The Ultimate Guide to LED Lights
The Evolution of LED Light Bulbs
Technological advances are responsible for many great changes in diverse sectors, and lighting has not been left out. Just several years ago, incandescent lights were the norm, and they catered to consumers’ lighting needs sufficiently. However, lighting demands took new turns, and that meant adopting new technologies, which light emitting diodes have done quite well. Initial LEDs were used on displays such as calculators, TVs and clocks but their applications have bludgeoned with modern techniques permitting them to be incorporated into fixtures and bulbs. Understanding the functioning of light emitting diodes and other essentials puts you in a better position to decide on the most appropriate products to meet your requirements.
An LED bulb contains a semiconductor chip that allows electrical current to flow, consequently illuminating the diodes, which are the lighting mechanisms. The materials responsible for producing light are encased in a solid compound, making it a solid-state technology. This light mode produces less CO2 than incandescent bulbs, and that is one reason LEDs have become so popular. By design, LEDS give out light in a directional manner as opposed to multiple directions in other bulbs. This characteristic is responsible for making light emitting diodes operate without consuming a lot of energy. However, the one-directional nature of this charging system also means that an exclusive design is necessary when there is a need to get a LED bulb that shines in multiple paths.
History of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
LED technology has been present for decades ever since Nick Holonyak, Jr. created the first visible spectrum LED light. This light was red in colour and not bright enough to handle daylight use; and so, it was applied to indicator lights and signs in military operations. Then there was the matter of costs to consider - with each light requiring about $200 per diode; it was impractical to produce it on a large-scale. The second attempt at LED lighting was in the form of a yellow bulb that was created by M. George Craford who also increased the output of the original red light. The employment off LEDs grew as more colours were discovered over the years.
The demand for more LED devices rose in the 1980s when a brighter, more stable LED was structured. Its cost was lower than the previous versions as well, making it possible for manufacturers and consumers to afford. By the 1990s, the utilisation of LEDs had become standard in devices such as computer, refrigerators and Hi-Fi systems.
Safety of LEDs
Light emitting diodes don’t contain mercury, lead or other toxins that have been known to pose certain health risks in other types of bulbs. A CFL tube, for instance, can hold up to 15g of mercury, which is very dangerous, particularly in areas with little children. LEDs don’t give off heat like other lights, so they are constructed with heats sinks for absorption to prevent the system from burning out. This thermal management is crucial to the functioning of LEDs because, when temperatures rise, the heat degrades the lighting capacity of the system. Lack of heat generation also adds to the safety advantage of LEDs. In incandescent and halogen bulbs, the temperatures can go as high as 2,500 in the filaments, which present fire hazards (learn more), especially if the insulation and fitting come into contact.
LED light Bulbs vs. Energy Efficiency
One of the greatest merits that LEDs have over other bulbs such as halogen, incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is that the former use less power. Energy efficiency has become a huge determinant when charging any device and consumers favour products that maximise power usage. Whether lighting a residential, commercial or industrial building, energy efficient bulbs provide considerable savings, and that is why most governments today recommend the switch to LED lights. LEDs save up to 90% of energy in comparison to incandescent light bulbs of the same brightness. With an online calculator, you can learn about the exact energy savings that a LED fixture will yield when compared to the other bulbs types in your home. Incandescent and halogen fixtures may be inexpensive, but the energy costs add up over their lifetime. For one, conventional lighting options don’t last very long, and you have to get replacements after about 1,000 hours of use.
The conservation capabilities of LEDs are excellent for the environment as well because power plants don’t require as much fossil fuel to produce energy like in other light sources. This reduced demand for power also means less environmental degradation.
Our LED Bulb Lifespan
The duration of a LED lamp is another justification to use them because they can offer up to 50,000 hours. LEDs don’t burn out; they lose their lumens (brightness). The more the lumens depreciate, the more the colour appearance shifts. Due to this aspect, you can tell early on when a LED needs replacing instead of waiting for it to stop emitting light. So, when the light output of a bulb decreases by 30%, it may be time to get another one.
LED Output; Best & Brightest
The question of how bright an LED bulb should be when in use comes up regularly when people are searching for the most efficient light sources. Lumen is the unit that measures the brightness of a LED light as opposed to watts. A popular misconception among consumers is that wattage measures the brightness of a bulb but what it really does is gauge the degree of power that is drawn to emit light. LEDs extract less power than other lights to gives out the same amount of brightness. So, you can find a LED lamp of 16 -20W emitting 1600 lumens while an incandescent of the same brightness requiring 100W.
When looking for special effect lights, LEDs provide great alternatives, but they must match with the dimming switches in use. Not all light emitting diode lights are compatible with traditional dimmers, so it may be necessary to get new ones. The market is full of LED-compatible dimmer switches that can cater to the demands of your home or business. Always check the packaging on LED bulbs to see if they are dimmable.
Selecting the Right LED Bulbs
Identifying the upsides of using LED light is not enough because you should as well get a clue on how to pick the best ones for any task. The numerous types of products on today’s market can make it tough to settle on a useful one.
LED Bulb Quality Standards
The quality of LEDs has become a major challenge as the high demand for the products has resulted in the proliferation of all types of enterprises, claiming to offer the best appliances and fixtures. A majority of these companies don’t meet the standards for genuine LED lighting, meaning that consumers end up with products that don’t provide efficiency, durability or cost-effectiveness. The easiest approach to avoid fake product is to get one with the ENERGY STAR label. For a LED fixture to attain the ENERGY STAR rating, it has to adhere to very specific regulations. An ES LED bulb is designed to offer the same experience that an A-type does. It also has to undergo over twenty industry verifications and procedures to ensure it is up to standard. ENERGY STAR products are also put through tests to check their performance in various environments. A distributor or retailer that is willing to stand behind the quality of their products will always give a warranty.
Common Types of LED Bulbs
LED bulbs are available in assorted ranges with variations in design, size and colour. Flood lights are ideal for outside lighting when you want to improve the illumination of your compound. They are also used for overhead recessed lighting due to their ability to shine in a directional manner. A-line bulbs are meant for room lighting because of the wide angle with which they direct light. If you want to brighten up a hallway or install reading lamps, A-line bulbs are perfect options. Candle bulbs are for decorative purposes, so they are suitable for accent and ambient lighting. Wall scones are good examples of how well these bulbs function. There are globe lights also that go very well with pendant lights and vanities because they give out light in every direction.
Location & Fitting LEDs
From these examples, it is clear that you have to know where a bulb is going before making the final decision. A directional bulb that casts light at a small angle will not serve very well in your security lighting fixtures. Whether it’s for domestic or commercial use, getting the wrong product can lead to wasted money because it will not be meeting the lighting requirements in place. The location of a LED light will also determine the appropriate brightness. A bedroom, for example, will require lights with lower lumens than a hallway. Gauge the intensity that a room needs to avoid using up more power than is necessary for illumination. The versatility of LEDs allows you to install them in all kinds of areas like the garden, pool and walls.
Coloured LED Bulbs
Colour spectrum is another determinant that will influence the suitability of a LED light. Bright, warm and soft white are the most popular alternatives, but the spectrum spreads further than that. Depending on the store you purchase the products, LED bulbs can vary from purple to red. The yellow and white variants are common because they resemble the light from incandescent bulbs, therefore, making them suitable for interior lighting. Light colour significantly impacts the ambience in a certain space, so it has to be fitting. If you are to get technical, manufacturers gauge colour on a Kevin scale, with the yellow light measuring 2,700 K, so you can use that as a guide. When it comes to colour choice, it is all about personal preferences. You may opt for mood lighting in a bedroom, meaning a red bulb may be on your shopping list. For pool lighting, you may want a little bit of everything from blue to yellow to green.
LED Bulb Shape
Bulb shape is another part of the LED buying guide, and the options are simply puzzling. The shape of a bulb matters because, for one, it determines the angle at which light spreads. One bulb may provide light dispersion at 360 degrees while another one will only cover 180. A bulb can produce a narrow or wide spotlight beam. Some of the shapes available include golf, spiral, globe and traditional. Aesthetics may also drive your choice of bulb shape. Factor in the location of the bulb also because it may present restrictions for particular shapes.
Replacement LED Bulb Fittings
Another aspect that may complicate your LED lights shopping experience is the fitting of the bulbs. Most consumers don’t consider this bit when choosing lights. The fitting of a bulb will determine how functional it is; hence, the need to get it right. Screw and bayonet are quite common, but your fixtures may require another type. If it is a replacement, check the fitting of the old installation (click here) and use it as a reference to get the new product. For new fixtures, you may have to ask for an expert opinion regarding the right bulb fittings. LED technology has changed lighting completely, and the numerous products available suit varied applications from industrial to domestic to commercial. Look at LED reviews when shopping for products to get an idea of the best brands out there. Capitalise on energy efficiency, sturdiness and cost-effectiveness of LEDs by taking your time to select the right appliances and fixtures.