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Vintage Light Bulbs: How to Find the Perfect Replica

Vintage light bulbs offer a unique, dusky glow that provides a beautiful interior environment. It's not the illumination profile for everyone, but it could be the right touch for a specific room or place in your home.

 

When looking at vintage light bulbs, you're not buying something that's several decades old. These replicas use modern manufacturing techniques while reproducing how our grandparents and great-grandparents enjoyed lights.

 

If you're interested in using vintage lights as part of your home's design, here is the information you'll need to make an informed and empowered decision.

 

What Are the Characteristics of Vintage Light Bulbs?

 

The reason vintage light bulb designs are popular in some circles involves their shape. You can find unique sizes and filament routing options in this category, helping your illumination become a more prominent component of your interior design scheme.

 

Vintage light bulb designs are virtually limitless, but you'll find a few common options available for consideration. Here's a closer look at each one so that you can decide if one of them is suitable for your home.

 

Vintage Light Type

Features of These Vintage Light Bulbs

EdisonThese light bulbs feature an oblong shape. They usually incorporate an E26 base to fit in a standard fixture. This option is widely available, and one of the most popular choices you can find when looking for antique designs.
VictorianWhen you find these bulbs, they'll look a lot like a standard A19 product used in homes today. They come with an E12 candelabra base with some designs, allowing them to be used in almost any situation. You'll find decorative filament routing as an option.
GlobeThis vintage light bulb uses a ball shape. They're available in base sizes that range from 8 to 40.
ChandelierIf you have powered wall sconces or entry chandeliers, this vintage design adds depth to your interior design. The glass bulb comes shaped as a flame, combining with the warm glow from the filament to simulate candles.
RadioYou can use this vintage light bulb design for almost any application. This shape replicates the look of the lamps used in the early 1900s, with most designs using a medium base.
Tubular​This option looks like a radio-style light, but the options are usually taller and skinnier. It also uses a smaller base. They're popular in chandeliers, pendants, or custom designs because some products can be up to eight inches tall.
OversizedAny vintage light bulbs that are 12 inches tall or larger fit into this category. They can be of any shape, making them a popular choice for those with pendant lights at home.
SpecialtyYou can have vintage lights created in any size, shape, and filament configuration. Some of the more popular choices in this category look similar to lanterns.

 

How Are Vintage Light Bulbs Constructed?

 

A vintage light bulb's style is arguably its unique selling proposition. Not only does this product deliver a beautiful candlelight color in each shape offered, but it also contains crossed or swirled filaments that add a handcrafted touch to your environment.

 

It's not unusual to see the antique reproductions in this category to offer amber tinting to enhance the honey-like glow the light bulbs provide. You still receive the contrast in light output and color with this feature, although they're meant to be decorative more than the primary illumination point for a room.

 

You shouldn't expect to use vintage light bulbs for task lighting, reading a book, or trying to finish dinner.


The amber lighting is more for setting an intended mood in a specific space. You can incorporate other lights, including LED options, in the same room when you need something brighter or with more contrast.

 

How Bright Are Vintage Light Bulbs?

 

Comparing the light from a standard bulb and one from an antique replica is like looking at grapefruits and oranges. Although both are in the same family, each provides a different flavor that makes it completely unique.

 

The lower brightness levels of vintage lights generate fewer lumens while altering the color temperature in the environment.

 

A standard light offers a color temperature of 2,700 K or 3,000 K. When you put a vintage light bulb in the same place, the temp drops to 1,800 K for some designs. That creates a red-orange color closer to a fire in the fireplace than cool white.

 

That's why it's easy to think of a vintage bulb as a candle. It looks beautiful and provides basic illumination, but it shouldn't be the primary source for what you require.

 

When you install a 60W antique bulb, you'll receive a maximum of about 400 lumens from most products. If you use a standard A19 LED or incandescent product, you'll get close to 800 lumens.

 

Before you decide to use vintage light bulbs at home, it helps to review the wattage rating for each fixture to ensure it can handle the power needs.

 

Can You Still Buy Old-Fashioned Light Bulbs?

 

In 2007, the United States passed the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. As part of that legislation, an expected ban on energy-inefficient light bulbs was due to be enforced in 2020. Under the terms, the sale of products that didn't reach a specific efficiency standard would be disallowed.

 

It was expected that this ban would lead to the elimination of incandescent lights, including vintage bulbs.

 

Several countries have already phased out older bulbs because of how much energy they consume.

 

The US decided to reverse that anticipated ban because of the expected difficulties for consumers to make a switch to more efficient products.

 

That means you can purchase old-fashioned light bulbs without difficulty. If you want to incorporate vintage lighting elements into your home, it is possible to do it with an Edison design or your preferred option.

 

If you want authentic old light bulbs to use at home, the process is a little harder to complete. Only specialty providers offer these products. That's why a vintage replica is a popular way to recreate this atmosphere.

 

What About Vintage LED Light Bulbs?

 

Most vintage LED light bulbs achieve their look by stringing diodes together to create a simulated filament. Those designs have a significant impact on how the product looks when turning on the switch.

 

If you have a vintage LED bulb that uses a filament arrangement in columns, it gives the room a more industrial look. When you use a twisted shape with helix components, the outcome is more creative and artful.

 

When LEDs shine straight outward, they're less likely to cast shadows. Vintage light bulbs using the traditional filament are not always successful in avoiding that issue.

 

Dimming is another concern when looking at vintage designs. Most options provide this feature today, but you'll need to have a compatible dimmer switch to use it. When an improper connection is used, you can hear buzzing or see the light flicker.

 

The performance you receive varies on numerous factors, so make sure the product offers the features you want before installing them. Most products in this category come with lengthy warranties to ensure you can maximize your investment in this lighting profile.

 

Should I Use Vintage Light Bulbs?

 

With options that provide various lumens ratings to enjoy, there is a vintage light bulb available for anyone who loves this design. Although custom shapes or sizes might have limited access, the benefit of this option is that you can get something specific to your exact needs.

 

Although most vintage lights won't replace a standard bulb, there are some products that can serve as an illumination point. If you have any questions about what to expect, be sure to review the features and ratings of your preferred product to ensure it meets your needs.