An Easy Guide to Plug-In and Bi-Pin Light Bulbs

It’s pretty simple,really!  Unlike your typical light-bulb which has a standard E26 screw base, or for that matter, the smaller screw type E12 Candelabra base, plug-in lamps have 2 or 4 pin bases, and are usually found on PL or “Plug In” or MR16 type lamps. You’ll also hear these referred to as “Twist and Lock” bases.

The letter G is the suffix for these bases. It refers to the bi-pin configuration, and the succeeding number refers to the”pin spread” or the distance between the pins. For instance, the GU24 base lamps have a distance of 24mm between each pin while GU10 lamps have only 10mm between each pin. Simple, right? Let’s take a look at the diagram below:

As you can see, many bases are available in various forms of 2-pin or 4-pin designs like G-23, GX23, G24d-1, G24d-2, G24d-3, GX32d-2, G24q, GU5.3, GY6.35, GX23-2, GX24q-3, GX24q-4, 2G8-1,2G11, GX24q-5, and GX32d-3 etc.

The “d” in the name means double pins, while the “q” means quad pins. The number that follows the dash indicates the locations of the dowels in each base. This is why it isimportant to identify exactly what kind of socket you have, since no other base will fit into that socket but the base it was made for.

So simple right? Each base simply refers to a configuration of the pins. Each has plastic support clips in the center,which vary dependent upon the wattage of the lamp they are meant to power. If you ever wanted to convert your “plug in” base bulb into a standard screw-in E26, all you have to do is purchase the right adapter and you’re good to go.

A few other perks of these style bulbs is that the electrical contacts are never exposed, offering extra protection against electric shock. Also, the California Energy Commission has deemed GU24 base bulbs fully compliant with Title 24, the law which requires all residential construction and remodels to be only equipped with high-efficiency lighting. The unique configuration of these lamps also prevent people from using incandescent bulbs, which are illegal in California and can be a fire hazard.


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