What You Need To Know About LED Lighting

March 10, 2020

Over the past couple of decades, LED lights have become increasingly popular. Short for light-emitting diodes, LED bulbs are found in everything from standard light fixtures to battery-operated decorative string lights. If you are thinking about using LED lights, read our in-depth guide to learn everything you need to know about this interesting innovation.

How Do LED Lights Work?

LED lights are a type of semiconductor light bulb, which means they create light by passing an electrical current through a material. Manufacturers of LED lights start by dipping certain materials into an agent that slightly adjusts their electrical properties. Then, when an electrical current is applied to the material, it flows through the LED and creates light. This makes LED bulbs very different from other styles of lighting, which usually rely on generating heat to create light.

The earliest LEDs were fairly dim, red colors, but over time, scientific advancements created bulbs that emitted a bright, pure white color. Most modern LEDs are made from P-type and N-type semiconductor materials that look like a thin wafer enclosed in plastic or glass. Unlike their earlier counterparts, they are available in several colors, including warmer and softer whites.

How Long Do LED Lights Last?

One of the big perks of LED lights is their unusually long lifespan. The average incandescent bulb lasts for about 1,200 hours of use, while a standard CFL bulb lasts about 8,000 hours before it needs to be replaced. In comparison, LED lights have an average lifespan of 25,000 hours. This means you do not have to worry about a light bulb blowing out at an inopportune moment or requiring frequent replacement.

When you buy and install an LED light, you can leave it running nonstop for about three years before needing to change it out. Since most bulbs are not left on all the time, you may find that the LED bulbs you installed when moving into a home are still good years later when you move out.

Are LED Lights Energy-Efficient?

There are several ways that LEDs save energy, lower your utility bills and protect the environment. A useful feature of LEDs is that they are extremely bright. This allows you to lower the wattage needed to power the light. To get the brightness of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you just need a 10-watt LED. This allows you to conserve energy, which is good for the environment and good for your wallet.

Another thing to consider is that LEDs require less power and raw materials to keep your home lit for years. Since you can keep one for years without having to replace it, you are not generating as much waste overall. This makes LED bulbs a great option for eco-conscious property owners.

Will LED Bulbs Save You Money?

Whether or not LED bulbs save you money depends on if you are considering costs in the short term or the long term. LEDs do cost more money to purchase than standard incandescent bulbs. This means it can be a bit of an investment to start using them in the first place. However, an LED bulb lasts about 21 times as long as a cheaper conventional bulb. Therefore, you end up saving money by not needing to repeatedly buy new light bulbs.

Another thing to consider when looking at your budget is the cost of using the bulbs over the course of their lifespan. Since LED bulbs use so much less energy than conventional bulbs, you also end up with lower electricity bills. This means that switching to LED bulbs throughout your home can cut the cost of your electric bill drastically.

What Do LEDs Look Like?

The first noticeable difference between traditional and LED lights is brightness. If you want truly bright bulbs, LEDs are the best choice since they come in higher brightness levels than CFLs. Another difference is that LED light is more directional. Unlike incandescent bulbs that shed light in all angles, LEDs only cast light in the specific direction they were designed for.

Contrary to popular opinion, however, you cannot always tell the difference between an LED and an incandescent light at first glance. It is true that some cheaper LEDs are only available in a cool-toned, bluish-white color. However, it is also possible to find LEDs in warmer shades as well. You can choose to get a bulb that provides light just like an incandescent bulb, or you can pick one in a more unusual shade.

The Pros and Cons of Lighting Your Home With LED Lights

To decide if LEDs are right for you, it can be useful to take a look at the pros and cons of the product. The main benefits of LEDs are:

  • Longer lifespan
  • More budget-friendly in the long run
  • More energy efficient
  • Focused, directional lighting
  • Availability in a variety of styles
  • Availability of very bright options

There are also a few downsides associated with LEDs:

  • Incompatibility with certain dimmers
  • Bulbs can be blown out by power surges
  • Some more basic bulbs can have a strong, blue tint

Ultimately, the pros of LED bulbs far outweigh the cons. Therefore, they can be an excellent choice as long as you are willing to make the investment. You may need to make a few adjustments to ensure they are compatible with your home, and the initial cost can be high. However, many people love them due to their brightness, environmental friendliness and convenience.

How to Convert Your Home to LED Lighting

With all the great benefits of LED bulbs, you are probably starting to wonder how you can start using them in your home. The good news is that switching to this new form of lighting is quite easy. Almost all standard light fixtures can use a compatible LED bulb with no issues. All you need to do is find the right power level of LED for your fixture. Remember they are brighter than traditional bulbs, so you may want to select an LED with a lower wattage.

However, if you currently have CFL or incandescent bulbs with a dimmer or remote control, switching might not be quite as simple. There is a lot of variation in LED manufacturing, so some styles may not work well with these sorts of controls. You can check with the manufacturer of the fixture to see if LED bulbs are compatible. When in doubt, it may be best to avoid using LEDs in older ceiling fans and fixtures. In these cases, if you want LED, you might want to consider switching to a new model of light fixture or light switch that is specifically designed to work with LED lights.

At Brennan Electric, we are happy to help you adjust the lighting in your business or home. Our licensed and bonded electricians have been serving residents of the Seattle region for over 30 years, and they perform a full range of electrical services, including installations, repairs, assessments, wiring, lighting, surge protection and generators. Thanks to our friendly and knowledgeable staff, we’ve been given the Angie’s List Super Service Award. Find out more about how we can help you by giving us a call today.

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