The Lowdown on LEDs

These ultra-efficient bulbs are the future of lighting, but they aren't without challenges. Here's what you need to know.

Few components of a house have changed quite as dramatically in the last 30 years as the lighting that illuminates its rooms. It’s been quite a jump from the familiar pear-shaped Edison bulb, with its tungsten filament and homey yellow light, to the high-tech light emitting diodes of energy-efficient LED bulbs.

LEDs are the way to go, but they do have a learning curve, so here’s what you need to know.

The Basics

  • Energy Efficient: LEDs are five times more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and four times more efficient than the spiral compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Long-Lived: At 20-plus years, they will outlast more than a few homeowners. Even the best CFLs top out at 10 years.
  • Safety: Because LEDs run significantly cooler than incandescents and CFLs, there is there is less risk of burn injuries in handling them. LEDs come in at a relatively cool 120 degrees. Another advantage is each time seniors, have to get up on a stool to replace a bulb it’s a falling hazard. With the long lifespan of LED bulbs, most homeowners can retire their ladders.
  • No Delay: Unlike CFLs, LEDs respond immediately when the switch is flicked; there is no warm-up period as the bulb gradually lights.

LEDs Gaining Ground

The single biggest drawback to widespread acceptance of LEDs has long been their high price.

But today, consumers can buy the equivalent of a 60-watt LED bulb by a major manufacturer for $2.50, and there are LED retrofits for recessed lighting that can be had for around $25 to $30.

About the Author
Kate Tyndall
Kate Tyndall is a contributor to PROSALES and REMODELING. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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