Shhhh… Listen! Do You Hear The Sound Of Led Lights?

Whereas the market for colored (Red, Green, Blue) RGB LEDs is well established, the marketplace for white LEDs is still growing. Why? When you think about industries that still rely on white, non-LED lighting, such as televisions, automotive manufacturers, computer monitors, mobile computing, LCD backlights, etc., you can understand the push to become the leader in white LED manufacturing.

Many people are surprised a business would pass up a revenue generating opportunity that converting a home or business to LED would create. However, just because replacement white LED bulbs and retrofits are finally out there, does not imply that they should be on your immediate shopping list. In very simple terms, the marketplace for colored and color-changing LEDs is mature. While engineers are still finding ways to make them brighter and more efficient, the holy grail of the LED industry is in developing volume production of high-efficiency, high-brightness white LEDs.

It may be simpler to think of colored LEDs (RGB) and white LEDs when it comes to another industry: Automotive. RGB LEDs are like the internal combustion engine: Reliable, abundant, convenient to use and manufacture, and fairly well toned with regards to the prospect of new or breakthrough technologies. You will find plenty on manufacturers and each has their own set of patents and “tricks of the trade” to greatly help give themselves some marketing leverage on the competition. White LEDs are like the alternative energy industry for transportation: Quite varied, still relatively “new”, still having to be market proven, more costly, more challenging to control.

There are various manufacturers, each utilizing a different technology or mix of technologies to attain what they believe is the “the next big thing.” Third , analogy, RGB LEDs are mature enough to compete on cost alone and the drop in costs is what fuels new applications for colored LEDs that had not been considered previously. White LEDs, alternatively remain developing technically and should not be shopped predicated on cost alone. The necessity for quality and longevity is what fuels the further research and development into white LEDs.


Because you can find so many variables that need to be considered, making a quick and easy recommendation about transitioning to white LEDs is not possible. To obtain a jump start on the near future, consider every lighting source in each room and establish what it’s primary purpose is. Once you have done this, review the next items to help determine where on the priority purchase-list each replacement should be. Here are some general ideas to help you determine if an LED upgrade may be the right choice for you:

1.) May be the lighting located in a house where in fact the primary resident is older or has mobility issues?

If the LED replacement produces adequate light levels, LED alternatives are perfect for used in homes where safety is really a top priority. Understanding that an ill or older person will not have to change a burned-out light bulb again can provide peace-of-mind.

2.) Is initial cost a primary factor in determining if you’re going to upgrade?

The existing nature of the white LED market means that prices remain relatively high, especially compared to traditional lighting. Being an early adopter means paying a premium; are you comfortable with knowing you might have paid less for the same technology if you had waited?

3.) Is the light situated in bright daytime sunlight or an area of high heat?

High levels of heat will noticeably shorten the lifespan of any LED, especially white LEDs. When contemplating LEDs, try to make sure that both fixture and the positioning allow for adequate passive cooling in order to avoid color-shift and longevity issues. This is a much bigger concern when contemplating retrofit bulbs versus considering a “total package” LED fixture and lamp.

4.) Are you having to reduce the heat output from a traditional light source?

In bathrooms, laundry rooms and small spaces, conventional lighting can produce uncomfortable heat. LED lighting is ideal for these areas since they produce no heat and because affordably illuminating smaller areas with LEDs presents significantly less of a challenge.

5.) Is the lighting located in an area of rough service or environmental extremes?

Garage door openers, unheated/cooled utility rooms and outdoor workshops place extreme demands of lighting equipment. Vibrations that can break a light bulb filament and cold temperatures that can cause a fluorescent tube to flicker are of no consequence to LED lighting, making these replacements a simple decision.

6.) May be the brightness critical to the application form?

LEDs are directional by nature, so attempting to meet a specific brightness expectation over a wide area is not the best use of LED lamps. The existing crop of standard fluorescent tubes or high-bay lighting is going to be better for these applications.

7.) Are you trying to retrofit a preexisting lighting fixture to support an LED replacement?

Most current lighting fixtures are designed to capture and reflect just as much light as possible from conventional light sources that produce light from all 360 degrees. Because dimmable high bay led lighting emit very directional light, there are often many compromises that must definitely be made by manufacturers in order to make LEDs “work” for the greatest number of retrofits. When possible, rather than retrofit bulbs consider a “total package” LED lighting fixture that is designed from the ground around efficiently use LEDs.

8.) May be the light output and quality of the LED version acceptable in comparison to your existing lighting?

With all of the lighting technology available (incandescent, fluorescent, LED, etc.) the only method to get an accurate idea of the way the lighting will perform would be to compare the light output or lumen and color temperature specifications rather than the wattage as is typical of most folks raised with traditional lighting in the home. The US Department of Energy has devised a standardized “lighting facts” label similar in concept to the nutrition label entirely on foods, to help consumers compare lighting.

9.) Will be the bulbs you’re considering replacing difficult to access or reach?

If they’re, LED replacements are great candidates because once they are changed, you’ll likely never have to improve them again since LEDs do not “burn out” like a conventional bulb.

10.) Are you replacing all the light bulbs in a specific area or just an individual bulb?

Unless you know the colour temperature of all the lighting in the room, play the role of consistent in whatever lighting technology you select. For example, if your room uses primarily halogen lighting, chances are a warm color temperature and changing a single reading lamp to LED with a cooler lighting temperature will not only be noticeable, but can also be distracting.

11.) Does the power savings and/or return on investment (ROI) make it worthwhile at this point?Prepare an energy audit using free web calculators to find out how much money you will put away on energy and what the potential profits on return is. Just enter your time rates, the full total wattage of one’s conventional lighting and the full total wattage of the LED lighting that you are considering and the calculator will let you know exactly how much money each technology will cost you per year.

As you can see, every lighting situation should be considered individually against the above checklist. Doing so will assist you to determine LED upgrade plans that fit within both your budget and your expectations. In general, LED lighting will continue steadily to improve in both output and efficiency each year similar to the way the personal computer market has evolved. What could be considered a “middle of the street” LED lamp today, was very likely considered reduced product a year or two ago. Prioritizing your LED lighting purchases in order that the basics are covered first and delaying your more demanding lighting requirements because the technology improves will ensure a comfortable transition to tomorrows lighting technology.

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