LED Lights, are without a doubt, the future of lighting in our homes. LEDs offer numerous advantages over other lighting technologies. Below is just a few of the advantages LEDs offer:
- Low power consumption
- High efficiency level
- Long lifetime
- Immediate light at switching on
- Wide operating temperature range
- High impact and vibration resistance
- No UV or IR radiation
- Mercury Free
Although they have been around for a long time, various factors have made adoption slow in our homes. Probably the most significant factor from preventing wide spread use in our homes, is the expense. LED bulbs and other LED Light sources have traditionally been very expensive, especially when compared to normal incandescent bulbs (traditional light bulbs), as well as CFL bulbs (those ugly tubed energy saving bulbs).
LED light sources afford double the energy savings of CFLs, contain no lead or mercury, and offer a level of flexibility and control that no other type of light can match.
Because of its unique capabilities, LED lighting is leading the lighting industry in its ongoing effort to develop truly green, sustainable solutions and market them affordably. As costs come down, new standards, green initiatives, and government directives are creating an enormous opportunity for the adoption of LED lighting around the world.
Types of LED lights
LED lights come in many shapes and forms. In this article we will focus on some of the more common ones which can be used in a typical home environment. Covering all the technical details of LED lights can be a bit tedious and confusing, so we will stick to some of the more simple concepts and technical details.
But first, a visual comparison between the incandescent, CFL, and LED lights.
The first bulb on the left is a traditional incandescent bulb, which is the least energy efficient kind of bulb . The second one is a CFL bulb, which has some cost saving benefit over incandescent bulbs. The third bulb is a general depiction of an LED bulb, which has by far the highest cost saving benefit of all the bulbs.
Generally speaking LED light bulbs are white frosted, as in the picture above. This is because a LED light source generally does not look that great, so the frosted bulb hides the actual light source. However you can get LED bulbs they attempt to look a lot like the older incandescent bulbs, and which can be used if a more traditional light bulb look is required. These look like this:
These kind of bulbs are however quite difficult to find and can still tent to be quite expensive (about R150-R180). I have seen them on various online stores and some random stores and Builders Warehouse do stock them, however they are not always easy to find.
LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights are great for use in certain installations, e.g. in cupboards, under shelving in kitchens etc, as well as in water tanks and aquariums (if they are waterproofed, ie have a silicone coating).
They generally come if 5m strips, which can be cut to size to suit the size of the installation. They also come in various colour options, e.g. Red, Blue, Green etc, as well muti color RGB, which can be programmed to change colours etc. These lights generally require a 12V power source/supply.
LED Day Night Bulbs
This is a just really a normal LED light bulb with a build-in day night sensor which automatically turns on the bulb when it gets dark, and turns off the bulb when it gets light again. There is a separate post on this type of bulb here.
LED Flood lights
Flood lights are generally used outside in gardens and patios etc to light up large areas and where they may be exposed to rain etc. To guard against rain, they are waterproofed.
LED stop lights are generally distinguished by the yellow square in the center which is the LED light, as shown below. These cost between about R300-R1000 depending on their brightness etc
General LED bulbs can range from about R50 for a cheaper lower quality bulb, up to about R200 for a high quality dimmable LED bulb. You pretty much get what you pay for in terms of quality. For fancy lounge centerpiece lights or other more high quality light fittings especially where the bulb is highly visible, it may be better to spend more money on a better looking and better quality LED bulb (especially if you need dimming capability), but for general light in bathrooms and toilets and bedrooms, where the actual bulb is often not very visible, the cheaper alternatives are perfect.
LED bulbs are capable of displaying a wide range of colours, while some are even capable of
changing their colours with a controller.
The 2 common colours are Warm White and Cool White. Different vendors may
have different names for these variations so below is a specific measure of these colours:
- Warm White: about 3000 Kelvin
- Cool White: about 4000 Kelvin
The below image shows the difference in colour temperature. Warm white is better for a more ambient warm/yellow glow, which is the same kind of light as traditional incandescent bulbs. Cool white light is generally used in places like hospitals and public spaces etc.
Where to buy
The cheaper LED Lights that go for about R50 a bulb are from Radiant lights and look like this:
I don’t recommended buying LED lights for China malls and markets etc, as these tend to be very inconsistent regarding light colour and brightness etc, and its very difficult to get Warm White bulbs , which is generally speaking what you want if you are looking for a softer and warmer light in your home. Cool white bulbs
What to look out for
Besides the different colour options as discussed above, there are various other things to look out for.
- Light Colour – as explained above. Warm lighting is best for homes that want warm ambient lighting.
- Dimmable vs non Dimmable. Most LED Lights cannot be dimmed, unless the specifically state that they can be dimmed. Dimmable LED lights do cost quite a bit more.
- Bayonet vs Edison Screw bulbs. You need to make sure you choose the right bulbs for your light fittings. Edison bulbs are the screw in type.