B11 vs E12 Bulb – What’s the Difference?

B11 vs E12 Bulb

Light bulbs are a seemingly simple household item, but in reality, they come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and designs.

If you’ve ever tried replacing a bulb in your home, you’ve likely come across cryptic codes like “B11” or “E12”.  As a seasoned electrician, I’ve had countless homeowners ask me about these bulbs. And today, I’m here to explain the difference between these two for you.

Light Bulb Terminology

Understanding the naming conventions used in light bulbs can save you a lot of time and confusion. It’s like learning the basics of a language before visiting a new country.

The Logic Behind the Codes

Codes of Bulbs

Every light bulb name has a method to the madness. Generally, the letter denotes the bulb shape, while the number indicates the base’s diameter in millimeters.

Over time, these have become industry standards, ensuring consistency across different manufacturers.

For example, in an “A19” bulb, “A” stands for the standard Arbitrary shape, and “19” translates to the base being 19/8 inches in diameter.

Why It’s Important

You might wonder, “Why do I need to know this?” The simple answer: compatibility and design.

Matching the right bulb shape and base ensures the bulb fits and functions properly in the desired fixture. Plus, picking the correct bulb aesthetically elevates the lighting ambiance of a room.


B11 bulbs are unique in design and offer a touch of elegance to any setting. They’re often the unsung heroes behind gorgeous chandeliers and ambient lighting.


B11 chandelier LED bulb

They are commonly known as candle or torpedo bulbs due to their slender, elongated design, closely resembling the flame of a candle.

This design lends itself beautifully to decorative fixtures like chandeliers, sconces, or pendant lights. Their soft, diffused light is perfect for creating cozy and warm atmospheres.

Plus, they’re available in various finishes like frosted, clear, or even flame-tipped to enhance the flame-like resemblance.

Typical Applications

B11 Light bulb in chandelier

Given their aesthetic appeal, B11 bulbs are predominantly used in settings where the bulb is exposed, and aesthetics matter. For instance, in a vintage chandelier, the B11 bulbs can be the cherry on top, adding a touch of authenticity and class.

In homes, they’re often found in dining rooms, lounges, or bedrooms. Meanwhile, in commercial settings, they’re popular in boutique hotels, upscale restaurants, or heritage buildings.

E12 Base Bulbs

While B11 refers to the bulb shape, E12 refers to the base of the bulb. It’s one of the numerous base types available in the market.


E12 is also known as a candelabra base. The “E” stands for Edison screw-in base, a standard first introduced by Thomas Edison.

The number “12” denotes the diameter of the base in millimeters, which is roughly half an inch. E12 bases are smaller than the standard medium E26 bases found in typical household bulbs.

This petite size makes them ideal for fixtures that require a more delicate and refined appearance.

Compatibility and Usage

E12 bulbs Usage

Because of their size, E12 base bulbs are often paired with smaller decorative fixtures, much like the B11 ones mentioned earlier.

However, it’s crucial to understand that not all B11 ones will have an E12 base, and vice versa.

In homes, you’ll frequently find E12 base bulbs in nightlights, chandeliers, or small table lamps. In commercial setups, they might be used in ornate wall sconces or decorative string lights.

B11 and E12: The Common Ground

Often, B11 and E12 are mentioned in tandem because of their frequent pairing in lighting fixtures. But remember, one denotes shape while the other signifies base size.

A Match Made in Lighting Heaven

It’s quite common to find a B11 bulb with an E12 base. Their combined design makes them perfect for fixtures where both the shape and the smaller base size matter.

When paired together, they provide a harmonious blend of aesthetics and functionality. In settings like romantic restaurants or vintage-themed rooms, the combination of B11 shape and E12 base offers an unparalleled ambiance.

The gentle glow of the B11 bulb, coupled with the E12 base’s fit in decorative fixtures, is hard to beat.

Making the Right Choice

chandelier bulb

When shopping for bulbs, it’s essential to know both the desired shape and base size. If you have a fixture that requires an E12 base, ensure the bulb you pick matches this specification.

Similarly, if you’re looking for the elegant candle-like shape of a B11 bulb, keep that in mind while browsing.

In the world of lighting, every detail counts. By understanding these nuances, you’re well on your way to achieving the perfect ambiance for your space.

The Technological Evolution

The lighting industry is always evolving, with newer technologies promising better energy efficiency, longer lifespans, and enhanced light quality. Both B11 and E12 bulbs have seen significant advancements over the years.

From Incandescent to LED

Traditionally, both B11 shaped bulbs and the ones with E12 bases were incandescent. These emit light by heating a wire filament until it glows, producing that warm, cozy glow many of us love.

However, they’re not the most energy-efficient. Today, LED versions of B11 and E12 bulbs are increasingly common. LEDs are known for their longevity and efficiency.

An LED B11 bulb with an E12 base combines the aesthetic appeal of the candle shape with the energy savings of modern technology, making it an excellent choice for eco-conscious homeowners.

Smart Bulb Advancements

In the age of smart homes, even the modest light bulb has seen intelligent upgrades. You can now find B11 and E12 base bulbs equipped with smart capabilities.

These bulbs can be controlled via smartphones, integrated with home automation systems, and even programmed to change colors or brightness levels on demand. Having a dinner party? Adjust the B11 bulbs in your chandelier to a soft, warm glow.

Watching a movie? Dim those E12 base bulbs without getting off the couch. The possibilities with smart technology are limitless.

Safety and Maintenance

Whether you’re dealing with an intricately shaped B11 bulb or a petite E12 base bulb, safety and proper maintenance are paramount.

Safe Installation

Always ensure the power is turned off before attempting to replace or install any bulb. For fixtures that are hard to reach, such as chandeliers, consider using a stable ladder or seeking professional help.

When screwing in the bulb, ensure it’s snug but not overtightened – this can damage both the bulb and the fixture.

For bulbs with an E12 base, be mindful of the base size. Force-fitting the wrong bulb into a socket can lead to malfunction and safety hazards.

Proper Maintenance

Regularly dusting your bulbs and fixtures can prolong their life and ensure they shine at their brightest.

For B11-shaped bulbs, especially the clear ones, fingerprints or dust can be quite noticeable. Use a soft cloth to keep them pristine.

LED bulbs, whether B11-shaped or with an E12 base, generally have a longer lifespan than their incandescent counterparts.

However, always be on the lookout for any signs of wear, flickering, or dimming, as these could be indications it’s time for a replacement.


Can I replace an incandescent B11 bulb with an LED B11 one in the same fixture?

Yes, you can typically replace an incandescent B11 bulb with its LED counterpart, provided they have the same base type (e.g., E12). LED ones are designed to fit into traditional sockets.

However, it’s essential to ensure the fixture’s wattage rating matches the LED bulb’s wattage for safety and optimal performance.

Are there other base sizes available for B11 bulbs, aside from E12?

Yes, B11 bulbs can come with various base sizes, including E26, which is the standard medium base.

The shape of the bulb (B11) and the base size (like E12) are independent factors, so it’s possible to find combinations that suit different fixtures and preferences.

Why might someone choose an incandescent B11 bulb over an LED version?

While LED bulbs offer energy efficiency and longer lifespans, some people still prefer incandescent B11 bulbs for their warm glow, which closely mimics the soft light of a candle flame.

Additionally, incandescents are often less expensive upfront, making them a choice for those not ready to invest in LEDs.

Can E12 bulbs come in shapes other than B11?

Absolutely! The E12 refers solely to the base size. Bulbs with an E12 base can come in various shapes, such as A-shape (standard), G (globe), and C (cone-shaped), among others.

It’s all about finding the right shape that fits the desired aesthetic and purpose of the lighting fixture.

Is there a significant price difference between B11 and other bulb shapes with an E12 base?

The price of a bulb often depends on its technology (incandescent vs. LED), brand, and features (like smart capabilities) rather than just its shape.

However, B11 bulbs might sometimes be priced slightly higher than standard shapes due to their decorative appeal, especially when they come with unique finishes or designs.

How do I dispose of or recycle my old B11 or E12 bulbs, especially if they’re LED?

Disposal methods can vary based on local regulations. Incandescent bulbs can typically be thrown away with regular household waste, though it’s recommended to wrap them to prevent breakage.

For LED bulbs, many regions have specialized recycling programs or drop-off locations to ensure safe and eco-friendly disposal, given the electronic components within LEDs.

Always check with your local waste management authority for specific guidelines.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the intricacies of light bulbs, from their shapes to base sizes, can seem overwhelming.

But with a clear grasp of what terms like B11 and E12 mean, you’re better equipped to make informed choices for your home or workspace.  Remember, lighting plays a pivotal role in setting the mood and functionality of a space.

So, invest the time to get it right. And if ever in doubt, always consult with a licensed electrician or lighting expert to guide you.