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Understanding LED Lighting

Many customers often ask me what the maximum wattage is for a lamp, pendant or chandelier they are choosing. Because the brightness of standard incandescent bulbs is most commonly represented by the wattage of a bulb, this can become confusing when considering LED bulbs.

LED lighting has become increasingly commonplace as consumers seek to reduce their electric costs and also because of the improvements made in the technology. Those who love the look and warmth of antique Edison bulbs will find LED alternatives that closely mimic the look of the original bulbs. Additionally, smart LED bulbs make it possible to control the power and the color temperature in a room from a smart speaker or mobile device.

But how do you know exactly how bright an LED bulb will be and what you can safely install in a lamp that has only a rating in terms of wattage?

Even though we may think of wattage as referring to the brightness of a bulb, wattage actually represents the amount of energy needed to use the bulb. Because LED bulbs consume a markedly lower amount of energy, wattage does not help to gauge the brightness of a bulb.

When thinking about brightness, you need to refer to the lumen scale.  LED bulbs show their Lumen rating on the bulbs package. To make it easy to start thinking about brightness in terms of lumens, you can use the chart below that lists the common incandescent wattage and the respective rating in lumens.

    Electrical Power Consumption
    in Watts
    Minimum Light Output
    in Lumens
    Incandescent LED  
    15 2 - 3 0 - 200
    25 3 - 5 200 - 300
    40 5 - 7 300 - 500
    60 7 - 9 500 - 700
    75 10 - 14 700 - 1250
    100 14 - 18 1,250 - 2300

    For example, if you’re replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb with an LED bulb, you will want to choose a bulb with a brightness rating of 500-700 Lumens.  As you can see from the chart, because LED bulbs use such a small amount of wattage consumption, you can achieve well over the 100-watt equivalent of brightness with an LED bulb that consumes well under 25 watts.  That flexibility allows you to achieve virtually any brightness without exceeding the maximum wattage of a lamp, pendant or chandelier.

    The Kelvin Scale

    While lumens refer to brightness, the Kelvin scale refers to the color of the light or color temperature.  When LEDs were originally made available, the color temperatures tended to be austere and cold.  However, you can find LED bulbs today that are available in warm colors (low k) to match the yellowish light of incandescent bulbs, and you can also choose cooler colors (high k) with whiter or bluer light.

    When you're purchasing an LED bulb, it's important to consider the color temperature of the bulb.  Here’s a color temperature chart for reference:

    Kelvin Scale

    What Shape LED Should I Choose?

    LEDs come in a wide variety of sizes and fittings. The most common are:

    • A-shape: Maintains the same look as incandescent bulbs and are often used in fixtures where the bulb is visible.  
    • Globe: Just like the globes you already have, but more efficient. For use in bathroom vanities, pendant fixtures, and other areas where the bulb is visible.
    • Semi Globe: Can be used in any fixture you would place a globe. These eliminate light waste by directing the light forward from the fixture.
    • Reflector: Ideal for ceiling fans, recessed cans, and tracking lighting as these provide directional lighting to an area.
    • Candelabra/Flame Tip: Perfect for wall sconces, some ceiling fans, and covered outdoor fixtures where candle lights are desired.
    • Outdoor: Wet-rated, meaning they can be used outside in exposed fixtures without damage to the bulb or fixture. Most are reflector shaped, making them perfect for outdoor flood lights.
    • 3-Way: Just like incandescent 3-way bulbs. These can switch between 3 light levels, making them ideal for many table and floor lamps. Only use LEDs that are specifically designated for use in 3-way sockets for optimal savings. (Different from dimmable bulbs)
    • Dimmable: Made especially for use in dimmer switches. Avoid using non-dimmable LEDs with a dimmer switch as their lifespan will be reduced.  Additionally, make sure you use LED friendly dimmer switches to avoid the flickering that can sometimes result.

    Can LED Lighting Cause Headaches?

    Some people report having issues with using LED lighting in the home or in their office. It is believed that this is caused by the fact that LED lights blink on and off hundreds of times a second.  

    Most electric lighting is powered by an alternating current supply, which causes light bulbs to flicker. This particularly affects vision during rapid eye movements called saccades.

    LED lights dim by 100 per cent. It means they effectively turn off and on again hundreds of times every second.

    This can cause headaches by disrupting movement control of the eyes, forcing the brain to work harder. Flickering LED bulbs could increase the chances of suffering a headache. 

    The majority of people are not affected by the flickering, but it can be solved by buying a more expensive LED lamp, with a direct current rather than an alternating current so that the light is constant. But the lamp's components may not last as long.

     

    Howard

    Owner, Mellow Monkey Gifts and Home Decor



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