LEDs cut your costs of lighting electricity by 75% – 80%. Here’s a ‘how to’ guide to help you decide what to buy.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs have come down in price, but is cheaper better? How do you know what to choose? What colours are available? Are they all futuristic and ugly? Read below for some things to consider when deciding to purchase LED bulbs and products.
For you (the consumer), the main benefits of LED fixtures are clear: they’re energy efficient, can last for more than 20 years and, in many cases, give off good light. The prices have steadily declined and the designs look more and more like traditional bulbs every day.
Consumers have suffered from confusion when selecting bulbs, however, it’s not surprising. LEDs come in different shapes and colours of light, and it’s hard to know, at a glance, how they compare to your favorite incandescent bulbs. To simplify the experience of buying and using LED bulbs, here’s what you need to know (boiled down to 5 rules):
Please consult a certified electrician before performing any electrical related tasks.
1. I want to go LED, I have taken out my old bulbs, what now?
Not all LED bulbs are the same. Just as not all incandescent bulbs are the same. Each fixture type in your home or office comes with a different base. Well, what is the “base”? The base of a light bulb is the portion that screws, twists, pops, or pushes into the fixture or housing. When deciding to go LED, ensure that the bulb you purchase matches the base of the existing bulb you are replacing. If the bases do not match, you may be left with an open product that you cannot return.
2. Colour or colour temperature
When LEDs first started making their waves, many people were turned off by the bright, white, hospital looking colour. Thankfully, advancements in LED technology have provided us with a wide array of colours, as well as shades of white. For now, we will focus on the shades of white.
The colour of the light given off by a bulb is measured in a unit called Kelvins. You may see a 4 digit number with a “K” on the end; i.e. 3000K. The 4 digit number represents the degrees of “K” or Kelvin. For most residential applications, you will be looking to choose 2500K, 3000K or 3500K. The lower the Kelvin, the warmer and more orange/yellow the light appears. As we climb into the 5000K range, we get a cooler white, more blue colour.
3. Shop for Lumens, not Watts
Watts are a measure of how much energy the bulbs draws, not its brightness. Nevertheless, we are accustomed to shopping for incandescent light bulbs by their watts, and we know how much light to expect from a 60-, 100-, or 150-watt bulb. LED bulbs are also rated by watts. But that’s no help because there’s no easy way to compare LED watts with incandescent watts. “There isn’t a uniform way to convert incandescent watts to LED watts,” says C|NET.
Now, instead of watts, use Lumens as the yardstick for brightness. Packaging on LED bulbs rates brightness in lumens (and in watts). To replace a 150-watt incandescent bulb, look for an LED rated at 2600 lumens (25-28 LED watts), C|NET says.
4. Choose the right bulb for dimmers
Another common issue with LEDs is that they are not compatible with dimming, or the dimmers you have in your house. Some buzz, some flicker, some strobe as you dim, some do not respond to the dimmer switch at all. This can be a tough problem to remedy as you may not know what brand the existing dimmers in your house are.
First, check the packaging to ensure that the bulb is in fact “dimmable”. Once you know for sure the bulb can dim, the next step is to check the dimmer compatibility. This can either be a leaflet inside the packaging or a link provided to the manufacturer’s website. If you have done your research and are unsure which dimmers you currently have installed, call a certified electrician to check your compatibility.
Be aware of cheap, no-name bulbs or one-off brands. It is always best to stick with a reputable brand and a reputable distributor. Going with the cheapest bulb is not always good practice. Reputable brands go through ruthless quality control and have great warranties. Some cheap bulbs may fail early or cause problems in the future.
5. Smart LED lighting
Smart LED lighting comes in all functionalities and brands. Going in depth on the different brands is best saved for your own research. What we will say is this: make sure the system you choose is the system you have researched and will stick with. Most smart lighting is expandable, as in you can start with one bulb, or one room, and increase to your whole home or office over time. The downside is that most brands are not compatible with one another. If you plan on going with a smart system, make sure you have done enough research to know that it is the right one for you and that you plan on using it for a long time.
Contact HOME SAFE today if you are planning on making the switch to LED.
Request a free preliminary assessment to determine if your home is right for this service.