Be it a dining room, the front porch, or the back patio, lighting has a significant impact on the look of a space. The warm look of flame lighting is one way to enhance the curb appeal of a house at night or set the mood for a romantic evening at home. Flame light bulbs use LED technology to create realistic-looking flames. They come in models that fit standard light fixtures and smaller candelabra bulbs. Unlike standard light bulbs, flickering flame bulbs feature multiple light modes for creating different looks.
This guide will shed light on the critical factors to consider when shopping for a flame light bulb and review some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: CPPSLEE LED Flame Effect Light Bulb, 4 Modes
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Dyforce LED Flame Effect Bulbs, 4 Modes, 10-Pack
- BEST THIN BULB: HoogaLife LED Flame Effect Light Bulbs
- BEST FLAME-SHAPED: Artistic Home Dormily LED Flame Effect Light Bulbs
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Flame Light Bulbs
While base size is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for flame light bulbs to replace the standard bulbs in a fixture, other attributes are also crucial, including brightness, lighting mode, and lifespan. Read on to learn more about these factors.
Bulb Size and Shape
Bulb size and shape vary with flame light bulbs. The base size determines what fixture the light bulb will fit. Most flickering flame bulbs come in E26 and E12 base sizes. Size E26 bulbs will fit most standard light fixtures, including porch lights, garage lights, and most lamps. Size E12 bulbs are candelabra-base types, which include most chandeliers and some smaller lamps.
The shape and size of the bulb itself also varies. Most bulbs measure between 4 and 6 inches high and about 2.5 inches in diameter. Some bulbs are narrow at just 1.5 inches in diameter, making them suitable for achieving a thinner flame look, ideal in fixtures like a porch lamp.
Most flame light bulbs have a cylindrical shape that differs from the bulbous look of a standard incandescent bulb or LED bulb. This allows the bulb to better create the look of a flame. Light bulbs with an E12 base have glass bulbs with a flame shape, similar to the shape of incandescent E12 bulbs.
Although most flickering flame bulbs add to the aesthetics of a room or outdoor space, many still need to provide some level of visibility. Porch lights and garage lights need to produce enough brightness to provide visibility at night while still looking stylish.
Brightness varies with LED bulbs. Most LED bulbs use about 2 watts of energy, which produces about 100 lumens; this is considered bright enough to light a walkway. Some LED bulbs use as much as 6 watts of power and can produce more than 300 lumens.
Keep in mind that the more watts the bulb uses, the more impact it will have on a home’s energy bill. Although LED bulbs use a small fraction of the energy a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb uses, they can still impact an electric bill, especially when used in a porch light that may stay lit through the night.
Light fixtures vary in the way they hold a light bulb. While most lamps may hold a bulb vertically with the base at the bottom, most porch lights and garage lights hold a bulb with the base face upward. With this in mind, many flame bulbs have a gravity mode allowing them to produce a flame that burns either upward or downward.
These bulbs have sensors that determine the bulb’s orientation and set the flame to burn upward, regardless of whether it’s facing the right side up or upside down. This helps maintain an authentic look for the light fixture.
In addition to a gravity mode that orients the flame, most flame light bulbs offer different modes to allow the user to customize their look, including breathing, flame emulation, and general light.
When in breathing mode, the bulb brightness slowly dims and brightens to simulate the uneven illumination of a live flame, creating a more subtle look of a flame behind the opaque glass. Flame emulation mode mimics the look of a live flame, creating the realistic effect that the bulb is designed to produce. A general light mode emits a glow similar to a standard LED light, making it ideal in situations where maximum visibility is needed.
An LED’s lifespan depends on the amount of heat it creates. Bulbs that run cooler will last longer, while those that run hotter will give out sooner. With that in mind, the more energy an LED flame bulb uses, the hotter it will burn and the shorter its lifespan will be.
Higher LED bulbs, putting out 5 or 6 watts, generally last about 30,000 hours. Smaller bulbs that use about 2 watts can last up to 60,000 hours. Keep in mind that environmental factors also impact an LED light’s output. An LED light working in hot outdoor temperatures will degrade more quickly than one working in a cooler environment.
Our Top Picks
The list below includes light bulbs that create authentic flames for light fixtures ranging from porch lights to dining room chandeliers. Any of the light fixtures below will impact the mood of a room or outdoor space.
With its four light modes and bright output, this LED flame effect light bulb is ideal for adding the look of lifelike flames to garage lights or a backyard patio. Its four modes, including a gravity mode, emulation mode, breathing mode, and a general light mode, add versatility. With the gravity mode, the bulb automatically orients the flame to burn upward, whether positioned upside down or right side up.
This bulb fits standard E26 sockets and produces 150 lumens. It measures about 6 inches tall and just over 2 inches in diameter. Holes in the top of the bulb allow heat to release, ensuring the bulb stays cool to the touch and extending its life. At just 1.8 watts, this bulb uses about 90 percent less electricity than a standard incandescent bulb, making it a good option for long hours of daily use. Each bulb has a lifespan of about 50,000 hours. A shatter-resistant design makes this one of the more durable bulbs. This pack includes four bulbs.
- Bulb Size: 5.5 inches high by 2.3 inches wide
- Shape: Cylindrical
- Brightness: 150 lumens
- Modes: 4
- Multiple light modes
- Great for patios
- Shatter resistant
- Flicker effect is a repeating pattern
Get the CPPSLEE light bulbs on Amazon.
Whether lighting a backyard entertainment space or the porch and driveway at the front of a home, a consistent look is essential. This set of LED lights, with 10 bulbs, makes achieving that look affordable. Each bulb features four modes: flame emulation, gravity, breathing, and general light.
With energy usage of just 1.8 watts, lighting schemes with numerous fixtures won’t have a significant impact on the electric bill. Its low wattage also means a longer lifespan; each bulb will last up to 100,000 hours. This bulb has a standard E26 base and measures 4.5 inches long and 2.5 inches in diameter, making it larger than other flame-effect bulbs. With its different color options, this bulb is also a worthy choice for mood lighting for Halloween, Christmas, or other occasions. Dyforce LED lights are available in five color options, including yellow, red, purple, green, and blue.
- Bulb Size: 4.5 inches high by 2.5 inches wide
- Shape: Cylindrical
- Brightness: 6 watts
- Modes: 4
- 100,000 hours of life
- 10 bulbs included
- Comes in multiple color options
- Some users report poor light quality
Get the Dyforce flame effect bulbs on Amazon.
This bulb features a narrow profile of 4.25 inches tall and 1.4 inches in diameter, giving it a distinctive look for porch and garage lighting. Despite its small size, it produces a brighter glow than most LED flame-effect bulbs at 300 lumens (about the same as a 25-watt incandescent bulb). This also means it consumes about twice as much electricity as other LED bulbs at 4 watts and has a shorter lifespan of 20,000 hours.
Its narrow profile and bright flame make it ideal for porch and garage lights where visibility is as important as aesthetics. With its E26 base, this bulb will screw into any standard socket. This bulb also creates a reversible flame, making it suitable for different types of light fixtures. Unlike other bulbs, this lamp has one mode that creates a realistic-looking flickering flame.
- Bulb Size: 4.25 inches high and 1.4 inches wide
- Shape: Cylindrical
- Brightness: 4 watts
- Modes: 1
- Bright lights
- Ideal for the porch or garage
- Realistic flame visual
- Comes in multiple quantities
- Slightly shorter lifespan than most LEDs
- Limited light modes compared to similar options
Get the HoogaLife light bulbs on Amazon or at Wayfair.
With its classic candelabra flame shape, this bulb will turn any chandelier into an authentic-looking candelabra. The bulbs have an E12 base (which fits most standard chandeliers) and measures 5 inches tall and about 1.5 inches in diameter. In addition to creating a realistic flickering flame, this bulb has other useful modes, including general light for maximizing visibility, breathing for a more nuanced flame effect, and a gravity mode for fixtures that hold the bulb upside down.
Each bulb uses 2 watts of power, lasts for about 60,000 hours, and produces about 100 lumens, which is about half the brightness of a standard incandescent 25-watt chandelier bulb. These LED bulbs are also dimmable when combined with an LED-compatible dimmer switch, making them ideal for dining room fixtures.
- Bulb Size: 5 inches high and 1.5 inches wide
- Shape: Standard LED bulb
- Brightness: 2 watts
- Modes: 4
- Classic candelabra look
- Perfect for dining rooms
Get the Artistic Home light bulbs on Amazon.
For a versatile flame bulb, consider the CPPSLEE LED Flame Effect Light Bulb, which has four lighting modes, produces an excellent brightness, and is long lasting. Alternatively, if you have a tight budget and need for a lot of lights, the Dyforce Light Bulbs come in a 10-pack and have 4 different lighting modes.
How We Chose the Best Flame Light Bulbs
The best flame light bulbs capture the magic of the classic flame candle in a safer and easier-to- use unit that can be put to use anywhere in the home to add a sense of atmosphere and classic charm. When gathering our top picks in this list of recommendations, we looked at bulb size and shape, picking the best bulbs across multiple categories to provide shoppers with a range of options—from small candelabra bulbs to larger LED bulbs that are bright enough to light up an entire backyard.
In addition, we noticed that lighting modes are an important aspect of flame light bulbs, since the versatility of switching the lights to suit the mood is always an added bonus. As such, we made sure to include several recommendations for bulbs that easily switch between modes, offering shoppers the best effects on the market.
If you have questions about safely using light bulbs in outdoor fixtures, read on for answers to these and other commonly asked questions about light bulbs.
Q: Do outdoor lights need special bulbs?
Standard light bulbs are safe for use outdoors as long they are not directly exposed to the elements. Most outdoor fixtures, such as porch lights, enclose or cover light bulbs to prevent them from getting wet. If the bulbs will be exposed to rain or the elements, such as in the case of string lights, check the packaging to make sure it is rated for such use.
Q: What happens if you use indoor bulbs outside?
Most indoor bulbs will work just fine outside, as long as the fixture shields them from rain and snow. Indoor bulbs rated for dry locations can short out and become a fire hazard if exposed to water.
Q: What causes a light bulb to flicker?
Contact problems are the most likely reason for a light bulb flickering. These issues occur when a bulb is not properly screwed into the socket. A bulb that’s nearing the end of its life may also flicker. Wiring problems in the light fixture itself can also cause a bulb to flicker.