At home with LEDs

LED bulbs (or “Lamps” to those in the trade) have been available for more than 10 years now. With many people having tried them with mixed results, unfortunately some early users may have some bad memories hanging around of poor output and bad colour. As confidence in LED is rising, and the costs are falling, Luceco discuss the story so far, providing the important information necessary to get the most from the technology

The love for halogen
The halogen lamp is how we are used to the average home being lit; they turn on instantly and provide a nice coloured light.

But we need to use less power, and by September 2018 you will no longer be able to buy a halogen bulb.

We have had options to reduce our energy usage within our homes for many years by replacing halogen with U-shaped fluorescent lamps. Simply, the majority of us didn’t bother because the light from them did not perform the same. The colour wasn’t right and no one wants a delay when they turn on their light switch.

Give yourself a pay rise…
By using a mixture of lamps and fixtures you can create a more interesting environment, but most importantly reduce lighting energy bills by more than 80 per cent. LED also lasts more than 15 x longer than traditional halogen. Many people now have all LED houses.

Different colours?
The colour of the light is known as the colour temperature, one of the big changes to get used to with LED is the different colours available. Colour temperature is measured in kelvin (K) the lower the number the warmer the colour.

  • 2700K – 3300K = Warm White
  • 3300K – 5300K = Neutral White
  • >5300K = Cool White

If you match the colour to either the use or the surface finish you will get the best results, examples of this are that people in warm climates tend to prefer cooler colour temperatures. When considering surface colours, warm colours need to be illuminated by a warm light source.

If you like the colour of the light from an old style lamp, you will want to go for warm white. Warm white is fine for the majority houses, although some people like a slightly whiter light in their kitchens and bathrooms so a neutral white may be preferred. Cool white is not typically desired in a house as it is very blue looking.

How much light?
If you want more light, you need more Watts, and vice versa. With LED the light output is measured in Lumens (Lm) the higher the number the more light is emitted.

It can be difficult to know which output to choose, and end users should purchase lamps that specify on the packaging the equivalent wattage.

As a very rough guide you can usually use an LED light source that is 10 – 15 per cent of the traditional halogen wattage.

Can LED be dimmed?
Yes, but not all LED lights are dimmable – typically you will need to pay a little extra for a dimmable version.

Because the load is much lower than conventional technology, some dimmers do not work well with LEDs. This can cause some flicker, although this issue is occurring less and less as the technology is being developed.

Different types available?
There is now an LED equivalent for every lighting point in your house. This may include a replacement lamp, or alternatively a complete LED fixture. When looking for a replacement lamp, if you are unsure which lamp you need it may well be best to take the old one with you. The most important part to match is the cap at the base of the lamp.

Other areas that you may want to consider LEDs for is lighting under kitchen cupboards, floodlights and wall mounted amenity lighting. LEDs can also be used for lighting in areas that you would not have considered lighting previously, such as marker lighting in steps, under hand rails, and general garden accent lighting.

LED has also provided us with the option of colour changing light. Red, green and blue LEDs can be mixed, which allows creativity in the home or garden.

Summary
LEDs are now available in most major retailers, the technology is further advanced and the costs are very realistic. Eventually legislation will dictate that we only have LED to light our homes – but why wait until then, when we can save money now.