How do you pick out the right LED light bulb?
You’ve no doubt heard about LED light bulbs and probably even purchased some to replace incandescent ones that were used in the ceiling lights in your home.
However, LEDs (short for light=emitting diodes) are flooding the marketplace and eventually will replace many other types of bulbs, including incandescents, halogen (the highest-efficiency incandescent) bulbs, compact fluorescents or CFLs and linear fluorescent tubes.
The main reason for buying LEDs is that they are more efficient and tend to last longer. Here are several facts to help shine the light on what you need to know before buying these bulbs:
Look at the lumens
When purchasing LED bulbs, you’ll want to based your decision on their lumens, a measure of how much light the bulbs produce. In the past, you probably purchased all your bulbs based on their watts, a calculation of how much power a bulb burns up.
For example, to replace a 100-watt bulb, look for an LED with 1,600 lumens. To replace 75-watt bulbs, look for an LED with 1,100 lumens. For 60 watts, look for 800 lumens.
Many stores have charts to help you in making the conversion.
Color is key
You can also buy bulbs based on a color rating index — or CRI — that indicates how a light source will bring out the colors of different objects. The size of the CRI is measured in Kelvins (Ks).
Generally, color can range from 2,700 K, a warm light similar to that produced by incandescents, to about 5,000 K, which would resemble daylight. Check the package of bulbs you are buying for more info about the Kelvins.
Once upon a time, it was tricky using LEDs for many fixtures, but now you can plug one in to sockets for most sconces, chandeliers, and lamps that used incandescents.
One exception: Fixtures where the bulbs are totally covered with glass. LEDs produced too much heat for that type of lighting.
Dimmers may need to be updated
Some homeowners have found that LEDs may not work with older rheostat dimmer switches. Pair LED bulbs with an electronic dimmer to maximize dimming performance and reduce chances of flickering.
Prices are comparable
LEDs were very costly when they were first introduced, but prices have dropped considerably recently and will continue to come down. Most sell for less than $5 a bulb.
They will work better and last longer than your old incandescent bulbs. Using a $3 LED can cost about $1 per year on your power bill.
On the other hand, a similar energy-efficient incandescent bulb can cost more than $5 per year to use.
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