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Light Bulb Sockets: What does E26 or E12 mean? And what is a medium base light bulb?

Light Bulb Sockets, Lamp holders, light sockets, those things you screw light bulbs into…We’ve heard them called all kinds of things. In general, we call them light bulb sockets here at Creative Cables. And we have over 110 different styles and types of light bulb sockets to choose from.

We know it can be a little overwhelming trying to determine exactly what type of light bulb socket you actually need. Not to mention understanding what lamp holder/socket works best with the type of light fixture you want to purchase or make. And then, of course, there is you trying to make sure that the light bulb you have will actually work with the light socket you want. Soooo many questions, we know.

 To understand light bulb sockets you really first need to understand a few things about light bulbs and what kind of base a bulb has. This will help you understand what type of socket you need to use with your light bulb.

The most common type of light bulb here in the United States has what is referred to as a “Medium” base or “Standard” base. The word “base” is referring to the threaded part of the light bulb that screws into the socket. A Medium or Standard base light bulb is also referred to as an E26 base light bulb.

While we don’t know the true numbers, we’d estimate that well over 90% of light bulbs sold here in the U.S. come with a “Medium” E26 base. Close your eyes and picture a light bulb in your head, it most likely would have an E26 base. And that light bulb emoji on your phone? Yep, it’s an E26 base light bulb.

The photo below shows a light bulb that has a Medium or Standard E26 base.

The second most common type of light bulb base that you’ll find here in the United States (and North America) is the “Candelabra” base. The Candelabra base is also called an E12 base. You usually find that light bulbs with a Candelabra or E12 base are found in chandeliers, small nightlights, and small decorative bulbs. This type of light bulb base is less than half the size of a Medium/E26 light bulb base.

The E12 Candelabra base is also commonly used in in.... you guessed it, chandelier candelabras! 

The photo below shows a light bulb that has a Candelabra or E12 base.

Quick synopsis of the two most common light bulb base types:

Medium Base = Standard Base = E26 Base

Candelabra Base = E12 Base

Now that you understand more about the two most common type of light bulb bases found here in America. And you’ll know exactly what it means when you see Medium base, Candelabra base, E12 or E26 you’ll know the first step in understanding what type of light bulb socket you need.

Posted on 2020-02-01 Be Creative!, Tutorial