Learn How to Understand LED Lighting Specs

The LED lighting craze is sweeping over to all walks of life. Everyone is talking about the advantages and benefits of LED lights, compared to traditional lighting. The power of LED lights cannot be overlooked: by simply replacing only one traditional light with an LED light, your monthly electric bill can be lowered. To better understand and appreciate LED lights, we are going to go over common terms used in the description and specifications of LED lights, and then highlight what makes LED lights so unique.

1. Wattage

What is it? It is the measure of the amount of energy a lamp uses to light up. The greater the wattage, the greater your monthly electric bill will be.

What makes LED lighting unique? The wattage consumption of LED lights compared to traditional lights is much lower. So since their consumption of energy is low, it makes them a great choice for cost savings.

2. Replacement Wattage

What is it? Indicates the wattage of the traditional light that is being replaced by an LED. In other words, it shows the equivalent wattage of a traditional light, which would produce the same brightness a given LED light has.

What makes LED lighting unique? This will help you find an LED light that is bright enough to replace what you are currently using with traditional lights. So, you may find an LED light that uses 5 watts that will replace a traditional light that you’re using with a wattage of 50 watts. Not only will you instantly find the matching brightness, but you will see the energy savings as well.

This chart shows the energy consumption versus light output for different types of lights. The results were shockingly amazing – look how much energy you save while getting the same light output:

Graph of LED energy consumption vs light output

3. Rated life

What is it? How many hours the LED light source will remain useful before it depreciates below 70% of its original brightness.

What makes LED lighting unique? With traditional lights, the rated life is a measure of the length of time the light is expected to operate before it burns out. This measure is set by the number of hours it takes for half the light bulbs in a test batch to fail. For example, if 1000 light bulbs are tested and they have a rated life of 100 hours, then 500 of the light bulbs would die by the time the test period reached 100 hours. Some of the light bulbs may have failed at the 25-hour mark, some at the 55-hour mark, some at the 90-hour, etc. However, half would be dead by the 100-hour mark.

LEDs are not evaluated like traditional light bulbs because they do not typically burn out. Rather, they slowly dim over time. The rated life for an LED light is when the light is 30% less bright than when it was brand new. You don’t need to worry about an LED light burning out on you since they can almost last endlessly. They will just be slightly less bright at a certain point in their lifetime, than when they were new.

4. Color Temperature (CCT)

What is it? Indicates the color of light a fixture or bulb will emit. The indication for the emitted color is made with a numerical value. A high number indicates a cool light; think of daylight lighting with whites and blues. A low number indicates warm lighting; imagine a fireplace with red and orange colors.

What makes LED lighting unique? The high numbers, cooler temperatures, appear brighter. LED lights typically use high color temperatures for added brightness, all the while having a low wattage value, thus, using less energy.

Rainbow colored LED lights on bridge

When replacing a traditional light with an LED, it’s important to know the approximate color temperature you desire to maintain, so your new LED light does not overpower the environment. The standard range of color temperatures are near 2700k on the warm side and can go over 5000k on the cool side.

5. Lumens

What is it? A measurement of how much light a lamp releases.

What makes LED lighting unique? Comparing the lumens rating between a traditional light and an LED will help you find an LED of equal brightness to match your traditional light that you’re replacing it with. You simply match the lumen rating of both lights together.

6. Efficacy

What is it? It is the ratio of lumens outputted, amount of light generated, per every 1 watt of energy used.

What makes LED lighting unique? The efficiency of LED lights sets them apart from traditional lights. Today, LED lights have become very efficient, with efficiency ratings of 100 Iu/watt. When purchasing an LED light, always purchase a product that is rated above 70 Iu/watt. The higher the efficiency rating, the more bang for your buck! You will save on your monthly electric bill, while getting an amazing light source.

This table of comparative  data shows the immense cost savings of LED lights. The advantages make LED lights a winner by a landslide.

Energy savings for LED light vs incandescent vs CFL

7. Dimmable

What is it? This is about the driver within the LED – if it is dimmable. The LED specs typically either have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to this function, while also listing the system the LED product is used with to be dimmed.

What makes LED lighting unique? Not something to write home about, as LED lights do not always integrate well with dimmers. Thus, when you purchase your LED light, check to see if it’s dimmable, especially if that’s what you are looking for. Also check to see what dimming system the LED is compatible with, in order to be sure you can properly operate the light how you like.

8. Center Beam Candle Power (CBCP)

What is it? The measurement of the intensity of light at the center of the light beam.

What makes LED lighting unique? This rating is used often for accent lighting; imagine light that would be used to highlight a statue in the corner of the room, or painting hung on the wall. You will need the right type of light to best showcase your works of art.

Let us now look at what’s inside these amazing LED lights. This schematic shows the various components inside:

Components inside of an LED light

You can use the lumen rating of an LED light to determine if the brightness is adequate for your art; however, this rating may not give you the full story. Imagine if the LED light has a high lumen rating, but low CBCP rating. This would indicate that the light would spread out over a large area, rather than be centrally focused on a smaller area. Thus, this would not be ideal for showcasing your art. Rather, you may find that an LED light with a high CBCP rating, and maybe even a lower lumen rating than average, to be more fitting. This light would work perfectly to bring attention to a focused area.

That’s a Wrap!

You’re now an expert with LED lights. Not only can you read and decipher the specs effortlessly for every LED light at the store that you encounter, but you can upgrade your home and office into the most amazing of spaces too. Amazing bright and colored lights, combined with great energy savings, is a win-win!

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