7 Simple Things You Must Know About LED Lighting

7 Simple Things You Must Know About LED Lighting

Are you really going to sell a house filled with obsolescent incandescent lighting, compact fluorescents (CFLs) or no lighting at all?

As my high-school French teacher was fond of saying, “Non, non et non!” In other words a No, Nyet, Nein, Negatory. You absolutely, positively, must start using light emitting diodes (LEDs), if not throughout a house then at least in a few key spots. And you must start using them now!

You have to careful what you choose, but LEDs can be gorgeous.


  1. They are the immediate future of lighting, as inefficient incandescent lighting is being phased out.
  2. LEDs are more efficient, last longer, cast good light, cost less to operate over their lifetimes, and can produce stunning ambient effects.
  3. Everyone hates CFLs.

“LEDs are sweeping the market and taking over for so many older technologies,” said lighting designer and solid-state lighting engineer Naomi Miller of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Portland, Ore., at the 2012 Greenbuild Expo for green building and design.

But alas, not all LEDs are created equal—and selecting them can be a tricky and confusing slog through a swamp of techno-confusion.

So draw that paw from the Home Depot shelf, Mister!

“You have to careful what you choose, but LEDs can be gorgeous, guys,” said Miller. “In my humble opinion, we’re going to kiss CFLs goodbye and we are not going to miss them.”

LEDs are much more energy-efficient. LEDs are about 80 percent more efficient than old incandescent bulbs and more efficient that CFLs. An LED replacement bulb for a 60-watt incandescent bulb will use only 10 to 12 watts. And remember that about 90 percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is lost as heat. Not so with LEDs. Also read also lumens per watt.

Shop lumens. You can buy screw-in LED replacement lamps that use only 8 or 9 watts, but some of these won’t provide adequate brightness, which is measured in lumens. A typical 60-watt incandescent bulb throws about 800 lumens. You’ll want at least this level of brightness for most tasks such as working in kitchens and reading. Hallways and ambient lighting don’t need to be as bright.

Follow these guidelines when shopping for lumens:

  • 100 watts (listed on previous light bulb packages) = 1490-2600 lumens
  • 75 watts = 1050-1489 lumens
  • 60 watts = 750-1049 lumens
  • 40 watts = 310-749 lumens
  • 25 watts = 150-309 lumens

Real Efficiency is measured in lumens per watt. Now that we’ve covered watts and lumens, how about lumens per watt? Efficiency is measured my lumens per watt (lpw). You don’t really need to know all of this, but it’s a good question for you to ask a lighting designer or installer to keep them on their toes.

Also read: 5 LED Products Any Homeowner Would Love

According to Energy Star:

  • The standard 60 watt incandescent light bulb provides 13 to 14 lumens per watt.
  • An equivalent CFL provides between 55 and 70 lumens per watt.
  • An equivalent LED can range between 60 and 100 lumens per watt.

LEDs will last longer. There are numerous estimates of 25,000 to even 50,000 hours. What do you really care? LEDs can last for 10 to 20 years or more—if they’re built right. Compare prices and stay away from the markedly cheaper no-name stuff. Chances are, those will not last long.

Color temperature is huge. One of the biggest factors in whether a person likes the light cast from a fixture is the color temperature of the lamp, because as the term suggests, it’s about the color of the light. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), and the lower the temperature the “warmer” the light.

  • 2700K – 3000K — yellowish light of a traditional incandescent lamp, which many people prefer and recommended for home use.
  • 3500K – 4100K—“white light,” good for work spaces like home offices.
  • 5000K – 5600K—“natural daylight” and to noon light of a blue sky.
  • 6000K – plus—light with a bluish tint.

Color Rendering Index (CRI) is big, too, but not too big. Don’t be intimidated by the terminology. A Color Rendering Index is simply a measurement of color accuracy, or how well the lamp represents colors. A CRI of 80-plus in an LED is good, 85 is better, and 90-plus is excellent. Incandescent bulbs have CRIs of 100, which is a main reason why we’ve loved them for so long. By contrast, fluorescents tend not to have high CRIs, which is why many dislike them. A CRI under 80 in a home could be noticeable, so beware.

CRI is not everything, however. CRI can under-represent reds, which is important for skin and wood tones, so be careful not to overemphasize CRI in kitchen and bath areas. You may have to trade off lumens (brightness) for better CRI.

Pro Designer Tips: How to layer light with LEDs for great effect

Dimming and control requires compatibility. Yes, we’re getting technical again. But to make it simple, some LEDs can be controlled only by certain dimmers. So a designer or contractor needs to check for compatibility. Flickering or humming can result. Though there are now some more universal dimmers on the market. Still, it’s best make sure LEDs and dimmers are compatible. Some LEDs may only dim down to a certain before cutting out completely, so look for smooth dimming all the way down to a couple of watts.

And why dim LEDs? You may not want that much light, and you can save even more energy. Just be sure to get compatible dimmers.

Some motion or vacancy sensors, too, may not be compatible with LEDs.

More on LEDs:

LEDs 101: 6 More Inredibly Useful LED Tips

10 Ways to Wow with Lighting Control

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1 Comment

  1. Scott

    I had no idea that LEDs are about 80% more efficient than old incandescent bulbs. I can see why this would be useful to know if you are trying to save money on your energy bill. My parents have been talking to me about looking for ways to be more energy efficient. I’ll have to ask them if they have read into this.


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