LED Lighting, the latest alternative to traditional home lighting is, in our book, a very exciting and cost effective option compared to the humble light bulb. However, because it is still a relatively new technology it can be very confusing, so we’ll try and simplify it here.
Comparing LED Lighting to Traditional Lighting
We’ve set out to give you the lowdown on how LED technology can transform your home lighting, giving you greater flexibility, efficiency and functionality and ensuring that you select the right lights for your home.
Until very recently, the only option available to us all was the good old incandescent ‘GLS’ (General Light Service) bulb that was always rated in Watts. The GLS lamp worked by passing an electrical current through a thin piece of wire that made it glow red hot whilst it burned away. Almost all of the energy consumed by the lamp was given off in heat, with only a small percentage given off as light. So, a 60w lamp consumed 60w of energy and gave almost 60w of heat, a 100w lamp gave almost 100w of heat and so-on. Light output is actually measured in Lumens, not Watts. As a baseline, a 40w incandescent light bulb emits around 450 Lumens, a 60w around 800 Lumens and a 100w lamp around 1600 Lumens.
GLS lamps have a typical life of around 1000 hours but this can vary greatly. I’m sure that many of us have installed a light bulb for it to fail immediately or very soon after it was fitted, I certainly have. This is due to the very fragile nature of a thin piece of wire suspended in the centre of a glass globe, the conditions in which it has been stored and how it has been handled and transported.
If you used a 60w incandescent lamp for just 3-hours each day on average, then you would be replacing it after 11 months at a cost of around £1.50. In addition you would use 60Kw of electricity at about 13p per Kw (2015 price), which is another £7.80. That’s a whopping £9.30 every 11 months, or £10.15 per year for one single 60w lamp being used for a paltry 3-hours a day!
In conclusion, GLS lamps are a poor choice, not only are they expensive to run, but they generate huge amounts of heat and consume a lot of energy in use and manufacture.
As a result most developed countries around the globe have introduced legislation to phase out the incandescent light bulb over the next few years, in favour of LED lighting and with many incandescent variations already unavailable.
The LED Home Lighting Option – How to Choose
Whether you want the latest modern fitting, a traditional light fitting fitted with LED lamps, trying to save money or helping to reduce global emissions, LED lighting is here to stay. Ultra low energy LED is extremely efficient and will pay for itself over time. It is the future and is here to stay until something even more efficient can be found.
All major manufactures are in the process of designing, developing and changing existing designs to accept LED lamps of fitting them with LED modules. There has never been a better or bigger choice of ultra-efficient LED lighting available and that choice is likely to grow more quickly in the near future.
LED lights and modules naturally emit a directional light that has a very narrow pattern, so are very well suited to applications where a narrow directional light is called for. These would include but not limited to spotlights, downlights, picture lights, desk lamps and accent lighting. This sort of LED lighting is normally embedded in a GU10 spot lamp or in ribbon flex that can be cut into any length.
There are many GLS type LED lamps on the market that out-perform the old incandescent lamp in every department. They are dimmable, look the same and typically use 1/10th of the energy, give off little heat and last at least 25 – 35 times longer. These lamps usually have smaller LED lamps fitted in a circle, or a reflector to give 360° illumination. Typically 4w = 40w, 6w = 60w and so-on.
If you used a 60w incandescent lamp 7w LED equivalent for 3-hours each day on average, then you would be replacing it after 18 years at a cost of around £10.50. In addition you would use 137Kw of electricity at around 13p per Kw, which is another £17.81. That’s a total of £28.31 for 18 years, which works out at just £1.58 per year! That’s a saving of £8.57 every year for 18 years, a total saving of £154.26 per 60w lamp over its lifetime!
Choosing the Colour Temperature of LED Lights
What’s this all about then, how can colour have a temperature? Well, it can and it does and it’s measured on The Kelvin Scale. Incandescent lamps gave you one choice and that was a colour temperature of 2700k. If you want to choose an LED light fitting or lamp that closely resembles your old style light bulb then 2700k – 3000k is the one to go for. This colour is also known as warm white.
As a general rule, warmer colours are better for rooms that you relax in and cooler colours are better for task lighting and work areas. You will often see references to warm white, cool white, neutral and daylight colour temperatures but what do they mean?
Warm white: 2700k – 3000k
Neutral white: 4000k – 4200k
Cool white: 5000k – 5400k
Once you get above 6000k the light creeps into the blue spectrum and is not suitable for domestic lighting.
LED Watts and Lumens
We have become used to rating lamps according to the power they consume, so most of us can imagine the light from a 60w or 100w lamp, but LED replacement lights don’t conform to this scale since almost all of the energy consumed is given as light not heat.
As a rough guide, an LED lamp will give the same amount of light as a GLS light bulb whilst consuming around 1/10 of the energy, so a 50w GU10 spot light will be replaced with a 5w LED GU10 and a 60w GLS light bulb will be replaced with a 6w or 7w LED lamp. Most replacement LED lamps and light fittings found in this section supply the light output in Lumens in the technical data section.
Dimming LED lights
Do not attempt to dim non-dimmable LED lights as they cannot be dimmed. Should you fit a dimmer to non-dimmable LED’s then damage to the dimmer, lamps or both will occur.
Mains voltage dimmable LED lights can be dimmed using an ordinary resistive dimmer. LED lighting products consume very low wattages and are very energy efficient. This can cause problems when choosing the correct dimmer.
For more information about dimming LED lights and dimmers in general, please follow this link to view our article entitled choosing the correct domestic dimmer switch.
If you have a question or require further information on any of our LED lighting products, please use the contact us page or telephone 0151 650 2138.
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