Today, if you stroll down any light bulb aisle, or click through any lighting website, it’s pretty obvious that some serious changes have taken place. No longer can we just pick out the usual incandescent and be on our way. Now we have choices.
You’ve probably heard about the LED light bulb. You probably know it can save you energy. Maybe you’ve been told it can last for over 20 years. If you’ve really paid attention, you might have noticed that the prices of LED light bulbs have steadily dropped as innovations have increased.
So, if you’re committed to going green in your home or business, it’s about time to try an LED for yourself. But now that there are so many LEDs on the market, how do you know which one to choose?
Just follow these simple guidelines…
1. How Bright Do You Like Your Light?
When the choice of light bulbs was limited to incandescent alone, consumers got used to determining a light bulb’s brightness by its wattage. But, wattage actually measures the amount of energy a light bulb uses. An LED will use fewer watts to generate the same amount of light. To pick out the right LED for your needs, you should get used to measuring brightness in lumens. A 60-watt incandescent light generates about 800 lumens, so an equally bright LED light bulb will generate the same.
2. What Color Light Do You Prefer?
Early LED lamps generally gave off a cooler white light, but now they’re available in a range of different color temperatures. How do you know what temperature works for you? The cooler (more bluish) ones help you stay alert and make things look crisp and clean. We recommend them for office lighting, bathrooms, and other commercial lighting. The warmer (more reddish) temperatures are relaxing and inviting, great for general home lighting.
3. Where Will You Use Your LED?
The light quality of your LED is measured by CRI or Color Rendering Index. This number indicates how well the light bulb portrays colors on a scale from 1 to 100. Eighty-five and above is a very good rating. If you plan to use your light bulb frequently, or put it in a prominent location like the foyer, CRI is a very important metric to consider. However, if you’re planning to use your LED in a closet or with a utilitarian fixture, CRI isn’t as crucial.
4. What Shape Light Bulb Do You Need?
LEDs come in a plethora of shapes to replace almost every kind of incandescent light bulb you can think of. This isn’t just limited to regular household lamps. You can find LED globe light bulbs, chandelier light bulbs, and reflector light bulbs – along with a ton of fixtures that have them built-in. You should note that standard “snow cone shape” LEDs excel at giving light off in one direction, so they’re great for overhead lighting, spotlighting, and display lighting. But, if you require an even source of light, for instance in a table lamp or ceiling fan, you need an omni-directional design.
5. Do You Plan On Dimming?
Many LED light bulbs on the market today advertise their dimming capabilities. This is a great option if you want to save even more energy and be able to control your room’s environment with ease. However, old incandescent dimmers often aren’t compatible with this new light source. To dim your LED, you may need to invest in an LED-specific dimmer. Usually, you can find this out on your light bulb’s packaging.
6. Is Your Light Bulb Going In A Hot Place?
These light bulbs thrive in the cold. If you use an LED outdoors in winter or inside a refrigerator, it will actually last longer. However, heat is not as good of a pal. LEDs exposed to extreme heat may degrade more quickly over time. So, if you plan to use LEDs in an area that can get a little toasty (like in overhead recessed cans) you may want to invest in lamps that have advanced cooling systems, using something like liquid silicone or a large heat sink at the base.
7. How Much Does Your Favorite LED Cost?
Of course, price is always a hot button issue when it comes to LED light bulbs. They tend to be more expensive than less efficient light sources, so it can be difficult to take the plunge and invest. How much is too much? Before you buy, check the product’s Lighting Facts Label. This little box, printed on your LED’s packaging ensures you it can deliver what it promises. The Lighting Facts Label even includes a lifetime energy savings estimate, so you can determine whether or not the savings are worth the cost upfront. Often, they can be over $100.