PKK Lighting 2017 Light Bulb Buying Guide – Part 2
In our blog post PKK Lighting 2017 Lightbulb Buying Guide – Part 1, we provided a short history lesson about light bulbs and the transition from incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes to more energy efficient LED light bulbs. In this post we will provide additional guidance as to some of the key features and functionality that are important considerations when purchasing LED light bulbs.
When you are in the market for an LED light bulb, there are a few things you need to be familiar with before you buy:
- Shape – LED bulbs come in a range of shapes and sizes.
- The standard shape (A19) is the most common shape and is used in table lamps and other general purpose applications.
- Reflector bulbs emit light to a specific area and are generally used in track lighting, under cabinet installations, and ceiling fans.
- Candle shaped LED bulbs are generally used in chandeliers or other decorative fixtures.
- Globe shaped LED bulbs are typically used in bathroom vanities, pendant lighting, and other specialty fixtures.
- Color – the color of the LED bulb is designated on the Lighting Facts label (see below). Warm colors are more yellow while cool colors are more blue. Color temperature is measured in units of Kelvin, ranging from Amber (warm) light at 2200K, to Daylight (cool) at 5000K-6000K, and many colors in between.
- Brightness – the brightness for LED bulbs is measured in lumens. Here is a lumens to watts conversion table so you can determine which LED is right for the job. Note that the wattage for LED bulbs is one-fourth that of the incandescent bulbs, which is where much of the energy savings comes from by converting to LED’s. As an example, if you want the approximate light from a pair of 60W incandescent lights in your bathroom, you’d use a pair of 900 lumen LED bulbs that are 15W each.
- Dimming – Many LED bulbs are not dimmable. Determine if the light fixture you are using requires specific types of replacement bulbs and if those bulbs need to have the dimming feature built in. Generally you’ll pay slightly more for the dimming feature, so if you don’t need it, save some money and buy non-dimmable LED’s.
- Dimmable vs Warm Dimming – With incandescent lights, when you dim them the color of the light gets warmer (less harsh), a feature known as “warm dimming”. If you are looking for that feature with your replacement LED bulbs, you need to ensure that the fixture you are using will work with LED bulbs and that the bulbs you purchase have the warm dimming feature.
- Wet or Dry Use – If your fixture/bulb will be subject to moisture (e.g., in a bathroom or outside), be sure to purchase light bulbs (and fixtures) that have been rated to work in a wet environment.
- Use in a Fully Enclosed Fixture – if the bulb will be used in a fully enclosed light fixture, be sure the replacement bulb is rated for such use. A fully enclosed fixture can expose the bulb to much higher temperatures, and if the bulb isn’t rated for operating in that environment, the life of the bulb could be shortened dramatically.
- Use in a Motion Sensor fixture – if the bulb is being used in a fixture that contains a motion sensor that automatically turns on the bulb when motion is detected (and shuts off after a period of non-activity), be sure the bulb is rated to work in that fixture.
- Use in a photocell fixture – an energy saving photocell fixture turns lights on when it gets dark and turns them off when it’s daylight. Check with the manufacturer of the fixture to determine the proper replacement LED bulbs.
Other LED light bulb buying tips:
- Read the Lighting Facts label – The Energy Labeling Rule requires light bulb manufacturers to give consumers key information in an easy-to-read format. The Lighting Facts label is modeled on the Nutrition Facts label on food packages. It provides shoppers with the information they need to buy the most energy-efficient bulb that meets their needs. The label includes a bulb’s brightness (in lumens), annual energy cost, expected life, light appearance (color), and wattage.
- Energy Star – When you’ve identified the LED bulbs that meet your requirements as discussed above, select bulbs that are Energy Star qualified. These bulbs have met quality control standards for brightness, color, and energy consumption.
If you still have questions about the proper LED bulbs to buy, contact PKK lighting and we can help you determine which LED light bulbs for sale will work best for the fixture and intended use.