How do you choose light bulbs? If you are like most people, you look at the one you are throwing away, jot down the wattage and head to the store. This may work when choosing typical, traditional bulbs, but choosing LED bulbs is not so simple. In fact, choosing LED bulbs for your home can be downright confusing when you are confronted with all of your choices.
LEDs come in a variety of light colors and shapes. Choosing one you aren’t going to be happy with is quite easy to do if all you do is select a comparable power. In order to help you through the process, especially if it is new to you, we have put together this quick and easy guide. Here are the things to keep in mind when choosing your new LED light bulbs.
1. Where Will They Be Used the Most?
When you first shop for LEDs, you may experience a bit of sticker shock. There is no room for sugar coating here: LEDs are significantly more expensive than traditional light bulbs. The good news is that they take longer to burn out and you will earn your money back over the life of the bulb with the amount of savings you realize on your energy bills — about $100 in savings for each bulb.
That said, if you are tempted to run out and buy an LED for each fixture in your home or office, don’t. If you hope to get a return for your investment, where you install your LEDs matters. For example, if you purchase an LED for the coat closet you barely use, it will take you decades to earn your money back. That may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Instead, replace the bulbs in your home in the rooms that get the most traffic. When your living room lamp burns out, replace the bulb with an LED. When your kitchen’s ceiling fan light burns out, buy a new LED. You will get a quicker return on your investment if you start by placing LEDs where they will be used the most.
2. Should You Shop for Wattage?
When you go to the store to buy light bulbs, you look for watts. Not so with LEDs. Yes, LEDs are rated by watts, but they do not compare to incandescent watts. Generally, you can divide an incandescent bulb’s wattage by 10 to come up with the wattage used by an LED. For instance, an incandescent bulb that uses 60 watts can be replaced by almost any LED as their wattage ranges from only three to 28 watts on average.
When buying LEDs, you want to take a look at lumens. This is the number that will tell you how bright the bulb will be. If your lamp has a 75-watt incandescent, you will want to replace it with an LED with 1,100 lumens. The easiest way to do this? Look at the packaging. An incandescent will tell you how many watts and lumens in has. Find the same number of lumens on an LED and you are all set.
3. What Color Light Do You Want?
When LEDs were first released to the masses, their color choice was one: Bright white. The light thrown from these bulbs was harsh enough to turn many people off. LEDs have come a long way and are now available in a wide variety of colors.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to light colors and different activities call for different tones. You may not want a yellow light in your bathroom, but it may be perfect in your bedroom. Who knows? In any case, look at the LED package for a Kelvin number. The lower the number, the warmer the light. The higher the number, the bluer the light.
4. Which Shape Do You Choose?
One of the first things you are likely to notice about LEDs are all of the strange shapes they come in. You will see globes, spirals, floodlights and even some shaped like the flames of a candle. Which bulb should you choose? Which will work best with your fixture? Use this guide to help you choose the correct LED shape for your needs.
5. But What if You Have a Dimmer?
One of the biggest problems people have is finding LEDs that will work with the dimmers they have in their homes. Many LEDs will buzz, flicker or simply not work when installed in a fixture controlled by a dimmer. The good news is that there are several bulbs that will work with dimmer switches; you just need to read the packaging.
Another option is to replace your dimmer switches altogether. It’s a fairly easy job to perform, and you can install a dimmer switch that is designed to work with both CFL and LED bulbs. If you choose to go this route, your best options are dimmers manufactured by Lutron or Leviton. Both provide lists of bulbs that they have tested and verified as working with their dimmers.
So what is the big deal about LEDs? If you are wondering if it is worth the cost, here is a breakdown:
- An LED bulb costs about 80 percent less to operate than an incandescent.
- A typical LED bulb under normal use costs about $1 a year to operate.
- An LED has an average life of 25,000 hours vs. 1,000 hours for the traditional light bulb.
Let’s make it even simpler. It will cost you about $1 to buy a 60-watt incandescent bulb that will last for 1,000 hours. It will cost you about $10 for a standard LED bulb that will burn for 25,000 hours. You save about $15 over the life of your bulb, and that is just in replacement costs.
Still wondering what there is to know about LEDs and other environmentally-friendly options for your home? Be sure to browse through our website for even more information on how you can make your house greener and save money at the same time. If you would like regular information delivered right to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.