LED Lighting has recently become the norm for new house lighting - in fact it is against building code to install more than 5 watts of artificial lighting per square metre. That rules out incandescent lights and brighter halogen lights and leaves you with really two mainstream choices - LED lights or CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).
Only a few years ago, LED lighting had mixed reviews. Some electricians had bad experiences, the light was sometimes unnatural or flickered, or there was very limited choice in styles and fittings. And worst of all - LED lighting was expensive. Well that has all changed - and the prices have dropped and now stabilised.
"What?" you say. There is a difference? Yes there is, and there are still many retailers over-stocked with LED globes that would like you to buy them before LED LIGHTS become the norm. Remember Betamax?
LED Lights are mainstream now!
You will have a hard time finding the brighter 50W halogen globes now as they are being phased out by retailers who can see the trend. And CFLs were really a stepping stone whilst LED lights perfected their technology. LED Lights are now perfected for domestic and commercial use, provide significant benefits and savings, and have even seen a stabilisation of prices to more reasonable levels. LEDs are now mainstream, and it is important that you understand there are really two types of LED lighting:
1) LED Globes - These came out first. They are designed to fit the shape and size of traditional incandescent and halogen globes.
2) Led Lights - maximise the benefits of the LED technology. Their construction is all about heat dissipation, and protecting the LED chip, and this incorporated into their design and style.
But what is the myth about LED globes?
Well, LED GLOBES were the first forms of LED lighting that came out, but unfortunately LED GLOBES do not make the best use of LED light technology. LED LIGHTS are designed to protect the LED technology and maximise its performance and life, whereas LED GLOBES are really designed to replace traditional globes.
Essentially - I recommend that you do not simply change your globes to LED globes, but remove the whole light fitting and install LED Lights. Essentially, when you wanted to change to unleaded petrol and the benefits it provided, you had to buy a new car, not just change the fuel tank. Read below to see why.
LED Lights are better than LED Globes
Whilst LED Globes are an easier DIY retrofit option they come with compatibility problems, limited lifetime, and added costs. Essentially, besides using 80% + less power and no harmful materials, LED lighting produces far less heat, but what little heat they do produce should be effectively dissipated to protect the life of the LED (the Light Emitting Diode).
- Firstly, 240 volt LED globes need a transformer built in and that produces heat that dramatically reduces the life of the LED chip. Also, the ability to dissipate heat effectively from a small globe shape also compromises the LED. Basically, heat is bad for LEDs. You may not notice the effects for a few years but you will eventually.
- Secondly, although 12 volt LED globes do not have a built in transformer, they do have to be plugged into transformers for traditional globes (i.e. when you replace a halogen globe with a LED globe you are plugging the LED globe into a transformer designed to power a halogen globe). Plugging a 10W LED light into a transformer designed to deliver 50W is like running a car with the incorrect mix of fuel - it might work, but you will have performance issues and sometimes or eventually the incompatibility will present far bigger problems.
Maximise the benefits of LED
To really get the benefits of LED technology you should look at replacing your entire light fitting with an LED light fitting. LED lights are typically low voltage, and like halogen globes, they need a transformer (driver) that will transform your 240 volt power to a lower voltage. A LED Light kit includes a transformer (driver) that is specifically designed for that light - and that is incredibly important. Only then can you expect to have it perform properly, not flicker, dim a full range and last over 50,000 hours (25 years with normal use!).
And, if you want to dim your LED lights (and dimming is a great way to change the mood of a room), then make sure you get your electrician to install a LED specific dimmer (not a dimmer that is compatible with LED). They produce noticeable differences in the range of dimming. And despite what HPM and Clipsal tell you, if you connect LED lights to a an older dimmer (we think about 3 or 4 years +) then it is likely to have performance issues.
Check out the video below on installing LED Lights - it is easy.