Choosing the adequate lighting for your home or office can be quite a challenge these days. The latest improvement of LED lighting techniques have made it possible for all of us to use it as a main source of lighting, other than a simple signalling light in our everyday gadgets. Still there are a number of issues reoccurring when you choose LED lights, and these issues often lead to many people ending up with fluorescent lights on the long run. At LEDcentre.uk.com, we would like to give you some guidance in making the right choice.
It is already a huge development in our thinking if we do not consider the price of a product the only decisive factor. Incandescent lights would definitely win by far, however often we have to replace them, however much energy they consume or are ruining our environment.
Now, let’s try to sort this out together. I think we might all agree that unless we are really bunkered and we need a light from a pound shop immediately the traditional incandescent lights, conventional or halogen, are out of question for the reasons previously mentioned: huge energy consumption with the conversion rate of 5% of energy into light (the rest of it is emitted as heat) and extremely short lifespan compared to any other source of lighting. Fluorescent lights are much more energy efficient, converting roughly 20% of the energy into light, and have longer lifespan of 1000 to 3000 hours depending on the quality and type of lighting. As far as greenness goes, they could be much more environmentally sound. The chemicals in these lights (Argon and Mercury) are highly contaminating.
On the other hand, light emitting diodes (LEDs) convert roughly 80-90% of energy into lighting, and only the rest is emitted as heat. Their power consumption is therefore very low in order to create the same amount of light, and they remain cool, you can touch them any time. They also reach their full brightness immediately, and are the most environmentally friendly lighting solution currently available on the market.
As long as we are prepared to invest into an LED bulb, we must look at the range of products carefully. What are the most frequent questions about LEDs?
1. Do they produce significant light to replace your current bulb?
2. How long can they be used during the day?
3. Do I need any extra gadgets or methods for application?
4. Are they dimmable, etc.?
None of these questions are trivial if you are a first time user and you are looking to replace more than one of your light bulbs. Also the point of using LEDs is their extremely long lifespan. Not applied properly they can lose most of this lifespan, and your money just goes down the drain. So, let’s examine these issues one by one.
Do LEDs produce significant light to replace my current bulb and how many hours can they work?
There are three major types of diodes, the low power ones, the power and the high power ones. Low power LEDs are good primarily for decorative or mood lighting, would only produce enough light for reading for instance if they are applied together in large numbers. In addition, to keep their lifespan, you simply cannot use them for longer than a few hours a day. These are best to create mood a decorative lighting placed at the corners or edges of your home; or for flashlights for instance where you use them only for a few minutes at a time (in garages during parking, at the entrance while you look for your keys, etc). Mind that these low power LEDs are the ones mainly available in DIY stores at a low price with somewhat misleading advertisements for those who are not into the topic. Always check what you buy: the distributors usually indicate the Wattage of the traditional light the LED is supposed to replace. SMD power and high power technologies are both adequate to replace traditional light bulbs. High power LEDs are suitable for constant lighting, so they are good for commercial use. The light emitted by LEDs also depends on the size of the diode itself, and the chip included. Quality chips increase the lifespan of LEDs radically from 30 000 hours to 100 000 even. That almost means that these bulbs will only be replaced by the next generation in your family, now, that sounds like an investment worth making.
Do they require a special application?
The answer is: not necessarily. There are LED bulbs for 220V, which you simply replace with twist and turn, but there a couple of LEDs working on lower Voltage, usually 12V or 24V. If your lights run at 220V you definitely need a transformer / power supply to apply these lights. Applying the right transformer with your LEDs is crucial not only from the point of view of operating the lights but keeping their expected lifespan. Since the variety of solutions is nearly endless, you have to check the right kind of transformer with the distributor or the technician.
Dimming LEDs needed a brand new technology but is now available. They used to create LED dimming by controlling the frequency of switching the lights on and off. With the new techniques, certain LED spots and bulbs even work with previously set up systems for halogen lights depending on the dimming system by making them suitable for leading edge dimming technology.
The main purpose of the article is to encourage the reader to think before buying. I have to admit, finding the best solution is not really made easy by many distributors. Sadly, I find several distributors simply selling LEDs with false technical details, mainly about the light output (measured in luminous flux or lumen) and the performance of the lights, which is anything but consumer friendly attitude. Generally, the more information is provided on the product, the more reliable it is. Try to find reliable distributors by checking their details, the ones with false details usually catch the eye, like products with the same LEDs emit different amount of light, or have completely different performance… ask them why! Don’t be shy if you do not understand the difference, their job is to tell you. Also, always check different distributors, and challenge them with each other. Remember that you might actually invest into this for the following generation!