When my partner and I decided to move in together, I promised I would make our home bright and lumenated and optimized in ways that matter. So early on I bought three lamps (and fairy lights for the bedroom) and bought the brightest possible lightbulbs in lumens I could get on Amazon and made a lot of mistakes because it turns out in the UK there are like 4 kinds of standard lightbulbs including like mini ones with mini little threads that made me feel like I had bought a toy and tried to install it into a real life electronic device.

And I asked him if it was good, and he said it was.

And then four months later, I thought, "but couldn't it be a lot brighter in here?" and he said "yes" and I realized I had not held to my promise at all, so I doubled the number of lamps in the living room, and I asked him if it was good, and he said it was.

And then two months after that, I thought "but couldn't it be a lot brighter in here?" and he said "yes" and I realized I had not held to my promise at all and I decided to Actually Try and apply as much Dakka as it took and follow the instructions here but they weren't that helpful because it's the wrong Amazon, so I found equivalents and made mistakes and did a bunch of arts and crafts and this is what I now have in my apartment. It's likely nowhere near ideal, and I would be thrilled to get to add better options.

Important Information: 

  1. Lightbulb thread types: check the specs when you buy
    • E27/E26: which is what I consider "normal" and is what you'd expect if you bought a standard lightbulb in the US. E26/27 are apparently interchangeable?
      • Googled it: E26 vs E27, what's the difference? E26 stands for 26 mm and the E27 for 27 mm in diameter. These two standards are interchangeable, meaning a US E26 will fit in a European E27 base, and E27 will fit in a E26 base. The only difference is the voltage (for light bulbs).
    • B22: No, don't buy these for anything I suggest below, they have two stick out pieces on either side of the base and no thread, some lights in my apartment take these but nothing I suggest below.
    • E14: weirdly small cylinder as a base, with threading
  2. General information: 
    1. Lumens are brightness, the more the better for this purpose. I aimed for 2000 lumens with each light and rarely found it
    2. Lighting color temperature is measured in Kelvin, the higher the number the cooler and more like daylight. I aimed for as high as I could get for the bright lights, usually got 5000K or 4000K, and got 2700 for soft light, but didn't put that much thought into it. The 2700 are too yellow for my preference if I was being picky. Chart here.
    3. I bought the dimmer as recommended in the original article but most lightbulbs that fit my purposes on Amazon UK were nondimmable so I don't recommend one here

Products

  1. [x2] Lamp with two lightbulb holders: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017XQI99W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    1. The key thing here is that you need different kinds of lightbulbs for the two sockets. I used the two sockets to have cool light in the top one and warm light in the bottom one.
    2. The top socket uses E27 threading, the bottom one uses E14 threading
  2. [x2] Lamp with one lightbulb holder: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00R3LQW42/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    1. Uses E27 threading
  3. A lamp that came with the apartment that takes E27 lightbulbs
  4. This string of sockets: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08SVWXJN2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    1. I alternated warm lightbulbs and cool lightbulbs
    2. Note: it's meant for outdoors, looks a little ridiculous inside, especially because it's so long I have it looped around my command hooks which gives a funny effect I've grown to like, but it's not top notch aesthetics
    3. Caveat emptor: it takes E27 threaded lightbulbs (and comes with its own, which are dimmable but not very bright) but it turns out that the Litake brand which I bought first doesn't quite reach long enough into the socket to get the threads to meet, and so I had to return them to get the LOHAS brand.
  5. My cool lights:
    1.  Umi brand, 4000K (cool white), 1521 lumens, which is the best I could find, currently unavailable, used for lamps #1-3 above: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07W8QNPPM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    2. Litake, 5000K (Daylight), 1600 Lumens, E26 threading, I returned these because they didn't work with the string of sockets in #4 but I believe would work just fine for the lamps in #1-3 https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0832SLQG9/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    3. LOHAS, 6000K (Overcast day), 1600 Lumens, E27 threading, non-dimmable, these worked with the socket in #4: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07FTJJBSP/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
      • Annoyingly, these don't tell you what color they are on the box so if you get these with the LOHAS warm lights you'll have to mark them or remember
    1. Haven't bought these yet, but found corn bulbs at 2000 lumens in a bunch of color temperatures: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sauglae-Incandescent-Equivalent-Daylight-2000Lm/dp/B0836LG3L4/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3P1RJAKMWPEVU&keywords=corn%2Bbulb%2Be27&qid=1647180764&sprefix=corn%2Bbulb%2Be27%2Caps%2C313&sr=8-6&th=1
  6. My warm lights:
    1. TopLeder Brand, only 471 lumens, 2700K warm white color, E14 threading, which you need for the second socket for lamp #1 above, nondimmable:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08ZYFLFB5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    2. Litake, 2700k, 1600 lumens, E26 threading, I returned these because they didn't work with the string of sockets in #4 but I believe would work just fine for lamp #2 above, nondimmable https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07T9YD7F2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
    3. LOHAS, 2700K (warm white), 1600 Lumens, E27 threading, non-dimmable, these worked with the socket in #4: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07FTJJBSP/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
      • Annoyingly, these don't tell you what color they are on the box so if you get these with the LOHAS cool lights you'll have to mark them or remember
    1. Haven't bought these yet, but found corn bulbs at 2000 lumens in a bunch of color temperatures: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sauglae-Incandescent-Equivalent-Daylight-2000Lm/dp/B0836LG3L4/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3P1RJAKMWPEVU&keywords=corn%2Bbulb%2Be27&qid=1647180764&sprefix=corn%2Bbulb%2Be27%2Caps%2C313&sr=8-6&th=1
  7. [x3] (this one is especially non optimized): Lanterns to soften the light in the sockets: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09BQWPF2L/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    1. These are probably not the best ones I could have gotten, to fully open them they need to have the metal / plastic structure that comes with them in there, propping it all up, but that makes it impossible (as far as I could figure, though I didn't try that hard) to also have the lightbulb in from the socket, so mine are all funny saucer shapes because there's no internal structure
    2. I recommend 2 because the small ones are too small to get around the lightbulb and the big ones fall down. I used one by using tape and scissors and tinkering, but probably easier to just get three to have enough of the sizes that work. I alternated the two sizes that worked naturally so that all my warm lights have the small ones and the cool lights have the big ones, for my own aesthetic preferences.
  8. Command Hooks: You need medium and large ones to set up the sockets, both work, I wouldn't go for anything smaller. I needed 11 total for my setup, but I'm using 13/16th the length of the socket.
    1. Large: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000M3V8XI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    2. Medium: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000FSORW4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  9. I also have a bunch of these fairy lights in my apartment, I love them for ambiance and they are pretty bright, but not for delumenation purposes: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001EA8R8M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
    1. Warning: 16m is very very long! There are 8m and 16m options, I have both and I can think of places I'd put the 16m but it is really quite long.
    2. Be sure to get the ones with the switch so you don't have to unplug them to turn them off

Outcome

Here's what it looks like (understanding that taking pictures of light is...uh). You can see the wonkiness of the lanterns and the vast differences in colors. Having all cool lights would be definitely overwhelming. Having two lamps next to each other is definitely not very aesthetic (and that’s repeated elsewhere in the room) but it’s worth it for now.

With all the lights on, it’s quite bright and cheery! The socket lights were so bright that as I hang out here in the evening, I wanted them off. I like getting to have just the soft lights in the room (in the lamps + fairy lights, not sockets since I can only turn on that whole thing at once) for evening ambiance and adjust as necessary.

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15 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:56 AM
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I have a couple recommendations in case you're interested in improving the aesthetics of the loopy cord.

One is that you can buy a white version of the same cord, which just blends into the wall a lot better.

The other is that, instead of having it loop down for each bulb like that, you can string it taut across the command hooks, and when you get to the end of the wall, you can turn around and double the cord back on itself (maybe even three or four times?).

Also, I'm assuming you're not using nails because of landlord preferences or something, but if you did want to use nails instead of command hooks, the cord you're using has little hole loops made for hanging on nails, one above each socket. And also note that on a white wall, you can very easily fix nail holes by filling them with spackle!

it turns out that the Litake brand which I bought first doesn't quite reach long enough into the socket to get the threads to meet, and so I had to return them to get the LOHAS brand.

 

I came across a problem like this before, and it was kind of a manufacturing/assembly defect. The contact at the bottom of the socket is meant to be bent up to give a bit of spring tension to connect to the bulb, but mine were basically flat. You can take a tool (what worked best for me was a multitool's can opener) and bend the tab up more so it can contact bulbs that don't screw in far enough. UNPLUG IT FIRST though

Sounds scary, but thank you for the model of what's actually going on!

How do you use these without squinting all the time?

I've tried a couple of 7k lumen corn bulbs in my ceiling-mounted light fixture in my office, but I find myself squinting all the time.

Maybe it's something to do with it being point sources?

  • If you have strange sockets or strange bulbs to use, look for adapters between them. China makes a lot of various adapters for pretty cheap. Standardizing one's home on a single bulb base type (I use E26) feels very worthwhile, as you only need one stash of spare lightbulbs and everything Just Works.

  • Go to your local hardware or home improvement store and see what lighting is sold for use in garages. Do not be afraid to use "garage" lighting in the home. For instance, I hung one of these above my kitchen sink (using a curtain rod between the cabinets on either side as a convenient thing to hang it from) and it turns out that doing dishes in a few thousand lumens is a vastly preferable experience to doing the same chore in a few hundred.

  • In your particular setup, may I suggest placing some garage or garden light fixtures on top of the closet so that they shine up onto the ceiling and reflect around the room? That space seems particularly promising for it, since dropping a heap of light there would simulate having the sun shining in through a high window at midday.

  • When figuring out how to control lights, I've seen a lot of smart plugs that can be controlled by a remote or phone app, and there are always those mechanical or digital timers that people use while traveling to turn a lamp or TV on at certain hours and deter burglars.

  • 100% agreed on simulating sunlight during the day and firelight in the evening. Warm color temp lights at low lumens from small point sources help the brain wind down at night; cooler color temps at high lumens filling the whole room help the brain wake up through the day.

When I was in the UK I bought one of these floodlights. You have to attach your own plug but that's easy enough. More frustrating is there's a noticeable flicker, and the CRI's pretty poor. 

On the upside it's £70, compact, simple, and 40k lumens. 

Oh woah! Thanks for linking.

If you want light, the term you need to know is corn bulb (also available in screw fit).

Tried to buy those, didn't have any luck finding ones that fit nicely into my sockets! (An embarassing mistake I didn't describe in detail is buying corn bulbs that turned out to be...mini?) If you have an amazon UK link for ones with E27 threading, that would be awesome.

ETA: Having looked, it looks like not all corn bulbs are brighter than the ones I have, though I have now found 2000 lumen ones.  I don't know if corn bulbs are still better if they have lower lumens. I would guess not?

ETA 2: The link above does have E27 if you click through the multiple listings in the same link, wasn't obvious to me at first, thanks!

I think you can find 6000 lumen E26/27 corn bulbs relatively easily: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T3GQB5J/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_1X8ZFHR91SCX5R63RQWW?psc=1

This brand also has 10,000 lumen versions if you're willing to use an adapter, but it's probably easier to just use two of the E26/27 version.

One downside compared to your current setup is that these are 60-100W, so I'd be a little worried about covering them with paper lanterns.

Unfortunately I'm not seeing anything close to that on the Amazon UK site :/

Might be bad search skills, though.

It seems like there's less of them, but searches like "60w led corn bulb e26" find a few results: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=60w+led+corn+bulb+e26&i=lighting

True! 65 Watts! That would really be something.

Click on green text, or Amazon UK have a search box, and Google ads displays a 4000 lumen bulb.

Your link's lightbulbs have a bayonet style, not the E27 threading :) Thanks for the other link! Amazon says currently unavailable.

ETA: Found some, will add to post