LED Buying Tips

Are you baffled by the strange terminology and seemingly endless choices in LED lighting?
Here are some tips to cut through the jungle.
Choose the Right Brightness
You’re probably comfortable choosing bulbs based on their brightness as expressed in watts. It’s a system that’s been around ever since Thomas Edison et al. first stated making light bulbs in the late 1800s. A measure of how much electricity a bulb consumes to heat a filament, wattage is being replaced by a more accurate measure: how much light is given off, measured in lumens.
But it’s just as baffling to most Americans as a kilogram or kilometer is, so most LED bulbs sold in the US list a comparable wattage. Here’s a table of common equivalents and their typical uses:


Wattage

25

40

60

75

100

150

200

Limens

375

450

800

1100

1600

2600

3000

Typical Application

Night lights
Candelabras

Chandeliers
Sconces

Table lamps
Ceiling fixtures

Reading lamps
Ceiling fixtures

Reading lamps
Task lighting

Task lighting
Workshops

Workshops
Garages
Warehouses

Recommended Lumens (Min.)

n/a

400

800

1000

1100

2000

2000

Learn more about Choosing the Right Lighting Design
Choose the Right Color
The design of LED bulbs lets them produce pure colors across the spectrum, but we’ll presume you’re most interested in “white” light in your home, office, or workspace. But pure white light is too stark for most locations, so for decades manufacturers have offered bulbs with descriptive terms like “soft white” and “daylight.” These are all consumer-friendly terms for the color a bulb gives off measured in degrees on the temperature Kelvin scale. Either the friendly term or the actual Kelvin measure, or both, will be stated on the bulb’s packaging. Here’s what you need to know to pick the bulb that’s right for your application:


Description

Warm White

Soft White

Bright White

Daylight

Kelvin Degrees

2700-3000

3000-3500

3500-4000

4000-5000

Applications

Warm colors
Natural woods

Neutral colors
Reading

Task lighting
Offices & schools

Task lighting
Workspaces

Learn more about Color Temperature
Choose the Right Shape
LED lights come in several different shapes, types and sizes, each for its own purposes.
Ribbon and strip lights are the choice for subtle or indirect lighting, especially in places you want the lights themselves to be concealed like under cabinets and counters. Screw-in or integrated fixtures can be used in existing lamps and to replace other fixtures. But like other light bulbs, LEDs are sensitive to heat, so choose fixtures with vents or accept that sealed fixtures may result in shorter bulb life (it will still be much longer than other bulb types).
As with other bulbs, the shape of the LED bulb itself is also a consideration. Does it cast light in all directions or is it more focused like a spotlight? Let its function be your guide.
A Word About Color Rendering
The spectral distribution of a light affects how accurately colors appear when lit by the bulb. This is indicated by a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 0-100. While this is critical in working with things like pigments and fabrics, it also makes a difference in how furnishings, artwork, and finishes appear in your home. We’re all familiar with the sickly green skin tones some fluorescent lighting creates. That’s because it has a low CRI. If accurate and subtle variations in the appearance of color is important to you, stick to bulbs with a CRI of at least 90. If it’s critical, go with 95 or higher.
Learn More About LEDs and Their Benefits
Allstar Electrical Services has several articles on our website about LED and lighting choices. These include:
LED vs. CFL - Which Is Better for Your Home?
Choosing the Right Color Light
Maximize the Impact of Your Lighting Retrofit

Let the pros at Allstar Electrical Services show you the many ways LED technology can be used in your home or business. We provide a full range of residential, commercial and facility electrical maintenance services, so call today to learn about our free audit at 303-399-7420.
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