Light bulbs: LED lights explained
- How to buy the best LED light bulbs
- The overall cost of LED light bulbs
- Pros and cons of LED light bulbs
What are LED lights?
LED stands for light-emitting diode, and LED bulbs differ from traditional incandescent bulbs in the way they produce the light. LEDs produce light through the use of semi-conductors and are some of the most efficient bulbs on the market producing around 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
LED light bulbs have been around for many years, typically used in gadgets such as digital clocks, TV remotes and as Christmas lights.
But because they have not been widely used for home lighting, they tend to be the most expensive type of energy-saving light bulb. However, the technology behind LED lights is developing quickly so they are now cheaper than they used to be and can be found for around £15.
Read our Best Buy light bulb reviews to find out which LED bulbs are worth the money.
Why should I buy LED light bulbs?
There are three types of energy-saving light bulb: compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogens and LEDs.
LEDs are the most expensive, but do have benefits over the other types:
- LEDs use 90% less energy than incandescents (CFLs use 60%-80% less than incandescents, and halogens use 20-30% less).
- LEDs can last for 25-30 years, dependent on use.
- LEDs give out their light quickly at start-up, so you don't have to put up with a few moments of dim light when you flick the light switch.
- LED lights don't contain mercury (CFLs do, although it's only a small amount)
- Our tests have found that LED lights, like halogens, work fine in low temperatures, whereas CFLs don't
What should I look out for with LED light bulbs?
Until recently, LED light bulbs have generally only been available in lower wattages and lumen levels than other types of light bulb. So although they are quick to reach their full brightness and suffer no decrease in performance over time, they are often only available in dimmer varieties than CFL and halogen bulbs. This is improving all the time though with brighter LEDs becoming increasingly available.
Some people don't like the quality of light given out by LED light bulbs, as they tend to produce a cooler bluish light, so take this into consideration when choosing the best one for your home.
Take a look at our guide to buying energy-saving light bulbs for more information on brightness levels, lumens, light bulb shapes and fittings.