In recent times, LED (light emitting diode) bulbs have proven themselves to be the future of lighting as a result of their energy efficiency, durability and impressive long lifespans. It won’t be long before LED bulbs overtake other lighting choices in popularity as more and more people are swayed by their numerous benefits and cost-saving potential. In fact, as part of a progressive action, on 1 September 2018 the final phase of the European Union ban on the sale of halogen light bulbs came into effect. The ban is due to the inefficiency of halogen bulbs and comes after incandescent light bulbs were banned back in 2009. As these less efficient bulbs are pushed aside, it makes room for more advanced, greener solutions such as LEDs.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes LED Bulbs Different?
- 2 Advantages of Choosing LED Bulbs
- 3 Wave Goodbye to Watts
- 4 Types of LED Bulb Fittings
- 5 Advice When Choosing Bulbs
- 6 Dimmer Switches
- 7 Colour Rendering Index (CRI)
- 8 Lighting for Business
- 9 Are LEDs Right for Me?
The main difference between LED technology and traditional incandescent lightbulbs is the way they actually produce light; incandescent bulbs use a wire filament to pass electricity while LEDs use a semi-conductor. Incandescent bulbs produce 90% of their energy as heat rather than light which is why these bulbs are often hot to touch and can be a fire hazard.
This is also different from energy-saving bulbs which use mercury vapour to create UV light that is absorbed by a phosphor coating causing it to glow. Mercury is a toxic component and there is the potential for exposure if the bulb breaks or is incorrectly disposed of.
Unlike other options that need time to ‘warm up’, LEDs are instantly bright when you switch them on and they have been shown to work well in low temperatures too.
There are many benefits to switching to LED light bulbs, whether you’re considering the switch for your home or business we’ve covered the main advantages you can expect below:
Using up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and 60% less energy than compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulbs available. Therefore, using LEDs will help to considerably reduce your energy bills and lower your carbon footprint while not compromising on brightness. Switching to LEDs is a great way for businesses to meet energy quotas and government energy efficiency incentives.
With an impressive average lifespan of 15 years (25,000 – 50,000 hours) LEDs offer excellent value for money as other bulb types tend to last a fraction of the time, for example an incandescent bulbs typical lifespan of 1,000 – 2,000 hours. LED bulbs may be slightly pricier to initially buy but with other options you will be regularly purchasing replacement bulbs as well as paying more on your energy bills. It is also worth noting that LED bulbs do not burn out or suddenly stop working, instead they will experience lumen depreciation meaning they will very slowly get dimmer over time.
How Much Do LED Bulbs Cost?
We mentioned that LEDs are good value for money, but how much could they save you? Lighting accounts for a significant portion (15%) of a typical household electricity bill (according to The Energy Saving Trust) so by switching your bulbs to a more energy efficient alternative you stand to make considerable savings.
Below is a comparison of the total cost of two different bulbs of the same brightness being used for the same number of hours –
|LED Bulb||Halogen Bulb|
|Estimated Cost Per Bulb||£7||£1|
|Amount of Energy (kWh) consumed over 10,000 hours||90kWh||430kWh|
|Number of Bulbs Needed for 10,000 Hours Use||1||5|
|Cost of Electricity (@ £0.12 p/kWh)||£10.80||£51.60|
As you can see, using an LED bulb can save you money in the long run, especially considering the above calculations are for switching only 1 bulb in your home or office. Within 1 year of 3 hours per day of usage your LED bulb would have paid for itself in savings. A fair estimate is a £35 annual saving on your electricity bill if you switch all of the bulbs in your home to LEDs.
Variety of Options
LEDs offer many colour options and even offer different shades of white light so you can decide on the exact lighting you’d like in your home and work spaces. This colour temperature is measured in Kelvins so if you want a very warm white you should choose a bulb with under 2700K, a warm white is between 2700 – 3200K, daylight is between 4000-5000K and cool white is between 5500 – 6500K. A good guide is to go for warmer bulbs for bedrooms and sitting rooms and daylight or cooler bulbs for kitchens, bathrooms and offices.
LEDs are the safest form of lighting as they give off little to no heat, do not contain fragile parts or glass enclosures and do not contain toxic substances such as mercury. They are unlikely to break or shatter and are safe to handle. Not only this, LEDs do not flicker so eye strain and headaches are much less likely to occur. These bulbs are very strong, more durable and are safe to use in all areas of a home.
Another benefit is that LEDs do not produce infra-red or ultraviolet radiation meaning they can be used to light precious artefacts and paintings without causing any damage or fading.
Maintenance, for example replacing light bulbs, can be a particularly significant cost especially for commercial premises. By switching to LEDs, this instantly eliminates the need to regularly replace the bulbs and considerably cuts maintenance costs as well as reduces energy bills.
Watts used to be used when shopping for a suitable light bulb as generally higher wattage would mean a brighter bulb, however watts is the amount of energy consumed rather than the brightness of the light. As LEDs don’t use a lot of energy, they will have low watts but that does not mean they are not bright. Lumens are used to measure how much light is actually given out so keep an eye on the lumens to get an accurate measure of a bulbs brightness. Below is a table of the general rule of thumb when it comes to the relationship between watts and lumens depending on the bulb type.
|General Rule of Thumb|
As you can see, LED bulbs are very energy efficient as they use less watts while remaining bright. This means you will no longer be wasting energy to produce light and, as an example, you can replace your 60W energy saving bulb with a 9W LED bulb to produce the same number of lumens. For incandescent bulbs 1W generally produces 40 – 50 lumens whereas with an LED bulb 1W will produce 80-100 lumens.
It used to be a struggle to find LED bulbs with the same fittings as traditional bulbs, thankfully this is no longer the case. There are a variety of fittings to suit existing light fixtures so whatever fitting you are looking for, you’ll find an LED version that can be used as a direct replacement.
Some of the most frequently used fittings that are available as LEDs include:
- E27, also known as Edison Screw
- E14, also known as Small Edison Screw
- B22 also known as Bayonet
- B15 also known as Small Bayonet
- R50 also known as Reflector Bulbs
- PAR38 which is very bright and often used for security and commercial lighting
- GU10 spotlight
- MR16 spotlight
You can also get smart LED bulbs which can be managed remotely from your mobile device or through voice control. Smart bulbs give you a convenient way of controlling the lights within your home no matter where you are and are a helpful option for people with mobility issues. Another bonus is the ability to save energy by conveniently ensuring the lights are off when no one is in the house.
LED options have grown immensely in recent years and it’s not just a range of fittings that are available, there are also a range of shapes and sizes available so you can choose a style that matches your home or office.
When you are choosing new bulbs for your home or workplace, consider the following factors to ensure you select the best suited bulb for your needs:
- Bulb fitting – as you saw from our list above, there are many different types of light fittings. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is take the old bulb to the shop with you to ensure you get the same fitting or a quick online search can help you identify the fitting type you need too.
- Bulb life – some people are put off by the fact that LEDs are more expensive to buy, but consider the bulb life when making your choice.
- Brightness – lumens will tell you how bright the bulb is, use the comparison table above to help with this if you aren’t sure. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb is going to be.
- Energy saving potential – consider if the new bulb will help you to save energy and therefore save money on your energy bills.
- Colour of output – use the kelvin scale as a guide to the colour of the bulb to help you choose a bulb that will suit the atmosphere you are trying to create.
- Dimmable or not – if you would like to dim your new bulb, make sure it states that it is dimmable as not all bulbs have this capability.
If you want to be able to set the mood with dimmed lighting, this is possible with LED bulbs. However, to be able to dim your new dimmable LED lights, you may need to upgrade your dimmer switch to one that is capable of recognising low electrical loads. You’ll likely need to upgrade your existing dimmer switch because many of the switches that are used for other bulb types have a minimum wattage load of around 60W which is considerably higher than the wattage of LEDs.
This is a number that rates how accurately the light reproduces natural colours. Generally, CRI isn’t of much importance when you are looking for a bulb for everyday use but if you are looking for bulbs to suit retail displays, galleries or photographic displays the CRI is very important. The number ranges from 1-100 with the higher the number the better the colour rendering. Generally, 80 is considered acceptable and a CRI of over 90 is excellent.
When choosing commercial lighting the main focus tends to be cost effectiveness, durability, light output and of course aesthetics. The wide range of LED products that are available means it is getting easier to find lighting solutions to suit your requirements.
The right lighting is critical in retail environments, the advantages of using LED bulbs includes the lack of glare and the reliability of the bulbs. Customers want to be able to see the products properly in good lighting that won’t distort the colour and LEDs ensure excellent colour rendering as well as a high quality of light.
It is also likely that the lighting in retail environments will be on for long periods of time so the bulbs need to be able to handle this workload without burning out or becoming hot and potentially dangerous. These requirements point towards LEDs and when you combine this with their long life and cost efficiency it seems that LEDs truly are the future of retail lighting.
Retail is just one aspect of commercial lighting, whether you run a restaurant and are looking for ambient lighting that can set the mood or operate a warehouse or office and need glare-free, reliable lights, LEDs are worth looking into. They meet Health & Safety requirements and can help get your business closer to your carbon neutral goals. Whatever the commercial environment, using LEDs can save you money while also creating the atmosphere you are looking for.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to discover more about LED bulbs and why they are increasing in popularity. It is likely that making the switch to using LEDs will be beneficial to you, whether you are looking at it from a financial, energy efficiency or durability standpoint. One of the important things when buying new bulbs is understanding the brightness and colour to make sure they will create the look and ambience you want, if you aren’t sure, try one bulb and see how it looks before replacing the rest.