Six Common LED Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

With LED lighting becoming the norm, more people are becoming aware of the benefits of upgrading outdated lighting. However, this does not mean the switch is always straight-forward; there’s room for error. To avoid these issues, check out these common mistakes first-time LED users tend to make.

Assuming your fixture accepts LED bulbs.

Think of any light bulb imaginable; chances are there’s an LED replacement. There are numerous terms to describe the usability of these products. You may see terms like “ballast compatible”, “plug and play”, "instant fit" or “direct wire”. Ballast compatible, plug and play and instant fit all essentially mean the same – remove your current bulb and simply replace it with its LED counterpart. If you have a direct wire LED bulb, you will need to remove the ballast, or power supply, and hard-wire the LED bulb and socket. Always read the manufacturer’s specifications and your fixture’s guidelines to ensure the proper use and acceptance.

Not taking light output into account.

When replacing standard light bulbs, we are accustomed to comparing the wattage and finding one that matches the light output we are looking for. With LED bulbs, the comparison is not always so simple. To get a more accurate LED replacement, you must check the lumen output, or the amount of visible light a bulb emits. For example, a 60 watt A19 bulb – think the standard light bulb in your home – produces about 800 lumens. Its LED counterpart that produces the same number of lumens will use, on average, only 10 watts.

Choosing the wrong color temperature.

Identifying the right color temperature, measured in Kelvin, is important when lighting a room. Color temperature has nothing to do with the actual heat a bulb produces, but rather the color tone of the bulb – ranging from warm to cool to daylight. For some bulbs, it’s simple to figure out their color temperature as it is stamped on the bulb itself. However, some will not be so obvious. For example, if you are replacing an incandescent bulb with an LED and want it to emit the same warmness, choose a bulb with a Kelvin rating of 2200K-2700K. For halogen bulbs, choose a color temperature around 3000K-3200K, as most halogens have a warm color tone.

Not considering the light pattern the bulb will produce.

When choosing an LED replacement bulb, be sure to check the beam angle and light pattern. Not all light bulbs are omni-directional; meaning the light shines in all directions. Also, not all bulbs will project the same light pattern you’re aiming for. For example, an A19 bulb is omni-directional and is great for general lighting purposes. Whereas a PAR-shaped bulb is highly directional and is ideal for highlighting landscape elements in front of your home. Bulbs can also have different beam spreads that can vary from narrow to wide, depending on their application.

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