Lighting buying guide

Lighting your home is as much about creating a mood as it is about functionality. We have a wide range of lighting in traditional and contemporary styles, to help you get the best out of every room, and your outdoor space, too. And when you buy lighting in our shops,
we can even install it for you.

A basic guide to bulbs and LED lighting

Bulb caps

There are 4 main types:

BC (bayonet cap) -B22
ES (Edison screw) -E27
SES (small Edison screw) -E14
GU10 (twist-lock)

The cap type will also be indicated in the product description.


This type of bulb was phased out under both Government and EU Regulations in favour of more energy-efficient types.

  • Colour rendition: give a warm light
  • Lifetime: 1,000 hours; based on an average use of 3 hours per day
  • Dimmability: Fully dimmable
  • Warm-up: Instant light
  • Finish: Clear (Opal no longer available)
  • Energy Rating: E - G

They're now only available in appliance and special-purpose bulbs for fridges, cooker-hoods and so on. These bulbs get very hot, so take care when you replace them and let bulbs cool before handling.


Similar to tungsten bulbs, but more energy-efficient and longer lasting. 

  • Colour rendition: give a bright, white light
  • Lifetime: 2,000 hours; based on an average use of 3 hours per day
  • Dimmability: Fully dimmable*
  • Warm-up: Instant light
  • Finish: Clear
  • Energy Rating: B - C
  • Energy efficiency: up to 30% more energy-efficient than tungsten bulbs
  • Suitability: when a bright, crisp light is needed. Use in Chandeliers, glass shades, crystal luminaires, touch lamps, dimmers, spotlights

*Also available in low-votage versions which will need specific dimmers

These bulbs get extremely hot, so take care when replacing them and let bulbs cool before handling.

Watch our Lightbulbs explained video to find out more


Light Emitting Diode bulbs. New technology with excellent energy-saving capabilities.

  • Colour rendition: give a warm, white light
  • Lifetime: 15 - 25,0000 hours, based on an average use of 3 hours per day
  • Dimmability: dimmable versions available (not suitable for touch lamps)
  • Warm-up: Instant light
  • Finish: clear, opal/frosted
    Energy rating: A+ to A++
  • Energy efficiency: up to 90% more energy-efficient than tungsten bulbs 
  • Suitability: clear bulbs as halogen and opaque as energy saving
  • Excellent for spotlights, children's lighting and nightlights
    These bulbs run cool to the touch and have an extremely long life.

Saving up to 90% energy, LED lighting is the next step in light bulb technology. In stunning contemporary designs, they're sustainable and stylish, with an average 25,000-hour lifespan.

Integrated LEDs come available as ceiling lights, spotlights, wall lights, table and floor lamps, delivering a crisp white light with little heat. Alternatively, select strip or line LED lights to decorate your home with illumination.

Watch our videos about LED lighting for more information  

Energy saving

Commonly referred to as CFL or compact fluorescent bulbs.

  • Colour rendition: give a warm, white light
  • Lifetime: up to 10,000 hours, based on an average use of 3 hours per day
  • Dimmability: usually non-dimmable but some limited dimmable versions available (not suitable for touch lamps)
  • Warm-up: less than 60 seconds
  • Styles: spiral, soft, stick
  • Finish: opal/opaque
  • Energy Rating: A
  • Energy efficiency: up to 80% more energy-efficient than tungsten bulbs
  • Suitability: when an ambient, soft light is needed. Fabric shades, glass/acrylic shades for effect, table and floor lamps, bathroom lighiting

These bulbs get very warm, so take care when replacing them and let bulbs cool before handling.


Indoor lighting

Few rooms have only one function and creating the right atmosphere will often require a combination of different lighting. John Lewis has practical lighting solutions for all areas, including outdoors.

Watch our videos to find out how you can enhance your home with decorative lighting, and how to select the best functional lighting to meet your needs.

And for the most energy-efficient lighting, find out more about LED in our videos, Living with LED lighting

Entrances, staircases and landings


You’ll need a good general light to make the hallway warm and welcoming. This is probably where you open the post so make sure the light is bright enough for you to read by. Hallway lights can often be left burning for long periods, so consider using energy saving bulbs. Pendant lights can get in the way if the ceiling is low or the hall is narrow so consider wall lights or recessed downlights in this area.


For safety reasons, staircases should be well lit and the light directed to define the edges of the steps. The simplest way to do this is to hang a bright pendant lamp at the top of the stairs which will create a shadow that adds definition to the stair risers.

This is another area where you might want to consider using an energy-saving or LED bulb.


These are usually small areas with heavy traffic so consider choosing flush fittings or recessed downlights to maximise space. Dimmer switches are a good idea since they can be turned down to a low level at night for guests or children. Plug-in night lights are also a good idea to provide low level lighting in this area.

View our range of ceiling lights

Living rooms and dining rooms

Living rooms

The living room is the focal point of the whole house where we carry out different activities which require different types of lighting. In general, you will need a combination of general overhead or wall lighting, supplemented by portable light sources such as table or floor lamps or even well-positioned ceiling spotlights. Task lamps are ideal for close-up work such as reading or studying.

To create a relaxed mood, you could use accent lighting hidden behind cornices, bookshelves and glassware displays. Alternatively, try highlighting pictures and paintings with a picture light. Plants and ornaments can also be highlighted with spotlights.

Uplighters are another source of accent lighting and are ideal for a dark corner. When watching television a soft ambient light is recommended as an aid to relaxed viewing.

Dining rooms

Dining room lighting also needs to be flexible. It will be dominated by the light which provides focus for the table, usually hanging directly above it but you may also need additional wall lighting or portable lighting, especially to create a casual and convivial atmosphere when entertaining. A rise and fall lamp provides a practical way to light the table while a pendant light, armed light or chandelier can be used to provide a central focus, even when switched off.

Watch our video and discover how to put your own creative stamp on your home by matching lamp shades and bases.

Bedrooms and children’s rooms


Many bedrooms contain televisions and computers and lighting should be planned around these. If you read in bed, you will need table lamps, directional spotlights or swing arm brackets. For applying make up you will need a table lamp or may want to consider an illuminated mirror. You may need a task lamp if your bedroom doubles up as a study. The bedroom is also an ideal place to install dimmer switches to adjust the light levels for various moods and times of the day. Spotlights directed towards wardrobes can help when selecting clothes. Chandeliers can add a focal point and a touch of glamour too.

Children's rooms

Lighting for children’s rooms should be safe, bright and colourful. Bright, general lighting will be needed for children playing on the floor plus a task lamp for older children needing to do homework. Use as many wall and ceiling fittings as you can (these are safe from little fingers) and do not use low hanging pendants or clip spotlights for younger children. It is advisable to fit childproof safety plugs into wall switch sockets. Dimmer switches or plug in nightlights are the time-tested solution for a child who is afraid of the dark.

Night lights

We stock a range of night lights suitable for use in children’s rooms including LED lights, which run cool to the touch.

See our children’s lighting

Home offices

Use good general lighting supplemented by task lamps. Avoid headaches when using a PC by blocking out sunlight effectively with curtains and using uplighters to provide soft, general light.

Bathrooms and kitchens

Bathrooms and Kitchens


Bathroom lighting needs to be functional and planned with safety in mind, so you need an IP44 rating or above. The bathroom is divided into three zones, 0, 1 and 2. (See diagram) to determine likely exposure to water. Each fitting is given an IP (Ingress Protection) rating which relates to its water resistance. Only light fittings suitable for the relevant zone should be used. Avoid lighting which is too bright as the polished surfaces may cause glare; diffused wall or ceiling lights are a good idea.

The main light should be switched on by a pull cord or a light switch situated outside the bathroom. Glass or ceramic lights are best. It is wise to avoid those containing wood, leather or fabric as they can degrade in a humid atmosphere.

View our bathroom lighting


The kitchen is the functional work centre of the house composed of largely fixed elements and you will need to plan the lighting in relation to the positions of work surfaces and appliances. A good level of general light will be given by fluorescent lights, directional spotlights or track lighting with a number of movable spotlights, while two or three recessed downlighters in a line can be used to highlight a breakfast bar. Avoid portable lighting in this area as trailing flexes can be potentially hazardous.

Outdoor lighting

Any type of mains voltage lights which are used outdoors must 
be waterproof and durable. Like bathroom lighting, an IP rating
is given to indicate the level of protection against penetration by moisture, dust and solid objects. This consists of two numbers, the second of which relates to water tolerance. The relevant IP numbers are:

IPx3 - protected against spraying water of up to 60° from the vertical (eg rain)

IPx4 - protected against splashing water from any direction

IPx5 - protected against water jets from any direction

Moisture conducts electricity, so outdoor lights must be installed with special care to ensure safety. Outdoor wiring must be protected and all metalwork must be earthed. We recommend the services of a qualified electrician to install outdoor lighting and sockets and that a residual circuit device is fitted. If outdoor waterproof sockets or watertight switches are installed in the garden we recommend that they are located under a canopy or otherwise sheltered from rain.

Front of the house

The front of your house needs good lighting to welcome visitors, and make their approach safer. It will also help you to identify callers before opening the door at night. We recommend lighting with an IP rating of at least 3 for all porch lights. For a porch in a street with street lighting, a 60W bulb should be sufficient. If the area is darker, or there are steps to be lit, use a 100W bulb. You may want to link outdoor lights to a PIR (passive infrared) sensor so that they are switched on when someone approaches the house.

See our collection of security lights and the PIR (passive infra red) sensor. We also stock energy-efficient LED lighting for outdoors - find out more in this video

Solar lighting

We stock a selection of solar powered lighting. These require no mains power and work by daylight charging an internal battery which provides a soft LED (Light Emittting Diode) light of low wattage. It is essential these are “charged” in daylight for at least 24 hours before use.

View our range of outdoor lighting and see our video which shows you how to illuminate your outdoor space.

Wiring information & Ingress Protection (IP)

All light fittings must be fitted in accordance with the current 
IEE wiring regulations and building regulations.
We recommend you employ a qualified NICEIC-registered electrician, and that the product's fitting instructions are always followed.

We also offer an installation service if you buy lighting in our shops and need it fitted to an existing source. All our installers are NICEIC-trained (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) and are fully able to carry out the work required.



When buying a light for outdoors or for the bathroom you need to check the IP (Ingress Protection) rating. The higher the rating, the more protected it is. For outdoor or bathroom lighting you need a minimum IP44 rating.

The first digit refers to the degree you’re protected from any contact with moving parts, and the degree the light is protected from anything getting inside. This ranges from ‘0’ (no special protection) to ‘6’ (dust tight).

The second digit indicates how much moisture (drips, spray or jets) the light can withstand. This ranges from ‘0’ (no special protection) to ‘8’ (protection from complete, continuous submersion in water).

For example, an IP44 rating means nothing bigger than 1mm can get in, and it’s safe from splashing water.

Security lighting


Timers will turn on electrical appliances such as lamps to make the house seem as if it's occupied when you're out. Mechanical timers allow you to set your own programme so the light switches on and off at set times during a 24 hour period. Some work over a 7-day period so that you can vary the times each day. Electrical timers can be programmed digitally.



Passive infra red sensors are fitted to outdoor lights and work by picking up the difference in temperature of a warm body moving against a cooler background. The best height to fit a PIR is about 1.7m and angled slightly downwards. PIR units have a photocell ensuring they do not work during the day. PIR sensors can be provided separately for use with existing outdoor lights.

View our range of timers and PIR adaptors.

Special lighting for Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms vary from feeling low and lethargic to more serious feelings of despair and anxiety. Other symptoms can include overeating and sleep problems, especially difficulty waking on dark mornings. SAD is caused by lack of bright light in winter and is recognised by the medical profession and the World Health Organisation. The most convenient and cost effective treatment for SAD is bright light therapy.

Various bright light devices are available for treating the condition and we stock a range of lighting for sufferers called Bodyclocks.


The Bodyclock is a dawn simulator which uses your body’s natural response to sunrise and sunset to help synchronise your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake pattern).

Each morning, the Bodyclock wakes you gently and naturally with light, which gets your body going before you're even conscious, so you wake up feeling alert and positive. At night, the Bodyclock gradually fades to darkness, giving your body the signal to wind down and help you sleep.

Lighting for SAD