LED Home Lighting – A Buyer’s Guide

Whether you are just intrigued by the new LED home lighting products appearing in many stores, or are keen to contribute in the fight against climate change (global warming) or simply want to save money on your fuel bills, the fact is that LED home lighting is the future.

So sooner rather than later, you’re going to have to learn what this future means to you personally and how you can in fact benefit considerably from new low power consumption domestic LED lighting.

This article aims to dispel some of the confusion that surrounds the many lighting solutions currently available to consumers and provide a useful guide to evaluating and buying LED home lighting.

Where should you use LED lighting in your home? The nature of LED lamps is that they emit is directional light – focused on a single area. So they are a superb choice for lighting applications that have similar characteristics, such as:

  • spot lights
  • accent lighting
  • tracks and clusters
  • recessed down lights
  • security lighting
  • courtesy lights
  • desk lamps
  • decorative & feature lighting

Many homes have this kind of lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and basements – anywhere that needs to be brightly lit.

LED units also function well in strips, so under kitchen units and inside cupboards are ideal – also they give off almost no heat, plus the extremely bright light is needed in a fairly confined area rather than spread widely.

What LED lights are presently less adept at is all round illumination – from say a table lamp with a lamp shade.

Key point one: keep to what LED home lighting currently does best – bright directional lighting.

Something that confuses many people about LED lights is “color”. This is not color as in green and orange – it is “white color”. LED lamps come in a variety of “white colors” – from soft, warm illumination to a sharper, colder effect.

As a rough guide, “warm white” LED lights work best indoors while “cool white” is a good choice for outdoor LED lighting where you typically want sharper definition and illumination that approximates daylight.

Key point two: understand the LED light “color” scale.

Next, we get to input power ratings or wattage. We are used to knowing that 100w is bright while 40w is suitable a lounge maybe and 10w is essentially a courtesy light. But home LED lighting doesn’t conform to this scale for the simple reason that LED light bulbs require very low power consumption since nearly all their input power is converted to light and almost no energy is wasted as heat.

To replace a 50w halogen lamp (both MR16 and GU10 fittings are widely available for LED equivalent replacements) you would be looking at an LED spot light rated at 7w. Step up to a 12w LED and you’re taking on a regular floodlight.

There is a further complication to consider. The LED “color” affects how bright it actually appears to human eyes – cool colors seem sharper and apparently brighter than warm colors. Mentally adjust the wattage equivalent up or down a fraction according to the LED color.

Key point three: LED lights are very low energy units, so get used to a much lower wattage scale.

In addition to color and wattage, the angle of the light beam from an LED lamp has a major effect on how it looks and how bright it appears.

A narrow angle of less than 40 degrees will focus all of its light onto a small area which will therefore appear very bright. A wider angle of 70 to 120 degrees will cast light over a wider area and thus more will be illuminated but less brightly.

Key point four: take into account the beam angle of any LED lamp.

Finally, where to buy LED home lighting? If you are new to domestic LED lighting then the answer is: wherever you can actually see the LED light unit or at least a good photograph so you can assess how a particular LED application will appear in your own home before you buy it.

Specialist lighting shops often have displays you can look at (and also catalogues with photographs), and many big DIY and general stores now include LED units in their display lighting.

Unlike conventional light bulbs, LED home lighting is a long term investment which will save you a lot of money in the decades to come but the costs are all upfront, since most LED lights actually cost less to run than to purchase. They last for a very, very long time so you do not want to make a hasty purchase you could be stuck with for many years.

As ever, quality and reputation are factors to consider closely. An LED product from a recognised manufacturer that has a reasonable amount of information on the packaging is likely to prove a reliable product that performs as you would expect – whereas a cheap no-name LED unit on eBay is probably not.

That said, buying LED home lighting online is cost effective and perfectly safe once you have decided which particular types of LED lamps suit you and you are careful to buy from reputable web sites that offer warranties.

Key point five: quality and reputation count most; buy from established, reputable suppliers.

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