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LED Bulbs

LED light bulbs, arrays of light emitting diodes in common light bulb shapes, provide increased energy efficiency and longer life compared to incandescent, halogen and most fluorescent and HID light bulbs. LED bulbs have additional advantages including:

  1. LED bulbs save 75% to 80% on energy costs when substituting LEDs for incandescent or halogen bulbs.
  2. LED bulbs save "ladder time" of 15 to 30 bulb changes with LEDs compared to incandescent or halogen, and 3 to 5 bulb changes compared to CFLs.
  3. LED bulbs can provide attractive return on investment for businesses and institutions when both energy and ladder time are included.
  4. LED bulbs illuminate at full output instantly when turned on.
  5. LED performance and life expectancy is not affected by frequent or even rapid on-off cycling.
  6. LEDs are more resistant than incandescent or halogen bulbs to mechanical failure due to shock and vibration.
  7. LED performance is unaffected and even improves in cold temperatures.
  8. LED light bulbs produce minimal ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
  9. LED bulbs contain no mercury.

LED Frequently Asked Questions:

Can LED bulbs be used on standard dimmers?

If you intend to use an existing incandescent or halogen dimmer to dim your LED light bulbs, be aware of these key points:

LED bulbs will dim with standard dimmers, but the dimming may not be as smooth as with incandescent or halogen. At lower dimming levels, the dimming may not function at all. In addition, unless you buy an LED that specifically indicates it has "warm dimming", then when you dim a standard LED bulb, the color temperature stays the same as at full light output, rather than becoming warmer is it dims.

If dimming is important, first buy a single LED bulb and test its performance on your existing dimmer. You may be satisfied. If not, LED light bulb manufacturers publish lists of compatible dimmers for their products. You can download a couple of these lists below.

Osram Sylvania Dimmer Compatibility List
Philips Dimmer Compatibility List

How Does Heat Affect LEDs?

When you hold your hand close to the surface of an illuminated incandescent or halogen bulb you feel heat - radiant heat to be precise. When you do the same with a cluster of LEDs, you don't feel heat.

The spectral output of LEDs for lighting does not contain infrared radiation. Why then do you often hear of the need to dissipate heat from LED lamps? And why the elaborate cooling fins that have become a common feature of LED replacement bulbs?

The answer is that while LEDs do not produce infrared radiant heat, they do generate heat at the solid state junction. Too much heat at this junction will lower the life of the LED and reduce light output. The cooling fins perform the task of dissipating this heat.

So, if you use LEDs as replacement bulbs, be aware that light output and rated life will be adversely affected if they are placed inside enclosed or poorly ventilated fixtures where it will be difficult to dissipate heat.

What are the benefits of buying Energy Star qualified LED bulbs?

Energy Star

  • Brightness is equal to or greater than most incandescent and fluorescent light sources.
  • Light output is constant, only decreasing at end of rated life.
  • Excellent color quality.
  • The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
  • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  • No flicker when dimmed.

Download complete Energy Star requirements for LED bulbs.


Does it make sense for small retail to convert to LED?

The California Lighting Technology Center, is a non-profit research, development and demonstration facility with a focus on energy efficient lighting. They also publish case studies of institutional, commercial and residential applications.

This case study shows how a café owner can cut bottom line costs with a complete LED retrofit. By replacing all incandescent, halogen and fluorescent light bulbs, the owner was able to get significant annual energy cost savings in a 8 month payback without compromising lighting quality.