Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is an LED?
A. In basic terms, LED stands for a “Light Emitting Diode” which is a semiconductor device that emits visible light of a certain color. When incorporated into a complete system, LED’s can be controlled with regard to beam spread, color, and light output to provide a package that can by today’s standards equal or surpass the quality and efficiency of standard light sources such as incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and HID sources. By nature, LED’s deliver directional light output and thus the reason to develop various means of controlling the spread of light and color of light, while also controlling heat generation which can adversely affect life. Major manufacturers of LED light sources have developed systems to deliver the best products that utilize specific and often unique features that set them apart as trusted and tested developers of products that Users can rely upon. At BuyRiteLEDLIghting.com, we carefully choose our manufacturer partners to assure you of quality products.
Q. Why do light bulb companies refer to light bulbs as “Lamps”?
A. Simply because that is the terminology used in the Industry. When we refer to a Lamp, we mean a light bulb.
Q. What are the benefits of LED lighting compared to traditional tried and true light sources?
A. There are a number of reasons one should consider switching to LED light sources. Namely, LED’s offer extreme long life compared to traditional sources. LED’s typically offer life ratings of 25,000 hours to 50,000 hours whereby traditional light sources are rated typically anywhere from 1,000 hours for standard incandescent lamps, 2,000 to 3,000 hours typically for halogen products, 10,000 hours typically for compact fluorescent lamps, 24,000 to 30,000+ hours for fluorescent lamps, and 15,000 to 30,000 hours for HID lamp types on average. The result most appreciably for commercial customers is a huge savings in lamp replacement costs (labor costs). Secondly, LED Lamps can dramatically reduce operating costs (electrical costs) since they can deliver equal light output while using much lower power (wattage). It is a fact that the operating cost (electrical cost) of light for a commercial User is approximately 88% of total cost, while maintenance costs are typically approx. 8%, and only about 4% represents the cost of Lamps. Even though LED Lamps may cost more than traditional sources upfront, the savings in electricity and maintenance often pay for themselves in a short period of time.
Q. What are typical annual usage hours for a light source.
A. Well, for starters there are 8,760 hours in a year (365 days x 24 hours). So if your lighting system is burning continuously (24/7) you are running your system 8,760 hours per year. A typical household Lamp is used about 3 hours per day or approx. 1,095 hours per year. Commercial Users typically average 3,000 to 4,000 hours per year. So, one can see the value of long life LED products.
Q. How good is the color of LED light when compared to traditional sources?
A. All of us are used to the warm ambiance of a standard incandescent light bulb or the specific color of a fluorescent lamp which can vary due to the use of certain phosphor coatings. Today’s LED technology can now match the color that Users prefer. See question on “Color of Light”
Q. Color of Light – How does the Industry rate color appearance?
A. The color of a light source (measured in degrees Kelvin) tells you the degree of warmness or coolness of a light source. As degrees Kelvin increase, the color of the light source becomes whiter or bluer (cooler) compared to lower temperatures that appear warm. A typical household incandescent light bulb has a color rating of approx.. 2700-2800K which is rather warm. A Cool White fluorescent on the other hand has a rating of approx. 4,100K and appears cooler or bluer. It is a matter of preference. If you are replacing standard incandescent lamps you would most likely choose a warm color (2700). If replacing halogen, a 3000K LED lamp would be similar. If replacing Cool White fluorescent, you would choose a 4,000-4100K LED product. This is of course, if you want the same basic color look. Some people ask for daylight color……….you should know that natural daylight changes dramatically during the day from warm in the AM to blue/white mid-day, back to warm in the late day. Those that prefer a daylight source typically choose a light source of approx. 5000K which simulates noon daylight on a clear, cloudless day. Also note that 5000K sources are good when doing color matching since it does not alter the color of things by not being biased toward warm vs. cool.
Q. How do I know what LED product to choose?
A. If you are replacing a traditional Lamp…….determine the type of Lamp you are replacing, it’s shape, wattage and light output measured in lumens and the application. Then follow our product descriptions to choose a Product that meets your needs.
Keep in mind that wattage of the existing bulb only tells you how much energy the bulb consumes (example: a 60 watt bulb consumes 60 watts).
Since LED bulbs consume much less energy, their wattage is much lower. Therefore, you should look for an LED replacement bulb that equals the “light output” of the bulb you are replacing. As an example: a 60 watt household bulb produces about 800 lumens of light whereas a typical LED bulb producing 800 lumens would typically consume less than 15 watts! So be sure to read the specifications of each LED bulb you are considering (particularly the lumens).
Here is a chart that provides approximate comparisons of incandescent vs. LED:
|Lumens||Incandescent Wattage||Equivalent LED Wattage|
|2600 lm||150W||25 – 28W|
|1600 lm||100W||16 – 22W|
|1100 lm||75W||9 – 13W|
|800 lm||60W||8 – 12W|
|450 lm||40W||6 – 9W|
Q. What do all those Lamp shapes and family names mean……….they are not familiar to me?
A. If you are not sure, contact us for help……….but here are some useful tidbits:
Traditional Lamp types or families:
- Incandescent – Common filament bulb
- Halogen – Incandescent Lamp with a halogen burner vs a filament) ….typically more efficient than a standard incandescent Lamp. Used often in Retail stores for product accent lighting.
- Compact fluorescent – Can be “integrated” type whereby the ballast components are built into the lamp (does not require external ballast) these are usually screw-in types that work on standard line voltage to replace standard incandescent, or non-integrated type which requires external ballast and are not screw-in types rather plug-in types.
- Fluorescent – Requires external ballast and are typically linear in shape, or U-bend shape in various sizes (lengths) and wattages
- HID – This stands for “High Intensity Discharge” and is usually either Mercury Vapor, Metal Halide, or Sodium types which typically require external ballast and are used mostly in street lighting, factory/warehouse lighting, etc
- Typical Shapes/Sizes:(Note Lamp sizes are measured in eighths of an inch, so for example and A-19 bulb would be 19 eighths of an inch in diameter at its widest point. A fluorescent tube (T8) would be Tubular and eight eighths of and inch or one inch in diameter, etc
- A-Lamp – Standard household bulb shape.
- G-Lamp – Globe (example: a G30 would be a globe shape that is 30 eighths of an inch in diameter)
- T – Represents tubular such as fluorescent tubes.
- MR-16 – These are small (multi-mirror reflector lamps that are 2 inches across the face and operate at 12volts off transformers, typically used in track lighting for Retail displays or home accent lighting.
- BR30 – BR stands for bulged reflector (indoor flood lamps), the 30 represents the diameter of the face which would be 30 eighths of an inch. Other similar reflector floods would be R20, R30, R40. These are soft glass reflector lamps used indoors.
- PAR – Stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector. Were mostly used for outdoor flood and spot lighting, but now are also used for indoor applications such as downlights, etc. PAR lamps give better beam control vs. R lamps. (Example: PAR38 would be a PAR lamp with a reflector face that is 38 eighths of an inch in diameter or just short of 5 inches)
- Wattages: Lamp wattages vary considerably. The wattage should be stamped on the Lamp itself and usually the wattage precedes the bulb shape description. Example: 60A19 would be a 60-watt household bulb that is 19 eighths of an inch in diameter. A 90PAR38 Halogen flood would be a 90-watt PAR (38 eighths of an inch in diam), halogen type, flood beam pattern.
- Base types: Lamp bases are indicated by size for screw-in Lamps: Medium base would be a standard household incandescent lamp, candelabra would be a small screw-in base found on ie candle decorative lamps. Other lamp types have pin-based connections. Be sure to match what you are replacing.
- LED replacements: For the most part, select the Lamp family (shape) and try to match the existing Lamp in use based on all descriptions shown for the LED lamps. We try to provide as much detail as we can. If you need help, contact us.
Q. What is a ballast?
A. A ballast is a device that aids in starting and operating certain types of Lamps that require a ballast. It is a form of transformer. See question: What is a LED Driver?
Q. What is CRI and how does it differ from Color Temperature (degrees K)?
A. CRI stands for Color Rendering Index and is used often to describe the ability of a light source to render colors faithfully in reference to an ideal light source. The best index would be 100 on a scale of 0 to 100.
Q. What does efficiency mean as related to light sources?
A. Efficiency or sometimes called efficacy is similar to “miles per gallon” to an automobile. In lighting, efficiency is rated by using the term LPW, which stands for Lumens per Watt or the amount of light produced per watt of electricity consumed. Standard incandescent lamps are very low in efficiency and LED’s offer much better LPW.
Q. Are LED Lamps hot when they are on?
A. Compared to traditional light sources, the beam of an LED lamp is much cooler to the touch. The heat generated by an LED Lamp is internal at the LED junction where light is being produced and therefore it is necessary to dissipate that heat thru various means. Major manufacturers have thermal systems built into their LED products to handle these issues.
Q. What is a LED Driver?
A. A Driver is a device that converts input power into a source (LED) to enable protection, proper current, etc to operate an LED Lamp. They are either internal to the lamp (built in such as with retrofit LED Lamps) or external to the Lamp depending on the LED system.
Q. What is a lumen?
A. A lumen is a unit of measurement of luminous flux, the total energy that a light source emits across the visible wavelengths of light. It is the amount of light emitted by a light source.
Q. How can one justify the cost of an LED lamp compared to a traditional light source?
A. The cost of the LED lamp is just one factor. It is necessary to also compare the operation cost (electrical cost) and maintenance costs savings if possible.
Light sources consume watts over a period of time. Assume you operated 1 watt for 1,000 hours. You have then consumed 1,000 watt hours or 1 KWH (kilowatt hour). On average, the cost per KWH in the US is about $.12/KWH. So, 1 KWH would cost you $.12. Therefore a 60-watt incandescent lamp operated for 1,000 hours would consume 60,000 watt hours or 60KWH at a rate of $.12 per KWH and would cost $7.20 just to operate the lamp. If you replaced that with a 12watt LED Lamp, it would consume only 12,000 watt hours or 12KWH @ $.12/KWH or a total cost of $1.44 to operate. This is a savings of $5.76. Keep in mind that the LED may have a life rating of 25,000 hours vs only 1,000 hours for the incandescent lamp. This means that the savings in electricity over a period of 25,000 hours totals $144.00 for the LED Lamp. This already justifies the cost of the LED Lamp. Also, realize that you are replacing that 60-watt incandescent lamp 25 times during the rated life of just “one” LED Lamp. If you multiply the cost of a 60 watt household incandescent bulb by 25, you will notice that you are spending almost as much for 25 bulbs vs. just one LED bulb. If replacing bulbs less often saves you on maintenance costs, there are further savings. It just makes sense to switch to LED’s.
Also note that Utility rates vary considerably compared to the average US rate of $.12/KWH. Rates can be as high as $.20/KWH. Review your Utility bill and divide your monthly amount billed by your monthly KWH usage. You will then see your average KWH rate.
Q. How can I calculate Energy Savings?
A. A simple formula is: Watts Saved per Lamp x Hours Burned per Year divided by 1,000 = Annual KWH saved per Year. Multiply annual KWH saved per year by your average KWH rate (ie .12 for $.12/KWH). Result is your annual electrical cost savings per Lamp.
To calculate savings over life of the LED Lamp, substitute the Hours burned per Year with the Life hour rating of the LED Lamp.
Q. Can LED lamps that are shown dimmable be dimmed on any standard dimmer control?
A. To be sure, check with the manufacturer of your dimming control device typically found on their respective web sites for compatibility information. LED dimming capabilities can vary from Lamp to Lamp. It may require purchase of a new dimming control device which is usually an inexpensive item. Dimming control manufacturers test LED products for use on their control devices.
Q. Are LED Lamps temperature sensitive?
A. Typically, Led lamps prefer cooler or even cold environments. At high temperatures you can experience shortened lamp life. This is why many LED Lamps are rated for “open” fixtures only and not recommended in “enclosed” fixtures. They need to have venting to allow heat to dissipate. In recessed cans or down-lights, the fixtures should not be enclosed. There are also available down-light kits which are complete retro-fit LED fixtures that replace existing cans.
Q. Are LED Lamps compatible for Outdoor use?
A. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s labeling. Some LED Lamps are indicated as outdoor (weatherproof) types. Many are not suitable unless they are protected from the elements.