Bulbs, not the kind you plant in the garden but light bulbs or lamps.
With recent climate change legislations announcements hitting the news, the ban on sale of halogen lights is to be enforced by 2023 within the UK, it is now time to understand their alternatives.
The professional lighting industry currently drives LED technology, pushing for better performing lights in terms of energy efficiency and physical lighting attributes. This however does not always immediately transcend down into the consumer market and LED lamps for retro fitting within our homes.
Within the consumer market there are plethora of lighting lamp manufacturers, brands, re-sellers and distributors each with their own specification of LED lamps, and each with pros and cons. The unregulated or standardised market for LED lamps creates a huge variety of lamps in all shapes, sizes, costs and importantly specification, this can often become a minefield in selecting the right lamp for the right job and it is down to the detail.
Here are some key points to look out for on LED lamps:
- Lamp base & type – Is the lamp GU10, MR16, E27, B22, G9?
Making sure you have the correct lamp base and lamp type to fit the application. Many a times as lighting designers we have seen E27 PAR lamps, a directional, controlled beam reflector lamp used in decorative shaded light or an E27 GLS lamp, typical an omni globe lamp used within an accent spotlight.
- Colour temperature – What colour tone of light do you require?
Measured on the Kelvin scale ranging anywhere between 1500K warm candlelight, through to 6000K+ cool direct sunlight. The colour temperature plays a huge part in the visual aesthetic of an environment. Warmer 2700K – 3000K would typically be used for a cosy home environment, whilst a cooler 4000K could be used in a working environment.
- Colour rendering – How accurately does the light depict the physical colours of an object or artwork?
Measured on a colour rendering index (CRI) between 0-100 Ra, with 15 sample colours. Often in many LED products, the R9 value which represents the red value, is lower than desired and hence the light source fails to reproduce red tones. Aim to buy lamps with CRI 90+ with high a R9 value 80+
- Colour consistency – How many lamps are seen in situ together?
Not all lamps are created the same, the standard deviation in colour matching (SDCM or MacAdams ellipses) determines the number deviation steps along the black body locus. Even when two lamps state they are 2700K, the ‘colour and appearance’ can differ. Select lamps with a lower number of MacAdams ellipses to minimise the difference.
- Dimming – Is the light dimmable?
Not every application requires dimming, but if you are replacing lamps in a circuit that was previously dimmable, you will want to ensure the new LED lamps are also dimmable. A dimmable lighting circuit can help dramatically changing the atmosphere and use of a space. Also benefiting from potential energy savings and prolonged lamp life.
- Compatible dimming – Will it dim effectively?
When opting for dimmable lamps, check its compatibility with your existing dimmer control. Older rotary dimmers that worked with traditional lamp sources like halogen, operated with leading edge dimming. Many modern LED lamps will favour trailing edge dimming so ensure your dimmers are up to date. Each lamp manufacturer will use different LEDs, electronic components and drivers so they all perform very differently, always check with the manufacturer or distributor.