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Why Do Ceiling Fans Use Candelabra Bulbs?

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When you install your ceiling fan, you might be surprised to learn that you need a specific kind of bulb. Your standard-size lightbulb won’t do. Instead, you need bulbs with smaller bases called candelabra bulbs that look like flickering candles.

Candelabra bulbs project Old World elegance, and they also have a few advantages when it comes to ceiling fans.

We put together this guide to explain what a candelabra bulb is, why you need to use them, and what advantages they offer. After reading it, we hope that you feel confident about making the most of this unique light bulb design.

Why ceiling fans have candelabra bulbs

Candelabra Bulbs

Candelabra bulbs are designed to look like, and mimic, the effect of a candle. When you put them in your ceiling fan, they can provide the same effect as a candelabra swinging from the ceiling in a European mansion.

So, they look elegant while brightening up your space. However, that’s not the only reason we use them for ceiling fans.

Space is always an important factor when it comes to ceilings, so you want to make sure you make the most of what you have.

Candelabra bulbs fit smaller sockets than standard bulbs, which means they can fit into smaller, more compact spaces. They operate more efficiently than standard bulbs. And, they use a fraction of the energy that incandescent bulbs do.

Changes in federal regulations and energy-use laws over the last 15 years have prompted lightbulb manufacturers to focus their attention on new, highly efficient candelabra bulbs. In doing so, they’ve left traditional bulb designs behind, specifically incandescent bulbs.

So, if you buy a new ceiling fan today, it will likely require one of two sizes of candelabra bulbs— either an E9 or an E12.

It’s possible to get older fans that can accommodate older-style E-26 light bulbs. However, keep in mind that it will become increasingly difficult to find repair parts. In addition, older fans will burn out quicker than new ones.

Can you get better lighting from candelabra ceiling fans?

Candelabra-style lightbulbs have grown in popularity as an efficient alternative to the old-style incandescent bulbs that everyone used to use. Over the last 15 years, changes in federal laws and regulations have made candelabra bulbs a standard choice for ceiling fans.

Modern candelabra lightbulbs take up less space and give off more light than bulbs commonly used in ceiling fans two decades ago. In addition, they use less energy. By most accounts, that makes them a better lighting option.

The key difference between old bulbs and the newer ones is in the amount of energy they use to generate the same amount of light. While it takes an old-school incandescent bulb 120 watts to generate 1800 lumens of light, it takes a new LED bulb just 20.

The difference is that most of the energy an incandescent bulb generates is wasted as heat. For some bulbs, 90 percent of the energy they generate is wasted as heat. LED bulbs, on the other hand, generate very little heat.

In addition, candelabra bulb technology has advanced in areas outside of energy usage. For example, it’s easier to find candelabra bulbs that are compatible with the range of features in ceiling fan lights, like dimming capabilities.

This is a great advantage if you’re looking for bulbs for your new ceiling fan. Although you might be able to find old-style bulbs that will work, it will be a lot more difficult.

What type of bulbs go in candelabra ceiling fans?

Most modern ceiling fans use one of two sizes of light bulbs, candelabra and intermediate. Both have bases roughly half the size of a standard lightbulb. And, they’re slightly bigger than that of a mini-candelabra bulb.

Mini-candelabra bulbs, on the other hand, are increasingly popular for lighting manufacturers because they comply with federal energy efficiency requirements.

The newer the fan, the more likely it is that it will require mini-candelabra bulbs for installation or replacement bulbs. Older fans with sockets that are designed to accommodate older bulbs are increasingly more difficult to find for the same reason.

You can find a variety of choices when it comes to bulbs. Bulbs vary in wattage and color. There are LED bulbs that promote peak light efficiency and bulbs designed to handle dimming.

What are the brightest bulbs for candelabra ceiling fans?

Candelabra Bulbs

In the past, if you wanted to know which bulb was the brightest, you would look at the wattage. That’s because the only bulbs on the market were old-school incandescent bulbs.

Before, you could get a general idea of how bright a bulb was by looking at the amount of energy it used— more watts equaled more light. However, the problem is that wattage is a measurement of energy consumption, not the amount of light it gives off.

Instead, when looking for bright bulbs these days, you should look at lumens. Lumens measure the amount of visible light emitted by a source. The brightest candelabra bulb you’re likely to find is an 1800 lumen bulb, and there’s a reason why.

In traditional terms, that is approximately the amount of light given off by a 120-watt incandescent bulb. And, in general, that’s the brightest bulb people have in their homes.


If you buy a new ceiling fan, you’re going to need to purchase bulbs that will fit its sockets. Currently, the majority of bulbs on the market are mini-candelabra bulbs. So, you’ll want to learn what those bulbs have to offer.

Thanks to changes in efficiency standards over the last 15 years, they’re much more efficient in converting energy into light. So, your energy bill won’t jump just because you installed a new fan. The good news is that these bulbs are also compatible with modern fan features.

We hope you found this guide to candelabra lightbulbs valuable. If you did, we encourage you to leave a comment below or share the article on your social media networks.

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