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5 things to bear in mind when buying LED lightbulbs

Posted by Tom Bray on 23 February 2015 at 1:30 pm

Over the last few years there has been a real shift in awareness and attitudes surrounding energy efficient lighting. LED lights are currently spearheading the way. Whether it’s a business or a family home, LEDs are being used all over with the promise of reducing energy consumption and electricity bills. 

With production costs lower than ever before, the LED light bulb market has hit a commercial boom. They provide people with great alternatives to energy-hungry fluorescent and halogen bulb types. However, there’s still some uncertainty for consumers: issues such as effectiveness and what models to buy are still being muttered, so here’s a guide to what you should consider before buying LED light bulbs.

1. The light bulb fitting

It’s nothing to stress over because it’s easy to find out BUT it’s definitely something you need to know. It’s extremely important to know what lightbulb design your light fittings will home, if you don’t find out then you’ll be wasting not only your time but your money as well. The most common domestic bulb fittings are as follows:

● B22

● B15

● E14

● E27

● GU10

● MR16 GU5.3

You don’t need to understand what this mix of letters and numbers represent, you’ll simply need to note down what the fittings are before you start shopping for bulbs. You’ll need to make sure that the bulb will fit as well as being compatible with the correct voltage.

2. The shape of the light bulb

You may want to buy a lightbulb with an attractive shape but the design of the bulb will determine what direction the light will travel. What you need will vary depending on your fixture, be it a table lamp or a pendant ceiling light. The most common domestic bulb shapes are as follows:

For ceiling pendants selecting an ‘omnidirectional’ lightbulb such as arbitrary, stick or spiral design bulb will probably be your best bet. Alternatively for something like a desk lamp you’ll need a candle shape bulb in order to deliver a wider berth. If you are installing a spot into a recessed downlight you will require a reflector to distribute the appropriate light beam. Placing the wrong shaped bulb into a downlight can really disrupt the beam angle resulting in a poor distribution of light, potentially becoming the catalyst for annoying glare and under performance.

3. Brightness

Wattage is no longer the determining factor to how bright your lightbulb will be. With LED lighting lumen brightness is the important figure. So how many lumens do you need?

Below is a table instructing the estimates:

Brightness in






























The top of this chart shows the brightness of the bulb in lumens - the vital numbers you now need to look at. If you want to replace a 75w bulb but still receive the same amount of light then you’ll need to get at least 900 lumens to achieve a similar brightness. 

4. Warm vs Cold light

The colour of the light beam is an important factor to how the room feels, so choosing the right lighting colour makes a huge difference to a room's atmosphere. Warm light and natural light are generally the two most common colour options. Warm white gives off a comforting yellow glow, similar to traditional incandescents and halogens, whereas natural white provides a more clinical and clean light.

Warm white light bulbs - Usually found within bedrooms, front rooms and hall ways. The best colour for a welcoming and homely setting.

Natural/Cool white light bulbs - Usually found within kitchens and bathrooms. A natural white bulb produces a clean and bright light for great visibility.

5. How to measure the colour temperature of light bulbs

The temperature of light is measured with ‘kelvin’. A low kelvin score is usually warmer, with around 2,000 - 3,500 kelvins delivering a ‘warm white’ glow. A higher kelvin reading, from anywhere between 4,000 - 6,000 kelvins will produce a cooler and neutral colour. 

If you are yet to make the jump to LEDs, a great way of deciding which bulbs you’ll need is to trial just one individual bulb before you make a bulk buy. LEDs are expensive compared to traditional incandescents so it's worth making sure that the fitting, shape, lumens and kelvins are all right before you make a big purchase. A 10w LED for around £10 is a reasonable starter. Keeping your eyes out for special deals on LED bulbs can also save you a bit. Just remember to check the fitting, shape, lumens and kelvins and you’ll be well on your way to greener and cheaper living!

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About the author: Tom Bray works for a national electrical wholesaler – Direct Trade Supplies, a company which specialises in LED lighting  Bray regularly contributes to magazines and websites.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one


pyjambComment left on: 1 March 2015 at 3:47 pm

When I fitted one led 12v downlighter in our kitchen ceiling, when I switch it on our digital radio loses its signal unless the radio is moved to the other end of the kitchen. How come?

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RoKeComment left on: 28 February 2015 at 9:04 am

Can you write some tips about matching bulbs and dimmers? I have understood that it is best to match the Make of bulb with a dimmer from the same company. And can you write anything about the differences between the different companies producing the bulbs as, again, i understand there are wide differences between the integrity and therefore the longevity of the bulbs made by different companies.

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