Customer's regularly tell us they hate LED bulbs, so it is our job to reassure them that due to the vast improvement in technology there is no need for concern! The most common complaint is that LEDs give off cold, stark light, reminiscent of a hospital ward, so we recently picked the brains of Chris Stimson of Well-Lit who make, what we believe, are the best LED lamps on the market (just to clarify bulbs are actually lamps, so we've used both terms interchangeably). Chris enlightened me on the technicalities of LED lamps and where so many people go wrong when buying them.
To understand LED lamps you need to understand 3 terms:
Colour Temperature is key:
Some LED retailers do not publish the actual colour temperature of their products, preferring to use terms such as ‘warm white’, ‘natural white’ and ‘cool white’, which is misleading. If they won't tell you the colour temperature, it most likely means their warm white won't be warm. Colour temperature measures how warm (red) or cool (blue) the light emitted by a lamp appears. It is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The lower the colour temperature the warmer (redder) the lamp and illuminated objects will appear. As a rough guide:
Colour Rendering Index (CRI) sounds confusing but matters:
Lumens are an indicator of lamp brightness, broadly the higher the number the more light it will give off. However, don't be confused into thinking you can replace watts with an equivalent in lumens. Sadly it isn't that simple (although, if we consider that watts includes all the heat energy given off by a lamp that melts the ice caps, it's not that sad). The colour temperature and CRI are so important with LED lamps, they should come first.
So, what LED lamp should I buy?
First decide on your colour temperature requirements and then make sure you have a nice high CRI. Now you've got the colour temperature and CRI right, e.g a lamp with 2700k and CRI of 95, you will only require lumens of around 350 to be equivalent to a 50w old money, halogen lamp.
So comparing LEDs with old fashioned light bulbs isn't straight forward, but then should we judge new technology by comparing it to what went before? Focus on what it does better, forget your 60w incandescent bulb and embrace colour temperature and CRI instead!
With a Well-Lit lamp you'll quickly appreciate the aesthetic beauty and the savings on your electricity bills, whilst helping to save the odd penguin, what's not to like?
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