LED Buying Guide

Posted by Alex Wells on

You will undoubtedly have heard of LED bulbs, they have been around for years now following the phase out of incandescent bulbs. However, despite this, the technology behind LED bulbs continues to grow at an incredible rate. From greater light output, to colour, to smart technology, LED bulbs have a wide scope of use in both domestic and commercial settings. In this article we’ll look at everything you need to know before buying an LED.

Lineup of lightbulbs on a blue background. The filament bulbs are unlit where the  LED bulb is lit.

What is an LED?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. They are a type of electronic light source which is very different to conventional lightbulbs as they last much longer, consume far less energy, and emit very little heat.

They are also safer than conventional lightbulbs as they are highly durable and do not feature fragile elements like glass tubes or filament, or toxic elements like mercury or lead.

Pros and Cons of LED bulbs

Pros:

  • Reduced energy use
  • Longer life
  • More durable with no fragile parts or toxins
  • Attractive solutions with a range of colours and shapes

Cons:

  • High initial cost (paid back after 1 year)
  • Some LED bulbs will require additional technology

How much power do LEDs use?

LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs of an equivalent brightness. For example, a 4 watt LED can easily achieve a comparable light output to a 50 watt halogen bulb. This is because LEDs are far more efficient at converting electricity into lumens.

Thanks to this lower power usage, switching to LEDs can help you to save money. Their higher durability and reliability also means that you will need to replace them less often, meaning you will start to save money in less than a year.

Are LEDs Safe?

Yes! Unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs don’t contain any toxic elements like mercury or lead. They are also less likely to break as they don’t have any small, fragile parts like glass tubes or filaments. Finally, they give off comparatively little heat, meaning they are still safe to handle after use.

Are LEDs eco-friendly?

Thanks to LEDs using less power than incandescent or compact fluorescent lamps, they help to reduce the release of harmful CO2 caused by power plants burning fossil fuels.

As well as this, LEDs don’t waste energy by creating heat like incandescent bulbs.

Additionally, thanks to LEDs not containing lead or mercury, they are more environmentally friendly. Lead and mercury are classified as the most toxic heavy metals in the world, and when halogen, incandescent, and CFLs are sent to landfill these metals can leech into nearby drinking water or air.

What colours are available?

LEDs come in a variety of light colour temperatures and some models can even be all the colours of the rainbow.

Everyone has their own opinions on what shade of light looks best, and some people like different shades for different uses. For example, you may choose to use a white light in your overhead light and a yellow light in your lamp. These shades are called the light colour temperature, and are measured in Kelvin.

You can usually buy bulbs with a light temperature of around 2000 – 6000 K. The higher the Kelvin value, the cooler and less yellow the light will look.

To learn more about light colour temperature, check out this guide.

Light colour temperature guide showing different colours and their temperatures in Kelvin.

 What types of LED bulbs are there? 

There are LED bulbs available for most cap types and bulb shapes. This means it is easy to make the switch to LEDs.

The most common household bulb shapes include GLS, Candle, Round, Spot, GU10, and MR11/MR16. The most common caps are bayonet, screw, small bayonet, small screw, GU10 base, and MR16 G5.3 base.

 Round LED bulb Candle LED bulb Round LED bulb Spot LED bulb
GLS Candle Round Spot

You can use the existing bulb in your light fitting as a guide on what LED you should buy. Alternatively, your light fitting itself should include advice on what bulb to use.