Choosing the right LED light

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Image by Anton Fomkin 

The benefits of buying LED lighting over other forms of lighting are clear. LEDs are energy efficient and have longevity, lasting on average 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb. They give off a good quality light and, although they are still expensive to buy, the up-front prices of LED are coming down all the time, in line with more companies producing them and on-going improvements in design.

Now that there is a wide range of companies producing all-purpose LEDs, how do you choose which LED is right for the purpose you have in mind?

Light quality

When the first LEDs came on the market, some consumers found the light that they gave too harsh and ‘cold’ – it was more of a blue than a yellow light, but that’s no longer the case. Manufacturers moved in quickly on this matter and produced alternatives. Online suppliers such as RS Components and Maplin stock a wide range of LEDs and allow the consumer to choose what kind of colour light the LED lights give. If you decide to buy LEDs from RS Components, for example, you’ll see that a warm, yellow light is around 2700K, while a cooler light is about 3000K. Some people choose different colour temperature LED lights depending on where they are going to be used. A white, cool light is often preferable for an office setting, whereas a side lamp in the sitting room might be better fitted with a warmer, yellower light. The other thing to look for is the colour-rendering index (CRI). The CRI scale is from 0 to 100, and the closer you get to 100, the more natural the quality of the light will be.

Function

The reason that LEDs are often used for overhead or spotlights is because they have always performed really well when giving off one-directional light. Now, though, there’s an increasing number of LEDs that have omni-directional light, so they can be used in table lamps, for example.

Another functional aspect that is important to some consumers is that an LED can be used in a dimmer light fitting, so that’s why more people are now buying LEDs for domestic use.

A major part of the appeal of LED lighting is its longevity. So, for places where you have difficulty accessing a light fitting and you don’t want to replace the bulb often – or at all – LED makes a good choice compared with using a traditional incandescent bulb or halogen which won’t last as long.

Another advantage that LED has is that the light is instant-on, giving a full amount of light straightaway, rather than needing to heat up over a few minutes as some of the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) do. This is particularly useful in a place where you turn the light on and off quickly – a cupboard under the stairs, for example.

Cost

There’s no denying that LEDs are more expensive to buy than other lighting alternatives. However, once you factor in the cost savings on energy consumption, and the hassle factor of replacing bulbs that have a shorter life, the up-front investment can be seen to start paying for itself fairly quickly. And over the last five years, the purchase costs have come down thanks to the increased number of manufacturers in this market.

Mass adoption of LED is yet to come, but thanks to the energy consumption benefits, the longevity and the gradual fall in price of LED, it’s certain that more people will make the switch in the years to come.

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