LED Light Bulb Shopping Guide
LED bulbs are different. When shopping for light-emitting diode bulbs, you need to keep an eye on lumens and the Kelvin scale. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Give me five.
- What fitting do you need? Before you head to the store, make sure you know the size of the base you need and the voltage. I have two different bases to shop for, the candelabra E12 and medium E26. The “E” stands for Edison, who invented the screw base light bulb. It seems simple, but it would be frustrating if you bought the wrong bulb.
- What shape bulb are you looking for? This question is really about the direction of the light. LED bulbs produce directional light, which is different from CFL and incandescent bulbs that throw light in all directions. LED bulbs with an ENERGY STAR® rating are designed to light similarly to traditional bulbs, so look for this certification if you want to mirror the direction of the lighting you currently have.
- How bright does it need to be? Lumens is the new watt. For example, if you are replacing a 60W bulb and want a similar amount of light, then you need to get at least 800 lumens in order to match the brightness of the old bulb. Consult the chart here to find the lumen matching the wattage you currently enjoy.
- Are you looking for cold or warm light? This is where LEDs have amazing range. The temperature of light is measured in terms of kelvin. Very orange light has a low number of kelvin, a candle is about 1,500K. Daylight is much colder, often above 5,000K. For household light bulbs, most people prefer “warm white,” which is the warm, slightly yellow glow of an old incandescent or halogen bulb. These bulbs are 2,700K. Kitchens and bathrooms can usually have less yellow light, and bulbs that are natural white (3,000K) or cool white (4,000K).
- Where should you begin? LEDs have energy saving advantages over incandescent and CFL bulbs, but they still cost upward of $10 each. You will get the greatest return on investment by replacing the bulbs you use most frequently or those that are difficult to replace. LED bulbs last for 15 years or longer. A $12 LED bulb that meets ENERGY STAR requirements and is left on for three hours a day will pay for itself in roughly two years. To ensure you are buying the best quality bulb, only purchase those with ENERGY STAR certification. These bulbs have a three-year guarantee and meet important performance standards.