LED Lighting – Should I invest?
LED lighting is gaining interested from building owners, contractors, and even homeowners as many are looking for new innovative products that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Before you decide to make the switch to LED bulbs for your next project, we want to help you learn more about your lighting options so you can know you’re making the best lighting choice.
Traditional lighting options include:
- Incandescent– These are your traditional lights bulbs and emit a warm light in all directions. They are inexpensive but use a significantly more amount of energy than CFLs or LEDs and only last around 1,000 hours.
- Compact Fluorescent Lights- Switching out standard incandescent light bulbs for the energy-saving alternative of CFL bulbs is an easy way to save money and help the environment. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) last 10x longer than incandescent bulbs, require fewer bulb replacements and reduce carbon emissions, but they are more expensive, contain trace amounts of mercury, and may not be dimmable. Depending on the type of bulb, CFLs require a warm-up period between 1-3 minutes before they achieve full brightness.
How do these lighting options compare to LED?
Light Emitting Diode – LED is a semiconductor device that converts electricity into light. Upgrading to LED lights can help your energy savings, last for years, and offer tremendous flexibility for your project. Unlike incandescent and CFLs, there are many factors that can affect the type of LED light you choose.
Lumens, not watts:
In the past, people referred to watts an indication of how bright the bulb will be. Wattage is actually not an indication of the brightness but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescent the watts may be a good indication of the brightness but not for LEDs since they draw a significantly less energy. Instead, lumens are the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb and are what you should look for when shopping for LEDs.
* An incandescent 60-watt bulb, for example, gives off 800 lumens of light. And LED bulbs, which are more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts, can deliver the same amount of light using as little as 10 watts.*
Choosing the right color:
Traditional incandescent provide a warm, yellowish hue but LEDs can come in a wide range of colors. The light color is measured on a temperature scale referred to as Kelvin (k). The lower the Kelvin numbers mean the light appears more yellow, the higher the numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer. The most popular colors available for LEDs are “warm white” or “soft white” and “bright white.”
Dimmable and Non-Dimmable LEDs:
LEDs are not always compatible with traditional dimming switches. In some cases, the switch must be replaced or you’ll pay a little more for a compatible LED. This occurs because most dimmers were designed to dim the lights by cutting off the amount of electricity sent to the bulb. As we mentioned before, LEDs draw a significantly lower amount of electricity so the wattage does not directly affect it’s brightness as it does with traditional lighting.
If you would like your LEDs to be dimmable, you have two options-
- Find LED bulbs compatible with traditional dimmers
- Replace your current dimming switch with a leading-edge (LED-compatible) dimmer
Why worry about dimming LEDs if they’re already energy efficient by design?
Although LEDs are already energy efficient by design, you can further the energy savings, extend system life, enhance flexibility, increase productivity, and provide a safe, comfortable environment for building occupants and homeowners by dimming your LEDs.
Consider it an investment:
A good comparison for LED lights is hybrid cars: cheaper to operate but pricey upfront. Many consider LED lights an investment and over the past few years, competition has increased and LED bulbs have gone down in price. In addition to savings you’ll see from lowered electrical usage from the LED lights, you will also save on HVAC costs needed to cool the home, which can be valuable here in South Carolina during the hot summers.
*** Here is an example of how the LED lights can reduce HVAC costs
1 watt of energy is equal to about 3.413 BTUs (British Thermal Units)
1 BTU is equal to about one large kitchen match of heat
(4) 60 watt bulbs, 240 watts total to (4) 13 watt bulbs, 52 watts total
Saves 188 watts per hour
Therefore…188 watts X 3.413 BTU = 642 BTUs per hour
642 Kitchen matches worth of heat that does not have to be removed by a HVAC unit, every hour that the lights are on… 642 kitchen matches every hour, That’s a lot of heat!
Pay attention to the fixture:
LED bulbs run dramatically cooler than traditional light bulbs but they still do produce heat. This is pulled away by a heat sink in the base of the bulb and from there, the heat dissipates into the air and the LED bulb stays cool. If the bulb is placed in an enclosed housing, the heat won’t have anywhere to go, and it will be sent right back to bulb, causing the bulb to burnout sooner. There are LEDs options that are approved for recessed or enclosed spaces.
Overall, compared to the standard incandescent bulb or CFLs, LEDs are:
Smaller in size
Consume less energy
Produces less heat
Are proven to be more durable and reliable
Contain no harmful toxins
Do not emit dangerous UV rays
If you have any additional questions regarding the switch to LED lights, our professional electricians are here to assist you in finding the BEST solution for YOU!