Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are a fast-growing sector of the lighting market. As the market share of traditional incandescent bulbs declines, LEDs have become an alternative for many applications, both in the home and outdoors. Like other types of light bulbs, LED lights come in a wide range of different types, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
About LED Lights
Traditional incandescent light bulbs generate light by passing electrical current through a semiconductor. When the device is switched on, it releases energy in the form of light. Unlike incandescent light bulbs, the colour of an LED does not result from a coloured coating on the bulb; instead, different semiconductor materials are used to create the diodes, resulting in different light wavelengths and therefore different colours of light. LED lights have a number of advantages over both traditional incandescent bulbs and more modern compact fluorescent lights. Compared to incandescent bulbs, LEDs last longer, use much less electricity and generate far less waste heat. A standard LED bulb can withstand decades of regular use, outperforming even long-lasting CFL bulbs. While incandescent bulbs typically last for 1,000 to 2,000 hours of use, LED bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours. LEDs also produce high levels of light relative to the amount of energy they use. Although LEDs are typically more expensive than other types of light bulb, their long lifespan and low energy costs make them more affordable over the long term. Unlike incandescent lights, which actually emit most of their energy as heat, LEDs remain cool, making them good choices for display lighting or for warm environments, where they will not add to the ambient temperature. LEDs also switch on quickly, reaching maximum brightness almost immediately. By contrast, CFLs can take some time to reach full brightness, making LEDs an excellent alternative for cupboard or bathroom lighting.
Choosing an LED Light
Like other types of bulb, there are many different varieties of LED light. Choosing the right light for home or business means taking into account a number of different factos.
LED lights come in a range of different shapes. Most of these are intended to replace an incandescent bulb of similar shape. Golf balls are spherical bulbs that disperse light evenly in all directions. They are normally used in fittings designed to light a whole area, such as a standing, ceiling or table lamp. A-line bulbs are similar to golf ball bulbs, but feature a more pronounced aluminium heat sink on the bottom half of the bulb. Like golf balls, they light broad areas evenly and are good for room area lighting. Candle bulbs are shaped to resemble candle flames. They are usually used as accent lighting, often in decorative lamps or wall sconces. Flood lights are used to create a broad area of illumination in a single direction. These bulbs are often used as outdoor lights, recessed lighting or display lighting. Spotlights are similar to floodlights, but cast a much narrower beam. They are often used to highlight single objects, such as merchandise on display or a painting on a wall.
LED lights are available in a wide range of colours, although some are more common than others. Cool white LEDs give off a bright white light. Because the spectrum generated by this light differs from the spectrum of sunlight, some colours, particularly red, may appear different under these lights. One of the most common colours for LED lights, warm white produces a gentler white light, more like firelight or sunlight than the cool white bulb. Daylight LED bulbs are rarer than either warm or cool white. They produce a light that resembles diffuse sunlight. Daylight bulbs are popular with painters and other artists who want to work under natural light, as well as for living spaces. LED bulbs are available in a wide range of colours, including blue, red, green, yellow and purple. Also, by mixing diodes of different colours and activating them alternately, LED lamps can produce a range of different effects. Colour-changing lamps are commonly used for entertainment purposes, including nightclub lighting or holiday lights.
LED lights use similar fittings to incandescent and CFL light bulbs, although some fitting types may be unfamiliar to first-time buyers. The screw fitting, also known as an Edison fitting, is one of the most common types of light bulb fitting. It consists of a simple threaded screw; the user screws the bulb into the socket with a clockwise turn. Bulbs with screw fittings often have serial numbers beginning with E (for Edison). The number after this letter refers to the size of the socket. The most common size is E27, while E14 is used for smaller lights such as candelabra. The bayonet fitting consists of a smooth cap with two protruding lugs on the sides. The user pushes the cap into the socket, then turns it, sliding the lugs into slots and locking the bulb in place. Bulbs with bayonet fittings typically have serial numbers beginning with B. There are a wide variety of pin fittings. These fittings are most common on fluorescent bulbs, but are also found on LED bulbs. The final number in the bulb's name indicates the distance between the pins; thus, a GU10 bulb's pins are 10mm apart. If buying a pin bulb, make sure to know the size of the socket before proceeding. Bulbs with pin fittings have varying serial numbers; GU10 and MR16 are two of the most common.
Although not all LED bulbs are dimmable, many are. The listing for a bulb should state whether it can be dimmed or not; if it does not say that the bulb is dimmable, it's safest to assume it isn't. However, LED bulbs will not work with most household dimmer switches. Dimmer switches have a minimum wattage rating, typically 60w. This is far too high for LED lights, which produce equivalent brightness to incandescent bulbs but with a much lower wattage. An LED dimmer switch is needed to make sure that dimmable LEDs work properly.
LED light bulbs come in both mains-voltage and low-voltage models. Mains voltage bulbs are generally intended for conventional light sockets. These types of bulbs may be listed as either “mains voltage” or 240v. They do not require any special equipment to run off the home' s or business' electricity supply. Some types of LED light run at a lower voltage, typically 12v. This means that they will need a transformer in order to run on mains electricity. Ordinary transformers have a minimum voltage, usually around 20v. This prevents low-voltage LEDs from working with most transformers. Specialised LED transformers, also called LED drivers, are needed.
Buying LED Lights on eBay
Most eBay sellers list their LED lights under Home, Furniture & DIY. Select this category from the All Categories menu at the top of the eBay homepage, then click on Lighting. Within Lighting, click on Light Bulbs. Within the Light Bulbs category, entries for Type and Socket can be seen. Select LED and tick the box next to the type of socket that bulbs are needed for. If the type of bulb being looked for is known, simply type it into the search bar at the top of the homepage. For instance, “LED spotlight GU10” could be typed in.
The range of options in choosing an LED light bulb can seem daunting at first. Once decided on what is needed, however, a much narrower range of bulbs is given, making the search for the final product so much easier. Be sure to research sellers so that orders can be placed with maximum confidence. If the needs are known and products with detailed, accurate descriptions are chosen, then the purchased product with be of a reasonable price and of high-quality.