What’s the deal with LED lighting?
In years past, homeowners have been reluctant to use LED (light-emitting diode) lighting for three main reasons:
- LED lighting is too white
- LED bulbs cost too much
- You can’t use LED bulbs in traditional fixtures
When LED lighting for homes first became available, they were considered to be too white by many users. And, the bulbs did cost much more than traditional incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. There was also no way to use LED bulbs in older, traditional fixtures.
As with most things, the technology of LED lighting has changed tremendously.
Now, LED lighting not only gives off the same lighting density as incandescent bulbs and, in some cases, you can change the very color of the light right from your phone. The cost of the LED bulbs has dropped 90 percent since 2008 and LED bulbs now come with the same mechanism as traditional bulbs, so they can be used in any light fixture.
How is LED lighting different from traditional bulbs or CFLs?
Traditional Incandescent Light Bulbs
Traditional incandescent light bulbs are the least expensive bulbs to buy. They produce light through two filaments and are on the instant electricity hits the base; the way they are made and produce light has not changed fundamentally since Thomas Edison created the first one. Incandescent bulbs last approximately 1,000 hours. They give off heat and are very energy inefficient. When they burn out, they can simply be tossed into the trash (carefully, though, because they can break easily).
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)
Compact fluorescent bulbs are made with a mercury switch that needs to heat up before it produces light. They are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, but the light can be harsh. CFL bulbs are made with bases that fit into traditional lighting fixtures and they produce much less heat than traditional bulbs. The typical CFL bulb can last up to 8,000 hours.
One note on CFL bulbs: Several years ago, before LED lighting became more prevalent, everyone was switching to CFLs. Then came the realization that CFL bulbs were as hazardous as traditional fluorescent bulbs and that they cannot be disposed of in the trash; they are considered hazardous waste.
Manufacturing of CFLs also costs more, as hazardous waste precautions need to be made here as well. Today, CFL manufacturing is trailing off, with General Electric, one of the largest manufacturers of CFL bulbs, phasing out the production of CFL bulbs and major sellers, such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart, phasing out their stock of CFLs in favor of LED bulbs.
LED bulbs, however, are based on an electronic switch. They are instant-on and produce no heat. As mentioned, the light effects can be changed, depending on the mood and use. They last up to 25,000 hours are the most energy efficient of the types of bulbs discussed, produce no heat and can be disposed of in the trash.
This will help you get a better picture of how each of the bulbs stacks up:
Benefits of LED Lighting
With CFLs being phased out, and incandescent bulbs being inefficient and costly, it makes sense to look at adding LED lighting to your new-home design. Some of the benefits of using LED fixtures include:
- Energy efficient
- 100-percent recyclable
- Fabrics and paint won’t fade from their use
- Easily controlled through third-party apps
- LED ceiling fixtures are safer, as insulation can be placed right over them, because LED bulbs and fixtures produce no heat
- Energy-Star certified
LED lighting is the wave of the future in lighting, with even more changes coming along. Current projects for newer LED lighting include OLED (organic LED) lights. Made from organic materials that allow for even more flexibility, one OLED application is being used to light hospital rooms. OLED panels are placed above patient beds and can be adjusted for minimal-glare overnight lighting that does not disturb sleeping patients.
While you’re choosing the best options for your new home – right after the countertops and carpet – choose LED lighting fixtures right from the start. You will be amazed at the result.