The phase out of incandescent lighting is almost complete. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) still remain but are becoming less popular because of their flaws and low energy efficiency. That leaves the more sustainable alternative – the LED bulb. Its efficacy is almost 4 times that of an incandescent and halogen equivalent. The cons of buying the LED alternative is the cost, but the versatility will quickly negate the few extra dollars.
Versatility vs. nostalgia
Are you missing the glow of the warm white incandescent in the center of your living room? A bulb’s colour temperature is marked by the Kelvins it throws out. The cooler the light, the higher the colour temperature of the bulb. The incandescent light bulb would generally have a colour temperature of 2700 K, compared to the harshness of the CFL’s 4500 K. But fear not, the LED has an equivalent rating of the incandescent, also around 2700 K, give or take.
On top of having a softer glow than the CFL, the LED is also dimmable, working with most later model switches. You can dim to a variety of levels, but generally a faint buzzing sound can accompany anything of more than 5 percent dim.
You also need to ensure that the LED is compatible to older light switches and if necessary, an older house may need to have an electrician make some additions to the electrical box to accommodate your upgrade.
The energy rating is confusing me
You’re not alone. Back in the day, going to the store to pick up a 60-watt was simple enough, but LEDs measure their brightness (colour temperature) in lumens. On the other hand, the wattage rating that you find on the side of an LED box indicates the energy consumed. Other information on the packaging will generally include the life expectancy, marked in years; and the yearly cost based on ‘X’ number of hours used on a daily basis.
Roughly speaking, if you’re looking for a 60-watt incandescent comparable in the LED, scan your eye over the packaging for the 800 lumens equivalent.
Your imagination is the limit – Almost
The LED lightbulb is suitable for almost anywhere; in a residential setting or commercially. LEDs come in the form of spotlights, floodlights and the more appealing recessed-lighting presentation to give an elegance that the incandescent struggles to match.
You do need to take into consideration whether or not you want directional light only – the more common LED bulbs – or omnidirectional. Either way, there are plenty of LEDs on the market to accommodate your preferred choice.
Modern technology has also given us the added benefits of Wi-Fi connectivity to some LED bulbs. You can operate these LEDs via several platforms including your smartphone. LEDs also give you a choice of hues to match your mood and the occasion.
For so much versatility, it must come at a price, right?
LEDs can be expensive, but as technology has progressed, the price has comparatively fallen. Some studies have suggested that replacing each 60-watt incandescent with its LED equivalent will save approximately $120 in energy and replacement costs over its lifetime. The long life of the LED in conjunction with the energy savings, thus makes the switch a very practical move.
About the author: Simon Mundine is the director of LED World. Based in Sydney, Australia, they specialise in commercial lighting, retail lighting & lighting design.