Indulge me a VENT! Holy lightbulb shopping!
We've gone through our builder's preferred vendors for absolutely everything except lighting. We got some stuff at his lighting vendor, namely the ceiling fans because they provide the balancing service that the installing electrician won't.
So, I took on the burden of organizing all our light fixture requirements, which alone isn't trivial, but I gladly took it on for the opportunity to save by purchasing during sales or by purchasing at stores where coupons were available etc. And truth be told, I saved a ton of money, and got some fixtures that I wouldn't either have access to at the lighting vendor or wouldn't be able to afford.
What I didn't consider is that by purchasing all my own light fixtures I'd also be taking on the responsibility of purchasing all the bulbs as well. It doesn't seem like a big deal, and if we were just throwing incandescents up everywhere it probably wouldn't be a big deal. But we're building green, and as such, every bulb has to be energy star, which means CFL or LED.
With CFL and LED comes the constant translation of the wattage from the incandescent equivalent. i.e. my fixture requires 10 - 40watt candelabra bulbs, but that's really only 7W in CFL. Some packages and sites make the translation very simple and others you have to hunt for it.
It also means the bulbs are far uglier than their energy hog predecessors. So I was hunting for more attractive bulb shapes, like a flame tip candelabra bulb for all the exposed bulbs in our dining room chandy... in wattages I'm unfamiliar with, and then had to get the right color temperature which was a VERY tricky debate in my head. :) I don't like yellow incandescent light, but I also don't like blue toned operating room lighting. Both those colors (usually called "soft white" or 2700 kelvin and "cool white" or 4100 kelvin are readily available at almost every bulb site and the box stores. However, the middle ground, usually called "Bright white" or 3500 kelvin are very spotty in their availability.
To make matters worse, I got 6 days notice when they needed all the bulbs and got all my questions answered in terms of what size can lights they're installing etc to the point where I could actually shop for bulbs. So that ruled out most online shopping as it would be cutting it too close even with rush delivery which costs an arm and a leg.
So I spent about 6 hours auditing all the fixtures I bought making sure we're covered and then documenting the quantity and types of bulbs I need for all our fixtures. I spent about 4 hours shopping online trying to find a single source where I could get every bulb I need that also offers rush service. That was an epic fail.
Then I spent another few hours documenting from the HD and Lowes websites, which bulbs I'd get at which store locally, with Ikea thrown in there for some specialty LED lights I needed. I went with a 2 page color coded list in hand.
I spent a half hour at Ikea, and was feeling victorious. Then 1 hour at the first Home Depot trip, almost 2 hours at the first Lowes trip because I needed a large quantity of can bulbs and they didn't have them on the shelf but randomly merchandised throughout the store on endcaps for extra fun. Then I've been back to a different HD and to 2 more Lowes to get the last of our bulbs. Was very much over lightbulb shopping by the end of the shopping day.
If I charged myself hourly, any savings on lighting would be long gone for the effort the bulb shopping has taken. That said, his lighting vendor has not made the energy switch yet and they don't offer a selection of bulbs. They would have gladly provided us with COOL white (blue tone) bulbs for all our fixtures and that would have been that, so even if we bought our fixtures there, getting the bulbs from them wasn't an option, but still sucks how much effort has gone into something as unsexy as lightbulbs.
Did I mention the cost of these things? We have over $800 worth of lightbulbs going in this house!!! If I knew then what I know now, my 3 year old wouldn't have a sputnik style 12-led-bulb chandelier in his room. $100 in bulbs for that one fixture, and that was the bargain I found!
And now I have a few days to put big idiot-proof labels with my crayola markers on each package with the coordinating bulbs, according to my builder, else the licensed professional electrician would try to jam a medium size bulb into a candelabra base. :)
ok, i feel better after this vent. thank you!!