How to Buy LED Lighting: Your Guide to Lumens & Color Temperature

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Eco-friendly LED lights can slash your energy costs by as much as 90 percent and last up to three times as long as compact fluorescent bulbs. Dive into the world of LED lights by learning about two factors that affect your choice of light: lumens and color temperature.

What are Lumens?

If you buy incandescent or CFL bulbs, you may be used to selecting light by wattage rather than lumen, which measures light. By knowing the lumen value of the bulbs you use, you can easily select an LED light that offers equivalent illumination. For instance, if you use 100W light bulbs in your home, you would want a 20W LED, since both of these bulbs put out 1600 lumens. If you use a 40W bulb, you could replace it with a 5W LED, since both put out 450 lumens. The lower the wattage of the LED bulb you select, the cheaper it will be to run (since it consumes less electricity).

What is Color Temperature?

All bulbs have a warm, natural, or cool color temperature. If you’ve been wary of using LED lights in the home because you think they are harsh, think again. LEDs come in a range of color temperatures, so you can choose warm, natural, or cool depending on your preference.

The average incandescent light falls under the “warm white” temperature category. Warm light ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 K (Kelvin is the measure of the color temperature). Natural white light is 4,000 to 6,000 K, and cool light is 6,000 to 7,000 K. As a cheat sheet, remember that the higher the color temperature, the cooler the light — the opposite of what you might expect.

Color temperature is personal. You may naturally prefer the yellowish glow of a warm light or the subtle blue color of a cool light. In general, warm lights work well in rooms where you want to relax, such as a dining room or bedroom. Cool lights provide sufficient task lighting, so they’re great in offices and kitchens. Some LED lights come with a dimmer switch, so you can set the level of light for the task at hand.

Select the Right LED Lights

When you’re shopping for lights, check the product information. You’ll be able to tell at a glance the brightness in lumens, the estimated energy cost and lifespan of running the light for a set period of time (i.e. by using the light for 3 hours a day, it will last for 7 years), the color temperature, and the light used in watts.

Some people like to replace one light bulb at a time with LEDs to offset the cost. If you’ve got specialty bulbs, from a circular fluorescent kitchen lamp to a chandelier bulb, this can work well both to lessen the cost of switching to LEDs and to illustrate their superior performance in the home.

As you can see, LED lights are clearly a better value in the end. Now that you know how to find the right LED, start shopping for LED Lighting Systems at Wessel LED.