Oct 10, 2023

Best filament light bulbs to shop in 2023

Flip the switch on boring, bright white lighting with our pick of decorative filament light bulbs that’ll become the focal point of any room

Best filament light bulbs for instant ambience

homas Edison would be turning in his grave if he could see the range of cold white and neon lighting on offer in 2023.

Not only do filament light bulbs perfectly capture the simplicity of his 19th-century invention, but nearly 150 years on, they just so happen to be every interior designer's secret weapon in the quest for creating cosy spaces.

Unlike standard bright or warm white LED light bulbs, the humble filament bulb lays its decorative inner workings bare. Combined with their more natural-looking glow, they make for much more of a focal point in a room. Plus, whereas once they were modelled on standard tubular designs, today, filament light bulbs come in all shapes and sizes, with many employing smart technology that allow them to be controlled on mobile phones or via voice controls.

As electricians and home decor aficionados alike will tell you, however, there's more to choosing the right filament bulbs than meets the eye. From deciding on the optimal wattage and energy efficiency to getting just the right shapes and fittings for your lamp or pendant, in this article, we’ll guide you through all the considerations that should be made before you invest.

Type and fixture: Differentfilament bulbs correspond to different types of light fitting. When shopping for any light bulb, it's a bright idea to familiarise yourself with the bulb coding system to ensure you purchase correctly. ST64, G80, and T45 are all common filament bulb types, with letters corresponding to the shape of the fixture (for example, ST means Spherical Tubular) and numbers referring to width (64 being 64mm). After that, you’ll just have to decipher whether you need a bayonet or more common screw-in fitting.

Bulb wattage: Choosing the right bulb wattage for a filament bulb should come down to its intended purpose. While high-wattage bulbs provide a brightness that can light up a room – great for ceiling lights – go lower if you’re seeking something more decorative and ambient for a floor or table lamp.

Light colour: Filament bulbs most commonly come in a warm yellow tone, but you’ll also find options that emit a cooler blue hue and even colour-changing options. Be sure to check the temperature on the box before you buy.

Bulb lifespan: As with any light bulb, the lifespan of a filament bulb varies depending on its quality and how often it is used. While longer-lasting bulbs often come with slightly more expensive price tags, you’ll likely end up saving in the long run.

Energy Efficiency: Filament bulbs aren't as energy-efficient as traditional LEDs, but there are options that use less than average, and besides, many high-quality modern-day filament styles are LEDs as standard. There are also solar-powered options for outdoors. If you’re making energy efficiency a priority right now, keep a look out for energy-star ratings on the packaging.

Bulb shape: Look for a bulb that has a complementary shape for the light fitting you’re buying for. For small wall lights, subtle circular, tubular or candle looks work best, while more statement light pendants can benefit from larger globe styles and irregular shapes.

Glass tint: While the majority of filament bulbs come tintless to let the details inside pop, some come with black tints that can offer a moodier, more industrial aesthetic, while others come frosted for a cleaner, modern look.

Smart tech: The humble filament bulb has come a long way since 1879. Options from the likes of Philips Hue are easily integrated into smart home systems to be turned on and off, set to timers or dimmed with the ease of an app.

Beyond trendy London pubs and hipster cocktail bars, filament bulbs have been embraced in pretty much every room of the house. The look works especially well with industrial decor, so consider placing bulbs on metal light fittings around raw features like exposed brickwork.

That being said, Edison-style bulbs work well next to antique furniture and shabby-chic homewares, while bulbs with cleaner lines lend themselves nicely to contemporary, minimalist spaces.

Current interior design trends dictate that filament bulbs are an especially good look when hanging low from minimalist pendant fittings, positioned above dining tables or kitchen islands. In living rooms and bedrooms, consider using them for cosy evening lighting on shelves, wall lamps and side tables.

Finally, don't underestimate the effects of using filament bulbs outside – the warm glow and industrial vibes are perfect for lighting up late-night garden parties or can be placed on a sensor over front doors to greet guests.

We’ve rounded up the best options below to make them easier to shop.

See the best filament bulb below

Best for: bayonet fittings

When it comes to filament bulbs, bayonet fittings can be harder to come by than screw-ins. Thankfully, Pooky favours two-pronged bayonets with its popular lighting options and, to correspond, its bulb range. This long, six-watt filament bulb is an excellent choice for small bayonet-compatible table lamps or wall lights, with a warm, ambient glow to create cosy vignettes within a room, such as reading nooks or on built-in shelving.

Best for: large lights

If you’re looking to make a statement on ceiling-hanging pendants, Dowsing & Reynolds globular filament hits with a double-whammy of exaggerated size – available in an extra-large option that's 17.5cm long – and an eye-catching spiral filament design. A six-watt LED bulb, this one boasts superior energy efficiency and low power consumption, with an average lifespan of over 20,000 hours. Beyond being a filament LED, It's also modernised with a brighter, cleaner light than most filament bulbs, great for anyone looking to reap the benefits of the old-school aesthetic while staying up to speed with a more contemporary way of living.

Best for: budgets

IKEA's budget and energy-friendly Lunnom bulbs deliver the retro look without breaking the bank. With a low power consumption of only two watts, as well as a low price tag, they’re also cheap to run, without much compromise on the warmth or lifespan of more expensive options. While the simplistic filament style is quieter than some of the more decorative alternatives in our edit, we think these options work particularly well on desk lamps or bedside lights, while the shape also lends itself nicely to downward-pointing wall sconces.

Best for: making a statement

Proof that bulb choice can have just as much (if not greater) impact than the design of the light they’re going in, Tala's sculptural Voronoi II fuses modern technology with an artistic design, making for an instant focal point. Best screwed into simplistic, low-hanging ceiling pendants on either side of a bed or clustered together to amplify its showstopping nature, these light bulbs promise a lifespan of up to 30,000 hours, so you can be sure you’ll get your money's worth.

Best for: a variety of colours

If you thought filament lighting was all vintage-style warm yellows, think again. Swapping cosy glows for your choice of some 16 million colours, changeable via app controls, Enshine's smart home compatible, colour-changing bulb is perfect for parties or injecting some personality into a room. Smart functions extend to being able to dim between one and 100% brightness, and you can also programme schedules to turn lights on or off at given times of the day. There's even an option to sync up to your circadian rhythm and imitate sunrise when you wake and sunset when you hit the hay.

Best for: smart homes

Lucky for vintage aesthetes, the smarts of Philips Hue's popular light bulb range are not limited to functional frosted glass options. Offering all the style of industrial filaments with the intelligence to integrate into smart home features like timers, dimming, brightness and colour changes, all controlled via the Philips Hue app, these bulbs bring 19th-century style to the modern day. It's worth noting that if you want to take full advantage of Philips Hue's smart features, an investment in the Hue Bridge is worth making to speed up commands, control lights remotely, pair with sensors and more.

Best for: modern interiors

Bring simple pendant lighting to life with Haines’ large, oval filament bulb, which puts a contemporary twist on the style that's perfect for modern, minimalist homes. A chrome finish and subtle black tint give this bulb a sophisticated edge over shabbier options out there, while the scale of it is much more star of the show than supporting role. As for where lighting like this belongs – consider making it a feature of your bathroom ceiling or hanging several from low pendants above a kitchen island.

Best for: outdoor lighting

Thinking outside the box that is the inside of your home, Lumify's string lights bring the filament look outdoors, perfect for lighting up pergolas or draping around tree branches. Making for excellent garden party lighting, 20 bulbs hang from a 15 metre string, producing a brightness comparable to mains-powered lights all via the eco-friendly means of solar energy. Beyond working well outside even in the winter months, they’re also compatible with USB charging for indoor use, lasting up to 12 nights on a single charge. The choice between consistent light and seven other light pattern modes is the cherry on the cake when it comes to creating a warm and whimsical atmosphere.

Best for: industrial interiors

Trying to create that exposed brick Brooklyn loft look from your SW4 abode? The search stops here. The smokey tint of this Calex bulb is the perfect match for industrial-style interiors. As well as the glass tint that adds an effortlessly vintage feel, the eye-catching curly filament detail is a decorative statement in itself – great for hanging in abundance from "spider" chandeliers in living spaces or bedrooms.

Best for: the vintage look

Looking to completely lean into the vintage aesthetic? Industville's LED filament bulbs deliver on every front. The spiral filament detailing of this particular option is elevated by a subtle yellow tint to the bulb's glass, giving the feeling of belonging in a different era while also boosting the warmth of its glow. An LED bulb of only four watts, it stands up to contemporary standards of energy efficiency, with a long-lasting performance that should survive up to 25,000 hours. We think this style lends itself especially well to industrial interiors, so keep it top of mind when sourcing something to screw into metal light fittings.

What are the key things to look out for? Type and fixture: Bulb wattage: Light colour: Bulb lifespan: Energy Efficiency: Bulb shape: Glass tint: Smart tech: Where do filament light bulbs look best? Best filament bulbs at a glance Best for bayonet fittings: Best for large lights: Best for budgets: Best for making a statement: Best for a variety of colours: Best for smart homes: Best for modern interiors: Best for outdoor lighting: Best for industrial interiors: Best for the vintage look: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: Best for: