I recently bought dimmable Phillips LED bulbs to replace the traditional incandescent bulb on living room lamps. I then spent a few days pouring over specs, comparing efficiency, and considering which is the better bargain for my space.
In my opinion, the best home light technology out right now is undeniably LED. Ideally, these lamps should have a lifespan and electrical efficiency which is several times greater than incandescent lamps, and significantly more efficient than most fluorescent lamps.
However electrical efficiency and lifespan is part of the bulb makers marketing jargon. What is evident right off the bat is the lighting possibilities you get on LED bulbs. These bulbs have perfect hues for every space and activity, which add style to interiors and longevity to activities.
So I have decided to fully switch to LEDs and I'm convinced it is the best investment for my home. In this article, I share insights from my experience and research.
Walk with me.
LED is Energy Efficient Lighting
Most times trendsetters point to the development of a looming shift that eventually we embrace. Frequently these market leaders are governments. With an increasing supply of more efficient bulb in form of CFLs and LEDs, powers put the efficient lighting zeal in motion.
The USA set new energy guidelines on all bulbs to effectively phase out the least efficient types. Conveniently, the ultimate gains were to LEDs makers who-although ahead of peers- improved efficiency by 50%.
The EU followed the trend and by 2009 began facing out incandescents. By 2014 Canada had joined the bandwagon burning the manufacture and import of higher wattage incandescent.
Automatically I had to interrogate the prescient of this shift. It turns out CFLs use 25-35 Percent of the energy consumed by incandescent lights. So, I thought it couldn't get any better, but it did. Turned out LEDs especially ones with the Energy Star rating use more than 75 percent less energy inside a lifetime 25 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs.
To put this into perspective, the typical efficiency range of traditional incandescent bulb is 13-18 lumens per watt. Meaning for every unit of power-in Watts- consumed you get 13-18 quantities of visible light. Offcourse this is a very layman interpretation but you get the gist.
On the other hand CFLs efficiency range is 55-70 Lumens per Watt while LEDs efficiency jumped from 60Lumens per Watt to 100Lumens per Watt and is quickly approaching 150 Lumens per Watt. However, the general home LED bulb average efficiency is roughly 67 Lumens per Watt which is frequently indicated asLuminous Efficacy.on the bulbs specifications
Check out this dimmable Phillips MAS LED D 7-40W E27accent lighting bulb with a luminous efficacy of 67.14Lumens per Watt and consumes 7watts whereas an equal incandescent would consume 40Watts.
LEDs Lights are Best All Seasons
I bet you didn't know LED bulbs can actually keep your house cool this Summer, significantly reducing your air conditioning need and consequently your utility bills- second time round- above consuming less from the get-go.
Here is how
Incandescent bulbs use only 10 percent of the energy produced for lighting, 90 percent is heat which dissipates into thin air, literally. Meaning 90 percent of your lighting electricity bill pays for waste heat which serves no purpose.
Unfortunately, in Summer months this heats significantly increases the inside temperature of your home which gets very uncomfy. In turn, you spend more of the already overstretched budget on airconditioning.
LEDs consume very little energy and burn cool, meaning they produce little heat which significantly reduces your electricity bill, so you don't have to pay unnecessary costs.
In winter LED bulbs have an extra long life and have no problem coming on in very cold temperature. In fact, LED bulbs do get more efficient as the ambient temperature gets lower.
On the downside though LEDs de-taste exposure to excess heat which builds up in enclosed fixtures especially in Summer. Excessive heat lowers the expected lifespan which, honestly, is not a lot to worry about given that the bulb should live for 25000 hours on average.
Lumens Output Comparision
One thing that probably stands out is the shift from presenting bulb brightness from wattage to lumens. Watts denote power consumption which you vaguely have to translate into brightness in incandescent lamps.
Lumens is a measurement of total light output or in other words the brightness of the bulb. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's dimmer light.
When bulb brightness is represented in lumens, you get a clear idea of the bulb's capacity in regards to ambiance, functional focus, and aesthetics aspects of accent lights.
Even better you can easily compare how much power one bulb need to give out a certain amount of light. This meltdown to comparing watts to lumens and by extension the efficiency of the LED chip used. For instance, one brand's 9 Watt LED bulb may emit enough Lumens to replace a 60 Watt incandescent but another brand may need to use a less efficient LED, let's say 12 Watts worth to create enough lumens to replace the same 60 Watt bulb.
Assuming you are buying bulbs for different areas with varying light need in your home. Walk into a convenient store and off the counter you have a clear idea of what bulb is best for what room. Still while at it you can easily tell how realistic the pricing is, ideally bulbs with better chips-more lumens for lesser wattage- should cost higher, especially with the most popular brands.
LEDs Have an "Insane" Lifetime
You know, disturbing as it is you can compare your shelf life to that of an LED bulb, not that anyone would be baffled by the prospects but still 25000 Hours is a long time and some have up to 100K life hours-manufacturers claim, not mine.
Also LEDs, unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs don't shutter, tose the bulb up-down, side by side and no amount of vibration will scathe it unless of course, you are intentionally trying to break the bulb, why anyone would do that beats me, but hey?
Then how many times have you switched on a light too fast and a bulb was out. At least that's how I think it works too fast a switch and the bulb out-but not with LEDs.
LED bulbs don't have filaments which easily burn out, instead, they use diodes which have impressive longevity.Realistically LED bulbs won't burn out or fail. Instead, they experience lumen depreciation, wherein the brightness of the LED dims slowly over time.
However its best to take this stats with a pinch of salt, turns out the expected lifespan of the bulb will depend on the electrical and thermal design of the LED system or fixture.
Driving the LED at higher than rated current will increase relative light output but decrease useful life. Operating the LED at higher than design temperature will also decrease useful life significantly.
Over and above LED bulbs are more durable compared to traditional incandescent bulbs and slightly better than CFLs.
Rising LED Efficiency, Falling LED Prices
Statistics between 2012-2014 indicate LED bulb efficiency moved from 60Lumens per Watt to nearly 100 Lumens Per Watt and the projections indicate the numbers will shift to 150Lumens per Watt by 2020.
The LED lighting industry equally improved efficiency with Energy Star rated bulbs with the potential to surpass the 100Lumens per Watt threshold.This expansion is coupled with improvements in Color Temperature and Color Accuracy-CRI.
Normally you would expect the rise in quality to come at a higher cost, ironically LED bulbs prices continue to gradually fall. In 2013 Cree released the first quality LED bulb below 10 Dollar, a 60 Watt equivalent LED bulb that cost 7.97 Dollar with guaranteed 135Dollars lifetime saving. Today a 16 pack 60 Watt equivalent Phillips LED Non-dimmable light bulb retails at 27.52Dollar on Amazon, that is roughly 1.72 per bulb.
Whereas a 24 pack 60 Watt equivalent Sylvania LED bulb cost 39.99 Dollars equal to 1.66Dollars a piece. My economics are not top notch but for a bulb with an estimated cost of 1.26 per year and 25000 Hours lifetime 1.73 Dollar feels a lot like a bargain
LEDs Come in a Range of Color Temparature
Light color or color temperature is described in Kelvins with all bulbs used for home lighting purposes sitting between 2000K-6500K.
Incandescent bulbs are available in warm-soft light option only but LEDs and CFLs are available in Warm-Soft, Cool-Bright, and Natural-Daylight light colors.
Warm white light match the yellowish hue of incandescent light bulbs, whereas cool white light which is higher in the Kelvin scale has a bluish tinge. The blue color is named after the cool effect of blue hues, but it's better to remember cool light color doesn't mean lower Kelvins. If anything the cool color temperature is highest in the scale while warmer light color is lowest
Warm white- the standard color of incandescent bulbs- fall between 2700K-3000K. Neutral white falls between 3500K-4100K, with cool white between 5000K-6500K.The color rendering aspect-CRI- of neutral white is akin to the natural daytime light
The wider color spectrum is particularly useful when choosing bulbs especially if you need specific lighting for different spaces and activities. Cool white light is appropriate for workspaces ambient lighting. The cool light is notably splendid and glaring ideal for outdoor spaces.
Extra Warm color -less than 2700K- and warm colors are best for most indoor spaces. Extra warm bulbs are pure mood lighting, which creates an atmosphere like candlelight.They can be used to create a more relaxing or romantic setting or intimate decorative purposes.
Warm color bulbs are in turn recommended wherever it should be cozy and comfortable.Warm color bulbs have extensive use in bedrooms, living areas and dining spaces.
Neutral white is the perfect light color for areas with a high demand for concentration and visual performance. This light color reveals details that warm white light colors would not show. Therefore a neutral white light will support all your working activities.
Neutral lights are used in rooms that need bright lighting: bathrooms, corridors, stairs and entrance halls. Outside: lighting for an outdoor seating area, parking or living space.