The Basics of LED Lighting
Although LED light bulbs essentially have the same functions as regular, or incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, they still differ in plenty of ways. If you're looking to shop for new LED light bulbs for general lighting purposes, there are a number of terms and factors you need to take note of. It's also important to understand the pros and cons of LED light bulbs; this will help you make rational decisions, no matter what stores and LED retailers will tell you.
LED Light Bulb Colour Temperature
Just like regular bulbs, LED light bulbs have colour temperatures that range from Cool White (5500 K), to Soft White (3000 K to 3500 K), to Warm White (2500 K to 3000 K).
It's worth noting though that many stores fail to provide correct colour temperature on their LED light bulbs for sale. Accuracy is also a problem, with many retailers unable to specify the exact colour temperature range of their bulbs. Always test a bulb before making a purchase, or at least ask for photographs of the light being generated.
LED light bulbs are prized for their directional lighting features. Directional light means that the light is aimed in one direction. For floodlights, you can purchase light bulbs with a 120 degree beam or more. Light bulbs with 60 to 120 degree beams are suitable for spotlights. Take note though that there isn't a standardized method of measuring the beam angle of light bulbs, so two LED products from different manufacturers could be totally different, even if the packaging says they have the same angle.
If you're looking to replace the conventional light bulbs in your home or office, here's a simple rule to remember.
For incandescent bulbs, LEDs use a fifth of the energy they consume. This means that the equivalent of a 50-watt incandescent bulb is a 10-watt LED light bulb. For CFL light bulbs, LEDs use half of the energy they consume. In other words, a 15-watt CFL bulb can be replaced with a 7-watt LED light bulb.
Use this simple rule to decide which LED light bulbs can be used to replace the lights in your home. Be wary of manufacturers that claim their bulbs produce a light brighter than your calculations.
The great thing about LED light bulbs is that they are very long lasting. Unlike incandescent bulbs that burn out after a few thousand hours of use, LED light bulbs slowly lose their brightness, and at the end of their rated lifetime only produce 60 to 70 percent of their original brightness.
Still, don't be too quick to jump on claims of LED lights lasting up to 50,000 hours. Most experts believe that LED bulbs have an average lifespan of 30,000 hours which still isn't that bad.
Lumens per Watt
Lumens is a measurement of the amount of light fully given out by a light bulb. A high lumens rating paired with low wattage indicates the energy efficiency of a light bulb. To give you an idea of how energy efficient LED light bulbs are, it's best to compare them with traditional bulbs.
CFL bulbs - 60 to 70 lumens per watt
Incandescent bulbs - 20 lumens per watt
LED light bulbs - 40 to 80 lumens per watt
Even with these ratings, it's still a good idea to perform side by side comparisons to know which LED product should replace your existing lights.
A retailer or manufacturer must offer a warranty for their LED light bulbs and other LED products. Needless to say, LED technology is still imperfect, so look for LED light bulbs to come with a 1-year warranty. All the more better if they come with a 2-year warranty.