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LED bulbs are ready to light your home – 7 tips you should know

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The future in home lighting is LED, and the future is now.

By Eartheasy.com Posted Aug 25, 2011

Feit LED BulbsThe technological advances in the development of LED light bulbs have been fast and furious, with manufacturers competing to design LED bulbs suitable for every application in the home, while working to lower the retail price to a tipping point of mass consumer acceptance.

Today, these goals have largely been met. LED light bulbs are more cost-effective than their incandescent or CFL counterparts, and specialty LEDs have become widely available for the different lighting applications in modern homes.

Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the many energy-efficient lighting solutions on the market today, and how to choose the best LED bulb for your lighting needs.

1. The new Lumens rating makes buying LED bulbs much simpler

conversion for lumensChoosing a light bulb today is more complicated than ever, and the choice of bulbs keeps growing. Consumers have to choose between incandescents, CFLs, halogens and LEDs, and a multitude of sizes and shapes, different bases, and of course widely differing prices.

The FTC has recently mandated that, by 2012, all light bulb packages will be standardized with new labels which will make it much easier to buy light bulbs, whether they be incandescent, LED, CFL or halogen. The main indicator on the light bulb package will be “lumens”, which will replace the current “watts”. Lumens represents the amount of light emitted by a light source, and is a more accurate measure of the brightness of a bulb.

Incandescent Watts CFL Watts LED Watts Lumens (Brightness)

40
60
75 – 100
100
150

8 – 12
13 – 18
18 – 22
23 – 30
30 – 55

4 – 5
6 – 8
9 – 13
16 – 20
25 – 28

450
890
1210
1750
2780

So no matter what kind of bulb you are interested in, simply comparing lumens will enable you to compare the brightness level each bulb will deliver. After you determine the lumen level you prefer, you can then look to other indicators such as energy efficiency, lifetime run cost, and dimmability to select the ideal bulb for your application.

To learn more about the upcoming new labelling system for all light bulbs, see our article: Lumens are the New Watts.

2. LED bulbs contain no mercury

One of the hurdles to broad consumer acceptance of energy-efficient CFL bulbs is the presence of a small amount of mercury in the bulbs. Consumers are concerned that they may be adding mercury to the environment when the bulb is disposed. If a CFL bulb is broken, consumers are advised to treat the broken bulb as a hazardous material.

The mercury issue with CFLs is confusing because manufacturers reason that actually less mercury enters the environment when CFLs are used to replace incandescent bulbs. A power plant will emit 10mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb compared to only 2.4mg of mercury to run a CFL for the same time. The net benefit of using the more energy efficient lamp is positive, and this is especially true if the mercury in the fluorescent lamp is kept out of the waste stream when the lamp expires. However, this reasoning only applies if your electricity comes from coal-fired sources.

The presence of mercury in CFL bulbs is a real issue with consumers. At Eartheasy’s online store, we have discontinued selling CFLs because of customer concern over the presence of mercury in CFL bulbs.

LED bulbs contain no mercury, so there is no special concern with handling or disposal of LED bulbs.

3. LEDs give instant light, and many LED bulbs are dimmable

dimmable LED bulbWhen turning on CFLs and tubular fluorescent light bulbs, there is a slight hesitation before brightness is achieved, and some bulbs may flicker during warm up or even during operation. Unlike fluorescents, LED bulbs, like incandescent bulbs, reach full illumination as soon as they are turned on. This is a real advantage over CFL bulbs in areas of the home where lights are frequently turned on and off. Also, LED lights produce a steady light which does not flicker.

Earlier versions of LED bulbs had the disadvantage of not being dimmable. Today, many LED bulbs are designed to work in dimmable switches which are provided in many lamps and home lighting fixtures. Just be sure to check the package to ensure the bulb you have selected is dimmable.

LED lights last a long time and unlike other light bulbs, they do not burn out, but rather dim over time.

4. LEDs won’t contribute to heat buildup in your home

This summer has been the hottest on record, and homeowners are increasingly interested in measures which can help reduce the amount of heat generated within the home. Electric lighting is one of the main culprits. Incandescent lights produce ideal illumination in terms of brightness and quality of light, but they also produce a considerable amount of heat.

A 100 watt incandescent bulb produces 100 watts of power. From an energy point of view, it puts out 100 Joules of energy per second. In a small closed room, 4 m (12ft) x 4 m(12ft) x 3 m(9ft) or 48 m³ with a single 100w bulb:

48 m³ x 1.2 kg/m³ = 58 kg of air
100J = 1000 J/kgC x ∆T x 58 kg
∆T = 0.0017 deg C, change in temp. per second

In one hour, the bulb would produce a 6 degree C rise. or 11 deg F. This assumes the room is closed to ventilation, so the temperature would be lower if the room were ventilated, or larger. But it serves to illustrate that the heat contribution from an incandescent bulb is significant.

LED bulbs, by contrast, remain cool. High power LEDs are designed with heat sinks, usually aluminum struts around the lower bulb, which keeps operating temperatures low. LED bulbs do not contribute to heat buildup in a room.

5. Insects are not attracted to UV-free LED bulbs

Many LED bulbs (but not all) do not give off ultraviolet light, which is known to attract flying insects. Check the package label for UV information if you are interested in this feature.

There are also specialty LED bulbs which have yellow lenses or bulbs, which are designed for outdoor use in carports, decks or on patios. These yellow bulbs will not attract the bugs and moths which seem to cluster around ordinary white bulbs. These bulbs produce adequate light for the intended area; they just don’t attract bugs.

6. Choose LED bulbs which are UL Listed, not UL Compliant

A light bulb package marked “UL Compliant” is no assurance that the LED bulb has been tested or approved by the Underwriters Laboratory. It only means that the manufacturer has followed recommended UL guidelines in production and technical aspects. A “UL Listed” LED bulb has passed stringent tests put forth by UL, and consumers are advised to look for the UL Listed mark.

In the race to garner a share of the emerging LED market, manufacturers may use the UL Compliant mark to help sell more light bulbs, but this is no guarantee of bulb quality. Consumers should be wary of new LED bulbs which are priced very low, are sourced from unknown suppliers, or have unrealistic product claims.

7. Don’t let the sticker price shock you

The initial cost of LED bulbs may be misleading to consumers unfamiliar with the new LED bulbs. While the initial cost of the LED bulb is higher than the cost of an incandescent or CFL bulb, the savings is recouped over time because the bulb will last longer and use less energy than other bulbs. You will see the savings in your electric bill.

For a cost comparison chart which shows how you will save money by buying LED bulbs, see our page LED vs CFL vs incandescent bulbs.

The trend in lighting is moving towards more widespread adoption of LEDs for residential as well as commercial use. Today, builders of new homes are installing LED bulbs in many fixtures, and as LED bulb prices continue to go down, this trend is going to grow. A little knowledge about these bulbs will help you get the best value for your dollar.

To see some of the newest LED light bulbs on the market, visit the lighting section of Eartheasy’s online store.

Posted in Healthy Home Tags , , , , , ,
  • julian

    LED light Have been tremendous to many people’s lives and homes, the gains that the modern world is achieving in this era is fantastic. I believe sooner than later we shall be retargeting our efforts as well to eradicate some of the common diseases that are generated through unscrupulous technologies which are not nowhere near human friendly. Good work on the post regarding LED lights and some of its brilliant features.

  • http://bestspeakerschoice.com Plangton05

    This post proves a very good point, that the world is moving towards LED light bulbs due to their efficiency. I have actually switched over half the light bulbs in my home to LED bulbs and it makes a huge difference over time. Thanks for the great post, you've got some great points listed there.

  • William Kwan

    Is having no UV rays actually beneficial? I've heard that the best light for you is full spectrum; if this is the case, wouldn't the future of lightbulbs lie in imitating sunlight?.

    • Greg Seaman

      "Full-spectrum" LEDs are actually combined Red, Green, and Blue LEDs, simulating full-spectrum to the human eye. They still emit a relatively narrow band of 430-670nm, outside the UV range (4 – 400nm).
      UV rays from the sun do more damage than good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1432992306 Brittany Davis

        aren’t uvb rays what your body uses to produce vitamin d?

        • eccles11

          If you are concerned about vitamin D levels, go outside in the sun for 15 minutes, or eat some fish, or if you live somewhere where they put vitamin d in the milk. Drink milk. Unless you are a vegan living in Iceland, there are plenty of opportunities to get enough vitamin D.

      • Robert Dinse

        That UV rays do more damage than good could be argued. I think really it’s a case of “all things in moderation”. Seattle has the lowest amount of sunny days of any major US city, yet it has the highest melanoma rate. Two of my Dobermans died of melanoma, one insider her mouth where there was NO UV exposure. In addition to producing vitamin D, UV light is associated with lowered rates of breast cancer. The human body seems to need SOME challenge to remain healthy just not so much that it overwhelms it.

  • dburlison

    Thanks..Well done site-very interesting/informative..

  • http://www.learnjavawith.us shashank

    Great post.I have got LED Fluoroscent tubes at home and knocked off those energy guzzler bulbs!! Great post man!

  • http://www.frugal-interior-design.com/index.html frugalinterior

    I recently wrote a small bit about bulbs and switching from CFL's on my website so was thrilled to see this article. Lots of great info here. I think the standardized packaging is good news however listing "lumens" only will be confusing to folks at first. I liked the chart above showing the equivalence between watts and lumens. If the price-point goes down, I could see more people switching over. I'm anxious to get all my lighting to LED as others are replaced. There are special dimmers created specifically for LED and Halogens which many people may not be aware of and which was briefly pointed out here. From what I've read, current dimmers will work but there may be noise or interference in the lighting or switch (which is always a concern). I would definitely switch mine just for peace of mind. I'm always weary of unfamiliar name-brand bulbs too. In this case, with LED's being "new" to many, I'd definitely urge them to go with a name you know and trust.

  • Morris

    Now I am thinking seriously about the cost effectiveness and safety of these LEDs that are not that expensive to buy but can save a lot of money and won’t contribute to global affect that conventional bulbs and energy savers does. Thanks a lot.

  • http://www.tartnews.com john niles

    I’m ready to take the plunge to LED after reading this. Entire home now CFL and the savings are clear. But LED sounds like the best move all around.

  • http://www.sofreesolar.com Mike Ding

    I agree with you,the LED lighting will be the future for the lighting,and the technology will be better,and solve the present questions of the LED bulb,like the heat dissipation of the led lamp,it is may shorten the life span of the leds,but it is better now.

  • http://www.chinovalleyranchers.com/ Gary Marshall

    LEDs are going to turn out to be one the the biggest longterm difference makers when it comes to climate change.

  • roland hayden

    Thanks for the info, it will save energy and help the climate.

  • http://sustainablebeings.com David

    Thanks for the info … i love how simple it can be to make a difference :)

  • http://www.mappamundi.co.uk George Pepper

    I take using LED bulbs for granted now, which is a good thing. You can install them and forget about them knowing you will not have to change them for a long time. UPVC Windows can also save you a lot of $$$$

  • Ruby

    are LED bulbs also full spectrum?   I recently came across these types of lightbulbs….finding good lighting seems to get more complicated.

    • Midimagic

      Generally no.

      LEDs usually emit light in two bands:

      - Blue, usually with reduced violet and no cyan.

      - Yellow, with lesser emission in the orange and green regions. Red is emitted, but not all the way to 760 nm.

      What is missing?

      - Far violet.
      - Cyan and aqua
      - Far red

  • Shar Hunter

    You should try the new free app called LightSmart.  It helps you calculate the savings of switching from incandescent to HID or CFL or LED.  It’s free for the iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store. It also has a cool function that lets you take a pic of a room in your home and change the lighting to see how it would look with a different light source.

  • LC

    Interesting article, not complete though.  As most of you know LED light bulbs and tubes are made by a mass multitude of companies. Some claim 25,000 hours of life,  to as high as 50,000 hour. Make sure that what you are buying has a .ies files showing that independent testing certifies the LED light source is tested to reach this kind of light life. Basically you’ll want to see a LM-79 and LM 80 report on the LED. Well engineered lighting will have consistent color, and a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 85 or better. High CRI number to a max of 100 will dictate the colors you see are all there. Most CFL can’t get there.  And a lot of LED’s sold barely reach 80. Lumen efficiency has reached the 200 lumens per watt already. This is not seen in LED lighting commercially as of yet, and if you check your local store for LED bulbs, most barely go over 60 lumens per watt.  The life of a LED is directly related to operating temperatures of the LED PN junction, most 25, 000 hour bulbs are driven hard to achieve their light output. You’ll see they run hot,  120 degrees F or higher. Put them into an enclosed fixture and life will be diminished. It would be nice to test bulbs before you buy them to see if they would last.
        From my own testing over the last 3 years, There is a lot of inferior products being sold to the customer that will disappoint them.  Do your research, ask a professional who knows about LED lighting before buying. Safety certification is done independently by the companies who make the LED light sources. Always check the websites to see that the product you are buying is listed on the certifications companies website. If it says UL, go to the UL site. Other safety certification companies include, CSA, ETL, TUV, MET, and CE.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/harsha.murthy.98 Harsha Murthy

    I agree with you, the LED lighting will be the future for the lighting, and they are economical and eco friendly. Thanks for sharing

  • http://eartheasy.com/ Greg Seaman

    Larry, you have touched on one of the unresolved issues with LEDs. The dirver determines the degree and frequency of any flicker, and higher quality bulbs have better drivers, although this is an oversimplification. Dimmer circuits are another cause of flicker, with some LEDs working just fine on a dimmer while others produce a marked flicker.
    Here is an article that explains this in detail and offers some suggestions.
    http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/lighting/resources/articles/characterizing-and-minimizing-led-flicker.html

  • http://ecoled.co.za/ John Vanhorn

    Okay! I have noticed all the seven tips about LED light bulbs which is very useful for me because if I see this tips then I can save my electricity and help in making of world ecofriendy.

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