A light-emitting diode (LED) is a solid state semiconductor that emits light when a current passes through it. LED bulbs can be used in many common fixtures in your home, including accent lighting, track lighting, room lighting and outdoor spotlights. They offer many unique money and energy-saving benefits over traditional light bulbs. LED bulbs:
• Have an exceptionally long lifespan. They can last up to 5 times longer than compact fluorescent (CFL)
bulbs and much longer than traditional incandescents. A typical LED light that burns 8 hours a day can
last about 17 years before it needs changing, making LED bulbs an ideal choice for hard-to-reach lights.
• Have no filament or moving parts, making them extremely durable and low maintenance.
• Generate almost no heat or UV rays, which can help reduce air conditioning costs in your home and help
keep fabrics and furnishings from fading.
• Provide greater energy savings by using up to 80% less energy to produce the same amount of brightness
as that of CFLs and incandescent bulbs.
While LED home lighting may require a higher initial investment, their longevity, low maintenance and significant cost savings make LED bulbs a purchase that can pay for itself over time. This buying guide will explain what to look for when selecting an LED bulb, so you can feel confident you’re selecting the right LED lighting for your home.
Factors to Consider
• Shape – Flood, Spotlights, Candle, A-Line
• Brightness and Energy Efficiency – Wattage and Lumens
• Color Temperature – Soft or Bright White Light
• Base Configuration – Screw-in or Pin Base
You can choose from four basic shapes of LED bulbs—floods, spotlights, candle and A-line.
Floods cast a wider directional light than spotlights. Flood lights are ideal for:
Spotlights concentrate light in a very small area to produce a bright spot of light. Spotlights are a good consideration for:
• Track lighting
Candle bulbs emulate the shape of a candle flame and work in multiples to provide ambient and accent lighting. They are for use in decorative lighting fixtures, including:
• Wall sconces
A-Line bulbs disperse light at a wide angle and are ideal for fixtures used to spread light throughout the room. LED A-line bulbs are a good choice for:
• Room area lighting
The next step in selecting your LED bulbs is to maximize energy savings by getting the most light using the least
amount of energy.
Brightness and Energy Efficiency
LED lights use far less energy to provide the same amount of light as CFL and incandescent bulbs. Lumens per watt is a way of identifying how much light a bulb provides compared to the amount of energy, or wattage, used. The amount of light the bulb gives off is measured in lumens. The amount of energy a bulb uses is measured in wattage. To choose the most energy efficient light bulb, check the lumens-to-watts ratio on the bulb’s packaging—the greater the lumens-to-watts ratio, the more energy efficiency the bulb provides. You can determine this ratio yourself by dividing the lumens produced by the amount of watts the bulb requires.
Refer to the table below for a comparison of lumens and watts ratings for incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs.
Once you know the brightness and wattage for the LED you need, the next step is to select a bulb that generates the color or light that works best for the bulb’s application.
LED bulbs provide white light in various shades, from bright white, like a blue-tinted fluorescent tube, to soft white, like a yellow-tinted incandescent light. A good rule of thumb is to use soft white lights indoors and bright white lights outdoors.
The type and shade of the light is measured in a temperature rating known as Kelvin (K). The higher the K temperature, the brighter the shade of white light produced.
Refer to the chart below to determine the K temperature and color you prefer.
LED bulbs also provide very good color rendering, which is the ability of a bulb to show the true color of objects. This is measured on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being the best. LEDs offer as much as 85 on this scale.
In addition to shades of white, LED bulbs are also available in a variety of colors:
Once you know the color of light you need, the next step is to select a bulb that fits in the fixture in which it will function.
As with incandescent bulbs, it’s essential when you’re shopping for LEDs to determine the bulb base size you need. If you’re going to the store, it’s a good idea to bring the bulb you’re replacing along with you, so you can match the base sizes. Most common household fixtures have pin or Edison, also known as screw-in, bases. Types of Edison bases include:
• Miniature Candelabra – A small bulb base, frequently used in chandeliers
• Candelabra – A slightly larger bulb base, used in chandeliers, light sconces and other small fixtures
• Intermediate – A bulb base between the candelabra and medium sizes, commonly used in ceiling fans
• Medium – The bulb base design for standard light bulbs, used in most lamps and overhead light fixtures
• Bi-pin – A standard base for small light bulbs.
Features to Consider
Remote Controls – LED bulbs with remote controls provide convenience and eliminate the need for dimmers.
Warranty – Many LED bulbs come with a warranty covering replacement costs if the bulb malfunctions.