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5 Things to Think Before Buying LED Bulbs

5 Things to Think Before Buying LED Bulbs

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, there’s a good chance you would’ve heard about LED lighting. But the real question is — have you yet switched to it? If not, you may want to make the move right now.

The reasons for embracing LED light bulbs are compelling. They last many times longer than incandescent bulbs and consume far less energy. They help you cut down your lighting expenditure and are also good for our environment.

Plus, if you want to turn your home into a smart home, LED bulbs help you enjoy all sorts of advanced features, including bulbs that can be turned on and off and change colors via a smartphone. Besides, in many places incandescent bulbs are getting phased out, so you eventually will have to use them.

However, LED bulbs are way different than incandescent bulbs. So before you start shopping for them, here are a few things you need to know.

Lumens, not watts

When you shopped for incandescent bulbs, you paid attention to watts. Well, you can forget all about them. Those watts are not good anymore. Lumens — not watts — is an indication of how bright an LED bulb will be.

And anyway, wattage was never meant to be an indication of brightness. Instead, it measures how much energy a bulb draws. In the case of incandescent bulbs, there’s a well-accepted correlation between the wattage consumed and the brightness emitted. However, in the case of LEDs, wattage is a poor indicator of how much brightness the bulb will give since they use less energy.

For instance, an LED light bulb that consumes 8-12 watts gives the same level of brightness as a 60 wattage incandescent bulb.

However, don’t waste your time doing the math. That’s because there’s no standard way to convert incandescent wattage to LED wattage. Instead, lumen is used as a measurement of brightness emitted by an LED light bulb.

Here’s a chart for your reference.




2600 lm

150 W

25-28 W

1600 lm

100 W

16-20 W

1100 lm

75 W

9-13 W

800 lm

60 W

8-12 W

450 lm

40 W

6-9 W


As the chart shows, incandescent bulbs can consume up to 5 times as many wattage to emit the same number of lumens. When you shop for LED bulbs, pay attention to lumens.  

Pick the right color LED

LED bulbs, unlike incandescent bulbs, come in different colours, the two most being soft white (also known as warm white) and bright white (also known as daylight).

Soft white (or warm light) produce a yellow, candle-like light, pretty much what you get from incandescent bulbs. On the other hand, bright white (or daylight) LED bulbs emit a whiter light, which is close to daylight.

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin. The lower the rating, the yellower (warmer) the light. Incandescent bulbs are typically in the range of 2,700 – 3,500 K. If you are looking for an LED bulb that emits yellow, candle-like glow, look for this range. If you want bulbs that are daylight toned, look for bulbs with a colour temperature of 5,000 or higher.

LED bulbs save you money in the long run (but they cost more upfront)

Think of LED bulbs as hybrid cars. They are costlier upfront, but cheaper to run.

LED bulbs cost a lot more than incandescent bulbs, but the higher upfront cost shouldn’t be a deterrent to using them. That’s because, in the long run, LEDS turn out way cheaper.

When you get a new bulb, you need to take into account not only its purchase price but also operational cost. For example, a 60 wattage incandescent bulb will bump up your annual electricity bill by $7 if you keep it on for 3 hrs every day. By contrast, a replacement LED bulb will emit a similar amount of light by consuming just 8 watts and add roughly $1 to your energy bill.

What’s more, LED bulbs last many times longer — as in up to 50 times longer — than an incandescent bulb. So as you can see, LED bulbs turn out to be far more wallet-friendly that energy-sapping incandescent bulbs.

Look out for non-dimmable LED bulbs

Most LED bulbs are dimmable. You can use this feature to control the amount of light they emit according to your needs. However, keep in mind that old dimmers were designed for incandescent bulbs.

While most old dimmers work well with LED bulbs, some may not work at all and some may not work in a perfect manner. Which begs the question — how can you find out if the old dimmer will work with new LED bulbs?

There’s only one way. Check with the manufacturer. If you are shopping online, you should find this information on the manufacturer’s website.

And if the old dimmer is incompatible with LEDs, you should consider buying a new dimmer meant for LED bulbs. Though you can use an LED bulb with an incompatible dimmer, you won’t be able to enjoy the dimming feature.

LEDs may not be a perfect choice for all fixtures

Some light fixtures are not meant for LED bulbs. Using LED light bulbs in those fixtures may result in the bulbs getting quickly fizzled out.

LED bulbs run much cooler compared to incandescent bulbs. However, that doesn’t mean an LED bulb doesn’t produce heat. Like their incandescent cousins, they also get hot. However, the come equipped with a heat sink at their base which pulls away the heat.

And this is where the rub lies. An LED bulb needs a way to dissipate the heat. But in an enclosed fixture, there’s no place for the heat to go. This, in turn, can shorten the life of the LED bulb. Just like your laptop or smartphone, LED bulbs can get damaged if you let them overheat.

For this reason, continue using incandescent or fluorescent bulbs in enclosed spaces. For all other fixtures, switch to LEDs now.