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Top ten questions about LED lights answered

LED lights have been around for a while but are still relatively new to a lot of people. To help you get started, we’ve answered ten of the most common questions about LED lighting.

1. How do LED lights work?

LED (light-emitting diode) light sources work differently to traditional lighting sources, such as incandescent.

Incandescent bulbs work with a burning filament at the centre of the bulb that eventually burns out. LEDs derive their light energy from electrons that move within a semiconductor material. When a voltage is applied to the leads these electrons are stimulated to create light-based energy.

LEDs aren’t just used for lighting either, and can be found across a wide range of electricals. For example, you can now get LED TVs that produce a better picture quality and allow for slimmer designs.

2. Are LED lights safe?

As with any electrical fitting, you need to take obvious precautions during the installation process. If you’re re-wiring directly to the mains, then we always advise that you contact a qualified electrician.

And, as with any source of light, it’s advised you don’t stare directly at them, otherwise you’ll run the risk of causing damage to your eyes.

However, when installed, LEDs are actually safer than older light sources such as incandescent and halogen.

This is because they are fitted with heat sinks that dissipate heat away – so you’re less likely to burn your fingers upon contact, unlike with traditional lighting sources that are dangerous to touch.

3. Are LED lights dimmable?

Yes they are – but you have to make sure you purchase a dimmable LED bulb. You can’t just dim a standard LED bulb.

You also need to make sure you have a compatible dimmer switch. If you’re upgrading from incandescent or halogen to LED, it’s more than likely you’re currently using a leading-edge dimmer, and these aren’t compatible with LED.

We advise upgrading to a specialised LED dimmer, such as an LED-ready trailing-edge dimmer, that’ll deliver the best performance while prolonging the lifespan of the bulb itself.

4. Are LED lights cheaper to run?

Yes, LED lights are significantly cheaper to run because they consume less energy. While they’ll cost you more up-front, you’ll recoup that initial investment in a matter of months, then continue to save every month after.

5. How do LED lights save you money?

There are two key ways in which LED lights save you literally hundreds – if not thousands – during their lifetime.

• Cost to run. LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent and halogen light bulbs, which are the most commonly-used light bulbs around. This means that when you make a switch from an older light source to LED, you’ll quickly start seeing your energy bills plummet. In fact, you’ll make back your initial outlay in a matter of months and continue saving thereafter. It literally pays to switch to LED!

• Lifespan. Incandescent and halogen light bulbs are made to last just 2,000 hours. LEDs, in comparison, are made to last up to 25,000 hours. Based on average use, that’s a whopping 15 years of service. So not only will you see those energy bills dwindle, you’ll save money on replacements too.

6. What causes LED lights to flicker?

As with any light source, LEDs can flicker – particularly if they haven’t been installed properly in the first place.

One of the main reasons behind LEDs flickering is the power supply they’re receiving. While older light sources require an AC power supply, LED bulbs require a DC power supply.

That’s why it’s so important to have an LED driver that converts your power supply from AC to DC. This will ensure there’s a constant supply of power to your LEDs to combat any flickering.

Most LED bulbs have the driver built into them, but certain types of LED lighting require a separate driver to power them. Simply check before you buy.

7. How do LED lights help the environment?

LED’s consume very little energy, particularly when compared to halogen and incandescent equivalents.

You can replace a 100W incandescent bulb with a 10W LED and still enjoy the same level of light output, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Plus, LEDs don’t contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, unlike fluorescent lights that contaminate the environment when disposed of.

Finally, LEDs last up to 20-times longer than any other traditional form of lighting, reducing the number of replacements you need and further lowering your impact on the environment.

8. Do LED lights get hot?

You can expect a little bit of warmth radiating from your LED lamp – but a lot less than halogen and incandescent equivalents.

This is because LEDs use 90-95% of their energy supply to produce light, while the other 5-10% of energy used produces heat – the opposite being true for older bulbs, which is why you have to careful when changing them.

9. Are LED lights good for growing plants?

They are indeed.

You can now get LED hydroponic lamps that help stimulate plant growth by providing the optimum amount of light wavelength and intensity required for different growth phases, but without the inefficiency that comes with CFL and incandescent grow lamps.

10. Are LED lights bad for your eyes?

As with any source of light, we strongly advise that you don’t stare directly at LED lights as they could subsequently cause eye damage. Apart from that, no, they’re not bad for your eyes!

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