This is a very important topic, and we hope that by the end of this spiel you’ll understand why. LED’s are not only eco-friendly, but will save you money in the long run. They use less energy, last longer, and produce far less waste, so who wouldn’t want to jump on this bandwagon? We understand that when browsing for bulbs, things can become a bit overwhelming with watts, lumens, and CRI variables to take into consideration. The majority of folks have no idea what these terms actually mean and how they translate to your monthly energy bill, which is why we’re here to give you the 411 on all things LED. From types of bulbs to cost efficiency, we’ll give you the number and details that will make things a breeze (and maybe even save you a buck or two). So sit up straight, grab your notepad, and get ready for a comprehensive guide of LED’s and why they are so awesome.
To help better understand what exactly LED bulbs are, we will start by explaining what other kinds of lighting sources you may be currently using instead.
Incandescent Light : This is a source of electric light that works by incandescence. Incandescence describes the way in which light is created by the heating of the filament within the bulb. The bulb is comprised of a glass enclosure surrounding a tungsten filament. An electric current then passes through this filament to heat it to a high enough temperature to create light. This is the most commonly used form of light as it has been in use for over a 100 years. You can thank good ol’ Thomas Edison and the British physicist Joseph Wilson Swan for their creation of the first reliable incandescent bulb. No need to worry, we’ll compare the data of this type of light with the newer technologies shortly.
Halogen Light : Halogen is actually a type of incandescent light that uses a halogen gas to prevent the blackening of the bulb and provide a longer life span. This light still has a tungsten filament but unlike the classic incandescent light, the halogen gas chemically interacts with the tungsten and prevents it from sticking to the walls of the bulb as it evaporates. Not only does the halogen prevent this blackening affect, but it actually preserves some of the tungsten and returns it to the filament allowing for an extended life span of the bulb. One thing to note on halogen light is the higher temperature that is required for the chemical reaction to occur between the tungsten and the halogen gas. Therefore halogen light bulbs give off more heat than typical incandescent bulbs making them impractical for some purposes. But with an extended life, this light type is an efficient option for a variety of uses.
CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) : Functionally identical to linear fluorescent bulbs, CFL’s are “gas-discharging lamps that use electricity emitted from cathodes to excite mercury vapor contained within the glass envelope, using a process known as inelastic scattering. Phosphors and a noble gas such as argon are also contained within the glass envelope. The mercury atoms then produce ultraviolet (UV) light, which in turn causes the phosphors in the lamp to fluoresce or glow, producing visible light (1),” thus creating the fluorescent light we are familiar with. Although the name of this type of light may be unfamiliar, there is no doubt that you have seen these long tube-like bulbs screwed or plugged into large light sources typically found in large buildings such as schools, stores, and office buildings. With their affordable price tag, long life-span and bright light, they are a go-to source of light.
Now that you have a better idea of what exactly we are comparing LED’s to, we will get into the basics of the LED light. LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode,” a semiconductor device that converts electricity into light (2). They are the most energy efficient source of light using roughly 85% less energy than incandescent and halogen lights, and have been around for around 40 years. Now, today’s LED’s may be different than what you may recall, as they could only produce red light up until the 70s. This explains why many associate LED’s with indicator lights on something as simple T.V. remotes or children’s toys. Following the red phase, the blues and greens followed, and eventually were all combined to produce the “white” light that we see today in household LED fixtures.
Among LED’s many perks, we will note the important stuff instead of diving too far into the nitty gritty scientific details. Unlike the standard incandescent and halogen bulbs, LED’s do not produce heat, making them safer and more versatile. Whether you have small children roaming your home or simply prefer your under cabinet lighting to be without the added heat, this quality alone is a big seller of LED’s.
Another perk is the extended lifespan of the bulb: on average LED bulbs will last up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 2-5 times longer than fluorescent ones. So to put things into perspective, while a traditional incandescent bulb will have a 1,000 hours lifespan, the LED bulb can have up to a 50,000 hour lifespan. That’s around a 15 year lifespan on one little bulb. Talk about efficient!
While we’re on the topic of efficiency we have to rave about the power to brightness ratio going on in LED lights. Often misunderstood as the amount of light given off by a bulb, wattage is in fact the power usage. The word you are looking for is actually the lumens of the bulb, which is a measurement of the output of light. Compared to incandescent bulbs, LED’s only use around 1/6th of the wattage to produce the same amount of lumens. Pretty cool, right?
So where a 60W incandescent bulb might give you 800 lumens, a 10W LED bulb will give you just the same. If you don’t believe us, then check your electric bill and watch the savings grow. And who doesn’t want to save money?
Have you been introduced to Kelvin before? It’s the measurement of warmth in a light source. The color temperature of a light refers to the amount of cool or warm tones present. For example: when comparing hospital lighting to orange street lights or table lamps, there is quite the difference in color, correct? The only trick to understanding the lovely Kelvin is to pretend it’s opposite day. So when you see a 7000K temperature listed and you assume that it means a warmer color, think again – this is actually a cooler color versus the very warm color of a 2700K bulb.
The CRI, or Color Rendering Index, isn’t as confusing as it may sound. For artists and designers alike, this can be life changing because it measures the ability of a bulb to render true colors. As some bulbs may distort or misinterpret certain hues, others are ranked as providing the truest rendering of colors under their light. Makes sense why those who rely so heavily on their colors choices wouldn’t want their lighting to tamper with their vision, right? Standard CRI is around 80 while 100 is about as high as it goes, and the higher the CRI the truer the colors.
That about covers the main need-to-know features of LED’s and with new features becoming available regularly, this light source is becoming remarkably customizable and should be at the top of your shopping list if you haven’t already made the transition.
Here’s a recap video if you just couldn’t make it through all the information above:
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and tell us about your experience with LED lighting.
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