Spring Cleaning Upgrades: LED Lightbulb

Author: Dana Bakirtjy

LED light bulbs are quickly eclipsing CFLs as the most efficient, safest, and longest lasting lightbulb for your home. With prices dropping 80% over the past five years (and now hovering around only 8 dollars per bulb), as well as frequent technological advancements, LEDs have emerged as not only the green choice but also the smart choice.

With bulb lifespans currently hovering around 23 years, a typical LED lasts 25 times longer than an incandescent and three times as long a CFL, while only using a fraction of the wattage. In fact, replacing just a single incandescent bulb with a LED will save the average homeowner 6 dollars annually on their energy bill. Multiply this by the number of lightbulbs in your home and savings add up quickly.

Here are four things to consider before buying LED light bulbs:

1. With so many styles and types of LEDs out there, which one is the best for me?

With a wide range of styles on the market, LED light bulbs come in five basic shapes: flood lights, spotlights, globe lights, decorative bulbs, and A-line bulbs.

Globe lights and A-line bulbs are the most common types of LED bulbs. Globe lights, the type most similar to traditional incandescents, emit light in every direction which makes them great for general lighting and table lamps. A-line bulbs disperse light at a wide angle and are therefore ideal for ceiling fixtures and reading lamps.

Traditional LED bulbs employ a heat sink to draw heat away from the bulb and allow it to dissipate. Because of this, LEDs were previously not recommended for enclosed light fixtures.  However, recent advancements by the lighting industry have eliminated this heat sink, allowing for LED use in enclosed fixtures with appropriate bulbs.

Additionally, although most LED bulbs are designed with dimmability in mind, some are better than others. Be sure to check online reviews before purchasing if this is a need for you.

2. What color light do I have now? How do I get the same in an LED?

Color temperature is a measure of the color a light source produces. Traditional incandescents sit at the bottom of the color temperature spectrum with a yellow light, while CFLs and LEDs have traditionally sat at the top end of the spectrum with a blue light.

New advancements in LED technology have produced bulbs with all ranges of light. In fact, some companies have begun designing their product packaging to convey what kind of light the bulb emits.

  • Blue packaging and those labeled as “bright white” designates high color temperature bulbs and a whiter light closer to daylight and retail stores.
  • Yellow packaging and those labeled as “warm white” or “soft white” designates lower color temperature bulbs similar to the light from existing incandescents.
  • White packaging and those labeled as “natural white” designates those that are in-between.

3. Lumens? Watts up with that?

The brightness of traditional incandescents was measured in Watts, the brightness of LEDs is measured in lumens. 

The number of Lumens, the unit for brightness, is marked on every package of lightbulbs. The more lumens, the brighter the light.  A standard 60W bulb produces about 800 lumens. Most packages of LED lights will tell you their equivalency to an incandescent bulb, but if you are replacing an unusually sized bulb refer to the following equivalencies to figure out what size LED you need.

Replacing a 40W bulb: look for at least 450 lumens
Replacing a 60W bulb: look for at least 800 lumens
Replacing a 75W bulb: look for at least 1,100 lumens
Replacing a 100W bulb: look for at least 1,600 lumens

Replacing a 150W bulb: look for at least 2,600 lumens

4. What happens if it breaks?

All LED bulbs should come with at least a three to five year warranty while the best bulbs should come with at least a ten year warranty. If your LED light bulb burns out unexpectedly, contact the manufacturer for a replacement bulb or bring the bulb to Home Depot, Lowe's or Menards which will often be able to process the warranty exchange in-store. 

Because LED bulbs no longer have hazardous materials in them, they can be recycled by any electronics recycler. Home Depot, Lowe's and Best Buy all have robust electronics recycling programs that will accept LED bulbs.