It’s finally time. After weeks of thinking it over you’ve decided to switch from incandescent to LED lighting for your home.
After all, don’t you want to be like other LED converters and get more out of your hard-earned dollars by saving on your electric bills?
Not that ago, light bulbs were light bulbs. No matter your budget, you really had only one option when it came to interior lighting choices for your home: Head to the local hardware store and pick up a package or two of incandescent bulbs, choosing a wattage determined by how bright you need the light to be.
In recent years, however, technology has produced bulbs, namely LEDs, that put incandescent lighting to shame. Not only are these LEDs more energy efficient, but they can also last years, even decades, longer than the standard light bulb we all recollect from not that many years ago. And while prices for LED bulbs were once sky-high – upwards of $100 for one bulb – you can now pick up a cheap, 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulb for less than $5.
But even with newer and cheaper LEDs, how can you be sure you’re getting the best in upgrade costs?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of LED lighting and where to start the switch to LED bulbs.
Perhaps we should begin with a description of an LED light bulb.
In case you’re in the dark (pun intended), LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs use a semiconductor to convert electricity into light. In 2000, the Department of Energy facilitated the creation of the LED bulb to take advantage of this new technology. But it would be another 10 years before LED bulbs were offered in most stores. Problem was, those initial bulbs were riddled with difficulties including short lifetimes, glaring lights, flickering and excessive price tags.
So, what’s the scoop behind LEDs?
According to the Lighting Research Center, LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. Today, the LED is one of the most energy-efficient and rapidly developing lighting technologies on the market. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable and provide comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.
LED fact: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the widespread adoption of LEDs in residential and commercial applications over the next 20 years will save about $265 billion (Yes! That’s BILLION!), will prevent the need for constructing 40 new power plants, and reduce the electricity demand of lighting by 33 percent.
Check out some of the features and benefits of LED lighting in the home.
- Energy efficiency. LED bulbs will virtually pay for themselves because of their energy-saving qualities.
When most people think of LED bulbs, they identify them as being more energy efficient. However, were you aware that by switching you can save up to 90 percent of the electricity you would normally use with an incandescent? That’s a heck of a difference and can save a lot of money in the long run.
LED Tip: For optimal energy savings, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program recommends you select an LED bulb with the highest number of lumens necessary for the intended lighting application with the lowest total of watts required to function. Note: Lumens measure brightness and now replace watts which actually refer to energy use, not light intensity.
- Breakage. LED bulbs have very few breakable parts. They can take a bit of a hit without damage, increasing the bulbs’ toughness contrasted to incandescent bulbs. In fact, the soldered leads on LEDs can absorb about as much punishment as your cell phone and you know how much your phone takes without damage.
- LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90 percent of their energy as heat and compact fluorescent lights (CFL) release about 80 percent of their energy as heat. Since LEDs are much cooler, there is less risk of combustion and burnt fingers. So why not take the safer route and choose LED bulbs? Even after being on for hours, it stays cool to the touch, so you never have to worry about it causing problems.
- LED bulbs have a much longer life span, estimated at 60,000 hours, compared to fluorescent tubes (around 30,000 hours) and incandescent bulbs (a mere 1,000 to 2,000 hours).When you think of a standard incandescent bulb, you no doubt are acquainted with the popping sound of one burning out, right? Fact is, most of these lights are not built to last more than a few years, tops. So, not only are you throwing away money by generating heat you don’t need, but you’re also throwing it away much sooner than you could be with an LED.
- LEDs dim as they begin to burn out, which is much preferable, especially in safety situations such as garages, basement stairs, etc. With a compact fluorescent light or incandescent, you only know it’s not working when you turn on the light and the bulb doesn’t illuminate.
Most people think that energy efficiency is the primary reason to upgrade to LED. But there’s really another type of waste you avoid with LED bulbs.
- Traditional bulbs emit light in all directions.That means you need to rely on obstructions to point the light in a particular direction, including lampshades, reflectors, and diffusers. With LED, however, the bulb can be constructed in such a manner that you don’t need anything to direct the beam. Bottom line: less light wasted.
LED fact: DOE estimates there are at least 500 million recessed downlights installed in U.S. homes and more than 20 million are sold each year.
- Eco-friendly materials. Both incandescent and CFL bulbs are notoriously bad for the environment. Not just because they use more energy, but because they use toxic materials in their production. Tungsten is a primary metal used for incandescent lights and it can poison the earth.Thankfully, LED bulbs don’t suffer from that problem. They’re made from sustainable materials, so you don’t have to feel guilty every time you switch on a light. Not only that, they are usually 100 percent recyclable, so you don’t have to toss them into the trash once they’ve burned out.
By the way, LEDs also don’t contain mercury, unlike compact fluorescent lamps.
LED fact: LEDs don’t attract as many insects as other traditional light sources as they have very little UV content.
- How about those Christmas lights? LEDs consume considerably less electricity than incandescent bulbs and decorative LED light strings such as Christmas tree lights are absolutely no different. To begin, as we’ve just seen, they are much cooler. They are also put together with epoxy lenses, not glass, so they’re much sturdier and more resistant to breakage.
They certainly longer lasting – the same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now. Plus, they’re much easier to install. Recall those warnings about using only 3 consecutive strings of incandescent lights? Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading the wall socket.
Really want to get into the details about LEDs? A great place to start is ENERGY STAR. You can search through their database and find plenty of products that they’ve put through the wringer and are worthy of getting the iconic ENERGY STAR label.
Or, you can get in touch with the great lighting experts here at J&A South Park who can help if you have specific questions.
Okay, you’ve convinced me. Where do I start?
How about when I go to the store to purchase LEDs?
Keep in mind, for example, when you purchase a 2700K, 800-lumen LED (the rough estimate for a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb) to replace an older bulb, you’ll find that the light looks whiter and brighter than your old bulb. This is typical owing to aging. LEDs do not age in the same way, so after you’ve used LEDs in your home for a while, replenishing them won’t have such a drastic difference in appearance.
Since color temperature changes as incandescent bulbs age, it’s a good idea to replace lights in sets. Fixtures that use multiple lights should all be replaced at once to keep colors and light intensities even. As an added bonus, buying your LEDs at the same time can help ensure that the LED chips were all binned in the same production run preventing further color issues.
Where do I begin in the home?
The first places you should change from incandescent lighting to LED are heavily trafficked or hard to reach lights.
The living room or dining room produce the highest traffic volume and tend to use more lights that other rooms. When the lights are on in the house, they’re usually on in these rooms. Converting to LED here will save more money in the long run by cutting the energy used in your home each day.
But what about the kitchen? Isn’t that high traffic, too? Perhaps, but since kitchen lights are more likely to have “can” lights or other types of recessed lighting that can be a bit difficult to switch out, or maybe awkward to reach, changing these lights to LEDs the next time they burn out means fewer times you are called to perilously perch on a counter to change out your lights.
Before we forget, what about dimmer switches? If your dimming system is fairly old, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use your current dimmer switches. If you know what kind of dimmers were installed, you can check for compatible LEDs or see if the LEDs you purchased will work with the old dimmers. More than likely, your dimmer switches will need to be upgraded, but since the switches are often more expensive than the bulbs themselves, you might want to change dimming circuits last, especially if you’re trying to save a few bucks.
By the way, if you’re planning on moving in the next 12 months, changing to LEDs might not make sense. The last thing you want to be doing as the furniture movers shoe up is taking out your more expensive LEDs and replacing them with cheaper lights for the next homeowner.
LED fact: Blue LEDs can help keep food fresh. They have been proved to have a strong antibacterial effect on major foodborne pathogens and are now being used in fridges.
Oops, LEDs may not be a match for every outlet in your home
True, LEDs do not get nearly as hot as incandescent bulbs, but they still suffer heat dissipation problems in recessed and enclosed fixtures. That’s why enclosed light fixtures require specially-made LED bulbs.
While most LEDs work outdoors, performing well in the cold, they can’t get wet and are heat sensitive, so looking for those LEDs rated specifically for outdoor or enclosed fixture use are preferable.
LED lighting is available is a wide variety of light bulbs.
Residential, commercial and industrial lighting products have been added to the list of LED light bulb options, and that list is growing every year.
This rapid development of LED technology leads to more products and improved manufacturing efficiency, which also results in lower prices.
LED fact: The Times Square Ball dropped every New Year is illuminated with over 30,000 individual LEDs.
Why not stop by our retail outlet to discuss how the electrical pros at J&A South Park can help you make the switch?
By the way, as just mentioned, LED technology is available for commercial and industrial applications as well. The high efficiency and directional nature of LEDs make them ideal for applications such as street lights, parking garage lighting, walkways and other outdoor lighting, refrigerated case lighting, modular lighting, and task lighting, among others.