LEDs 101: Make Your Home Shine Brighter

LEDs 101: Make Your Home Shine Brighter

Photo courtesy of Vision Systems

Last week we brought you “7 Simple Things You Must Know About LED Lighting,” such as the significance of lumens and color temperature and CRI … and, truthfully … there are more valuable LED lessons to learn.

LEDs are actually solid-state technologies, like computer chips. What does this mean you?

So, here’s the second installment of LEDs 101. This information will set you apart and have you understanding and installing more of the future of lighting.




1. LEDs are more directional

LEDs tend to produce directional rather than omni-directional (360-degree) light, so they may have to be grouped closer together in a large kitchen ceiling layout, for example, to provide uniform lighting. This is something a good lighting designer should handle.

You or your designer should also check the beam spread on LEDs when deciding where recessed cans will be located. The wider the beam spread, the less directional the light.



2. LEDs can heat up

The front of an LED may not get hot to the touch like an incandescent bulb, but heat builds up in the back because of the solid-state circuitry. This is why many LEDs have grooved heat sinks on their bases. Installing inferior LEDs in recessed lighting cans may reduce the life of the lamp due to heat buildup and be problematic. This is where someone knowledgeable about LEDs should come in, or opt for LED fixtures instead of screw-in lamps.




3. Put LEDs in hard-to-reach places

The best places for LEDs? Kitchens, outdoors floodlights, places where the light is going to be on for hours of the day, and in that 20-foot-high foyer or stairwell that no one wants to replace—ever. LED strips under cabinets are also quite effective.




4. LEDs are electronics

There, we said it, but we think by this point you can handle the truth. LEDs are actually solid-state technologies, like computer chips. What does this mean you?

  1. Don’t treat them like incandescent and CFL bulbs.
  2. Electronics require DC power, so there’s usually an AC/DC transformer in the lamp or fixture.
  3. They can be networked and controlled like electronics.

Anyone saying, “Hmmmmmmm. Tell me more.”?




5. LEDs can be controlled, networked and used to put on colored light shows

Because LEDs are electronics, they can be networked and controlled. With the right processor they can even put on light shows to “paint” a space with different colors. That can make a great selling point and Wow! factor in a design studio or model. LEDs can be programmed to come on in scenes. Sure, other lighting types can be controlled by lighting control systems, too, but because LEDs are electronics, they can be addressed on a network and even receive Power over Ethernet (PoE) via Category 5 or 6 cabling. Some LEDs can be controlled by smartphones and other networked devices.

Also because they are electronics, LEDs can be nodes on a network, capable of sharing data. An emerging technology called Visible Light Communication (VLC) promises to send data via pulses of light from one LED to another. LEDs may actually represent the future of home networking. How cool is that?




6. LEDs can sell homes and other products

Proper lighting is essential to retail sales, and this is no different with LEDs. Their flexibility to be controlled and change colors can help sell everything from kitchen cabinets to flooring to the art on the walls.

Just be sure to match the lighting in a home with what’s in a design center, so the cabinets and flooring and other amenities look as they did when they were sold. Or you may have unhappy customers.



LED Quality Check

There are a lot of LED lamps flooding the market now, so shopping for good LED lighting can be tricky.

Safety certifications Look for UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Electrical Testing Labs) in LED products

Warranties Seek an LED manufacturer that backs its products with warranties and will cover replacements.

Rebates The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency can help streamline your choices.






Energy Star Information about specific and general LED products and their energy efficiency. Check out the Energy Star Advanced Lighting Package.

DOE’s CALiPER Study Product tests on solid-state lighting technologies

DOE GATEWAY Demonstration Results

ICC 700 National Green Building Standard

Lutron LED Control Center of Excellence Resource for LED control solutions

LED Lighting Facts labels Don’t forget to check out the basic LED information on LED packaging and on some web sites.

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