Light Bulbs and the Importance of Proper Storage

17 03 2010

Light Bulbs StorageHow to store your unused light bulbs can, at times, be a daunting task. There are a countless variety of light bulbs available in many shapes and sizes ranging from incandescent, fluorescent and halogen. These are the three main types of light bulb although the most common is the Incandescent light bulb.

Incandescent Bulbs: Practical Storage Ideas

Often times when we purchase light bulbs they come in a package of two or four. Unfortunately we only need one. What do you do with the remaining bulbs? Do you just set it on the shelf or in a drawer to be jostled and bumped and possibly broken? Let us consider some practical ideas to assure the safe storage of your unused light bulbs.

  • Purchase a specially designed storage bin. Available for less than $20, the Light Bulb Storage Box can store 24 bulbs of various sizes and shapes from the standard bulb to CFL bulbs. This is only one of the options available and can be found at a variety of online retailers such as or
  • Do-it-yourself storage. All you need is a cardboard box and some bubble wrap. The box should be the approximate width of the light bulb packaging. You may be able to place several packages into the box if space permits. The idea is to securely place the package into the box and with the bubble wrap, you can fill the remaining space to avoid rattling. With this done you can now place the box on the shelf, knowing that your unused bulbs will be safe. The last step is to label the box. Don’t forget to include the bulb type, wattage and where the bulbs will most likely be used.

Halogen Bulbs: Handle with Care

Even though Fluorescent and Halogen bulbs are not used through out the home as abundantly as incandescent bulbs are, care is still needed. Halogen bulbs in particular come with concise handling instructions and these instructions should be taken into consideration as you think about possible storage options. You would never want to handle the bulb with your bare hands. A halogen bulb is made of quartz instead of a glass like most other bulbs. The salts and oils from your skin can, when in contact with the quartz, cause a breakdown or a weak point in the quartz. It is always a good practice to handle halogen bulbs while wearing gloves or to make it a habit of wiping down the bulb following any handling.

If you decide to go with a do-it-yourself storage method, using a variation of the one noted above, you should consider, first of all the box you are placing the bulb into. If you are using a box that has been used previously for a different purpose you should think about how clean the container is. Does it have an oily or greasy residue? Could the box contaminate the integrity of the bulb in a way similar to your bare hands?

Fluorescent Bulbs: The Necessity of Proper Storage

Good storage does more than simply protect your investment. It also helps to protect our environment and your personal well being. Fluorescent bulbs, above and beyond incandescent and halogen bulbs need to be securely stored. If broken, a fluorescent light bulb releases mercury and other toxins into the air which can be easily inhaled.

Various state governments have very detailed procedures in place to guide individuals as well as businesses in the proper way to handle, store and dispose of fluorescent lights. The following are a few of the Environmental Health and Safety procedures:

  • We need to have a designated location for storage. This area needs to be secure. A low traffic area were the possibility of accidental damage is low. Outside, in the weather where the cardboard boxes may become wet, is not a viable option.
  • Used light bulbs should not remain in storage for more than a year. Proper labeling would be useful, noting that the bulbs are used and the date that they were placed into storage.
  • Used light bulbs must be stored in a container. The original cardboard packaging is acceptable or Environmental Health and Safety can supply proper storage containers.

It is important that you pay close attention to the guidelines outlined by Environmental Health and Safety, not simply for the legal ramifications but also to ensure that you protect your own health and the health of those around you, on the job or at home. For further information on the proper handling of Fluorescent bulbs check out the procedures found at

Light bulbs like so many other common household items come with there own unique hazards and require special attention and special consideration. Proper storage is essential to avoid bulb damage and the loss of our investment or even the loss of our health through exposed toxins. Remember that proper storage is a simple step in assuring the safety of yourself and for your family.

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