Five things to consider when buying LED
As your incandescent fittings or light globes burn out, it's a good time to consider switching to LED fixtures.
LEDs have an impressive lifespan (20-something years!) and are very cost-effective in the long term.
Now's the right time to switch to LEDs. These bulbs have made significant advances over the last few years, finally delivering the warm light incandescent have comforted us with for decades.
Because there are so many LED varieties, choosing an LED is entirely different from picking up an incandescent. Before you head to the store, find out what you need to know about choosing the right LED light or fitting to suit you requirements and the benefits it will provide.
Lumens, not watts
Forget what you know about incandescents -- your watts are no good here.
When shopping for bulbs and lights, you're probably accustomed to looking for watts, an indication of how bright the bulb will be. The brightness of LEDs, however, is determined a little differently.
Contrary to common belief, wattage isn't an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren't a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. (The point, after all, is that they draw less energy.)
For example, an LED bulb with comparable brightness to a 60W incandescent is only 8 to 12 watts.
But don't bother doing the math -- there isn't a uniform way to covert incandescent watts to LED watts. Instead, a different form of measurement should be used: lumens.
The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb, and is the number you should look for when shopping for LEDs. For reference, here's a chart that shows the watt-lumen conversion for incandescents, halogen, fluorescent and LEDs.
As you can see in the chart above, an incandescent can draw up to five times as many watts for the same number of lumens.
Choosing the right colour LED
You can always count on incandescents providing a warm, yellowish hue. But LEDs come in a wide range of colours.
As shownabove, LED bulbs are capable of displaying an impressive colour range, from purple to red, to a spectrum of whites and yellows. For the home, however, you're likely looking for something similar to the light that incandescents produce.
The popular colours available for LEDs are "warm white" or "natural white," and "cool white."
Warm white and natural white will produce a yellow hue, close to incandescents, while lights labelled as bright white will produce a whiter light, closer to daylight and similar to what you see in retail stores, these lights are more popular in kitchens and laundry areas in the home.
If you want to get technical, light colour (colour temperature) is measured in kelvins. The lower the number, the warmer (yellower) the light. So, your typical incandescent is somewhere between 2,700 and 3,500K. If that's the colour you're going for, look for this range while choosing or shopping for LEDs.
You'll pay more for LED light fittings
LED lights are like hybrid cars: cheaper to operate but normally more expensive upfront.
When switching to LED, don't expect to save buckets of cash immediately. Instead, think of it as an investment. Luckily, competition has increased and LED lights have come down, and continue to come down in price though you should still expect to pay more than an incandescent for a quality fixture.
Eventually your LED lights will pay off, and in the meantime, you'll enjoy less heat production and longer bulb life.
Bottom line: unless you're replacing many incandescent bulbs in a large house, you won't see significant savings in your electricity bill.
Watch out for non-dimmable LEDs
Because of their circuitry, LEDs are not always compatible with traditional dimming switches. In some cases, the switch must be replaced. Other times, you'll pay a little more for a compatible LED.
Most dimmers, which were likely designed to work with incandescents, work by cutting off the amount of electricity sent to the bulb. The less electricity drawn, the dimmer the light. But with your newly acquired knowledge of LED lingo, you know that there is no direct correlation between LED brightness and energy drawn.
Some LEDs will hum, flicker, or buzz when tied to a dimmer.
If you'd like you’re LED to be dimmable, you need to do one of two things: find LED lights compatible with traditional dimmers, or replace your current dimming switch with a leading-edge (LED-compatible) dimmer, your local electrician will be able to advise on your requirements and make recommendations to suit your situation and budget.
Not all light fixtures need to be LEDs
Knowing where or when to replace a light with a LED equivalent will ensure that your lighting and aesthetic needs are satisfied.
For example exchanging the one blown downlight in your entertainment room with a LED and leaving the other 3 -5 as incandescent would look odd and not all people have the budget to do an entire upgrade at once. Likewise some older style fittings have not yet been redesigned in a LED version yet, though the ever growing market will cater for this it may be some time before it is available.
LED lights are now beginning to dominate the market and many light manufacturers are starting to discontinue incandescent and fluorescent fittings in preference of LEDs, this is due to customer demand, reductions in cost and advances in LED technology.
It is truly amazing how far lighting has come and the amount of new and innovative ways LED lighting has changed the world we live in, and is now opening up affordable designer and energy efficient options for the average home.