LED Bulb Buyer’s Guide - What You Should Know Before You Buy

There’s a good reason that you’re seeing LED bulbs everywhere nowadays – from buildings to homes and offices, street lights, high-performance cars – you name it. If you want to enjoy cost-savings, a long shelf life and many other benefits which we’ll get to in just a moment – then LED bulbs are for you. This LED bulb buyer’s guide has all the first-time buyer tips you need to know before purchasing LED bulbs. Let’s get to it then.

What are LEDs?

LEDs have been dubbed “the future of lighting” by many techies and industry experts and who can blame them? In addition to using ridiculously low energy, they are not only long lasting but also brighten up instantly when turned on, unlike your traditional energy-saving bulbs. When LEDs first arrived on the scene, they were not received quite as warmly as anticipated – for one, there was the high price limiting factor along with low light output initially. However, as LED technology progressed over the last few years – in fact, developed rapidly – you started to get more efficient LED bulbs that were brighter, more affordable and practical enough to replace the conventional 100W bulb – all the while taking the shape of a traditional bulb. Prices are also getting lower, as we speak, due to their widespread popularity and everyday use in homes and offices. While some of the brightest and ‘snappiest’ looking LED bulbs might cost anywhere between £10 and £17, most LEDs for everyday purposes can be had for as low as £3 to £4. Just think about the energy savings you can enjoy with such a low upfront cost.

It’s important to understand why LEDs have become the craze and how they differ in terms of producing light from conventional incandescent bulbs. While the latter produce light by passing electricity through a fine wire filament, the latter do so by using a semiconductor which emits light as an electrical current is passed through it. Therefore, LEDs produce light in a way that’s distinct from traditional energy-saving lights – which pass energy through mercury vapour in order to create UV light, something which created unnecessary heat, in addition to higher energy costs.

Why are LEDs an Ideal Choice? The Pros

Even though LEDs are noticeably more expensive than traditional energy savers and incandescent bulbs, they do offer key advantages over other types:

Highest Energy Efficiency

Currently, LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulbs available. In fact, they utilise 90% less energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. This not only makes for unbelievable savings but also lets you recover your investment fairly quickly – in most cases, LEDs ‘pay for themselves’ thanks to the energy savings, in just a few months.

While the upfront cost is indeed a bit higher, you certainly won’t find any reason to complain about the annual savings in your energy bills. Just to give you a clearer picture – in contrast, CFLs utilise 60-80% less energy than traditional incandescent, while halogens utilise 20-30%.

LEDs for the win!

 

Ultra-long Life – Decades (no joke here)

Depending on the LED manufacturer and how you use them over the years, in many cases, the average shelf life of an LED bulb is anywhere between 20-30 years or more.

Instant Illumination

Unlike your regular energy savers, LED bulbs do not need to go through a power-up phase – flick the switch and they are on – as in, all the way on – achieving 100% brightness instantly.

Brave Cold Temperatures

LED lights can work just fine in low temperatures – mostly the case in the UK – while CFLs don’t.

 

So, What about the Downsides?

We wouldn’t be completely honest with you if we claimed something like: “LEDs are the end all, be all, and they are perfect in every way”. So let’s consider a few ‘potential’ downsides – you can decide for yourself if these truly are “cons” that might hold you back from buying them:

No Regulating Authority

The market for LED bulbs is currently self-regulated, which means if manufacturers have “CE” marked on their bulbs – it may not necessarily be a guarantee that those bulbs have indeed undergone the required quality checks. Therefore, LED bulbs can vary quite a lot in terms of quality between different manufacturers. We’d recommend that you check out independent user reviews, customer testimonials and always buy from a UK LED distributor that has a verified track record of selling quality LED bulbs.

‘Cool’ Colour Tint Not Liked by Everyone

Some folks actually don’t appreciate the quality of light emitted by LEDs, complaining that it produces a light which looks too cool and ‘bluish’ for their tastes. However, this isn’t the case with all LED bulbs. The best quality and most reliable LED bulbs will be completely indistinguishable from your old energy savers – producing a nice and ‘warm’ light.

Radio Interference

There have been a few reported cases of certain LED bulbs which cause interference with DAB radio signals. To avoid getting any unwarranted surprises, you should always ask your LED provider if they’ve tested their bulbs to make sure they do not interfere with DAB signals when switched on.

LEDs Require Special Dimmers

Your standard dimmer may not work with LEDs – that is, if you need a dimming feature, to begin with. But if you do, then you’ll need to most likely upgrade to a dimmer which works seamlessly with low electrical loads. In any case, check the packaging or product literature online before buying your LED bulb – it should mention whether they are dimmable. If you’re not sure how to acquire this information and if there’s none on the packaging/literature, you can always contact the manufacturer directly.

CRI Not as High as Traditional Bulbs

There’s something known as a Colour Rendering Index or CRI – a measure of how well or rather how accurately a light source can emit specific colours. LEDs can’t quite live up to the CRI of incandescent or halogen bulbs; the latter register a CRI in the high 90s while LED bulbs typically register a CRI in the low 80s. Is this actually a problem? Well, it may be if you have a party every night at your place where “colours are of the essence”. For everyday use, most folks generally go with a plain white hue. However, with that being said, if you’re really obsessed with coloured lights, then know that colour consistency in LEDs may not be quite as good as other bulb types like halogen and incandescent. Still, we wouldn’t call the difference night and day by any means. The key thing to remember is to not mix different brands of LEDs, because, amongst LED manufacturers, the CRI and colour temperature can vary a lot more than conventional light bulbs.

Stick with one manufacturer that makes quality and reliable LED bulbs, and you’re all set.

Buying the Right LED Bulb – Two Key Elements to Consider

Buying LED bulbs is not, unfortunately, as simple as pickup up the same or similar watt bulb and expect it to match the luminance level of your current bulbs. So before you buy, consider the following:

Bulb Size and Shape

The most common bulb size is an A19 bulb which has an E27 base. The E stands for an Edison Screw which the bulb has while the 27 means that the diameter of the bulb’s base is 27mm. The A, in this case, refers to “arbitrary” which is the bulb’s shape – the most common shape that we expect a light bulb to be. But if you’re looking for a different shape then there’s ‘C’, which is for candle and ‘G’, which is for Globe. The 19 before the ‘A’ in the example above designates the size. If you’re still not sure what size would be most appropriate for your home or office, have a look at LEDClever’s bulb line-up according to shape.

Luminance Level

While wattage is a measure of how much brightness you need in the room using traditional bulbs, the approach to LED brightness is a little different. Rather than watts, look for a brightness measurement unit known as “lumens” – a unit used to denote how much light a bulb can produce rather than how much energy it sucks up. You may see watt equivalents when buying LED bulbs, although just to eliminate any confusion whatsoever, always look for lumens. However, in the name of convenience, we’ve created a ‘cheat sheet’ of sorts to help you determine what kind of LED brightness you’ll need in contrast with the incandescent you’re about to replace:
  • For 100W bulbs, look for the equivalent of an LED with 1600 lumens
  • For 75W bulbs, look for the equivalent of an LED with 1100 lumens
  • For 60W bulbs, look for the equivalent of an LED with 800 lumens
  • For 40W bulbs, look for the equivalent of an LED with 450 lumens

Also inspect some of the fixtures in your home or office, which will typically have a rating for how many watts they can safely handle. So for more brightness, you can buy LEDs with higher lumens while safely keeping within the maximum wattage allowed. For example, a 9W LED bulb will produce the same brightness as a 60W traditional incandescent bulb.

If you’re looking for the most energy efficient range of quality LED bulbs that also come with a 30-day returns policy and free shipping all over the UK, look no further than LEDClever.

 

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