In the past few years, LED lamps have become more and more popular, and this is not surprising, because they can significantly reduce electricity costs without compromising the quality of lighting. In this article, we will look at how LED bulbs differ from conventional incandescent bulbs, how effective they are, and how not to make mistakes when buying them.
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What is an LED lamp?
LED bulbs use LEDs as a light source, while conventional bulbs emit light from an incandescence that is heated by an electric current. The inside of the energy-saving lamp is covered with a phosphor (fluorescent dye), which glows under the action of a gas discharge.
Each type of lamp has its own characteristics and disadvantages. The design of an incandescent lamp is quite simple: it consists of a filament (usually made of tungsten or its refractory alloys), enclosed in an evacuated glass bulb. Under the influence of an electric current, the thread heats up and begins to glow. The main advantage of incandescent lamps is their low cost, which, however, is offset by their low efficiency. In reality, only 10% of the consumed electricity is converted into light, the rest is dissipated in the form of heat. In addition, such a light bulb does not last long – only about 1,000 hours.
A compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL (this is what an energy-saving lamp is called), shines almost as brightly, but at the same time consumes five times less electricity. Among the disadvantages of CFLs, one can name a higher price, a long warm-up period after switching on (several minutes), an unaesthetic appearance, as well as flickering of light, which is a strain on the eyes.
An LED lamp consists of several LEDs and a power supply enclosed in a housing. The power supply is a necessary component, since the LEDs require 6 or 12 V DC power supply or 220 V AC power supply in the household power supply.
Most often, the design of the housing of LED lamps resembles a “pear-shaped” shape with a screw base of the usual lamps, which ensures their trouble-free installation. The devices have a number of advantages, including a different color of radiation (depending on the LEDs used), low power consumption (on average, 8 times less compared to incandescent lamps), durability (they last 20-25 times longer than incandescent lamps) , low heating of the case, independence of brightness of illumination from voltage drops.
A significant drawback of such lamps is the price. Their price tag is several times higher than the cost of incandescent lamps. However, the high cost is offset by lower lighting costs, provided the lamp does not burn out prematurely. At the same time, LED lamps of quite decent quality can be purchased on the Internet, not significantly exceeding the cost of conventional bulbs. For example, from this link on AliExpress, you can buy LED bulbs of standard design at a very attractive price, there are 9 power options.
LED bulbs have other disadvantages as well. In particular, uneven light distribution due to the fact that the built-in power supply impedes the luminous flux. However, some manufacturers work around this limitation by using a special form of construction such as this.
In addition, the opaque lamp body looks unaesthetic in glass fixtures. The disadvantages include the lack of a dimmer (dimmer), as well as unsuitability for use at very high and low temperatures.
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What to look for when buying
Due to the many characteristics, choosing the right LED bulb can be a daunting task.
If the voltage in the house or apartment is unstable, choose lamps that can operate in a wide range of voltages. This characteristic is usually indicated on the packaging. Note that at low voltage, LED lamps emit the same bright glow as normal.
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Color temperature characterizes the light intensity of the lighting fixture. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin. As it rises, the color changes from yellow to blue. As a rule, the manufacturer indicates the radiation parameters on the packaging and the lamp housing: warm (2,700 K) – approximately comparable to the color of an incandescent lamp; warm white (3,000 K) – ideal for living quarters; cool white (4000 K) – for offices and production, close to the color of daylight.
Some lamp models allow you to adjust the color using special modes. If you do not tolerate the blue spectrum well and cold light seems dim to you, when buying a lamp with a cold spectrum, choose a device with a power reserve.
A separate category should be allocated to RGB lamps, which can shine in different colors, corresponding to the user’s preferences. Such lamps can usually be controlled using a smartphone or other Bluetooth-compatible gadget. An example of such an RGB lamp.
For special aesthetes, even lamps are produced that can quite realistically simulate a flame (example).
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Among the characteristics on the packaging of LED lamps, their luminous flux and power of incandescent lamps of similar brightness are given. In reality, the power of LED lamps is six to eight times lower. For example, the brightness of a 12-watt light bulb is comparable to the power of a 100 W incandescent lamp. Please note that the declared wattage is not always true and the lamp may shine less brightly. The luminous power can also decrease due to the decrease in the brightness of the LEDs over time, so there is a possibility that the device will have to be replaced long before the expiration of its service life.
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Other significant points
LED bulbs are larger than incandescent bulbs, so they may simply not fit into a small shade.
For lighting devices that are switched on through a dimmer, you need to select suitable lamps – the packaging of the device should contain information that the lamp can be adjusted.
LED bulbs slightly distort the visual perception of colors. In some situations, such as when taking photographs, this can be significant.
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Switching to LED lamps
Considering the possibility of switching to more economical light bulbs, pay attention to a number of nuances. Firstly, it is advisable to replace only high-power bulbs (60 W and above), since replacing low-power bulbs will not bring significant savings, but the amount spent on the purchase of an LED lamp may not pay off. Secondly, replace bulbs in frequently used lighting fixtures, such as chandeliers or lamps in living quarters, since it makes no sense to change the lamp in places where you only occasionally turn on the light. Thirdly, do not expect a sharp reduction in electricity consumption after replacing lamps (savings can be 15-25%), since the main consumers of electricity are household appliances (iron, electric kettle, electric stove, washing machine, etc.).
Finally, when choosing LED bulbs, don’t buy fixtures from one manufacturer, but try one or two brands first. The fact is that devices from different manufacturers may differ in the emitted light, even if the packaging claims the same color temperature.
Today, LED lamps are no longer an expensive technical novelty and are quite affordable. Considering that LED lamps compare favorably with conventional incandescent lamps, the transition to their use is quite reasonable.