base types and their size.

Mini-Candelabra (E11) – The base has a width of 0.43 inches.

Candelabra (E12) – The base measures 0.47 inches wide.

Intermediate (E17) – Its base is 0.54 inches in width.

Medium (E26) – The base has a width of 1.03 inches.

Light Bulb Shape and Size
Light Bulb Shape

[Image Frome Hunter]

Light Bulb Lumens and Wattage

The major improvement in lighting technology is that LED and CFL lights give far more light for the amount of energy used.

Watts is how much power the light bulb draws.

Lumens is how much light the bulb gives off.

25 lumens5 wattsN/AN/A
100 lumens15 wattsN/A1-2 watts
200 lumens25 wattsN/A2-3 watts
350 lumens35 wattsN/A4-5 watts
450 lumens40 watts9-13 watts6-8 watts
800 lumens60 watts13-15 watts9-13 watts
1100 lumens75 watts18-25 watts12-15 watts
1600 lumens100 watts25-30 watts16-20 watts
2600 lumens150 watts30-35 watts25-28 watts

* This table is from Lowes

Note the impact this has on energy usage. To get 800 lumens, the incandescent bulb, the kind we all grew up with, draws 60 watts. They were called “60 watt bulbs,” but the more important detail is how much light they provide.

Note this package says “60W Replacement.” That’s accurate. It is a 9-watt bulb. Size A19, 800 Lumens at is estimated to last 13 years!

60W Replacement

Many sites still talk about watts as if it’s the most important detail. But the development of CFL and LED lights has changed the conversation.

You might have a fixture that says, “Maximum wattage: 60,” but there are no LED and CFL bulbs that draw that much energy. Not in the ceiling fan discussion anyway.

You get the same 800 lumens for a fraction of the power used. For around a quarter of the watts, a CFL bulb provides 800 lumens. And for about 20% of the energy, an LED delivers 800 lumens.

Yes, LED bulbs cost more, but again, you save on energy from day 1, and they last longer too. So, there’s no downside to switching to LEDs.

Changing Ceiling Fan Light Bulb Size

Do you have a ceiling fan that uses small candelabra bulbs? And they don’t give off the amount of light you want?

For example, if your ceiling fan uses E12 or E17 bulbs and you’d like to upgrade to E26 bulbs, an adapter like this will do it quickly and easily. Of course, this won’t work for all base types.

E26 Light with Labels

Caution: Don’t use these adapters with incandescent light bulbs because using three 75-watt or 100-watt incandescent bulbs will almost certainly exceed the rating of the fixture. LED bulbs are recommended for such a conversion because they draw far less energy. The wattage rating for your fixture should be listed on the fixture or in your owner’s manual.

 Adapters are produced in a number of sizes. Just know what size bulbs you have and what size you want to find the right adapter.

You can also downsize. Adapters are made to reduce from E26 down to E12 candelabra bulbs, for example.  

Light Adapters

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree and EPA & R-410A Certifications.
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