LED Light Bulbs Explained
LED lights may cost a little more up front, but they last longer and save energy, making them cheaper in the long run
What Is an LED Light Bulb?
LED light bulbs are the newest innovation in the lighting industry, and they use a different technology than previous light bulbs (such as traditional incandescent or compact fluorescent). Instead of heating up a filament as in traditional light bulbs, LED light bulbs activate light emitting diodes which are semiconductors that cause electrons to release light energy. LED light bulbs typically combine a large number of these diodes to increase brightness until it reaches the brightness of an incandescent.
Why Go LED?
You’ve probably noticed by now that LED light bulbs are 10 times more expensive than traditional incandescent light bulbs, and so you might be scratching your head trying to figure out why people would want LEDs. The answer is both in the increased lifespan of the LED light bulb as well as the dramatic energy savings. In order to capitalize on LED lighting, you will have to use them over a ten year period. Besides the money savings, you will also be helping to reduce energy use which will cut down on greenhouse gas emissions overall.
First let’s break down replacement costs. The typical incandescent light bulb costs approximately $2 while a typical LED light bulb might cost around $20. When you consider the average lifespan of each however, you begin to think LED light bulbs are pretty attractive: incandescents last around 2,000 hours, and LED light bulbs last 25,000 hours, outlasting incandescents by a lot more than 10 times. So, if you plan on using the bulb for 10 years or more, you’ve already reclaimed your investment.
LED Light Bulbs can last more than 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs
This of course is just talking about the replacement costs of the bulbs themselves. But if you consider the costs of replacing bulbs, especially in commercial or industrial environments, the labor costs can be quite daunting! Consider all the places where light bulbs are installed and how hard it is to get to some of those locations. The additional labor costs quickly add to the total cost of the bulbs. Learn more about cost savings with LED lighting for the home.
It even gets better economically for LED light bulbs when you consider the energy savings. In order to compare energy consumption, first let’s clarify how we measure it. The brightness of a bulb (how much light is emitted) is measured in units called lumens. Typical 60W incandescent bulbs spit out around 660 lumens while a typical 9W LED light bulb will emit around 900 lumens. Even though the LED light bulb we’re talking about emits 27% more light than the incandescent, it consumes 51W less energy. If we take our 10 year scenario again, you are looking at an approximate savings of around $160 per bulb (assuming 15 cents per KWh and an average burn time of 6 hours per day). LED light bulbs save more and more money for those who choose it over standard incandescent light bulbs.
What Kinds of LED Light Bulbs are Available?
- Standard Household LED Light Bulb (E27)—The most common types of light bulbs in houses have the typical screw-on base called E27 (an Edison base). These light bulbs have a number of LEDs inside a compact casing. Because of the compact nature of the bulb, heat sink technology must also be applied to make sure all the electronics inside do not overheat.
- LED Track Lighting (GU10, GX5.3, GU4, GZ4)—LED light bulbs are also made for household or commercial track lighting, featuring all of the standard base connectors used for track lighting fixtures including GU10, GX5.3, GU4, and GZ4 bases.
- Multifaceted Reflector (MR16, MR11, MR8)—Multifaceted reflector refers not to the type of base connector, but to the design of the casing that can enhance the light output of the bulb. Multifaceted reflectors (MR) use highly reflective metals, while the number refers to the diameter of the light bulb in eighths of an inch (MR16 therefore is 2 inches wide).
- LED Floodlights —Floodlights are another popular iteration of LED lamps because of their immense light output. Floodlights typically fit in fixtures that don’t require a compact design, and they are often mounted outside. Because of its bigger size and open design, the heat problems associated with compact bulbs aren’t as much of a problem, and more LEDs can be employed, giving you a much higher lumen output.
- Tube Lamps (T2, T4, T5, T8, T9, T10, T12, T17, PG17)—Tube lamps have been manufactured since the first half of the 20th century and are largely employed in office or industrial environments. These bulbs have G5, G10 or G13 connector sockets. Because of their spread out nature, the LEDs in these bulbs don’t get quite as hot, and so heat sinks are typically minimal for this application.
- Dimmable LED Light Bulbs-- Manufacturers of LED light bulbs have also come out with dimmable bulbs. Dimmable bulbs are great for mood lighting in living rooms, home theaters, high-end conference rooms, commercial lobbies, and more. These bulbs must also be paired with a hardware dial or switch that allows the user to select the desired brightness. These bulbs also tend to be significantly more expensive and they also tend not to achieve quite the same efficiency as an on/off LED bulb. Typical on/off LED bulbs come close to achieving 100 Lumens per watt, while dimmables are more likely to output around 75 lumens per watt on average (depending on the dim settings you use most).
- LED Light Strips—These strips can be rigid or flexible, and they can be simple ribbons or can have weather protective jackets. These strips also often include colored LEDs that are great for decorative lighting, accent lighting, or for special occasions like holidays.
- LED Panels—Manufacturers have now begun making flat panels covered with LED lights. These panels are used in office ceilings (like in a drop ceiling) to illuminate a room, and are also being integrated into photography lighting applications.
More resources about LED Light Bulbs:
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Saffron by Sewell
10W Light bulb E27
Saffron by Sewell
15W Spotlight E27
Saffron by Sewell
7W Spotlight MR16
Saffron by Sewell
7W Spotlight GU10