Buying LEDs: How to choose the perfect bulb

A number of decisions need to be made when buying LED light bulbs.

When it comes to improving the efficiency of your household lighting, deciding to upgrade to LEDs is the first step – and the most crucial one.

Switching from incandescent or halogen bulbs to LEDs allows homeowners to illuminate their homes using just a fraction of the electricity previously required.

And as well as benefiting from increased lighting efficiency, they can also reduce the number of bulbs used in the long term – helping to save money.

This is because LEDs are designed to last for many years without losing their brightness, ensuring there is no need for regular replacements.

But having chosen to upgrade your lighting, there are other important decisions to be made. Homeowners have a variety of LED bulb options, and they need to select the one that best fits their purpose.

What shape do you want?

First of all, homeowners need to decide what shape they want their LED bulbs to be. This will depend on your type of light fitting, where the bulbs are going to be placed and what they will be used for.

If you are looking for downlights for the lounge, dining room or bedrooms, the type of bulbs you select will be different to those you would use for the spotlights in your kitchen or bathroom.

Each shape has a different visual effect depending on the look you are going for. Shape options include candles, golfballs, capsules, reflectors, spotlights and tubes.

What fitting do you have?

The LED bulbs you purchase need to match the fitting in your home. Mains voltage fittings include GU10, GU10, B15, B22, E14 and E27, while low-voltage options include the MR16 and MR11 multifaceted reflector lights.

If the type of fitting you have does not cater for your preferred kind of bulb, you can always use an adapter to modify the fitting. Alternatively, you can employ an electrician to change the type of bulb fitting.

How bright do you want your bulbs to be?

Homeowners can choose how bright they want their LEDs to be – simply check the lumens reading on the packaging. This – as opposed to the wattage of the bulbs – is the key measurement of brightness.

The number of watts simply tells the user how much power the bulb will use. For instance, a 50W GU10 halogen bulb uses ten times the power of a 5W GU10 LED equivalent.

What colour do you want?

Colour temperature is measured in kelvins, with lower values representing warmer colours – such as traditional, yellowish bulbs – and higher values representing colder, brighter colours.

A warm white bulb may be around 2,700 to 3,000K, whereas a daylight white bulb – more commonly used on business premises than in the home – will have a reading of between 5,500 and 6,500K.

Does the bulb need to dim?

If your light fitting uses a dimmer switch, it is important to check the product details before you buy in order to ensure it is compatible. Not every type of LED bulb can be used in conjunction with a dimmer switch, so you want to take care not to buy the wrong type. If in doubt, always check the product packaging or speak to the manufacturer.

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