Everything you need to know about fridge lightbulbs

Everything you need to know about fridge lightbulbs






One major benefit of having your fridge light come on when you open it is that it makes it easier to find whatever you need — especially at late hours or when your fridge is fully packed. 

But what happens when your fridge lightbulb goes bad and you need to replace it? How do you select the right bulb? This article provides answers to these questions and other things you should know about fridge lightbulbs, whether you have a Frigidaire refrigerator, a Whirlpool refrigerator or another brand.



What kinds of fridge lightbulbs are there?


There are different types of fridge bulbs. Let’s take a quick look at the most common types.

  • Incandescent lightbulbs: This type of bulb contains tungsten filament and produces light whenever the filament is heated by electric currents. It also usually contains a glass mount or stem at the base, which helps prevent air leaks and supports the filament. While incandescent bulbs typically have good resistance to low temperatures, they tend to have a limited service life. These bulbs also have relatively dimmable light output due to their yellow color rendering.
  • Halogen lightbulbs: Halogen lightbulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs, but they employ the halogen cycle and contain halogen gas, which can lead to a longer bulb life through redeposition of tungsten onto the filament. They also have increased light output and come in better color renderings, such as warm white and soft white. However, they’re usually sensitive to volt drops or fluctuations. 
  • Compact fluorescent lamps: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) produce electricity from cathodes. They contain a special composition called phosphor, which transforms electricity into light that’s friendly to the human eye. CFLs are a type of energy-saving lightbulb and tend to shine a colder light on food, meaning they offer lower surface temperatures than incandescent bulbs. They also emit different colors of light depending on your preference. However, they’re very sensitive to temperature extremes and have low moisture resistance, meaning they might have a shorter life span when used in the fridge.
  • LED refrigerator lightbulb: LED is an abbreviation for light-emitting diode. These bulbs are becoming widely used and, by their design, are quite suitable for fridges or freezers because they don’t like heat. LED lightbulbs come in varying degrees of lumens; the higher the lumens, the higher the brightness. LED lightbulbs with a lower Kelvin temperature give off a white light, while ones with a higher Kelvin temperature (e.g., 5000K daylight) give off a blue color. LEDs consume a minimum amount of energy and tend to last longer when used in lower-temperature environments, such as the fridge. However, they can come with several markings and in a variety of labeling descriptions (dimmable/non-dimmable, Kelvin scale, lumen, medium base, watt equivalent, clear/frosted, etc.) that you might not easily understand when making a purchase.

Can you use a regular lightbulb in your fridge?

You might be tempted to replace your fridge lightbulb with just any bulb — after all, it’s just light, right? But it’s important to note that appliances have certain requirements that determine the type of lightbulb you can use. For example, the microwave oven has an environment of very high temperatures that can melt a regular lightbulb (e.g., a ceiling fan lightbulb). 

Similarly, lightbulbs for refrigerators are manufactured to withstand cold environments. Even though a regular lightbulb may fit in terms of size, you should only use an appliance lightbulb, which is a lightbulb designed to adapt to the extreme conditions and temperatures found in appliances.

How long do fridge lightbulbs usually last?

Fridge lightbulbs have very low usage time, since you don’t leave your fridge open for hours. As a result, they often have extended average-rated lifetime hours (ARL). Most bulb manufacturers list the life expectancy period of each bulb somewhere on the packaging, so you can look out for that information when purchasing a fridge bulb.

However, there are no definite time-range projections for the life span of fridge bulbs. Generally, the less frequently you (or your kids) open the fridge, the longer the life expectancy period — meaning the more time you don’t have to worry about replacing your fridge lightbulb.



How to choose the right lightbulb for your fridge


Refrigerators often use a standard appliance bulb between 25 and 40 watts — usually, size A15 bulbs. In a few cases, a T8 intermediate base bulb might be recommended. Before you purchase a replacement bulb for your refrigerator, do your due diligence by checking the appliance manual for the manufacturer’s specifications, such as brand, color, wattage and size.

This information is often available on the manufacturer’s website, too. You might just need to enter the part number of your appliance. Once you confirm the specification, you can then proceed to get a replacement bulb. Some well-known lighting brands — including GE Lighting, General Electric and Sylvania — manufacture a variety of these recommended bulbs.



What to do when a new light still won’t come on


What happens if your fridge lightbulb won’t come on even after you replace it? Here are a few things you can do: 

  • Check if you have the right bulb. Lightbulbs come in different shapes — candelabra base, e26 base, etc. — and each is uniquely designed to fit into compatible bulb sockets. Similarly, your fridge may have specifications regarding the required wattage or watt equivalent (40-watt equivalent, 60-watt equivalent, etc.). A good place to start is to check if you purchased a bulb that’s compatible with your fridge’s bulb socket and watt requirement. Again, you may need to consult your owner’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website for requirements.
  • Try a new bulb. Trying a new bulb is a quick way to discover whether the fault is with the bulb or something else. If the new bulb doesn’t work, the problem might be more complicated.
  • Check the bulb socket. If the issue is not with the bulb, it’s possible the bulb socket is bad or has become dirty. You can check if the bulb socket is in good condition using a circuit tester. A dirty bulb socket will prevent a tight screw-in, especially for candelabra-base bulbs. It could also prevent the two metal pieces from connecting, so you want to check the socket for dirt. If you find the bulb socket is aerated with food particles, get a warm, damp cloth and clean the dirt out. Before you do this, though, be sure to unplug the refrigerator from the power source. Also, make sure the bulb socket is dry before you screw the bulb back in.
  • Check for power. There’s also a possibility that the issue might be a power interruption. Start by checking if the power cable is plugged into your power outlet and that the socket switch is turned on. If this isn’t the issue, verify your power cable is in good condition. One last place to look for power problems is to check if the electrical outlet receptacle is functioning using a circuit tester. A failed electrical outlet means your refrigerator won’t work at all, much less the lightbulb. 

If you try all of the above and your bulb still doesn’t come on, this may suggest your fridge has a technical issue, and you need to call a service professional to help diagnose and remedy the problem.



Protect your fridge from repair costs with Cinch


Refrigerators — and other home appliances — can break down from routine use, and having to repair or replace them can be stressful, especially if the expenses weren’t anticipated and budgeted for. Thankfully, a home warranty from Cinch Home Services can help alleviate this issue.

With Cinch’s Appliances plan, get repair coverage for your refrigerator and other major home appliances. Every Cinch plan comes with a 180-day workmanship guarantee, protection for unknown pre-existing conditions, rust and corrosion coverage, and even discounts on new appliances.

Protect your budget and get peace of mind with a home warranty from Cinch. Request a free quote today to get started.



There’s some specifics to know when it comes to fridge light bulbs. Check out this helpful article to learn everything you need to know!

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