Where to Begin When Switching to LED Light Bulbs
With the prices of led light bulbs rapidly falling – and light bulb technology boasting features you’d have to see to believe – consumers are finally jumping on the LED bandwagon. LEDs beat out other bulb options in efficiency, far surpassing halogens and leaving mercury-containing CFLs roadside, offering the same light for a fraction of the energy expense, with amazing longevity of up to 10 years.
How cheap are they?
Now giving even the cheapest bulbs a run for their money, you can now pickup an entry-level LED for less than $2.50 per bulb in a multi-pack, or opt for fancier models for a couple bucks more, finding daylight-sensing bulbs starting at $9, dimmable options at around $15, and fancy-pants, color-changing and smartphone-operable bulbs starting at $30.
Where should I start when replacing LED bulbs in my home?
Energy saving LEDs can be used in most common light fixtures, from lamps and accent lighting to track and outdoor fixtures.
Start with the bulbs you use most, like the family room and kitchen. Replacing these bulbs first offers the greatest opportunity for savings, gaining return-on-investment fast.
- Focus on areas where bulbs are left on for a long time, like your porch or garage.
Just be sure to check ratings (read on).
- Take a load-off in hard to reach places like vaulted ceiling lights and on porches.
Here they’re ideal, rarely requiring a change and preventing the need for frequent ladder acrobatics.
Learn the lingo before shopping for your best bulb buddy
Lumens measure brightness, and now replace watts, which actually refer to energy use – not light intensity.
- Color temperature
LEDs offer a rainbow of colors. Identified by color temperature and measured in kelvins, lower temperatures produce warm whites, higher temps mimicking cool, daylight tones.
Dialing in the right lighting room-by-room:
- Living room
Mixed lighting here should mirror the mixed use of this room, such as adjustable lamps paired with 3-way LED bulbs in the 1,500-3,000 lumen, 2,200-3,000K color temperature range.
Dimmable fixtures paired with dimmable LEDs allow for the perfect brightness for any setting. Look for a total brightness of 3,000-6,000; lumens in the 2,200-3,000K range.
Maintain energy in the kitchen with total brightness in the 4,000-8,000 lumen, 2,700-5,000K range. Here, recessed LED retrofits kits are a boon, as are dimmable fixtures.
Avoiding blue light waves here keeps your body from confusing overhead light with sunlight, preserving circadian rhythm. Go for 1,500-4,000 lumens of total brightness, with color temperatures of 2,700-3,000, adding soft neutral bulbs to bedside reading lamps.
Task lighting around the mirror and general overhead lighting should be bright, offering 4,000-8,000 lumens of total brightness in the 3,000-5,000K color range.
- Home office
Cool white lights in the 3,000-6,000 lumen and 3,000-5,000K color range ensures productivity.
Not a match for every outlet
Due to circuitry, not all LEDs are compatible with traditional dimming switches. Also, only certain LED bulbs offer this capability, so reading labels carefully is essential.
- Enclosed fixtures
Do LED light bulbs get hot? Yes, but not as hot as incandescent. Despite this, they still suffer heat dissipation problems in recessed and enclosed fixtures. Why can’t LED bulbs be enclosed? Enclosed spaces require specially-made LED bulbs.
- Omni-directional light
Most bulbs put out light in only one direction, which is fine for most fixtures, but not table lamps which will require Omni-directional LED bulbs.
- Outdoor use
While most LEDs work outdoors, performing well in the cold, they cannot get wet, and are heat sensitive, thus looking for those rated specifically for outdoor or enclosed fixture use are preferable.