For many people, the first month of a new year is the time for a fresh start. For homeowners in St. Louis, it’s the perfect time to consider a renovation, a home improvement, or the addition of something new, whether it’s new furniture or new appliances. For example, if you want to make your home more energy-efficient and have a smaller carbon footprint, you can’t go wrong with an LED lighting retrofit.
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are prized for their superior energy-efficiency and lighting quality, using up to 90 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and boasting lifespans of over 15,000 hours.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about LEDs or you’re considering replacing your home lights but don’t quite know where to start, this quick guide should help you make an informed decision when it’s time to purchase your LED bulbs.
On Watts and Lumens
Determining the brightness of an LED bulb can be tricky. Most people are used to looking at the wattage rating of a bulb as an informal way of knowing its brightness—the more watts, the brighter the bulb, or so conventional wisdom went.
But watts are a measure of electricity required, not brightness.
The method of using watts to identify a bulb’s brightness becomes ineffective with LEDs, which use very little energy. Instead, what you should look for is the lumens rating—the measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source
Today, all LED manufacturers place both the wattage and lumens rating on the packaging. Some brands even place the incandescent bulb or CFL equivalent on the packaging, making it easy to determine which LED lights will replace your existing lighting setup.
For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb, which generates 600 to 800 lumens, will have a 12-watt LED equivalent.
Be Careful with Color Temperature
LEDs come in a wide range of color temperatures. Whether you want your lights to have a warm, yellow feel, or a cool, bluish tone is a matter of preference.
But it’s also true that certain color temperatures have ideal applications. For example, warmer lights are recommended for environments where you want a soft atmosphere for relaxation—think the bedroom, living room, or bathroom. Cool or white lights are ideal for areas where you want to be alert and productive, such as the kitchen or office.
You’ll know the LED bulb’s color temperature by looking at the Kelvin scale on the packaging. Warm yellow lights are rated at 2700K. White light is around 3000K while a bright white light is at 3500K to 4100K. Cool, bluish white light falls in around 5000K to 6500K.
Go for Dimmability
Unlike compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, most LEDs are compatible with third-party dimming controllers. In fact, some LEDs have dimmability as a core smart feature, allowing you to dim and brighten your lights using a smartphone app. What’s great about being able to dim your lights is that it lets you create a wide variety of lighting atmosphere depending on preference. It also allows you to control how much electricity you want your lights to use.
Consider Sensors and Motion-Activated Features
You can also outfit your LED lights with motion sensors to save electricity and improve safety in your hallways, outdoor paths, and stairways among other places in your home. With these devices, you no longer have to fumble around in the dark looking for the switch—the lights come on whenever it detects movement.
When buying LED light bulbs for your St. Louis home, these features are just a few of the many you should be considering. Good luck!