To LED or not to LED, that is the question.

To LED or not to LED, that is the question.

With the ever increasing amount of LED based lighting and LED based replacement light bulbs on the market, we are constantly asked by our customers if now is the time to upgrade to LED lighting.

With ever increasing energy costs, increased awareness of carbon footprints and building regulation changes with respect to energy efficiency, this article aims to give slightly more information as to whether now is the time to do so or not, and what other options are available with respect to energy efficiency and cost savings.

You can’t help but have noticed that LED lighting is changing both the domestic and commercial landscapes, but will you really achieve the greatest savings by buying what is still a relatively expensive option now, or would you be better off saving your money for the time being, or buy other energy efficient light bulbs and use the money you save in electricity to buy LED lighting in the future?

We have all seen LED lighting before: LED Christmas lights, head torches and in wind up emergency torches.  What about LED lighting for my home or business?  If they are so effective, why aren’t we all lining up to buy them?

Although LED technology is rapidly progressing, they still have some progress to make in terms of function, durability and budget.  There are some LED products that should be considered over the next year, such as LED Christmas lights and LED light bulbs for certain applications, but is this really going to save you money?  Compact fluorescents, otherwise known as CFL lamps are currently so inexpensive that they’ll pay for themselves in no time.

Efficiency

The biggest advantage of LEDs, is their efficiency. LED light bulbs are far more efficient than incandescent (traditional light bulbs) or fluorescent (CFL) lighting, in terms of the amount of electricity that is converted to light. The problem however with LEDs is that they have a very directed light.  An incandescent light shines over an extensive area, whilst LED lights are very focused, so the area they directly illuminate is very bright, but the further you go away from the direct beam, the less light there is. For applications like christmas lights, this is not a problem as the intention is not to illuminate large areas.  An incandescent or CFL lamp will do a much better job of brightening up your living room than an LED bulb in the same application. The light will be more evenly and generally spread, with typically a warmer colour.

Halogen replacement

You may have some halogen lighting in your household or commercial premises.  If you have any downlights, or more specific picture lights or spotlights, these might well be based around halogen bulbs. Halogen bulbs are only as efficient as incandescent (traditional) lighting, so the same efficiency considerations apply here. The difference in this application though, is that halogen lights are typically much more directional than incandescent bulbs. LED lights that are designed to replace halogen bulbs are a very good replacement.  We can supply LED replacement bulbs for the most common halogen fixtures such as GU10 and MR16, and this may be a good place to start the switchover.

What about normal light bulbs?

LED house light designers work around the issue of the narrow beam of a single LED by building bulbs that have a collection of individual LEDs, with each one aimed at a different angle, so that a wider area is highly illuminated.   This increases the area of full light coverage of an LED bulb.  However, it’s still early days for these bulbs, and very few options currently provide the breadth of area coverage existing incandescent or CFL bulbs. Those that do are typically currently rather cost prohibitive.

Lamp Life

LED light bulbs are, in theory at least, very durable when compared to incandescent and CFL bulbs. LED bulb life ranges from 35,000 to 200,000 hours, compared to 1000 hours for a good incandescent light and 8000 hours for a CFL.

Colour

The ‘colour temperature’ of a light bulb, measured in ‘degrees Kelvin’, regulates the human visual response to it’s light. You are probably used to, and comfortable with the yellowish glow of incandescent lights at around 2800 Kelvin (2800K), even though fluorescent lighting is closer to the natural daylight temperature of 6000K. Any LED with a colour temperature of 6000K or higher would seem blueish, and any LED with a colour temperature above 4000K will appear whiter than an incandescent bulb.

While home and business owners are typically worried about how fluorescent and LED lights can make their rooms look blinding white instead of the comforting yellow glow provided by incandescent bulbs, you should remember that a little sacrifice in colour temperature will put a big dent in your electricity bill! Start converting your home and business lighting to true daylight colours, whether with LED lights or CFL lights.

Conclusion

Whether you switch a few of your lights to LED lights now, or let the technology mature and improve, you can count on the fact that LEDs will play an ever increasing role in lighting out homes and businesses in the years ahead.

For further information about what kind of LED or CFL lighting solutions are available to you, contact Matrix Electrical Services on 01626 818280 or email info@matrixelectricalservices.co.uk

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