Your Guide to Buying LED Light Bulbs

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Your Guide to Buying LED Light Bulbs

An LED bulb is a light bulb which uses light emitting diodes (LEDs) as its light source. LED bulbs are designed to be used as an alternative to traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs in household and other applications. Light emitting diodes produce light energy when an electrical current is passed through them. LEDs have been in use since the early 1960s for electronic displays and indicator lamps, but have only recently become powerful enough for use as a source of light. The cost of manufacture has also come down enough to make LED bulbs a viable alternative to conventional bulbs. LED bulbs are available in a wide selection of shapes and sizes, as replacements for many household bulb types. They come with a range of standard fittings, including both bayonet cap and screw cap designs, and will fit most bulb sockets without the need for an adapter. Because LED bulbs are more efficient at turning electrical energy into light energy than filament bulbs, an LED bulb that produces the same amount of light as an incandescent light bulb will have a much lower wattage. Therefore, the wattage rating is not a reliable guide to the brightness of an LED bulb. A more useful measurement is the lumen, a unit which measures the amount of light emitted by a light source. The packaging of LED bulbs will often be labelled with the wattage of a conventional bulb of equivalent brightness, so an LED bulb of similar output to the bulb it is to replace can be chosen. For example, a five to eight watt LED bulb could be as bright as a forty watt incandescent bulb.

Advantages and Disadvantages of LED Bulbs

Many factors make LED bulbs an appealing option for lighting. They produce a clean, bright light, and they do not flicker. When turned on, they attain their full brightness immediately, unlike fluorescent lights and low energy bulbs which can take some time to reach the correct output level. LED bulbs contain no potentially hazardous substances or gases, and they do not become dangerously hot as incandescent and especially halogen types can. They can be used in conjunction with some dimmer switches. LED bulbs tend to have a longer lifespan than conventional bulbs. Being more robust than a glass bulb or a fluorescent tube, they seldom break. Frequent switching on and off, which will shorten the life of incandescent bulbs, does not affect LED bulbs, making them a good choice for bathroom and hallway lighting and other high use areas. Because LEDs cast light in one direction, they are excellent for spot lighting effects. LEDs emit light in a wide range of colours, meaning that coloured light effects can be achieved without the use of filters. Due to their efficiency in producing light, LED bulbs use less electricity than other types of lighting, which makes them cheaper to operate over their lifetime. However, the initial cost of purchasing LED bulbs is steeper than most other types due to the higher production costs of light emitting diodes. Because LEDs are damaged by high temperatures, they may not be suitable for all applications. The directional nature of the light produced by LED bulbs, while advantageous in some scenarios, can be a drawback when a more diffused light is required. Some bulbs combat this by arranging several LEDs or LED clusters to point in different directions. Not everyone likes the bright, white light produced by LED bulbs, finding it 'cold' in comparison with the 'warm', yellowish tones of a conventional bulb. LED bulbs also have a low colour rendering index or CRI. This is a scale measuing how accurately colours are seen, as compared with how they appear under natural light.

Where to Use LED Bulbs

LED lights can be used in various ways and in various locations. Some possibilities are given below.

LED Bulbs for the Home

Before buying LED bulbs for household use, it is important to ascertain whether they are suitable for the intended purpose. This includes checking the type of fitting required and whether the bulb is the correct size and shape for the aperture or lamp shade. The nature of the lighting must also be taken into consideration. Lighting appropriate for a bathroom or kitchen may not be suitable for a bedroom or living room, for example. The directional aspect of LED bulbs makes them well suited to use in reading lamps, although their low CRI may render them unsuitable as lighting for craft activities like knitting or embroidery. Halogen bulbs are cheap to purchase and provide bright lighting, but they can be expensive to run, especially where room lighting is provided by a large number of halogen spotlight bulbs. Replacing some or all of these halogen lights with LED bulbs can cause a significant reduction in electricity use. LEDs, with their low draw of current, are ideal for low level emergency or night lighting, and can also be used outdoors in security lights or to illuminate a driveway or garden path. Battery-powered LED lamps are safe for confined spaces like wardrobes and cupboards, and the batteries will last a long time.

LED Bulbs for Vehicle Lighting

Another increasingly popular application for LED bulbs is in vehicle lighting. Although LED replacements for headlight bulbs are not road legal, most other vehicle bulbs can be replaced with equivalent LED types. LEDs may be used for sidelight and number plate lights, provided that sidelights are white or yellow in colour and number plate lights are white. Some drivers like to add extra running lights to their vehicle, for instance along the side of a car or on the bumper. Small, bright LED bulbs, which use little extra battery power, are ideal for this application. Interior vehicle lights are easy to replace with LED bulbs. One great advantage of using LEDs for this purpose is that LED bulbs are unlikely to drain the vehicle battery if left on by accident. Many new vehicles, particularly motorcycles, are fitted with LED indicators or stop and tail lights, or both, as standard. Aftermarket LED replacements are also available. All in one LED stop and tail and indicator units are popular with motorcyclists as they take up little room and give the rear of a motorcycle a tidier appearance. The bright, direct light of LED bulbs and their ability to turn on and off instantly makes them eyecatching as indicators and brake lights, for increased safety. Coloured LEDs also allow clear glass to be used for indicator and tail light lenses. However, because LED bulbs draw less electrical current than standard bulbs, a relay may be necessary to lower the flash rate of LED indicators. LED bicycle lights, which may be flashing or static, are popular for their brightness and long battery life.

Buying LED Bulbs on eBay

LED bulbs for the home can be found in the Lighting subcategory of eBay's Home and Garden category, accessible through the category listing at the top left of the h or by using the search field to find a specific bulb type, for example ‘led bulb gu10&'. Find automotive LED bulbs by navigating to eBay Motors, then Car Parts, then External Lights and Indicators. If the type of bulb needed to be replaced is already known, it can be entered in the search field, for example led 501 car bulb


Over the bulb’s lifetime, the benefits of LED bulbs can outweigh the initial extra cost of purchase. Ensure that the application is suitable for LEDs, and select the right bulb for the application, and an LED bulb should prove a long-lasting, high-quality, low-energy lighting investment.

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