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How to Purchase Bulbs, Fixtures, and Controls

Residential versus Commercial Grade

Many fixtures and controls have traditionally been either "residential grade" or "commercial grade." Typically, commercial products cost more but are of higher quality, except that residential grade products are held to stricter standards for electromagnetic interference. Some types of fixtures, such as wall washers, may be available only in commercial grade. Recently, some manufacturers have begun selling the same LED products to both the residential and commercial markets, so it is possible that this distinction will become blurred in the future.


Many bulbs used in residences can be purchased in home improvement stores, department stores, or hardware stores. There are also lighting retail businesses online. Specialty bulbs can be purchased through electrical suppliers, lighting stores, online retailers, or local distributors. Consult the How to Select Bulbs and Fixtures and How to Upgrade Incandescent Bulbs guides to learn what to look for.


Residential grade products are often purchased at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and department stores, while lighting showrooms and online retailers may have a larger variety. Commercial grade fixtures can be purchased from electrical suppliers, local distributors, or online retailers.

Check the quality of any moving parts, such as switches, hinges, and springs. Make sure that any finishes, such as paint, reflective surfaces, and fabrics, will withstand wear and cleaning. For long-term use and for energy savings, consider the purchase of a fixture as an investment in an appliance, rather than the purchase of a decorative item. It can be difficult to judge the quality of a light fixture by looking at it, so make sure the product comes with a strong warranty.


When purchasing light bulbs and fixtures, look for the ENERGY STAR® label on the package. This is a mark of quality assurance in addition to energy savings.