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3 Best Light Bulbs for Your Household Appliances

Different light bulbs can impact how your appliances work. Learn about the differences and what will work best for each of your household appliances.

Photo by: Shutterstock

When the light in your oven or refrigerator goes out it can be tempting to use whatever light bulb you have on hand. But that's actually not the best decision. Appliances require smaller-profile bulbs that are specially made to withstand heat and that contain rugged filaments made to endure vibrations from opening and closing the doors on the appliance. It's also important to use bulbs with the recommended wattage and the proper base size. Ovens, microwave ovens, ranges, range hoods, refrigerators, freezers and dryers are among the appliances that require these special bulbs.

Incandescent bulbs, halogen lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are most often used in home appliances. Here's how they work:
 

Incandescent Light Bulbs

 

Incandescent bulbs

• Contain a tungsten filament
• Electric current heats filament to produce light
• Usually contain a stem or glass mount at the base to prevent air leaks
• Stem embedded with small wires to support the filament
• Vacuum or inert gas protects filament from evaporating
 

Halogen Light Bulbs

 

Halogen lamp

• Functions similarly to an incandescent lamp
• Employs the halogen cycle
• Halogen gas helps redeposit tungsten onto the filament for longer bulb life
 

Compact Fluorescent Light

 

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)

• Electricity is emitted from cathodes that excite mercury vapor (inelastic scattering)
• Glass envelope contains phosphors and a noble gas (e.g., argon)
• Mercury atoms produce ultraviolet (UV) light, causing phosphors to glow and produce light
 

Some bulbs can be used in more than one type of appliance.

For instance, a 40-watt (incandescent) appliance bulb may be the same bulb used in your oven and your range hood.

Here are some of the bulbs that can be used in various appliances.

Oven: Many ovens require 15-watt tubular halogen lamps while others require a 40-watt appliance bulb.

Microwave oven: These often require a 25-watt T7 microwave light bulb. It has an intermediate base and sometimes is used in ranges and sewing machines.

Refrigerator: Usually takes a 25- to 40-watt standard base appliance bulb, but some refrigerators use a T8 intermediate base bulb.

Dryer: Most dryers use a 10-watt, 120-volt C7 bulb.

In 2012, manufacturers and retailers began phasing in bulbs that meet the standards required by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed by Congress in 2007. The law requires higher efficiency standards for basic light bulbs, but it doesn't apply to all specialty bulbs. Appliance bulbs are among those that are exempt.

Before you head out to the hardware store to purchase replacement bulbs, we suggest you take a minute to check the appliance owner's manual to find out which bulb is recommended by the manufacturer. If you no longer own the manual, you can likely find the manual online on the manufacturer's website by entering the model number of the appliance you own.

Next > Avoid Microwave Meltdowns: Easy Troubleshooting Tips

 


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