My basket
0 items
Lighting Buying Guide - Sainsbury's
Let Sainsbury's help you light up your home.
Shop by brand
Shop Tu
Shop Spearmark

When it comes to lighting, function need not outweigh style and design. Nothing changes the mood of a room more quickly and effectively. Simply putting in a different bulb can make a room feel warmer and cosier.

When considering lighting, there are a few technicalities you'll need to bear in mind, and note that all light fittings must be fitted in accordance to IEE wiring regulations and building regulations. If you're in any doubt, consult a qualified electrician and follow product filling instructions.

Which bulb type?
Which cap type?
What type of light?
Tell me about switches, dimmers and timers
Shop lighting

 Which bulb type?

 Tungsten Watts Replace with
 40W 9W CFL
 60W 11 or 12W CFL
 100W 18 or 20W CFL

Tungsten: phased out in 2011, these produced warm natural light. They came with screw or bayonet caps, and had many shapes, sizes, wattages and colours. Compatible with most ‘dimmer’ switches, they lasted up to 1000 hours when used for three hours per day.

Halogen: have an attractive bright white light, similar to daylight, last up to three times longer than tungsten bulbs and are up to 30% more efficient. Halogen bulbs are available in mains voltage (240 volt) or low voltage (12 volt) types, which need a transformer but are 35% more efficient than high voltage bulbs. Not dimmer switch compatible.

Energy saving or 'CFL' (Compact Fluorescent Lamps): the most energy efficient and long-lasting, combining the strength of halogen bulbs and the softness of tungsten bulbs. Similar to fluorescent tubes, they can be up to 80% cheaper to run, and are ideal in areas where the lights are left on for long periods, although they don't achieve full-light instantaneously. Due to their mercury content, CFL bulbs should be recycled. Not dimmer switch compatible.

Fluorescent tubes: are available in many lengths and specialist shapes, these produce bright white light and are ideal for kitchens. Because they heat up less, they are 4-6 times more energy efficient than a tungsten bulb, but are more expensive to buy - especially if they're a non-standard size or shape.

 Which cap type?

Light bulbs either screw or clip into their fitting. The type of light you have will dictate the style and size of light bulb required. Listed below are the types of caps available on the market. Sometimes they are referred to by their codes and sometimes by their full names.

 Bulb code Bulb type
 BC Bayonet cap B22
 SBC Small bayonet cap B15
 ES Edison screw E27
 SES Small Edison screw E14
 G4 Halogen G4 capsule
 G9 Halogen G9 capsule
 GU10 Halogen reflector spot
 GX5.3 Halogen spot lamp

 What type of light?

Pendant lampshades
Recessed or downlight

 Pendant: this is suspended from the ceiling by a cord, chain, wire or pipe. On the end of this may be a lampshade, pendant or chandelier with one or more bulbs. Make sure your ceiling is high enough to accommodate the drop.

Recessed or downlit: the light itself sits flush to the wall or ceiling, and all wiring is concealed. Affordable and unobtrusive, these can be positioned wherever extra light is needed. They are available in a wide range of styles, colours and finishes.

Portable: standing lamps, reading lamps, task lamps and table lamps are all classed as portable or free-standing lights.


Uplighters: the lampshade directs the light up rather than down, creating a mellow feel that's great for bedrooms and dining rooms. Floor-standing uplighters bounce soft light across walls and ceilings, preventing glare.

 Tell me about switches, dimmers and timers

Wall switch: usually plastic or metal, set on a wall approximately 15cm from the door and designed to operate ceiling or wall lights. The wall plate covers the wiring behind and comes in a variety of materials and styles to fit in with the design of your room.

Dimmer switches: change the mood of your room by altering the brightness of your light. There are three different types of dimmer: touch, switch and remote.

A touch dimmer will cycle through different brightness settings while it is being touched, and remember the last setting when it’s switched off. A switch dimmer has a sliding or rotating switch to set the brightness level, while a remote dimmer has a remote control and is often programmable.

Timers: digital or manual, these turn lights on or off over a 24-hour or 7-day period. A good security measure, changes in light can make an empty building appear occupied. To purchase timers, click on the following link: Buy Timers.

Please note: all switches and dimmers have maximum wattage ratings. This is the maximum total wattage of all the lights wired to it, rather than the wattage for each individual light.

Note also that some mains halogen lights require dimmers that run at double their total wattage.  Consult an electrician and read product instructions fully before installing.

IMPORTANT: all outdoor wiring must be protected and all metalwork must be earthed. Outdoor waterproof sockets and switches should still be covered by a constructed shelter where possible.