LED Home Lighting – A Beginner’s Guide

Most people have come across LED lighting in one form or another; typically in torches, Christmas lights and solar or mains powered garden lighting. But many are still unaware that home LED lighting is now not only possible, but very much the future of domestic household lighting.

The Lighting Industry is fast dropping further investment in the current generation of low-energy lamps (Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs – ungainly, garish and, being filled with Mercury vapour, a disposal nightmare). Companies such as the giant Philips Lighting Corporation have already stated their commitment to home LED lighting as the way forward.

As a result, the availability, range and affordability of home LED lighting solutions is increasing at an explosive rate. But as at this moment it is still best to introduce LED lighting into your own home by approaching those application that LEDs are best able to replace.

The essential difference between traditional incandescent light bulbs and LED lights is that the former wastes up to 98% of the electricity supplied as heat but does shine light in all directions, whereas LED light sources convert nearly all their electricity into light (hence the reason they stay cool to the touch) but shine a pure and very intense directional light.

The other key differentiator is cost of ownership. LED light bulbs last an incredibly long time (3+ decades of normal use) and cost so little to run that the cost of the electricity used throughout the entire lifetime of a bulb is almost certain to be less than the cost of the bulb itself. This is in stark contrast to normal non-LED bulbs that are typically well over 500 times the price of the bulb itself in running and replacement costs.

These particular qualities (highly efficient, zero fire risk and focused light) make LED light bulbs a perfect replacement for spot lights, especially the ubiquitous halogen lamps now found in many homes and that waste heat and money in abundance.

But replacing domestic halogen down lighters is only one aspect of spot lighting that LED lamps are perfect for. They also make ideal display lighting and as a bonus can be fitted in places where you couldn’t even contemplate using conventional incandescent spot lights because of the risk of damage and fire from their extremely high operating temperature.

LED spot lights are a natural choice for bringing illumination to display units, shelves, beneath kitchen units and inside cupboards and wardrobes. They can be easily installed adjacent to objects and surfaces without any danger of causing heat damage and often give a much better light than regular light bulbs in such applications.

Another dimension that home LED lighting is revolutionising is mood lighting, bringing a whole new array of effects that existing lighting technology cannot begin to emulate. LED mood lighting makes available a whole new palette of vibrant color that can be altered and blended at will to produce wonderful effects, either as a focal point or cast against floors, ceilings and walls to modify the ambiance of any room in your house.

So where to begin?

The first point to consider is that although home LED lighting will save you big bucks over time (in fact the break-even point is surprisingly short, often just 1 to 2 years), it is a long term investment. The initial capital costs associated with purchasing LED lamps are significant to most people, so it is prudent to schedule your conversion project into a number of separate phases.

Start by replacing lights that you use a lot (consume most electricity) and also replace those that don’t need to be very bright. The reason for this latter suggestion is that older generation LEDs, although dated by the latest standards, are perfectly adequate as night lights and such like and can be left turned on all the time with negligible cost. They are also considerably cheaper than the modern generations of LEDs.

Those halogen spot lights mentioned above also make a good initial phase for your conversion project since they are typically installed in groups (on a rack of spots in a bathroom say, or as a dozen or more down lighters in larger rooms). They are also frequently left on a great deal of the time and are notorious for excess heat (for which read wasting electricity and money), so you will see clear and quick savings there. Cree LED spotlights are easily available and able to directly replace existing 35w halogen lamps, matching them closely for brightness, light color and beam angle, but saving 90% in terms of electricity running costs.

Display lighting, again for the reasons noted above, make a good target for replacement. And should you not already have display lighting then look again at the aesthetic enhancements that low-power LED spots and lighting strips could bring to your home. Display cabinets, recesses, shelves and ornaments or other features in a room can in effect serve as additional and attractive sources of illumination.

Of course, anywhere in your home that bright directional light is required is an obvious candidate for an LED replacement since that type of light is what LEDs excel at. Reading and desk lamps for example should throw clean, bright light just where you want it and nowhere else.

This category can also include up lighters and any other types of light fitting designed to cast light onto a surface, since a similar effect is easily achieved by reflecting light from an LED such that light is diffused over an area.

The final category to tackle should be the humble bulb and lampshade types of lighting, since these are intended to scatter light in all directions and only the very latest (and most expensive) LED light bulbs are currently able to emulate this effect. However, watch this space as this is an area of home LED lighting that is changing very fast.

Post time: 09-23-2017