The Cheapest Way to Ship Light Bulbs

Learn about the cheapest way to ship light bulbs, how to keep them from breaking, and why sending them might cost more than you think
ship light bulbs
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Nothing sets the mood more than the right lighting. Edison string lights for outdoor and indoor spaces are all the rage these days, and people love adding to any spot’s decor with some antique light bulbs. This makes light bulbs one of the most popular households items to ship. However, if you’re an online retailer selling them, shipping isn’t always as straightforward as putting them in a box and calling it a day. This guide is all about how to ship light bulbs for the cheapest way, and how to protect them from breaking during transit.

For Lightweight Light Bulb Shipments, Use USPS First Class Package

If you’re sending an individual light bulb (or even a couple), then the cheapest option is USPS First Class Package Service. First Class Package is the cheapest service that USPS offers, only costing a few dollars per package. It’s also the Postal Service’s premier service for lightweight packages under 16 ounces, which is exactly the weight where most light bulbs fall. Delivery only takes 1-4 business days, and comes with full door-to-door tracking.

For Shipments Heavier than 1 Pound (lb), Use Priority Mail

For any boxes over the 1 pound mark, weight-based Priority Mail will be your next best bet. It’s the next-cheapest option after First Class Package, and also features the same delivery timeframe of 1-4 business days.

Note that USPS doesn’t offer any free boxes for First Class Package, like they do for Priority Mail shipments. So, if you opt for First Class Package, you’ll need to provide your own packaging. You can order generic boxes from ULINE, if you’re looking for a place to pick them up.

Want to order free Priority Mail boxes that get delivered right to your door? Browse the store on the USPS website.

Use Proper Packing Material to Protect Bulbs from Breaking

No matter which shipping service you use, light bulbs are some of the most fragile items out there. As a result, they can break easily during transit. They’re typically made of glass, after all! To protect fragile items when you ship them, you’ll need to use the right kinds of packing materials, on top of keeping them in the original packaging they come in. The best packing material to use in this case is packing peanuts and air pillows, to fill out the empty space inside your box. If you can, you should also wrap your light bulbs in bubble wrap or plastic packaging; this way, you’ll reduce the chance of the light bulbs moving around and shattering during unexpected falls, or when delivery workers handle your box at any point during the shipping process.

Learn more about the different types of packing material.

Buying Insurance is Worth It

You shouldn’t just rely on protecting your light bulbs with packing materials; we always suggest going the extra step and purchasing shipping insurance. When you add insurance to your packages, you’ll be able to file a claim for the entire declared value in case anything happens to your shipment, like if it gets lost or arrives with broken contents. Buying insurance is especially worth it when sending out items such as light bulbs, since they’re so fragile. This way, you’ve got some financial protection if your recipient informs you they received a bunch of broken lights!

Pro Tip: First Class Package doesn’t include any USPS insurance, while Priority Mail comes with some level of insurance. Therefore, buying insurance on top of postage is even more important when shipping light bulbs via First Class Package.

Large Boxes Containing Light Bulbs May Receive Dimensional Weight (DIM) Charges

On top of being fragile, light bulbs are also lightweight by nature. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a box with multiple light bulbs to receive some dimensional weight (or “DIM”) charges. When you get charged for dimensional weight, you’re paying a higher price based on how much space your package takes up on a carrier’s truck, rather than how much it actually weighs. Basically, if your package’s dimensional weight (or the measure of how much space it takes up) is more than its actual weight, the price you’ll pay for shipping will be based on its dimensional weight. These rates are typically much higher, and get applied to most bulky, lightweight shipments. So, it’s important to recognize this possibility before you ship, and prevent this by using the smallest-sized packaging possible.

Learn more about dimensional weight charges and how to avoid them.

Use Shipping Software to Save the Most Money on All Your Shipping Labels

No matter the size and weight of your shipment, you’ll never save the most money by going to the Post Office. Instead, you should use free shipping software to buy discounted USPS postage online. When you use shipping software, you won’t just be able to buy and print shipping labels from the comfort of your own home. You’ll also be able to access the deepest level of discounts that USPS typically reserves for huge shippers sending out 50,000 or more packages per year. The best shipping software companies are free, and the savings you’ll get by accessing their level of discounts can end up making or breaking your small business.

Last but not least, a lot of shipping software options give you the ability to schedule free pickups for your packages, done by your letter carrier whenever they come by to deliver your maIL. This way, you never have to leave the house, if you don’t want to. At the end of the day, there’s no reason not to use shipping software to buy labels for your packages!

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To get the deepest discounts on all USPS shipping labels, check out our guide:

Choosing the Best Shipping Software

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