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The Real FAQs About LEDs

Mara Grande Chandelier by Tech Lighting


The Real FAQs About LEDs

Sure, you've heard about LED lighting; but before you consider making the switch,
you probably have questions about what it all means for your home.
We break down what our customers are really asking.

Venturing into something new is already an intimidating task. And when that something new has to do with technology, it can be especially so, with its own set of jargon and learning curves.

While LED lighting isn't brand new, the technology is really booming for the home user, and now is a great time to make the transition (and if you're ready to buy, we can point you in the right direction with our LED Buyer's Guide). But before you consider making the move to LEDs, you probably have some preconceptions and questions about changing the lighting in your home. Here, we've answered some of our customers' most common questions so when you're ready, you can shop like an expert.

What is LED lighting?

At its most basic, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. This is light produced using a semiconductor in a process called electroluminescence. Sounds fancy, right? The process is much more efficient than what's used by traditional incandescent lights and has a much longer lifespan. Its small size and relatively cooler operating temperature means that it can be used in shapes and forms that would have been impossible to light with traditional bulbs.

Are LED lights brighter?

Not necessarily. Like any fixture, the output depends on how much wattage it takes in and how many lumens it produces (lumens are a measurement of light's brightness). Because LEDs produce many more lumens per watt than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, you can't look at wattage alone. While most people can reference wattage for a classic incandescent bulb, the wattage and the amount of light produces with LEDs is drastically different.

A good rule of thumb is that 1600 lumens equals about the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Read more: What are Lumens?

Are LEDs blue light?

Many people have a bad impression of LED from early versions of the technology in which, yes, the light did tend to have a blue tint to it. But the industry is constantly developing, and LEDs are now being designed to meet our expectations for the lighting we'd want in our homes. The color of light produced is measured on the Kelvin scale, where a lower number equates to a warmer light—the higher the number, the whiter, (and, yes, eventually bluer) the light will be.

There are currently two main color temperatures that we are seeing produced. 2700 Kelvin is a warm light on par with a standard household bulb. 3000 Kelvin is slightly whiter but still warm tone, on par with a halogen bulb. Some brands go higher, offering 3500 and 4000 Kelvin options if you prefer an even whiter light.

What will LEDs do to the color of my room?

The notion that LED light does not show colors faithfully is also due to a bad first impression. Because LED is not a full-spectrum light source, early versions could produce a "muddy" color effect. The most common complaints were that blues looked green or reds ended up looking brown. That would be caused by a diode producing light that was missing sections of the light spectrum.

To combat this, LED manufacturers began to develop products according to their Color Rendering Index, which measures how accurately a light source renders the colors it falls on (a higher number means truer colors). Most LEDs for home are now at least in the 80 CRI range, but we are seeing more 90+ CRI options hitting the market. This is a good number to keep an eye on to ensure that the light you get will be pleasant and meet the needs of your room.

What does "Integrated LED" mean?

To really understand the possibilities with LEDs, it's important to make the distinction between integrated and retrofit options.

Integrated LED lights have the LEDs actually built into the fixture itself. Whether on a panel, strip or disc, the diodes are installed into the fixture, so you won't find a standard socket for a bulb.

A reference to retrofit options essentially means using an LED bulb in a standard light fixture (with an E26/medium base or E12/candelabra base socket, which are the most common). So some LED upgrades are as simple as buying and LED bulb and screwing it into a socket like you would any ol' light bulb.

Can I put LED in any fixture?

Yes and no. While LED technology charges forward, there are still some limitations to what you can put an LED bulb in. Standard sockets like E26 (medium base) or E12 (candelabra base) offer many LED retrofit bulb options. We are even seeing viable options for some of the smaller halogen bi-pin bulbs as well. But there are still some socket sizes that do not yet have compatible LED bulbs.

Is LED dimmable?

As we become more attuned to the role lighting plays in our homes, many of us want to make sure fixtures are dimmable, and this has been a concern with LEDs. While most newer LED technology is indeed dimmable, that's not the case across the board.

Before you purchase an LED fixture, make sure to find out if it's compatible with a dimmer, and be aware that most dimmable LED fixtures will require specific types of dimmers.

For the most part right now, dimming an LED lowers the lumen output of the light, versus making the light warmer. However, fixtures with "warm dim" functionality are coming onto the market fast and furious. So it won't be long before LED lights can truly dim in the way incandescents do.

How long do LEDs really last?

LED has a long lifespan, with most current options rated with at least 20,000 hours of operation. Some brands are pushing that limit, and many offer 30,000 to 50,000 hours as standard—we are even seeing options at 90,000 hours. This means that you can select a lifespan that will work for your needs. While a fixture used only a few hours a day can last 20+ years, some fixtures left on all day and night will expire faster. A little math can give you a good idea of how long you can expect a fixture to last.

All in all, there are a number of advantages to switching to LED lighting in your home. If you still have questions about how to do it, chat or call our experts at 877.445.4486.