LED Lighting options are wider and more robust than at any time before. The choices are mind numbing, the technical knowledge required is higher than ever, and the opportunity to make mistakes (including expensive mistakes) is higher than ever. So read on to get an overview on LED lighting aspects as of July, 2015.
More in-depth articles on a variety of topics discussed in this overview are also available and/or will be available in the future. If you have any comments or questions, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your basic contact information including full name, phone number and the state you reside in.
LED Recessed – this category is growing exponentially on an almost weekly basis. Led products continue to replace or offer additional options over traditional recessed. Recessed LED is in 3 major groups, traditional recessed with LED lamping, LED retrofit trims, and integrated LED recessed. Color choice, quality of dimming and dimming specifications, color of lighting when dimmed, and overall lumen output are some of the considerations of LED recessed. If your budget allows for high quality LED recessed by Juno and WAC, then do it. See LED Recessed article for more detail information.
LED Tape – the leader in this category is WAC. With a huge selection of LED lighting products offer various lumen choices, various color choices, high quality dimming results, and both indoor and outdoor versions, WAC has it. Their product is exceptional in performance, easy to install, and very versatile. LED tape is great for cabinet accent lighting, for over-cabinet lighting, and in select applications, makes a great under-cabinet lighting choice as well. It is important to plan out your lighting for your project prior to installation, including understanding all wiring requirements. See LED Tape lighting article for more in-depth information.
LED Recessed Retrofit – this is growing in popularity as it is very easy to install, quickly converts a recessed to a LED, and with high quality options like the Juno retrofit with 900 lumens, great dimming and awesome cut-off. And best of all, it does not look like an LED.
LED Lamps – this is the Wild Wild West. Bulbs are changing constantly with a lifespan as short as 9-12 months, at times. The good news, lumens are increasing, costs are dropping, the quality of the lamp appearance to the end user is improving and color quality and dimming is improving as well.
The bad news is that they are not done improving and in many if not most cases, have a ways to go. And with lamps constantly changing in performance and appearance, it makes keeping your home lit consistently much more difficult. So when considering LED lamps, the best option is to sample them first. Use a few, put them in one room, test how they dim and make sure you like the color you chose both during the day and at night. Things to consider include lumen output (amount of light), color choice from 2700K, 3000K or 3500K (the higher the number the “whiter” the light), and dimmability. When it comes to dimming, a general good rule is do not trust the packaging. Typically the dimming level is not as good as the manufacturer specifies, so make sure you have the correct dimmer specified and then test it, and see for yourself. Typically dimming of LED lamps today is 50 to 60%, vs the traditional dimming levels og 90 to 99 % with halogen and incandescent.
Integrated LED Under cabinet – this is a great product category with very high level of performance with select brands. The Juno 300K LED under cabinet provides great light levels, very good dimming and a reasonable price point. You can stop by Passion Lighting and view the product on display to judge for yourself. WAC also has a under cabinet series which is about 2850K, for those that want a little warmer light. And Maxim makes an LED under cabinet that is close to 2700K, for those who want to keep the traditional level of warm light. Pricing for high quality LED under cabinet will typically vary from about $75 to $140 per unit, depending on brand and size. And prices will only fall further over time.
LED Landscape Lighting – this category is already well positioned and just continues to grow. While there are reasons to consider non LED lighting for landscaping, this is very much on an exception basis. So many products have been developed that are either integrated LED or offer plug and play LED lamping. And since dimming is often not a requirement, LED lamping is a much better choice for this category. The energy required for LED is up to 80% less and with much longer lamp life and great color quality, the LED use in landscape lighting is firmly entrenched and will only grow further.
LED Decorative Fixtures – this category is very young and will grow much slower than many other areas. Since many traditional fixture look best with traditional light bulbs, there is not as much pressure to change traditional fixtures to LED. The LED integration into fixtures I happening more quickly in fixtures that are very transitional and/or modern as this style can lend itself to this type of lighting. There are more risks with this type of lighting as well including quality of dimming, impact of LED failure, the life span of the particular product before it is discontinued and the much higher chance of product failure than traditional decorative lighting which fails at an exceptional low rate. Decorative LED lamps have a long way to go in many cases when dimming is factored in, so Lighting Gourmet suggest going slow when using LED in decorative fixtures.
One exception to this is select fixtures such as bath bars, where Modern Forms has done an exceptional job in developing bath bars that dim well, have integrated LED, run cool to touch and are reasonably priced. Another leader in this category is Hinkley is who is also introducing select baht bar series with integrated LED that does not look like LED.
LED Lighting Controls – this category is also changing quickly. Passion Lighting is a Lutron 5 Star showroom and carries many of the latest dimming choices. These include dimmers specifically aimed at the LED products, offering smoother dimming results without the flicker seen with many dimmers. Also the lower side of the dimming is becoming better, with many lamps originally only dimming 50 to 60% which is not generally an acceptable level of dimming. As often repeated, it is important to test the dimmers and LED lamps together, even after ensuring the manufacturer’s specifications are consistent/correct.