LED Shopping – Dimmers, Mercury, Strips, and Warranties

blue LED lights

Just walk though any Menard’s or Lowe’s and you’ll notice two things: the lighting section is always near the main entrance to the store, and, LEDs have become huge business over the past few years. There are so many different options, designs, manufacturers, and jargon that it can be difficult for the average consumer to know what to look for, let alone which LED would fit their needs.

In this article, we’ll look at some common questions people have when shopping for LED light bulbs.

Do They Dim?

If you’ve got dimmer switches in selected areas of your home, you’ll want to look for dimmable LEDs. Look on the package of the bulbs for dimmer compatibility. While some CFLs are also dimmable, they can often give off a buzzing or humming noise that may be distracting. With dimmable LEDs, that is not a problem.

When most LED bulbs are dimmed, the light output is reduced, but the light does not appear warmer as it does when you dim incandescent bulbs. This may or may not be an issue depending on the application. If “warm dimming” is a requirement, some new LED light bulbs from Sylvania mimic incandescent when they are dimmed. These bulbs can be especially useful in setting a mood or even making it easier to fall asleep at night.

Any Health Concerns?

Unlike compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury and can pose a health hazard if broken, LEDs do not have any mercury at all. While more expensive than a CFL, they last at least twice as long between bulb changes.

What’s the Deal With LED Strips?

LED strip lighting is one of the most flexible types of lighting product on the market now, and are providing professional designers and DIY-ers with endless inspiration for creative uses of light.

LED strips produce their light from a flat deliver mechanism. These strips can be taped under counters or steps, or be used to highlight art exhibits or framed images. An LED driver is used with the strips and provides the power source to the bulbs.

A $30 Light Bulb? What if it Burns Out in 5 Months?

While most LED bulbs are rated for 25,000 hours, that doesn’t guarantee the bulb you purchase will last that long. If it’s a dud, it may stop working in a few weeks or months. What do you do then?

Thankfully, LED manufacturers are aware of this potential issue and offer longer warranties for LEDs. Warranties may be up to five years, although some are three years. The manufacturer will often cover the replacement cost of the bulb if it malfunctions.

Of course, if you buy from a brand new manufacturer or a value brand, there is no guarantee that company will be around in 3-5 years to replace your bulb. If you’re really worried about the bulb failing, then purchase from a well-established company like Philips, GE, or Osram Sylvania.

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Nick Heeringa

Nick is a writer, publisher and editor for the Topbulb blog. Check back often for more of his writing on lighting applications and announcements for the Topbulb website and blog!
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