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About LED Lighting
LED light bulbs are carefully packaged arrays of light emitting diodes (LEDs). These simple LEDs are solid state devices which produce light through a process called "electroluminescence." They do this by moving electrons across a very special gap within their internal construction that gives off photons when electrons enter the gap. These photons are the light we see and are different colors based on what materials are used to make the LED. LED bulbs use arrays of multiple LEDs along with special reflectors to replicate the patterns and brilliance of standard lights in many shapes and sizes.
This method not only produces far less heat, but it generates an equivalent amount of light for roughly 80% less energy than a traditional incandescent lamp. Without a filament or glass bulb, an LED light bulb is also more durable and longer lasting than any incandescent can be.
LEDs are one of today's most promising lighting technologies. The best claims made by LEDs are:
- No mercury, making them a cleaner alternative to fluorescent and CFL lamps.
- The lowest energy consumption of any lighting product to date.
- Light quality equal or superior to traditional lighting products.
- Life that is 20 times than some traditional lighting products.
When it comes to purchasing energy-efficient lighting, LEDs exceed CFLs by a wide margin. LEDs have a faster start time, work well in cold weather, and are substantially more durable since they're made from plastic rather than glass. From standard bulbs to fluorescent tubes, LEDs can replicate the same lighting conditions found in fluorescents while lasting longer and using less energy. As an added bonus, all LEDs are RoHS compliant and do not use mercury, a claim that can't be made by fluorescent lamps.
LED Lighting Styles
- Standard Shape - Designed to give the appearance and pattern of a standard incandescent bulb. Standard and A-shape LED bulbs fit the same sockets and fixtures of your current household lights.
- LED Strip Lights - For accents, alcove, and backlighting, LED strip light is a fantastic choice. More flexible than rope light, and bright enough for accent illumination, a strip of LED tape light can bring any place to life. There are countless uses and applications for this easily installed new light source.
- Decorative - From vanity mirrors to chandeliers, LEDs can replace decorative lighting with the same color temperatures and brilliance. Each bulb uses either a clear or frosted cover to better replicate the light you're used to, and are designed in everything from a candelabra shape to fancy globe bulbs.
- Reflectors - From the powerful flood and spot lights, to home bound recessed or track lights, reflectors find excellent use indoors or out. LED reflector lamps can provide the same brilliance for less energy and will create far less heat than an incandescent or halogen lamp. As a bonus, they have a higher CRI than fluorescent reflectors for better colors.
- Tubes - LED T8 bulbs are the emerging standard for commercial or household lighting. These LED T8 tubes emit the same amount of light as fluorescent T8s, while using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED T8 bulbs are especially effective in cold areas like refrigeration lockers where fluorescent tubes are less efficient at producing light.
Things to Consider When Buying LED Lighting
- Equivalent Wattage - While lumens are the new standard, it helps to have an easily recognizable guide. Comparing an LED bulb to an incandescent will give you a rough estimate of just how well it will light a room. As a very ballpark figure for LED wattages, 1/4 or 1/5 the incandescent wattage value is usually close to what you need.
- Lumens - Lumens directly measure just how much light the bulb gives out in total. On average, a 60-watt incandescent shines at 800 lumens, with roughly 50-100 lumens of difference above or below. The variance depends on manufacturer and age of the lamp. LEDs are directly rated for their max lumen rating and last much longer without dimming of the bulb.
- Color Temperature - Your guide to how the light itself will look. Lower values are warmer, with 2700-3000K being a more incandescent "warm white" while higher temperatures like 5000K will deliver a very harsh "stark white" light.
- Driver Content - Because of their design, LEDs do not typically run on AC voltage. Many LEDs require some form of driver to convert the voltage from AC to DC for proper operation. The majority of socket-based LED lamps are self-driven, but you should always check before buying to make sure that you buy both an LED and a driver at the same time if it isn't self-driven.