on September 8 2013
A light-emitting diode, or LED, is a solid-state semiconductor that emits light when a current passes through it. LED light bulbs can be used in many common fixtures in your home, including accent lighting, track lighting, room lighting and outdoor spotlights.
Government legislation has mandated that light bulbs must be 30 percent more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs by 2014, and by 2020, all bulbs must be at least 70 percent more efficient.
That means you may find incandescents slowly phasing out, but LED light bulbs offer many money- and energy-saving benefits over traditional light bulbs.
• Have an exceptionally long lifespan. They can last up to three times longer than compact fluorescent,
or CFL, bulbs, and 20 times longer than traditional incandescents. A typical LED light that burns
three hours a day can last about 22 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.
• Save energy as they are up to 85 percent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and
10 percent more efficient than CFL bulbs.
While LED household 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.
LED Light Bulbs Made Easy
1. Select Shape
• Spotlights for track lighting
• Floods for outdoor and recessed lights
• LED candles for wall sconces and decorative fixtures
• A-line bulbs for room lighting and lamps
2. Choose Brightness and Energy Efficiency
• Look for bulbs with high lumens and low wattage for the best energy cost savings
• Divide the lumens by the wattage to determine the best brightness-to-energy usage ratio
3. Choose Color Temperature
• Soft light for indoor applications and small areas
• Bright light for outdoor lighting and indoor task lighting
4. Match Fixture Base
• Screw-in bases include miniature candelabra, candelabra, intermediate and medium
• Pin bases typically have two pins, such as those used for many halogen lights
You can choose from five basic shapes of LED bulbs: flood, spotlight, globe, candle and A-line:
Flood lights, sometimes called reflectors, cast a wider directional light than spotlights. Floods are ideal for:
• Recessed Lighting
• Outdoor floodlights
• Landscape lighting
• Motion sensors
Spotlights can also be called reflectors. They concentrate light in a very small area to produce a bright spot of light. Spotlights are a good for:
• Track lighting
• Overhead recessed lighting
Globe lights emit light in every direction, which makes them great for general lighting with lamps, vanities, and pendant lights, including:
• Bathroom vanities
• Living room or den lamps
• Pendant lights in hallways or near doorways
Decorative bulbs, often called candle bulbs, emulate the shape of a candle flame and work in multiples to provide ambient and accent lighting. They are best used in decorative lighting fixtures, including:
• Wall sconces
• Decorative fixtures
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
• Reading lamps
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 per watt 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.
If a bulb is an ENERGY STAR-certified LED bulb
, it has been tested for highest quality in terms of:
• Color quality
: consistent white light over the rated life
• Light output
: light must meet minimum levels for replacement claims and is maintained through the end
of rated life
: more light (lumens) for less watts, 75 percent or more
: three-year minimum warranty designation
All ENERGY STAR-certified lighting products are subject to thorough testing and review before they can bear the label, including:
• Verified compliance with more than 20 separate industry standards and procedures
• Third-party testing of products off the retail shelf
• Rapid cycling of bulbs thousands of times to find early failures
• Testing to stress the products in operating environments similar to how you will use the product in your home
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 area you want to brighten.
LED bulbs provide white light in various shades: bright white
, like a blue-tinted fluorescent tube; soft white
, like a yellow-tinted incandescent light; and daylight
, a bright light mainly used for security purposes.
Your lighting needs will determine what color and how bright you’ll want the bulbs to be.
The color-rendering index, or CRI, measures how close in color a bulb is to an incandescent.
The color of light an incandescent bulb gives off is represented by a score of 100 on the CRI. An LED or CFL bulb with a score of 80 or higher is considered good. An LED or CFL with a score of 90 or higher is considered very good. Typically, LED bulbs score near 85 on the scale.
The type and shade of light is measured in a temperature rating known as Kelvin. The higher the K temperature, the brighter the shade of white light produced.
LED bulbs also provide 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 other colors
Once you know the color of light you need, the next step is to select the right base.
As with incandescent bulbs, you’ll need to determine the LED bulb base you need. If you’re going to the store, bring the bulb you’re replacing so you can match the base sizes.
Most common household fixtures have pin bases, or Edison bases, also known as screw-in bases. Types of Edison bases include:
|• Candle: a slightly smaller bulb base, used in chandeliers, light sconces and other small fixtures
|• Medium: the bulb base for standard light bulbs, used in most lamps and overhead light fixtures
||• Bi-pin: a standard base for small light bulbs
||• GU 10: A U-shaped ceramic base mount with twist lock
|| • GU 24: A two-pin base; twist and lock to replace the bulb
Features to Consider Dimmability:
Not all LED bulbs are dimmable, but most are. You should check the specifications of the bulb if this is a feature you want. Home Automation:
WiFi technology is available for turning LED light bulbs on and off, dimming, setting scenes, and even changing the color of the light. 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.