With the ever increasing choices available to online shoppers these days you might be confused or unsure as to what may be a wise choice in choosing your new LED investment. With so many different options available such as lumens, wattage, beam angle, colour rendering etc. you may be thinking why can’t I just pick my bulb from the wattage (watts) and be done with it, if only life could be so simple. Well the good old folks of the EU have in their wisdom implemented a directive (2009/125/EC) which requires from September 2010 that all labelling of lighting be in terms of lumens instead of electrical watts. You may be asking why have they done this, well good question, in simple terms Watt’s is not a useful comparison in the brightness of an LED lamp compared to lumens. The higher the lumens the brighter the lamp therefore always be mindful of the stated lumens output of any lamp you wish to purchase. For example a wax candle has approximately 13 lumens of light ; a 60 watt incandescent lamp has 720 lumens, the brighter the light source the higher the lumens.
With modern day LED technology we would be looking at 100 lumens per watt of power e.g. 4.5W LED = 450 lumens as compared to halogen type lamps which output around 12 lumens per watt of power.
Now onto our next question – can I simply replace my existing lamps with LED in my home?
The good news is YES, many new LED bulbs can just be replaced without any fuss at all, just find the correct bulb base, pick the lumens your require, the colour temp (e.g. warm white, pure white) and off you go. Now wasn’t that easy – for now.
Check out some popular LED websites that include a lamp picture menu, this makes it easier to select the correct fitting before your purchase.
Next choice – Dimmable or not?
As with your old bulbs LED lamps can also be dimmed BUT only if they state that on website/packaging. You will most likely have to pay a slight premium for a dimmable version of the LED bulb you want as there are a few extra components needed to perform this function. Another point to consider and a very important one is will I need a new dimmer switch or will my existing one suffice? The simple answer is – you won’t know, chances are if your existing dimmer switch is a few years old it will not be compatible with your new dimmable LED bulb. You will need a trailing edge dimmer switch to ensure the long life of your new investment, so my advice is if you’re not sure don’t chance it and buy a new LED dimmer switch.
Whilst we are on the subject of dimming you may find that if you’re buying a 12 volt LED bulb that your old or existing transformer won’t be compatible either, again because of the nature of LED bulbs and the sensitive internal circuitry you will need an LED driver / transformer to deliver a constant current (electrical term) to enable the LED bulb to work correctly, again a wise choice to just replace your transformers with new LED type. Don’t forget you can have a larger wattage LED driver to work quite a few LED spots without having to purchase a small LED driver for each individual lamp.
Colour temperature – or simply what colour light will the bulb put out.
Pretty straightforward answers here:
Warm White is an ideal match to traditional Halogen bulbs/incandescent bulbs and produces a more warm yellow light with a colour temperature 3200K (probably the one most people are used too)
Pure White produces a white light which is often used in commercial environments or to create a very modern look with a colour temperature of 6500K.
You may find when looking at your products online that they quote a figure as above showing a high number with a K at the end, this is just the colour temperature output in the unit Kelvins (K). Some websites will show you a pretty chart with the colour temperature range from warm white to cool white along with the Kelvin scale, quite useful as it shows you what the output is likely to be (see above).
Next choice – Beam angle?
Beam angle is again a straightforward aspect of LED lighting and it just refers to the light spread from the point of the light source. An LED spotlight such as a GU10 LED bulb or MR16 LED may have a 45 degree beam angle meaning its quite focused on a particular area and not much use in lighting up a larger room, these are ideal for kitchen worktops or where a narrow beam is needed. Beam angles vary from very narrow to very wide, typical LED spots will be 45, 90, 120 degrees. LED bulbs will be 260, 360 etc. Always be mindful of the beam angle before making your choice.
Well I hope this small article will help you when making your purchase of LED bulbs. Don’t forget that not only are you making a wise decision switching to LED but you will also be saving on your energy bills and doing your bit for the environment, and don’t forget your brand new LED bulbs will outlast your old incandescent bulbs by a large margin, some lamps will last upwards of 30,000 hours (that’s many years of use). So what are you waiting for go green today…