What to Consider When Buying an LED Light
You’ve may have heard that LED lights are cost saving, energy saving and environmentally friendly. All very true. Yet when you venture down to the store (or online high bay vs low bay light
site) to buy them, you had better know what you are doing or you may just end up with the wrong bulb. There are five key things to look out for:
- First, make sure you know what type of bulb you wish to replace. This sounds very straightforward, but just as we joke about computer users phoning the support line to say their computer isn’t working… only to realize they hadn’t plugged it in!… selecting an LED replacement bulb requires that you know a) the base dimension and fitting type (i.e. is it a screw fitting or bayonet fitting; is it a thin candle type bulb or a standard incandescent globe etc.).
Take note of the dimensions of your bulbs and also take not of the space within a lamp shade or housing. While LED lighting is designed to closely resemble more traditional lights, there can be differences in size.
- Second, you need to determine what the equivalent LED light is for your old bulb replacement. This is quite tricky when products do not have the required information on their packaging. You are looking for only one thing: lumen output data. In simple terms, lumens are the measure of light intensity. A 10 lumen light will offer negligible light (barely enough to find your way around a room) while a 2000 lumen light will allow you to read a book in a room. The reason for this is that unlike incandescent lights, like a 60W or 100W bulb, which radiate similar numbers of lumens, LED lights can have very different lumen outputs (a W or Watt, is just a measure of the power needed to light your bulb. Generally, the higher the watts, the brighter the bulb).
To replace a 60W light bulb you will need to find an LED light that offers 600-700 lumens of light. Now if this is not stated on the packaging, you’ll have no idea what you are actually buying. There could be anything from 5W to 12W LED lights on the shelf so you’ll have to ask an assistant for the lumen output. Most LED globes reach between 50 and 80 lumens per watt, with some even brighter at 100 lumens per watt. Don’t buy until you have the lowest wattage with the required lumen output to match what you currently have.
- Third, look for light color. Now by this I don’t mean red, yellow, blue etc. LED lighting is designed to give off “white” light. White light is a combination of the visible light spectrum, but not all white light is white. Confused? What this means is that you can get LED light that is similar in color to an incandescent light – what we call “warm white” light which is slightly yellow – through normal white and daylight white and all the way through to “cool white”, which is extremely bright and very clinical. You can see the difference by looking at a fluorescent light (likely to be cool white) and comparing that light to a standard bulb (likely to be warm white). This is important because the type of light will change the ambience. Use a warm white light in an office and you’ll strain your eyes and get a gloomy effect… but use a cool white light in your bedroom or lounge and you’ll think you are in a hospital ward!
- The fourth thing to look for is whether or not the light is “dimmable”. While you can pretty much dim any standard light, not all LED lights can be dimmed. This is because their electronic circuits cannot operate effectively at very low power inputs – after all, they are already low power consumers. You’ll damage non-dimmable LED lights very quickly if you connect them to a dimmer circuit – so don’t. Rather buy lights that are clearly marked “dimmable”.