Which Bulb Should You Buy for a Porch Light?

by Barrett

If you’re not sure which light bulb you should be using in your outside porch light, you’re not alone. Here’s the story of my journey to a solution…

My house has an porch-light fixture above my front door. The long, cylindrical fixture’s bottom is technically open to the outside elements, but the bulb is protected.

You can spot the bulb if you look deep into the fixture after you ring my doorbell. If I take my time getting to the door, and if you’re a tech geek like me, you might wonder what kind of light bulb I use. Funny you should ask…

Every six months or so for the past ten years, the bulb has burnt out, and I have to replace it. Each time, I’ve found myself faced with the dread of not exactly knowing which one I should be using. And that has usually led me to a moment of self-reflection and uncertainty about my place in the universe.

Because I’ve come this far in life, and I can’t quite figure out what it takes to screw in the proper light bulb. It blew out again last week. So I decided it was finally time to figure this out…

How Many Words Does it Take to Screw In a Light Bulb?
First off, it’s not like I’ve been entirely oblivious in my past attempts to choose the correct bulb. Previously, I’ve used GE outdoor incandescent postlights with bent tips. I’ve assumed that because they’ve carried the name ‘postlight’ they’re designed to weather the outside elements as long as they’re protected from rain. They’ve operated just fine, even though they must get a little damp now and again.
(I hope I’ve not been tempting fate.)

Unfortunately, I can’t find these GE bulbs anymore on Amazon. Plus, they’ve always been difficult to unscrew, because my fixture is so long and I can barely get my fingers in far enough to get a grip on the bulb. So, I’ve always wanted to find a bulb that’s a little taller.

And did I really mention the word ‘incandescent” earlier? What an embarrassment.
Yes, you’re right… I should have found an LED replacement by now.

Amazon Stumbles
So I went back to Amazon and began searching for ‘LED Postlight’ and ‘Porch Light’ bulbs.

Strangely, nothing popped up that talked about outside use or all weather construction.

Frustrated with my inability to use Amazon for immediate gratification on a Saturday morning, I invited my fourth grader to go with me on a light-bulb adventure to our local The Home Depot. And we drove off…

The Value of One-to-One Human Interaction
You can easily find hundreds of conflicting product opinions online for just about anything you’re looking for. Call me old-fashioned, but I still value the opportunity to walk into The Home Depot, find someone wearing an orange smock and ask my question. Over the years, I’ve usually received great advice at The Home Depot. And this time was no different…

I found my expert hovering in the lighting section and told him my story. I held up my burnt-out incandescent bulb and waited for his response.

He stared into space for just a moment and then directed me to a ‘Philips F15 Postlight dimmable LED’ that costs $4.47.

The packaging displayed a picture of a glowing outside lamp post. The fine print said “Do not use where directly exposed to water. Only install in operating environments between -4 degrees and +113 degrees Fahrenheit.”

I figured I was covered…

So, I bought the 7-watt LED, and my son and I drove home. When I installed it, the bulb was much easier to grip, and it powered up just fine. So, what more is there to talk about…?

Well, I wondered why I couldn’t find this Philips LED on Amazon. So jumped back online and typed in “Philips F15 Postlight.”

And there it was…
Philips LED Dimmable F15 Soft White Light Bulb

But the description didn’t promote it as a ’Postlight.’
And the technical details listed “Indoor use only.”

Still, there was that same photo on the packaging with the outdoor light post.

And in the user reviews, several talked about successfully using this bulb as their porch light.

The Fine Print
So what should we make of all of this?

I’m detecting a certain industry ‘hedge’ when it comes to screwing in light bulbs outdoors. No, my Philips LED doesn’t have a “use at your own risk outside” warning label. In fact, on the base of the bulb, the fine print said, “suitable for damp locations.”

So what’s the problem?

Well, Philips still seemingly prefers that you use its ‘postlight’ indoors.

But lamp posts live outside. And so does my porch light.

This Philips LED model number is #9290011822.
I’ll let you know how it goes…