LEDs have long been hailed as the one technology that can revolutionize lighting as we know it and to some extent it has. Today, LED downlights for instance are a lot more energy efficient and can produce the same intensity light as you’d expect from regular halogen light bulbs. Plus they have the added benefit of an impressive 20 year life span (as some manufacturers boast), and are extremely cost effective.
That said not all LEDs and LED downlights are the same, there are a number of different types of out there which is very different from buying an incandescent or halogen light bulb. This is why you need to equip yourself with everything you’ll need to know about the technology prior to buying.
Your Watts habit will not work anymore
When we buy lights in general we are constantly checking the label for the ‘watts’ rating of a bulb. The same goes for when you are buying regular downlights since halogens are rated in watts too. However, you’ll need to do away with this method of judging a light bulb’s intensity when buying LED downlights. The overall brightness of LEDs is determined in a slightly different manner.
The first thing you need to know is that wattage is not an indication of brightness but rather how much energy the bulb will pull. With incandescent light bulbs there is a plausible correlation between the number of watts drawn and the resulting brightness but this is not the case with LEDs in general. So, instead of watts you should be checking out the lumens (lm) rating of an LED. Lumens are the original measurement of brightness and this is the number you should look out for.
Check the color
Incandescent bulbs are known for their warm, yellow hue, but LEDs are available in a number of different colors. One of the beauties of buying LED downlights is that they are capable of showing a number of different hues which range from red to white and yellow. Home owners may want to choose something similar to what an incandescent produces. Some popular colors are soft white, bright white, dull white etc. Keep in mind that both soft and warm white have a yellowish hue which is very close to what an incandescent produces while bright white is a lot like daylight and are best for retail stores.
Your savings expectations
LED technology and your investment in the latest LED downlight should be considered similar to that of buying a hybrid vehicle. The cost upfront is large but you’ll save lots of money in the long term. Even though competition has reduced the price you should still expect to pay way more than what the average downlights with halogen bulbs cost. But they last longer, are more energy efficient and will produce less heat.
Dimmable LED downlights
Because of the way LEDs are built they are not compatible with regular dimming switches. So, the switch in some cases may need to be replaced. At times you’ll need to pay slightly more for an LED downlight which is compatible with your dimmer. The vast majority of dimmers out there are designed to work only with incandescent bulbs, and they work by reducing the amount of electricity which is sent to the bulb. So, the less electricity that is sent by the dimmer, the dimmer the light will become. But by now you already know that there is no direct correlation between the brightness of an LED and the total energy it draws.
The good news is that LED downlight sellers like Australia’s LED Lighting sell dimmable downlights which are compatible with conventional dimmers. People who have one of those latest electronic dimmers should also make sure that the LEDs they are buying are compatible with it.
Plan your purchase accordingly
The purpose of all the information above is to help you plan your switch to LED downlights and other types of LED lighting equipment accordingly. The better you plan for an upgrade the more comfortable you’ll feel, after all sitting in a room that is as bright as the sun is not fun especially when you want the light in your living room to have a yellowish hue. Planning ahead will help to avoid problems like these.
Mark is an electronics engineer with over twenty years of experience in the lighting industry. He was one of the first to predict that LEDs were the future of the lighting industry. In addition to predicting he has also worked closely alongside businesses that develop LED lighting solutions so he knows a lot more than regular people about lighting in general.