LED Fixtures: Efficient Lighting All Around Your Home
In today’s day and age, LED lighting is virtually everywhere. In home use, ‘LED retrofit’ light bulbs are a popular alternative to standard incandescents for use in existing light fixtures. In addition, there is a growing selection of indoor and outdoor, portable and permanent fixtures built to house ‘integrated LED’ lamps, thereby affording the full range of benefits that LED lights can provide. Both LED retrofit bulbs and integrated LED light fixtures are viable products, depending on your application and preferences. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two, and focus on residential applications for permanently installed, integrated LED fixtures.
What Is LED Lighting?
So, what makes LED lighting so unusual? LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs use electricity to power an electronic semiconductor device, which is made of materials that conduct electrical current under certain conditions, generating light. A traditional incandescent bulb and other similar bulb designs, in contrast, run electricity thru a special wire filament in a glass enclosure that’s filled with an inert gas, producing light with heat as a byproduct. Very different approaches, with a number of different results.
LED Retrofit Light Bulbs
LED retrofit bulbs, also known as LED screw-in bulbs, which incorporate a level of LED technology, utilize existing incandescent light fixtures and install in the same fashion as a traditional bulb. Currently, the variety and capabilities of retrofit LED bulbs is steadily changing. For instance, it wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t find a 3-way or dimmable LED retrofit bulb, and now it’s a matter of looking for reasonable prices and a good selection, even at local hardware stores. Prices, in general, appear to be coming down, with reliability and versatility going up. Of note, there may be rebates or purchasing programs available from your local utility (Xcel Energy for many around our area) for purchasing these types of conversion bulbs.
Integrated LED Fixtures
Integrated LED light fixtures have permanently wired-in, extremely long-lasting LED lamps, and are the LED products that provide the full range of benefits these modern lighting sources are best known for. Available in portable lamps and a wide variety of permanent fixtures, LED products can be found at local retail outlets, online, and a range of permanent fixtures can also be supplied by your trusted electrical contractor – in the Denver-Boulder metro area, Save Home Heat Company, we hope. The expected lifespan of integrated LED lamps ranges from approximately 20,000 to 50,000 hours, as much as 10 to 20 years of regular use. In comparison, incandescents, compact fluorescents, and halogens, last about 1/5th to 1/10th as long, with standard incandescents being the shortest lived. To some in the industry the jury is still out regarding LED longevity, but most products carry long term warranties to reflect this promise of superior performance.
Integrated LEDs Versus Incandescent Lights
Before deciding on whether to make the move to integrated LEDs for certain lights inside and outside of your home, consider the following contrast of LED lighting and traditional incandescent light fixtures.
Compared to incandescents, integrated LED fixtures:
- Provide much higher lumens-per-watt light output
- Consume 70-90% less electricity for the same light output, resulting in reduced lighting costs
- Have significantly longer bulb lifespan, up to 20-25 times longer than standard bulbs
- Run much cooler, which can help you control cooling costs in the summer
- Require a greater upfront investment, which manufacturers say are more than recouped over the life of the fixture
- Have bulbs that cannot be easily replaced, underscoring the importance of the manufacturer projected lifespan and especially, warranties
- Provide more focused, directional lighting than incandescents – great for some uses, but not all
- Are more environmentally friendly, not containing dangerous materials such as mercury
Integrated LED Fixtures For Permanent Home Lighting
There is no shortage of applications for permanent, integrated LED light fixtures for homeowners to consider. Track lights, strip lights, recessed ceiling lights (aka. recessed cans), spot and flood lights, and a wide variety of hanging and flush-mounted ceiling fixtures are all popular types of permanent fixtures now available with integrated LED lamps. Of note, integrated fixtures allow for the full range of colors, dimming, and control features available from LEDs, a nice compliment for the other benefits listed above. The variety continues to grow and with it, more and more applications are found for LED lighting in the home.
Current applications for permanent, integrated LED light fixtures include:
- Bathrooms, kitchen, den, great room, dining room, bedrooms – virtually any living or work space in your home
- Track lighting for a variety of select locations
- Accent and shelf lighting
- Closets and storage areas
- Workshops and studios
- Landscape lighting
- Indoor and outdoor bar lighting
- Indoor and outdoor step lights
- Indoor and outdoor path, walkway, hallway, and wall lighting
- Indoor and outdoor garage lighting
We mentioned above the directional nature of LED light, as compared to incandescent bulbs. If you’re considering this option, it’s important to make sure that your application is the right match for what LEDs can provide. In the Denver-Boulder metro area, our electrical team would be glad to advise you.
> Of special note, kits are available for converting existing indoor and outdoor recessed lights from inefficient, incandescent to LED fixtures. This is a popular lighting upgrade for many of our customers.
Other LED Considerations
There are differing schools of thought about LED lighting and we encourage homeowners to take the time to educate themselves fully about how LED light and LED products differ from traditional incandescents and other options before making a purchasing decision – especially when it comes to permanent fixtures. For example, the ‘quality’ of LED light differs in specific wavelengths, although manufacturers claim that LEDs produce the same ‘feel’ as incandescent bulbs. You urge you to be the judge, and recommend you make sure this type of light is palatable to your eyes and your taste before pulling the purchasing trigger.
If you have concerns or questions about the effects of LED light, you may want to consider speaking with your eye care professional. That would be a good time to also discuss the nature and effects of other types of lighting such as standard and compact fluorescents, halogens, and HID light. All light, including the sun, can have impacts that you should be aware of. Regarding the effects of sunlight, keep in mind our high elevation here in the Colorado Front Range and the reduced filtration of the sun’s rays that are part of our daily lives.
Regardless of the type of product or location of your home lighting needs, in the Denver-Boulder area our team is always happy to install owner-supplied fixtures!