If you are considering replacing your existing incandescent light bulbs or CFLs with the newly available bright LED light bulbs such as dimmable 360 degree LEDs, then it is a good idea to learn about pros and cons of each of these different types of lighting products.
To start off, I would like to say that modern LED light bulbs can provide a reasonably good new light bulb replacement option. Without a doubt, LEDs offer a number of important benefits, but you may also find that CFLs, which you can now buy for under $1.00 a piece, may be more appropriate for your current situation.
What is LED Lighting?
A LED or a Light Emitting Diode is a form of lighting that is becoming increasingly popular as an environmentally preferred source of lighting in both residential and commercial buildings. A LED is a type of semiconductor that can produce light through an affect known as electroluminescence. LEDs are compact lights that do not contain filaments like incandescent bulbs, and which emit mostly light while producing very little heat as a by product of their operation. LEDs are typically small, sometimes measuring less than one millimeter square. LED lighting can take a number of different forms, using various lenses to create different lighting effects by manipulating how the light radiates and disperses.
The earliest LEDs, which were produced during the 1960s, were only capable of emitting red light, and they were typically only used as indicator lights incapable of producing enough light to light up the space. LED lights of different colors such as yellow were later obtained. Early LEDs were mainly used only as indicators in calculators, and scientific instruments, and TV remotes, and as indicator lights in automobiles and in airplanes.
A significant technological breakthrough of 1995, resulted in a bright white LED light bulb capable of lighting up the space with a light that was of adequate intensity and reasonably close to white/natural light.
Modern LEDs can produce light of all different colors (wave lengths of the color spectrum), including visible, ultraviolet and infrared light. The brightness and efficiency of LEDs has been improved significantly with the advancements in technological development of LEDs. Thus, modern LEDs are now being used not only as indicators for displays, but also as a lighting source in our homes and commercial/institutional buildings.
Goals and Objectives of this guide:
In this guide, I will explain advantages and benefits of LEDs, and I will try to highlight all known to me potential negatives and disadvantages of LED lighting in order to help you the consumer, make a more informed/smarter buying decision. I will also offer some advice on choosing the right types of home LED lights, and tell how you can evaluate and compare the quality of light produced by LEDs with the light you are used to getting from your normal light bulbs.
When bright home LED lights first became available to consumers, they used to average $100.00 per bulb, but now that the initial hype has faded, and with a growing number of prominent LED lighting manufacturers competing for consumers, prices of LEDs have gone down to an average of $5 – $15 for a dimmable LED light bulb ranging from 60 to 100 watt of light equivalent produced. For instance, you can now buy a 60 watt equivalent, soft light dimmable led bulb by Cylvania at Lowe’s for under $10!
Despite more than triple lowering of prices of LEDs in the recent years, the higher current initial cost of LEDs are still likely to deter some consumers from purchasing home LED replacement bulbs in great numbers at this point in time. Thus, relatively high current cost of LEDs can be considered the greatest disadvantage of LEDs from the point of view of the regular consumer.
On the upside, you should remember that by investing in LEDs now, you will not have to worry about the cost of maintaining and replacing your led light bulbs in the next 10 to 25 years. If you add up all the energy savings from using LED lights to light your home, you will be able to recover your all your money in just a few years. Still, Shelling out over $100.00 in one visit to a lighting store may be too much for some people to swallow.
You can always play the waiting game, though, since the prices of LEDs are expected to keep dropping at the range of 10% to 15% percent per year. As the LED lighting technology advances, LED lighting manufacturers keep lowering the cost of their products in order to stay competitive. This competition will ultimately benefit consumers who will get a variety of great LED light products at some very attractive prices. My best recommendation is that you wait a few years, and when the prices of LEDs fall significantly, you will be able to get yourself a real bargain for your hard earned money!
Timing is Everything!
In the mean time, you can replace your existing incandescent light bulbs with spiral shaped CFLs that you can get for around 1 buck, and you will be able reduce your lighting energy consumption by approximately 75%. And, when the time comes to replace your CFLs, you will be able to pick some high quality home LED lights for a very attractive price.
Environmental Benefits of LEDs
Environmental concerns are another important consideration factor in favor of LEDs. Unlike, CFLs that contain a very small amount of mercury (five milligrams) that can be potentially dangerous to humans and, thus rightfully raises environmental concerns, LED light bulbs contain no mercury, are more energy efficient than CFLs and can last five times as long as CFLs. When a LED light bulb does eventually fail, it does so gradually as it loses its brightness. To translate in real terms, your LED light bulb could still have 70% of its initial brightness after 10-15 years of use. Not too bad, after all! At the end of their very long lifespan LED lamps are non-toxic, and thus easy to recycle without causing any environmental pollution.
Alternatives to LED Lighting
LEDs function very differently from other types of lighting, and they also differ in terms of the type of light that they produce, their efficiency and their durability. A normal incandescent light bulb of 40 watts can be expected to last for about 1000 hours. A LED capable of producing the same amount of light can do so with just 13 watts and it can last 50 times longer.
Compact florescent lamps are the only viable alternative to LED lights. Incandescent light bulbs waste a ton of energy in a form of heat, and they fail as suddenly as the candle goes out. There are now plans in the work to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012.
CFLs are currently the most practical option in terms of value measured in ration of price to performance, however, the general consensus is that as performance of LEDs improves and the prices of LEDs decrease, the days of CFL’s prominence are numbered.
Disadvantages of CFLs vs. LEDs
Aside from being environmentally questionable due to mercury content, CFLs also lack in terms of some performance factors compared to LEDs. Replacement Home lighting LEDs can be turned on and attain almost a 100% of their full brightness in an instant, while CFLs will require some time to warm up. This time may be even longer in a colder temperature. Although, far more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, CFLs still produce considerable amount of heat to get too-hot-too-touch, while LEDs can be left on for days without getting too hot to touch.
The Foreseeable Future of LEDs – Prediction
CFLs although, environmentally questionable, will play a very significant role in home lighting energy reduction at least for several years until LEDs become affordable enough for the general public. When that happens, a LED lighting revolution will overtake the industry by a storm of unseen magnitude!
Summary of Pros and Cons of LEDs
LEDs are truly environmentally friendly, reliable and long lasting lighting option for homes, offices, and institutional uses. LEDs can be turned on and attain a state of full brightness almost instantly.
They stay fairly cool and usually never get too hot to touch. Many LED light bulbs are dimmable and can work with standard dimmers, and home automation systems.
The only two drawbacks to LEDs are their presently higher initial cost, and somewhat limited angle of light distribution (very bright within a certain angular range, and dimmer outside the range). There are however, LEDs that have a wider angle and full spectrum of light to mimic that of a natural light. If you are looking for a nice and comfortable lighting in your home, then consider getting full spectrum of natural light LED light bulbs for your home. It can be well worth the money.
Why CFLs will go out of style at some point in the near future
Aside from the points mentioned above, many compact fluorescent bulbs do not last as long as LEDs do. Most CFLs cannot be used with a dimmer switch, and they are not usually as stylish as LEDs are.
LEDs Features – In Depth Information
LEDs Color Rendering
Color temperature refers to the color of the white light that is produced. It is measured in Kelvin. For comparison, an overcast sky has a color temperature of about 6500 Kelvin, while the light at sunrise is about 1800 Kelvin. A normal 100 watt incandescent light has a color temperature of about 2850 Kelvin. Most people prefer to use warmer lighting indoors, with a color temperature of between 2500 and 4000 Kelvin. If you are buying LEDs for use outside, you should choose lights with a color temperature of between 5000 and 7000 Kelvin, since whiter light is more useful at night, outside. This type of white light can also be a good choice for lighting display cases or artwork.
The Color Rendering Index or CRI of a light reflects the effect of the light on how color is perceived. It is measured on a scale from zero to 100, with 100 being the truest color, equivalent to sunlight.
The brightness or intensity of a light is measured in lumens. More lumens mean a brighter light. The amount of energy that is used by a light is referred to in terms of power, measured in watts. Fewer watts means less energy is used. The efficacy or efficiency of a light is measured in terms of the number of lumens it produces for every watt of power that it uses. A LED which produces more than 50 lumens per watt is usually a good choice, although if you can find a LED that produces 75 or 100 lumens per watt, it will be brighter and more efficient.
As a general guide, a high power three watt LED will usually be similar to a 25 watt incandescent flood light. A nine watt LED will be comparable to a 50 watt incandescent flood light. A 18 watt LED will produce similar light to a 100 watt incandescent flood bulb. However, a warm white LED will appear less bright than a cool white LED of the same brightness, because the warm light has been coated with phosphor to create a warmer light. This means that less light can pass through the bulb.
LED spotlights and floods provide directional lighting. They are ideal for use in recessed lighting, track lighting and floodlighting. Lenses can be used with these LEDs to spread or focus the light that they emit. Globe shaped LEDs are a better option when the light needs to be spread out around the source. They use a lens to disperse the light emitted by the LED, but this does reduce the brightness of the light.
LED lights typically have angles of between 30 and 70 degrees. These LEDs produce a more focused light than a conventional flood bulb. LEDs with more dispersed light will have angles of at least 120 degrees and they will be more like a conventional light. When the light from a LED is dispersed, it will appear less bright, so a higher watt LED will be required to generate the same amount of brightness over a larger area.
The lifetime of a LED is also an important factor to consider. Many reputable LED lighting manufacturers will describe the lifetime of their LEDs as 50,000 hours. These bulbs can last for much longer, but they will usually become less effective after about 50,000 hours of use. Manufacturers who have tested their claims about LED lifetime usually measure it until the time when the LED will only have 70 percent of its original output. This means that a LED with a lifetime of 35,000 hours can still be expected to be producing light at the end of this period, but at 70 percent of its initial output.
Using LED Lighting
LED lighting typically involves high output, high efficiency white LEDs that can be placed together in a group in order to create the desired lighting affect. LEDs can be used in lamps or they can light up a whole room. Some LEDs are designed to be fitted into conventional fixtures such as lamps, but there are also some lamps and fixtures that are designed specifically for use with LEDs.
LEDs are usually best when they are used to create unidirectional light. Common choices for the use of LEDs include installing them in strips underneath counters, on stairs and in hallways. Arrays of LEDs can be used to light a room, and they are often fitted into the roof in order to create a stylish, modern affect. Waterproof LEDs that are suitable for external use is also available.
LED lights are very useful for creating the desired lighting affect. They are small and they can be installed in many different ways, so they enable a lot of flexibility in lighting design. They can be grouped together, arranged in patterns or strips, or used singly. They come in many different sizes, shapes and colors.