Your good old incandesced bulb has burned out? It’s a good time to try something new, isn’t it? Many of us have already heard about the advantages of LED lighting such as cost-efficiency, long life-span and eco-friendliness. All these factors make LED lamps an attractive lighting solution. But there are still a few things you should consider before buying your first LED bulb.
The power of brightness
All of us got used to one simple rule: more powerful-more bright. But it doesn’t work with LEDs. An average LED bulb consumes much less than incandescent analog and its brightness doesn’t depend on its wattage.
For example, a 60W incandescent may be as bright as an 8-12W LED bulb. And an 8W LED bulb may be brighter than a 12W bulb of another manufacturer. The wattage is a measurement of how much energy the bulb consumes, not how much light it produces. So how is LED’s brightness determined?
The lumen (lm) is the real indicator of light bulbs’ brightness. For most of us this characteristic is new. So it will be much easier to use the following table when choosing a bulb:
For example, if you take an LED bulb with 700lm it will be as bright as 60W incandescent analog.
You can also calculate the rated luminous efficacy of chosen bulb by dividing its luminous flux by its wattage. The following number will show the amount of lumens on every watt of consumed energy. And the higher is this number the more efficient is the bulb.
What is your favourite white?
Let’s continue with unusual measurements! LED lamps come in a wide color range. And this color is measured just like the temperature – in Kelvin degrees. And the higher is the color temperature the colder is the light’s tint. Strange, isn’t it? Let’s find out why!
The body heated up to a certain temperature emits visible light starting from red and ending with bluish. Here is the temperature of typical light sources to make it easier for you to choose the color of your lamp:
|1,850 K||Candle flame, sunset/sunrise|
|2,400 K||Standard Incandescent lamps|
|3,000 K||Warm White CFL and LED lamps|
|4,500 K||Neutral White light|
|5,000 K||Horizon daylight|
|5,500–6,000 K||Vertical daylight, electronic flash|
|6,500 K||Daylight, overcast|
|6,500–9,500 K||LCD or CRT screen|
|15,000–27,000 K||Clear blue poleward sky|
To dim or not to dim?
That is the question! The answer is simple: if you want to use the bulb in fixtures with smooth brightness control it should be dimmable. Bulbs compatible with dimmers are more expensive than non-dimmable ones and may look as a waste of money if you’re not going to control the light brightness. But they are designed for a wide power range so they are much more resistant to current fluctuations.
Twinkle, twinkle little LED
We are looking not just for efficient light bulb but also for the safe one. Here we should consider the ripple level. Many artificial light sources work on alternating current. It causes high-frequency brightness fluctuations and, as a result, headaches and eye fatigue.
LEDs work on direct current so they shouldn’t flicker. But that’s not always so. Cheap bulbs flicker just like CFLs because their driver can’t provide an appropriate current rectification. So before buying a bulb make sure it was produced by a reliable LED lights manufacturer or at least that its ripple level is lower than 20%.
Are they really a good couple?
Not all fixtures should use LEDs. Some say that LED bulbs don’t heat up. But that’s not true. Even though the bulb’s surface stays cool, the heat is produced within the LED device itself and is pulled away by a heat sink in bulb’s base.
It may become the reason for some troubles. The bulb needs to dissipate the heat. So if it is placed next to wiring it may damage it. And if it is placed in an enclosed housing, the bulb’s life-span will be significantly shortened because heat can’t leave its base.
To flood or to spot?
What are you going to use your LED for? Do you want to lighten a big room or to emphasize specific design elements? Not only the construction of your bulb matters here. Pay attention to its beam angle.
The beam angle is the degree of width on which light emits from a light source. In specific terms this is the angle between the opposing points on the beam axis where the light intensity drops to 50% of its maximum.
So don’t neglect this feature when choosing a bulb. Use it for modifying your home lighting and creating your own unique design.
And to sum up!
LED technology provides us with variety of advantages and implementation options. Let’s use them for creating something new and beautiful. Or at least to optimize our house and family budget.