Can you change lightbulbs?

Lightbulbs or lightglobes come in many different shapes and sizes. Can you identify the difference? There are many day to day odd jobs that “someone” does, but think about it, are you that “someone”? Or do you leave things like that to “someone” else?

“Dad, the globe has gone in the toilet”, instead of getting out the small steps, finding a new lightbulb, and actually changing it yourself.

Now think clearly before you start. Lightbulbs run on electricity, right! Anyone who is careless can quickly be killed by electricity. TURN SWITCHES OFF before removing a blown lightbulb. An old terminology “blown”, but it refers to a lightbulb that no longer lights, and probably came from the element that lights up no longer intact and therefore stops working. You may not know the type of connection on the globe before you attempt to remove it.

Firstly, this is most important, before doing anything else, make sure the switch is turned off. You will need to stand securely on steps or a chair to reach the globe. Touch it gently with the back of your hand to make sure it is cold. While holding the globe, look down as you try turning the globe. If it screws out, great. If it won’t budge, try pushing up as you turn as it may be a bayonette fitting.

Why look down?

Sounds crazy until you realise lightbulbs are made with fine glass which could break as you try and remove it. By looking down you eliminate the possibility of getting broken glass in your eyes. Saying that, I have never had one break, but it can happen.

Do you know the difference in globes?

For many years it was just a simple “bayonette” globe. To change it you had to grab the old globe, push up slightly and twist and out came the old globe. The reverse was repeated to put the new globe in.

What wattage?

But what about the size or wattage of the globe? If you look on the bottom of the old globe you would see something like 40w or 60w or 120w, depending on which room the globe was lighting. If it was the toilet, you usually don’t require much light, so probably or 40w or 60w globe was sufficient. Other rooms would require a larger globe, therefore higher wattage (w). The higher the wattage the more electricity power was required to run the globe, which in turn increased your power bill.

Fluorescent Tubes

A fluorescent tube was developed which is still widely used. I’m sorry, I don’t know the wattage of these as they have varied over the years. Supposedly they used a jolt of power to start them up and then they ran all day using very little extra power. Over the years the fittings for these have mostly stayed the same, but the tubes have changed to be extremely brighter with less running cost.

When the tube was on the way “out”, or about to stop working, it often flickers off and on and is quite annoying. Then you buy a replacement tube and fitted it fairly easily sliding it back into slots from where you took the old one out. If when you turned on the light the tube just flashed and didn’t start up, sometimes a new starter was required. When you remove the tube you can see on the fitting a thing that looks a little like a bottle cork. It is simply a matter of removing it and getting a replacement where you buy globes at the supermarket. Screw it back in and replace the fluorescent tube and hopefully you are back in business.

Screw in lightbulbs

Then there was a change, and instead of bayonette, “screw in” globes were introduced. All the same except you just had to screw the old globes out and new globes in. Much better. The wattage still appeared on the bottom of the globe, the only difference was when purchasing a new one you needed to know if you required a bayonette or screw.


A larger change was in store with the appearance of little downlights. These lights were highly sought after as they gave off a much better, brighter light with smaller running cost due to a transformer box hidden up in the ceiling. The early ones were a real pain in the butt when the globe blew as it required fiddling around working out how to remove the globe. Then would you believe, a screwdriver was required to disassemble the globe. Then used again to screw the new globe in before working out how to fit it back into its compartment. Trust me, they were really good ones to leave for “someone” else to change. Over several years the fittings on these globes changed so eventually you only needed to pull the old globe out and plug the new one in.

But the need for brighter lights at smaller running cost continues

Instead of “globes” the shape changed to many designs of spiral globes. And now with much brighter lights we have by comparison extremely small running costs, where perhaps a new 11 watt globe is the equivalent brightness of a 60 watt globe. And a seemingly new word – Lumen. Look now for things like 1000 Lumen in a 12 watt globe.

But now you are “someone” who has a little knowledge on how lights work. But pay attention, words of caution as with anything involving electricity, keep away from water. Apart from changing a bulb, anything else involving electricity, call a fully qualified electrician. Then you will live on to still be “someone”!

Lightbulbs often screw in.
A sample of a "Bayonette" globe.
A sample of a Downlight