Recent years have seen Light Emitting Diodes or LED lights become an increasingly common feature around the home. While they used to be available only from specialist stores, you can now buy reasonably-priced bulbs and spotlights from local retailers. With the choice of bulbs and sizes growing more bewildering by the year, it makes sense to know which types of lighting are best for which jobs and how they can be put to good use around the home.

Although some consumers are still put off by higher upfront costs in LEDs when compared with that of a standard halogen bulb, LEDs are a lot more energy-efficient over time, saving money in the long run. The ecological implications of LEDs are also a lot more positive, since unlike CFL or standard ‘energy-saving’ bulbs, they do not contain mercury which of course can be hazardous to both the health and the environment.

LED, LED lighting

Types of lighting

It’s important to note the type of lighting LEDs are best suited for before you consider buying for the home. Main ceiling lights are still probably best-served by a halogen light or energy-saving CFL because the quality and colour of the light can be somewhat warmer than LEDs. For these reasons, the best compromise is employing a mixture of halogen and LEDs in your household.

In terms of directional lighting, such as up-lighting shelves and down-lighting pictures, LEDs are spot-on and also achieve better results in recesses and alcoves. Because they last a long time, it may be worth installing one in a place that’s hard to reach or for lighting that needs to be left on for longer periods. They can also be dimmed, whereas some types of CFL cannot and there is no waiting time while they warm up; LEDs give out light at their full capacity straight away.

Before you buy

When you’re shopping around for LEDs, it’s worth remembering that they need appropriate equipment in order to perform at their best. A heat sink, or metal casing should be in place in the fitting to avoid over-heating, as heat from LED lights typically moves backwards towards the fixture. Reputable products will have this in place, but installation should still be done by a proper electrician to avoid any future problems or safety concerns.

The decorative potential of LEDs is great and, combined with more standard lighting from wall lights and lamps, spotlights and uplighting can really lift the look of a room. Depending on how creative you’re feeling, you can use directional lighting to make a feature of a fireplace or shelving unit and even use vertical or horizontal LED strips to amplify the contours of a room and its furniture.

It really does seem that LED lighting is a sound alternative to use alongside traditional bulbs and will be for the foreseeable future. Like hybrid electric cars, the initial expense can be a challenge and has slowed their popularity, but pricing is increasingly competitive and availability more widespread. In terms of environmental impact, fuel-efficiency and both functional and decorative lighting, LEDs consistently perform well and while they will not cover all lighting needs, are well worth introducing into the household.

This article was written on behalf of MHA Lighting, experts on energy saving lighting.

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