LEDs are flooding the lighting market. You can find them in big name stores like Target and Walmart. But are they the highest quality LED out there? LED prices are dropping, but it’s important to know if products are lower in quality as well as lower in price. Here are 4 questions to ask and consider when shopping for LED lighting to help you determine the difference between a quality LED light and a cheap LED light.
1. Consistent Color
LEDs are capable of producing colors on all ends of the spectrum. The best lighting option for your home or business is either a soft, yellow hue or a bright, white hue. While light color is up to your personal preference, it’s important that all of your LED lights are consistent in color. Quality LED lights of the same color temperature will all look consistent in color when installed. Lower quality LED lights will be inconsistent in color, even if they are marketed as the same color temperature. When looking for LED lights, ask to see them installed to check for color consistency.
2. Thermal Management System
A huge part of determining a LED’s quality is how the bulb manages heat. LEDs give off less heat than your typical incandescent or fluorescent light, but they create heat all the same. In order to live out their 50,000+ hour lifespan, they must effectively and efficiently pull heat away from the LED. Quality LED lights use metal heat sinks with fins to pull away and store the heat the light produces. Cheaply made LEDs may use fans or plastic heat sinks to try and pull heat away. These methods of managing heat are more likely to fail, lowering your light’s life expectancy.
3. Direction of the Light
Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs emit light 360 degrees. This means you are shining light in places you don’t need it. LEDs are composed of chips that shine light in a specific direction. Manufacturers use the lenses over the chips to widen or narrow the LED’s light beam. No matter if you need a 10 degree spot light or a 60 degree flood light or a light that mimics an incandescent for your home, be sure to research the LED light beam spread ratings before buying.
4. Monetary Savings
While you can look at your energy bills to determine your monetary savings, there is another way to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck with LED lights. Measuring the energy efficiency of a light is called efficacy. Efficacy is measured in lumens per watt. Lumens measure the amount of light output from a light source. Therefore, efficacy measures how much light is used for each watt of power used by the light source. The more lumens per watt, the more light you are getting for the same amount of power. Incandescent bulbs have an efficacy of 14, demonstrating that little energy is directed toward creating light and a lot of energy is used to create heat. Fluorescents average an efficacy of 40, which is why they are preferred in office, school and hospital buildings. LEDs have an average efficacy of 60, some newer LEDs lights are even showing efficacy as high as 80. You are getting more lumens per watt with LEDs, which translates to a brighter light with less energy usage. When searching for quality LEDs, compare lumens per watt in to traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs as well as other LED bulbs on the market.