LED Lighting Conversion Tips & Tricks
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It is installed into a bulb or reflector to be used in lighting fixtures as a highly effective replacement to standard light bulbs or fluorescent light tubes. The entire unit is known as an LED lamp.
Why make the change to LEDs?
LED lamps are considerably more energy efficient than light bulbs, as much as 80% more efficient. That makes them cheaper to run, with significant reductions to energy bills. It’s also appealing to those running on solar power, as lights are the main energy drain at night when the panels aren’t in operation.
The reason for the reduced energy use is that LEDs do not waste energy producing heat. While the standard light bulb burns energy to create both heat and light, LEDs concentrate simply on light. The LED itself is very small, with a bright, natural light emission that far outshines its ancient brother.
These days LED lamps also offer superior lighting compared to when they were first released. The light is singular and instant, snaps on without flickering, and runs soundlessly, without any gas-like fluoro tubes or harmful toxins like the short lived Compact Fluorescent Tubes (CFL). It is good to note that very poor quality LEDs may flicker, so ensure you purchase a quality product. You really do get what you pay for and even quality LEDs are available for reasonable prices. We can help you ensure you spend your money wisely.
When LED lamps were first introduced they came with staggering price tags, however, even then, most customers found that the cost of running the lamp was so cheap they gained a return on the unit price within a year. That’s the old days, now LED lamps are produced by multiple manufacturers, creating competition in prices and a more flexible product.
Another benefit is that LED lamps last longer. The technology is still new, however, it is predicated that LEDs will last 15 or even 20 years. Time will tell, although already the run time is far greater than globes or even the CFL low energy lights. You can expect that the lower the cost of the LED lamp, the shorter the lifespan, so consider this when you are making your initial purchase.
LED Lighting Conversion Tips and Tricks
It’s important to know each light’s purpose: What you need the light to do will determine the LED lamp style, placement, colour rendering, luminance and light direction.
Keep in mind that any light can be converted, including bedside lamps, chandeliers, and downlights. If you have existing dimmers you will need to ensure the LED lamp you purchase is dimmable, not all of them are, however, it’s not difficult to factor in, as long as you know your requirements in advance.
You might also want to consider getting an LED compatible dimmer to give you more light control. If your dimmable LEDs don’t dim or if they flicker, ask an electrician to replace your dimmer as it is the same price as a regular dimmer.
While the conversion colour won’t be the same as you are used to with your current lighting, in most cases the right colour temperatures, measured in Kelvins, can be fitted to give the most flattering ambience. An LED colour chart will provide you with some ideas on what you can expect and what the temperature rating converts to. If you want a warm light, you will be looking at a Kelvin count of 2700 or less. A count above 3000 will be a whiter light.
Another consideration is the type of fitting. 240 volt mains can usually accept a new LED lamp without additional work or plugins, whereas 12 volt fittings will require an additional replacement driver.
This is due to the fact LEDs draw only a small amount of power and the existing transformers will be supplying far more than needed, which is a fire risk. Do not do this job yourself, this can only be completed by a qualified electrician, preferably one with LED expertise and product knowledge.
Expert LED Conversions
You can view a lot of DIY videos online as well as purchase a wide range of LED lamp varieties from online stores, although, with so many lumen outputs, colour temperatures, operating temperatures, and light directions to choose from you will probably prefer the security and advice of a qualified electrician, especially if your wiring hasn’t been checked in a while.
With LED lamps so affordable, hiring an electrician for the job is value for money as they will be able to better match the LED to your purpose, saving you the stress and also research time.
Due to the possibility of excess heat build up, it is highly recommended to get all partially and fully enclosed fixtures checked for compatibility before installation to prevent fire or damage to the LEDs.
An electrician is also needed to determine if the cable can adequately carry the existing power load. The standard wiring regulation checks will also need to be completed to ensure the fitting is safe and can handle the upgrade.
While it is possible to purchase LED lamps ready to install, if you are replacing recessed downlights, either incandescent bulbs or halogen, you may need to replace the entire fitting. Just converting the bulb to LED will possibly overheat the LED lamp and shorten its life. Using a dedicated LED downlight fitting will also ensure there are no gaps or drafts through the ceiling lining.
Most older fittings leave a larger clearance to the ceiling insulation, due to fire risk. Modern LED downlight fittings are fully airtight, enabling insulation batts to lay directly against or over the top. Ask your electrician and the manufacturer to be sure.
You could spend hours reading up on LEDs online, but when you consider that your electrician is already fully qualified, handles the product every day, and will most likely have LEDs fully installed in their own home, it makes sense to get the job done right.
With LEDs now more affordable and fitting choices expanding rapidly it’s good to have on hand experience that’s up-to date with the technology and trends. Your electrician will also be able to demonstrate examples of other LEDs in operation, giving you access to full scope and flexibility.
More Great Reasons to Convert to LED’s
LED lamps run on natural colour temperature wavelengths (red and blue) meaning that indoor plants thrive under LEDs. Coupled with the low heat it’s possible to place lights directly above plants or to create feature garden walls that sustain indoor plant growth.
LEDs generate a fraction of the heat most traditional lamps do. Less heat means more safety and that leads to greater flexibility. As well as flush ceiling downlights it is now possible to light inside difficult places like bookshelves and staircases. You can also get checks to see about wardrobe lighting as well as inside drawers and cupboards in kitchens and bathrooms. Artwork will show more detail and be truer under an LED lamp than regular bulbs, as will makeup application, so consider additional LED lighting around paintings and mirrors.
Know what levels and temperatures you need as well as the limited length of LED strip lights. LEDs with CRI ranking under 75 are not recommended for indoor use.