Five Easy Steps to Choosing the Right LED

Jan 10, 14 Five Easy Steps to Choosing the Right LED

The light bulb ban is bringing energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, to the forefront. While this is ruffling the feathers of those not eager to give up the traditional incandescent bulb quite yet, we’ve composed a list of some things that will make the transition to LED lighting as seamless as possible.

Dimmability: Another great way to save on your energy costs is dimming your lights. Dimmers are great for two reasons:  they reduce your energy consumption and extend the life of your bulb, and they can set the perfect mood during dinner or watching a movie. While incandescent bulbs change color as they dim, most LEDs don’t. They simply dim by reducing their brightness while maintaining the same color. Before you buy a dimmer, make sure your LED bulbs are dimmable and your bulbs are compatible with your dimmer.

Color Rendering Index (CRI): You may have never heard of CRI before today, but it’s still a really important factor when deciding on your bulbs. Color rendering index is a measure of how accurately a bulb renders colors in relation to the sun, which has a CRI of 100. Why is CRI important? The higher a bulb’s CRI, the better colors will look. Colors will look more vibrant and richer, which you’ll be able to notice in areas such as the kitchen and in the closet. The lower the CRI, the worse colors will look, as they’ll appear washed up and even yellow. Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100, meaning they render colors just as accurately as the sun. LED bulbs don’t have a CRI as high as that of an incandescent bulb, but they come fairly close. A good number to use as a reference for CRI is 85, which is a very good color rendering. For an example of CRI in action, click here.

Color Temperature: Before we dive into color temperature, let me first start by saying that color temperature has nothing to do with ambient temperature. Now that that’s settled, color temperature refers to the actual color of the light that’s produced. The lower the numbers, the yellower the light and the higher the numbers, the whiter the light. The warm white scale runs from 2400 Kelvin to 3000 Kelvin, while cool white runs from 4000 Kelvin to 4100 Kelvin and stark white ranging from 5000 Kelvin to 6500 Kelvin. So which color temperature do you pick? That’s purely up to you. Most people will use warm white bulbs to create a cozy, homely feeling throughout the home, and maybe use a cool white bulb in the kitchen. You probably won’t see too many homes with cool white bulbs in them, as these are typically used in hospitals and in businesses.

Light Output: For incandescent bulbs, the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb (measured in lumens). While that’s accurate for incandescent bulbs, that’s not quiteimage_chart the case for LEDs, as LED bulbs require the use of far less wattage to achieve the same effect as incandescent bulbs. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens, but it may take only 8, 12, or 14 watts for an LED bulb to produce the same amount of lumens. In other words, you want to choose your bulb based on the amount of lumens it produces, not on the wattage it consumes. The chart on the right will give you a breakdown of the lumen output of standard incandescent bulbs. It’s a good idea to write down these outputs before you go shopping for LEDs, as the product descriptions and labels may not have this information on them.

Price: Easily the biggest objection people have with LEDs is price, which is understandable. While prices are coming down, the upfront cost of this new technology can be a little hard to swallow. However, think of it like this: the initial cost of LEDs will be quickly offset by their longevity and the fact they use substantially less energy than incandescents. Also, you’ll see paybacks on your investments within 12 to 18 months. Not to mention that some LEDs last up to 50,000 hours, while the standard incandescent, while a fraction of the cost of an LED bulb, lasts only about 1,200 hours.

What are some things that will impact your LED buying decisions? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!

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The Truth about the EISA Light Bulb Ban

Dec 27, 13 The Truth about the EISA Light Bulb Ban

Lately, one of the hot topics of discussion in the news has been the last phase-out of the incandescent light bulb, set to take effect January 1, 2014. When Americans were told that the incandescent light bulbs they had become so familiar with would slowly cease production due to new government regulations, many panicked. Although the incandescent light bulb isn’t something that many Americans would typically put on the top of their list of things to worry about, the idea that something so familiar and everyday would no longer be available angered them. However, contrary to popular belief, the so-called “light bulb ban” does not mean the extinction of the incandescent light bulb. Lighting retailers like will continue to work with manufacturers to produce the bulbs that many people use in common residential applications such as table lamps, floor lamps, and track lighting.

The Energy and Independence Security Act

The Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was signed by President George W. Bush in an effort to curb the country’s high energy consumption and push consumers towards more energy-efficient lighting solutions. In Section 321of the EISA, it states that, after certain dates, general service incandescent lamps that do not meet the efficiency requirements set forth by the government can no longer be produced in the United States. Because almost all standard incandescent lamps did not meet EISA standards, the slow phase-out of the incandescent bulb would happen within three years, from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014.

According to the EISA, screw-based light bulbs must consume less wattage, or energy, for a similar lumen output, or brightness.  The first bulbs to be affected by the government regulations were 100-watt incandescents in January of 2012. Then, in January of 2013, 75-watt incandescent bulbs began their phase-out as well. Now, in January of 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will begin the transition. By the year 2020, most light bulbs will be required to be 60 to 70 percent more energy-efficient than the standard incandescent bulb of today.

Below is an example of how much less wattage today’s light bulbs will be required to use in compliance with EISA standards:

Present Wattage                          Wattage Use after EISA                                      Effective Date

100-watt                                               ≤ 72 watts                                                     January 1, 2012

75-watt                                                 ≤ 53 watts                                                      January 1, 2013

60-watt                                                 ≤ 43 watts                                                      January 1, 2014

40-watt                                                 ≤ 29 watts                                                      January 1, 2014

Light Bulb Ban Myths

Since the signing of the EISA, many myths about the light bulb ban have circulated, resulting in some angry reactions from those who think incandescent light bulbs are being made illegal or completely disappearing from the face of the earth. Below are some explanations of these myths that will, hopefully, clear a few things up.

Myth #1: All incandescent light bulbs will completely disappear after the New Year

Simply put: This is 100 percent false. Although the EISA is preventing manufacturers from continuing to produce general service incandescent light bulbs as inefficiently as they had been, it does not forbid retailers, including, from selling their existing inventory. It also does not forbid the use of the remaining incandescent bulbs in any way. will still continue to sell traditional incandescent light bulbs for six months to a year, or until all stock runs out. This gives customers plenty of time to stock up on their favorite bulbs.

Myth #2: The bulb ban will increase the amount of money people have to spend on lighting their homes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s no secret that energy-efficient lighting has made major strides in popularity over the past couple of years. LED lighting has become one of the go-to lighting sources for everything from office buildings to art installations because of how little energy they use. While it’s true that the initial cost of energy-efficient lighting like LED and compact fluorescent bulbs is notably higher than the traditional incandescent bulb, the amount of money saved over time will make up the difference. For example, a 23-watt CFL can produce the same amount of brightness as a 100-watt incandescent, using a fraction of the energy. Check out our blog post on how energy-efficient lighting can save you money for more detailed information.

Myth #3: The Mercury in CFL bulbs will be harmful to you and your home

As we have mentioned in a previous post, the mercury levels in a CFL are nothing to be overly concerned about. While the amount of mercury in a CFL can vary, the US EPA’s Energy Star program determined that there is about 4 milligrams in an average screw-based CFL with an Energy Star rating. To put it in perspective, that is about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. Even though the mercury levels in a CFL are relatively small, you should always exercise caution if one breaks and dispose of the bulb properly.

The Exception to the Rule

Although general service incandescent bulbs are being phased out, the new laws do not apply to many specialty application lamps, including those that fall under the category of “rough service.” Besides being sturdier for their use in heavy-duty applications, rough-service bulbs work in the same way as traditional incandescents and come with a similarly inexpensive price tag. Manufacturers only have to add extra supports around the filament of an incandescent light bulb in order for an incandescent to be considered rough-service. This is why the incandescent light bulb will continue to be produced and sold through lighting retailers like Whereas many big-box stores will stop re-ordering incandescent lighting after the New Year, will continue to provide the incandescent bulbs that many have gotten so used to using in their household fixtures.

For a comprehensive list of incandescent bulbs exempt from the light bulb ban, click here.


What are your thoughts on the EISA light bulb ban? Let us know in the comments below or send us a message on FacebookTwitter, or Google Plus!

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What the Fact: Lesser-Known Facts about LED Lighting

Jul 26, 13 What the Fact: Lesser-Known Facts about LED Lighting

With energy efficient lighting on the rise, people are beginning to turn to LED bulbs for their lighting needs. However, some of you may have a disregard for these bulbs due to various reasons. So, before you return your “defective” light bulbs, here are a few things you should know about them.

LEDs are directional.
Because they consist of flat chips, the light of LED bulbs generally faces one way. Some brands will focus the light outward or create with a lens that bends the light, making their LEDs omnidirectional.

There is a difference between R bulbs and PAR bulbs.
R (reflector) bulbs contain a diffuser, eliminating glare and softening the edges of the light. This makes these bulbs great for indoor use. PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) bulbs do not have a diffuser. Instead, they are open and contain an aluminum reflector in the shape of a parabola. This allows the light to shine further and create a spotlight effect, making them perfect for outdoor use.

The LED wattage equivalent to an incandescent isn’t important.
When you see the wattage of your LED bulb equates to a particular incandescent, that number only matters when you are trying to compare energy savings. The important number to look for is the lumen output. Lumens determine the brightness of your bulb, so you want to be sure to verify that the lumen output of your new LED bulb is the same as, or close to, the lumen output of your old incandescent.

True 100W equal LED A19s do not exist… yet.
They don’t. I know what you are thinking. “I just saw a category for LED A19s on your site.” Yes, that is true; however, a standard A19 features a lumen output of 1600 lumens. LED bulbs create too much heat to allow for 1600 lumens. “But I thought LEDs don’t get hot,” you say. They do; however, they contain cooling components such as heat sinks, fans, or cooling liquids to dissipate the heat, moving it away from the light source and making the bulbs cooler than other standard bulbs. Philips has produced a 100W equal A21; however, the size can cause issues when used in task lighting as it can be too big for a lamp’s harp.

LED Chip

LED Chip

If your LED bulb fails before expected, it could be due to component malfunction, not the LED chip.
Did your bulb die before the average rated life listed on the packaging? Before you claim the bulb to be damaged, consider the fact that there are many components to an LED bulb. If one of them goes out, the chip won’t run. Another thing to consider is that the average rated life is an average amount of hours. When the bulbs were tested, 50% stayed lit through that amount of time; some went out before, and some went out after.

There is such a thing as too warm.
Be sure to check the color temperature of your LED bulb. If you end up with an LED that is 2400K or under, the light output will have a pink hue. However, if you like the color pink; LED bulbs with a low color temperature could work just fine.

Your LEDs are not faulty. Your timers and dimmers aren’t, either.
For night time lighting, many people use timers to turn their decorative LED lights on at a certain time every night and off in the morning. Some people like to create ambiance, so they use dimmers to tone down the lighting. So, what’s with the flickering and glowing? Decorative LEDs operate at a low voltage, so much so, that there is an extra amount of current that continues to leak through. The extra voltage is what keeps the lights on even after you have turned them off. To stop this voltage leak through, add a 120-volt incandescent bulb. The bulb will absorb the extra current, allowing your lights to turn off completely.

You can still buy 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
For those of you who cannot part ways with your 100-watt incandescent bulbs, do not fear! While they were “legislated out” of existence, the makers of your favorite bulbs have found a way around the legislation, allowing them to continue making the 100-watt bulbs. They have started making them with an additional filament support; which, in turn, classifies them as “rough service,” making them exempt from the legislation.

Still having trouble with LED bulbs? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments or let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus?

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Coming Soon: More Light Bulb Bans

Mar 09, 12 Coming Soon: More Light Bulb Bans

Despite the media hype surrounding the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, most news outlets failed to mention that manufacturers will also phase out other popular light bulbs this year. These other phase-outs—which are not part of the EISA 2007 legislation, but rather 2009 US Department of Energy regulations—will affect some of the most popular bulbs on the market today: T12 fluorescent tubes and Halogen PAR lamps.

T12 Fluorescent Phase-Out

The T12 fluorescent tube phase-out has been a long time coming. More efficient T8 and T5 lamp types have all but replaced the once ubiquitous T12 already, perhaps because the standard 4-foot T12 lamp burns a whopping 40 watts, while its T8 replacement uses between 25 and 32 watts. To anyone who has installed a fluorescent fixture in the past 5 years, it’s been a no brainer: Go with the T8 and save up to 60 watts per fixture.*

Here’s a partial list of T12 lamps affected by 2009 DOE regulations:

The DOE regulations also affect some T8 lamps, but those affected aren’t very popular. Though the phase-out doesn’t take effect until July 14th of this year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a T12 lamp in any local hardware store, so you’ll have to check online if you intend to stock up.

The full list of fluorescent phase-outs can be found in this summary from GE.

Halogen PAR Phase-Out

Perhaps more significant than the T12 phase-out is the elimination of most Halogen PAR38, PAR30, and PAR20 lamps. The ban covers most Halogen PARs between 40 to 205 watts. Do you have a PAR38 in an outdoor fixture or a PAR20 in a track light? Chances are, you won’t be able to get either of those after July 14th, 2012 when the ban takes effect.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to the Halogen PAR ban. Most eliminated PAR lamps will be replaced with IR Halogens, which have a special infrared coating on the Halogen capsule to redirect heat inward and increase the efficiency of the bulb. This allows them to meet the minimum efficiency requirement of around 18 LPW. Other options include CFL and LED PAR bulbs and even some self-ballasted metal halide PAR lamps.

Your Thoughts?

So what do you think? Are these regulations a step in the right direction, or are they a case of government overreach? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

*Calculated assuming a 4-lamp troffer using 25W F32T8 lamps instead of 40W F40T12 lamps.

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The Light Bulb Ban: A Simple Explanation

Dec 12, 11 The Light Bulb Ban: A Simple Explanation

The news is full of stories right now about the 100 watt light bulb phase-out. Some outlets even call this an outright ban on incandescent light bulbs.

Here is the simple truth, as detailed in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:

On December 31, 2011, manufacturers will stop production of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs. You’ll still be able to buy them, however, because EISA does not forbid retailers, including, from selling their existing inventory.

Other wattages will not be affected until 2013, when 75 watt bulbs will be banned, and 2014 when 40 watt and 60 watt bulbs will be banned. The same rules still apply: You can buy them as long as stores still have them.

So when they are all gone, what do you do? You have three choices: Compact fluorescents (CFLs), LEDs, and Halogen light bulbs.

You either love or hate compact fluorescents, but regardless of personal affectations, a 23 watt CFL replaces a 100 watt incandescent. LEDs aren’t yet bright enough to replace a 100 watt bulb, but you can expect to see several that do in the next one or two years. Halogens are EISA’s “silver lining” for incandescent lovers: A 72-watt Halogen replaces a 100 watt incandescent and looks and functions almost identically to an incandescent.

January 2012:

  • 100 watt incandescents no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace them with a 23 watt CFL or a 72 watt Halogen.
  • There are no LEDs to replace them yet, but expect them soon.

January 2013:

  • 75 watt incandescents no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace them with a 18 watt CFL or a 53 watt Halogen.
  • Just like 100 watt, there are no LEDs to replace them yet, but expect them soon.

January 2014:

  • Both 40 watt and 60 watt no longer produced, but you can continue to buy existing inventory.
  • You can replace a 40 watt bulb with a 9 watt CFL or a 29 watt Halogen.
  • You can replace a 60 watt bulb with a 13 watt CFL or a 43 watt Halogen.
  • There are plenty of LEDs to replace these, of various wattages.

What are your thoughts on the phase-out? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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