Your Guide to Buying LED Lights on eBay

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Your Guide to Buying LED Lights on eBay

With energy costs increasing all the time and more people looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment, low-energy lighting alternatives are becoming more and more common. Light-emitting diode, or LED bulbs are an increasingly popular replacement for traditional incandescent bulbs, both outdoors and in homes and businesses. There are a wide range of different types, and choosing the right bulb means understanding the differences between them.

What Is an LED Light?

Unlike an incandescent bulb, which passes an electric current through a metal filament until it becomes hot and begins to glow, an LED creates light by running a current through a semiconductor. This process can release heat or light energy; in the case of an LED, it is light. The colour of the light depends on the material of the semiconductor. Different materials produce different wavelengths of light. This is unlike incandescent bulbs, where the colour of the light is altered by tinting the glass of the bulb.

What Are LED Lights Used For?

LEDs serve the same purposes as both incandescent bulbs and newer compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They have some advantages over the other two types of light bulb, making them particularly well-suited for certain uses. Compared to incandescent bulbs and even some fluorescents, LEDs are extremely long-lasting. An LED bulb can last up to 50,000 hours, compared to 1-2,000 hours for a typical incandescent. This makes LEDs particularly appealing for light fixtures in hard-to-reach locations, such as exterior floodlighting or lights mounted on high ceilings, since they very seldom have to be replaced. Because incandescent bulbs generate light by heating a filament, a large number of incandescent bulbs can add appreciably to the heat of a room. Incandescent bulbs also fade items more rapidly than LEDs, which remain at cool temperatures. This makes LEDs a sound choice for display lighting or for lighting in areas where temperature is a concern. LEDs also have some advantages when compared to CFLs, the other major variety of energy-efficient bulb. Fluorescent bulbs are often larger – particularly longer – than incandescent bulbs of equivalent brightness, and can look out of place in fixtures designed for incandescents. By contrast, LED bulbs are typically the same size and shape as their incandescent equivalents. In many cases, they don't actually have to be, but are designed similarly in order to be consistent with existing fittings. Another difference between LED and CFL bulbs is activation. Fluorescent bulbs can take a short time to reach maximum brightness – anyone who has ever switched on a CFL bulb has seen it go from a dim glow to a bright light. This is fine for lights that stay on for long periods, such as office lights or lights in rooms such as the lounge or kitchen of a home. It is less useful in areas where lights may only be on for a short period, such as cupboards or bathrooms. LED bulbs have the edge in these applications.

What to Look for When Choosing an LED Light

LED lights come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, colours, and cap types. Knowing the right type of bulb before searching can help reduce the thousands of results to a more manageable number.

Colour

Most LED bulbs come in a range of white and off-white colours, but the unique properties of LED make it possible to create many different colours easily.

Warm white

Probably the most common type of LED bulb, warm white bulbs are similar to the warm white bulbs used in most indoor incandescent lamps. They are one of the two main types of white LED bulbs.

Cool white

These bulbs give off a light similar to “cool” or “bright” white incandescent bulbs. Some colours can appear very different under this type of light from their appearance in daylight.

Daylight

Daylight bulbs replicate the spectrum of light found in sunlight. Artists and photographers use them to make sure that colours appear natural. They are also used by people with conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder to simulate daylight indoors.

Colours

The use of different materials in the semiconductor of an LED creates different wavelengths of light. Blue, red, green, and purple are among the most common coloured LED bulbs. Some LED lights use a mixture of different-coloured diodes, activated in sequence, to create lights that shift colour.

Bulb Cap

The bulb cap, also called the base or fitting, is the connection between the base of the bulb and the lamp. LED bulbs are available with many different types of cap to fit existing sockets.

Bayonet

The bayonet cap has two contacts on the base which connect to matching contacts in the lamp. The sides of the cap have two projecting pins which fit into slots in the socket. Rotating the bulb once the pins have been pushed to the base of the slots locks the bulb in place. Bulbs with bayonet caps come in a variety of sizes, but by far the most common is the BA22d or B22d, a 22-millimetre cap with two bayonet pins.

Screw

The screw cap, also called an Edison cap, is the most common type of bulb connector in most of the world. Screw caps fit into threaded sockets; screwing the bulb in a clockwise direction keeps it in place. Screw caps come in a variety of sizes, much like bayonet caps. The most common size is the E27 cap, also called a “standard” cap, but there are other sizes, ranging from the small E11 candelabra bulb to the bulky E40 “Goliath” cap.

Bipin

The bipin cap is so-called because of the two pins that connect the bulb to the lamp. These can range from the tiny G4 bulbs used in desk lamps to much larger bulbs such as the G38, used in spotlights. GU10 is the most common type of bipin bulb; the 10 stands for the 10mm distance between the pins on the cap.

Shape

The shape of an LED light bulb determines the pattern of light it gives off and therefore its ideal use.

Spherical

Also called round or “golf ball” bulbs, spherical bulbs are the standard choice for most domestic and business lighting. “A-line” bulbs are similar, but have a reflector which gives them a partly conical appearance, like a shortened ice-cream cone.

Candle

Candle bulbs are typically found in chandeliers and wall sconces. They have a tapered appearance meant to suggest a candle flame.

Spot

Unlike spherical and candle bulbs, which give off an even light in all directions, spotlights focus their light on a small area. They are used for illumination of specific items, such as a display object, or small areas, such as a table.

Flood

Floodlights are similar to spotlights, in that they project light in one direction, but they cover a much broader area than spots. Floodlights are used to illuminate large areas such as tennis courts, patios or interior spaces.

Dimming

One important factor in choosing an LED bulb is whether it can be dimmed. Many LED bulbs are dimmable, but not all are – be sure to buy dimmable bulbs for lights with dimmer switches.

Voltage

Many LED bulbs will run on 240v mains voltage. Mains-voltage bulbs are typically those designed to replace incandescent bulbs in household lamps and light fixtures. Some LED bulbs, known as low-voltage bulbs, need a transformer to reduce the voltage to 12v. However, transformers used for other types of light will not work with low-voltage LED bulbs. Most transformers have a minimum load of around 20 watts, while a single LED bulb has a much lower wattage. Special transformers, known as LED transformers or LED drivers, are needed; these are capable of operating in the 0-10W range.

Finding LED Lights on eBay

Finding LED lights on eBay is a straightforward process. Because eBay sellers offer large numbers of this type of bulb, LEDs exist as their own category on the site. From the All Categories menu, select Home, Furniture & DIY, then choose Lighting. Within the Lighting category, click on Light Bulbs. Select LED and then tick the box next to the correct type of socket. This will narrow the large number of available bulbs to a manageable range of options.

Conclusion

LED lights are a versatile, low-energy alternative to both incandescent bulbs and fluorescents. Although they can be more expensive in the short-term, the long-term savings more than make up for this, and comparing prices on eBay can lead to even greater savings.

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