Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What is New in Lighting for 2014: LED Lamps

TCP's LED A Lamp
In January 2014 the lighting efficiency standard has forced 40 and 60-watt incandescent bulbs to be 25% more energy efficient. The Energy Efficiency and Security act of 2007 has all ready impacted most of us in one way before now, but as of this month it will make a bigger impact. Incandescent 40- and 60-watt bulbs represent about 80% of all incandescent bulbs. This means many of you will be out shopping for replacement bulbs in the near future. Many will buy CFL bulbs, the curly cue bulbs, but there are also a lot of great LED’s available. While CFL has been around for over 20 years, LED is newer and seems to be a lot more complicated. I want to help you decode LED’s so you can replace your current bulbs with a LED that is better than the incandescent bulb you have now.

Aside from cost here is what you need to know to buy LED bulbs:

1-      How Bright is the LED
While the industry standard has always been to measure light output by wattage you now also need to be aware of lumens. Wattage is the measure of energy used, in the past the incandescent bulbs brightness was directly determined by their wattage. LED bulbs produce more lumens while using far less energy so wattage is no longer a way to gage the brightness of a bulb. Packaging of LED bulbs will still list the wattage consumption, and what wattage the LED will be replacing compared to an incandescent bulb. But government regulations now mandate packaging list the lumen output. A lumen is technically defined as one candela multiplied by one steradian. In layman’s terms, one lumen is equivalent to the light produced by one birthday candle from one foot away. To expand this idea, seeing 100 lumens is like standing one foot away from a cake with 100 birthday candles on it.

Lumens, unlike watts, are a direct measure of light output. Therefore, a larger lumen count means a brighter bulb.
2-      How is the light distributed?

If you want a light bulb’s light to be distributed in a similar way to incandescent you need a LED bulb that is omni-directional. ENERGY STAR defines omni-directional light as light evenly produced over 270 degrees. This is most applicable to A19 and candelabra bulbs- A19 bulb is the one most of us first picture when we think of a light bulb. The same bulb we use as an icon over a person’s head when illustrating they are smart or had a brilliant idea. Candelabra bulbs are typically used in chandeliers and outdoor fixtures and are shaped like a flame.  

Other types of bulbs, directional bulbs like MR16, PAR’s and R’s used in recessed cans and track lighting will still be available in various degrees of spot and floods.    

3-      Is the quality of the light acceptable?

LED bulbs are available in various shades of white, on a scale of soft white to daylight. This is the CRI, color rendering index, I did a whole post dedicated to this, read more about CRI here.

Another key to help make sure you are getting a good product is to look for the ENERGY STAR label. For a bulb to become an Energy star qualified it goes through vigorous testing that is done over 6,000 hours to ensure the consumer is getting a bulb with high quality. The testing includes categories such as brightness, distribution of light, performance under different temperatures, and overall efficiency of the bulb. The energy star website has a tool where you can compare different LED bulbs that can help you find the perfect bulb for your application.

4-      Is it Dimmable?

Not all LED bulbs are dimmable, if you have a dimmer please make sure that you buy a dimmable LED bulb. This should be clearly marked on the packaging saying DIMMABLE.

Lastly for those of you who do buy LED bulbs, LED’s are all about thinking long term in pay off for cost. Take for example a CREE  60-watt equivalent LED bulb, it costs $1 per year to operate , based on electricity rates of $.11 per kilowatt-hour and usage of six hours per day; compared to $7 per year for a 60-watt incandescent, not including replacement costs. This is significant in long term saving not only energy wise but for your wallet too.

We try our best to get in LED’s from many vendors, test them in the showroom to see what we think is the best. If you want to see LED’s on display or would like to talk further about LED technology and bulb replacement options stop in the store. The world of LED is rapidly changing, changing for the better, and we try to keep up on all the new and improved lamps, we are happy to share our knowledge with you any time, we are here to help!

No comments:

Post a Comment