More than a century after their invention, tungsten filaments—the coiled metal wires at the heart of many incandescent light bulbs—continue to be popular. This is despite the growing market for LED bulbs, which use less energy and generate light much more quickly. It’s easy to understand why people still like incandescents : There’s a certain charm to the old-school aesthetics of a tungsten filament. Indeed, if you’re shopping for tungsten lights, you’re probably specifically seeking a bulb that exposes its wiry innards. When it comes to art, tungsten bulbs might be preferred for a number of reasons. Perhaps you need lighting for a vintage-inspired shoot, or maybe you want the warm, yellow glow that a typical incandescent produces. Ahead, find a roundup of our top five tungsten light picks.
1. Sterl Lighting Standard Household Bulbs
The best general-use bulbs, these 60-watt incandescents emit a uniform, strong, yet calming light. Made of absolutely transparent glass, they look like traditional bulbs, but there’s a touch of a modern update: They are dimmable and produce excellent light through their entire range from low to high. We also like that there is no plastic casing around the standard E26 base, so the bulb looks elegant, should you want to leave it exposed.
2. Hudson Bulb Co. Incandescent Edison Bulbs
If you’re looking for a light bulb with an arresting style and shape, choose this option. Each 60-watt bulb in this four-pack is slightly slimmer than the traditional incandescent, and when turned on, the tungsten filaments glow a gorgeous light amber that draws the eye. Like our top pick, they are dimmable and can be adjusted without lagging or producing an annoying buzz (something that cheaper options tend to do). They will last for up to 3,000 hours of use.
3. Dysmio Lighting Party Bulb
Add some atmosphere to your home with these bulbs, which come in half a dozen colors plus black. Some have an operating power of just 25 watts while others operate at 75 watts, so double check before you buy. Since they generally produce quite a gentle glow—the colored shells block some of the light—we recommend them for illuminating small spaces. The tungsten components are still visible, though, and when powered they have excellent light distribution.
4. GE Lighting Incandescent Halogen Bulb
From the company that patented the first bulb with a tungsten filament comes this four-pack of earth-friendly tungsten lights. They are defined as “60-watt incandescent modified spectrum replacement,” which means that they are designed to use less energy than a 60-watt bulb while producing more light. (According to the package, that exact number is 28 percent.) Like standard incandescents, they have tungsten filaments, but these are encased by a bubble of halogen gas that helps them burn more efficiently. While you can’t see the tungsten filaments, these well-thought-out bulbs are a great option for artists who get migraines from LEDs. They also produce a steady, even light.
5. Newhouse Lighting Outdoor String Light Bulbs
This bulb’s design is also based on Thomas Edison’s original filament bulb, with completely clear glass that gently tapers from its top to the standard E26 stem. It is rated at just 11 watts, so string a few of them together to create a moody atmosphere or use more for stronger light. What we like best is that these bulbs are designed to stand up to rough weather conditions, from rain to snow to relatively high winds, so you can use them outdoors without worry.