From kitchen cabinets and living room light fixtures to houseplant grow lights and model trains' miniature lamps, LED lighting transforms your home with energy efficiency and long-lasting bulb replacements. An ENERGY STAR-qualified bulb saves 75 percent of the energy used by the incandescent bulb it replaces. When you decide to implement LED lighting in your home, look for smart ways to phase out inefficiency and add upgrades that increase quality of life along with illumination.
LED bulbs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes that offer screw-in compatibility with existing light fixtures and lamps. The trick to finding the right LED choice for each light source lies in evaluating the output of the bulb you're trying to replace. Because all incandescent bulbs require the same amount of energy to produce equivalently bright light, their wattage historically served as the most common basis for evaluating their brightness. LEDs use so much less electricity than incandescents use that wattage no longer provides a meaningful comparison among bulb types. Lumens, which measure the amount of light a bulb produces, enable you to relate the output of LEDs directly to other bulb types. To choose the right LED for a table lamp with a 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, look for a replacement LED that produces approximately 800 lumens.
LEDs don't actually produce white light. Instead, they combine red, green and blue diodes in a mixture that can create any light color you want. To produce the warm, yellowish glow you know from incandescents, LED manufacturers can filter the light of blue LEDs through a yellow coating. This process reduces the apparent brightness of an LED light source. Because of the pinhead-small size of the LEDs themselves, they can be combined in color-controllable packages you can set to emit different light colors at different times and to produce a pulsating light show.
Tape, Strips and Ropes
Unlike screw-in bulbs, LED tape, strips and ropes produce light from flat or flexible delivery mechanisms that can follow the contours of a curved surface, nestle under kitchen cabinets, illuminate recessed ceilings or produce a highlighting glow to showcase a work of art. These LED configurations separate their power source from the lighting mechanisms themselves. An LED bulb combines the light-emitting diodes with the power source, called a driver, in one unified package. Sold by length, flat and flexible LED products lack the shape and size to produce these one-piece configurations.
You'll find dimmer compatibility clearly marked on the packaging of LED bulbs. These choices offer flicker-free dimmer performance that other low-energy bulbs often lack. Many compact fluorescents also buzz or hum when you try to dim them. Along with LEDs' energy efficiency, they offer two environmental benefits over other products that replace incandescent bulbs. First, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury. Like all fluorescent bulbs and tubes, CFLs use a fragile outer shell that requires careful handling to avoid releasing harmful compounds. In addition, you'll find LEDs that emit no UV light, making them ideal for implementation around food that ripens or spoils quickly in response to ultraviolet illumination. Coupled with their energy efficiency, this capability makes LEDs ideal for lighting refrigerator interiors and drawers.
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