The benefits of LED light bulbs.

The benefits of LED light bulbs.

In this blog post, I will give an overview of what LEDs are and why, and how, you should switch your light bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs.

What does LED stand for?

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, which is the little conductive bit on the circuit or inside the bulb that produces the light.

What are the benefits of LED bulbs over traditional or halogen bulbs?

Some of the benefits of LEDs, when compared to traditional and halogen bulbs, are:

  • Energy-efficiency - LEDs don't give off as much heat, for a light bulb, heat is wasted energy.
  • Size - Although many LED bulbs are made to directly replace older bulbs, they can be made in many different shapes and sizes.
  • Robustness - Replacing the glass outer case with a plastic one makes it much harder to break an LED light. If you do manage to break the outer case, then and LED bulb may still work but should still be replaced. It shouldn't, however, leave glass all over the floor.
  • Longer Lasting - Once you switch to LED bulbs, you won't need to change them as often, lasting up to 20 times longer than a traditional bulb (some manufacturers give even higher estimates).
  • More Control - You can get LED bulbs in different colours and tones. Smart bulbs are also available that can be controlled remotely and put on timers.

How much money will I save?

For most people, this is the driving force behind the switch, and the answer will depend on several factors. These include what type of bulb you're already using and how long you have your lights on each day.

If you were currently using a 60watt traditional bulb (a fairly standard household bulb) for around an hour and a half a day, then you could save up to £3 a year just on that one bulb. It is estimated that the average household could save over £200 a year if they switch all of their bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs. An easy way to work out how much you'd save is by looking at the wattage of both bulbs. If you were to replace a 60watt traditional bulb with a 6watt LED equivalent, then you'd only be using a tenth of the power (roughly, these measurements aren't always perfect).

Some LED bulbs can be more expensive to buy than their traditional counterparts, but since LED bulbs have a much longer life span they can still save you a lot of money in the long run since you won't need to buy them as often. If you paid double for the bulb but it lasts 20 times longer then you'd still be well in-pocket by the time it needs replacing again.

Is it hard to make the switch?

In most cases switching a bulb to an energy-efficient one is the same as changing it normally. You can unscrew your old bulb as you usually would and replace it with the new LED bulb.

Some types of bulb, such as strip-lights often found in garages and workshops, can require a bit more work. For example, you may have to change the starter ballast too, depending on the replacement you choose.

Do I need to switch all by bulbs at once?

There's no reason why every bulb in your house needs to be of the same type. You could just switch one bulb at a time over to an LED equivalent as they break, although when you look at the numbers, there's a good argument to be made for making the full switch to LED. The sooner you make the switch, the sooner you can start saving money. The savings over the first year should easily outweigh the cost of the initial investment.

I already have energy-saving (CLF) bulbs, are LEDs even better?

CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs are much more efficient than traditional or halogen. Though they still aren't as efficient as LED bulbs, you may not save as much money on energy bills, but LEDs do last longer, aren't filled with chemicals and can look much nicer. LED bulbs also achieve full brightness much quicker than CFLs.

What should I look for when I'm buying my new LED bulbs?

There are a lot of options for LED bulbs, some of the main things to consider before you start shopping are:

  • Brightness - LEDs are often sold with a brightness rating in lumens (the higher that is, the brighter the bulb will be). As a guide, a 60watt traditional bulb will give off around 800 lumens. Most manufacturers will also include a traditional bulb wattage equivalent value, so you can match that to the bulb you're already using.
  • Colour - You can get different colours or tones of LED bulbs. Soft/warm white bulbs imitate traditional household bulbs, giving off a warm, slightly orange light, whereas cool/pure white bulbs will give off a much (dare I say it) whiter white. Think about what would suit your home, perhaps a pure white bulb would be great in a study where a warm white bulb would be better suited to a lounge or bedroom.
  • Design - LED bulbs are easier to manufacture in different shapes and sizes. Do you want a ball-like, spherical bulb that nestles in the holder or a "candle" shaped bulb, the end of which will be more visible outside of the holder? You can also get LED bulbs to imitate antique bulbs.
  • Fitting - Be sure to check how the current bulb fits into its holder before you buy a replacement. If you still have the original box it will say on there. There are several common fittings for bulbs, some in different sizes, including Edison Screw, Bayonet and Bi-Pin. They'll usually have a code printed on them which will say which it uses if you're unsure, the code may be one of the following: E27 (large screw), E14 (small screw), B22 (large bayonet), B15 (small bayonet), GU10 (twist lock, bi-pin), GU5.3 (bi-pin), G9 (looped bi-pin).
  • Dimmable - if you have a dimmer switch set up to control your lights, then you will need to make sure that the LED bulb you buy is dimmable. It will say whether it is or isn't dimmable on the box.
  • Smart bulbs - These can be quite expensive, but you can get bulbs that can be controlled using a remote or even your phone. You can often change the brightness and colour of the light, as well as being able to turn the bulb on and off without using the light-switch. Timers can also be set so that the bulb will turn on or off at the desired time, and some smart bulbs can also be set to be motion-activated.

Conclusion

It's definitely worth replacing your traditional or halogen light bulbs with modern LED ones. Not only can you save a lot of money but, they can also look better, be safer and even be controlled by your phone (or as part of a smart home set-up). The sooner you make the switch, the sooner you can start saving!

If you've found this post helpful, then I'd love it if you'd let me know. If you would like more information about LED lighting, check out a few of the links below.

Guide to Energy-Efficient Lighting - Energy Saving Trust

History of LEDs - Light Emitting Diodes



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