LED replacement bulbs and their uses
Author: Glenn Harper
Published: June 25, 2014
When your existing bulbs expire it is now generally recommended that you invest in LED replacement bulbs. This is because they offer numerous benefits, the more attractive of which are vastly reduced energy consumption and lifespans that sometimes extend into decades.
In this article we look at thirteen different types of LED retrofit bulb: a baker’s dozen that should save you some serious dough. We also note areas where LED replacements may cause problems.
Types of LED replacement bulb
LED Candle Bulbs are tricky for designers because the bulbs they replace were often intended for show. The clear incandescent candle was used with chandeliers and other decorative fittings and admired for its scintillating light. Clear LED candles are ornamented for this reason, with silver or ivory-effect bodies and, in some cases, special lenses. The stunning “lotus lens” of the Philips MasterLED Candle conjures a remarkable sparkling light. Harrods of London chose this bulb as a halogen replacement in the chandeliers of its Wedgewood concession.
LED GU10s need attention when installed in confined light fittings, with some manufacturers warning of reduced lifespan in this type of application. GU10s are also used with track lights, bar lights, wall lights and outdoor spotlights. Some use COB LEDs, which are densely packed LED chips that produce an exceptionally even light. Typically a COB LED is wide beamed and recessed into the lamp for an authentic halogen reflector effect (most LED spotlights are reflectors only by name).
LED GLS Bulbs replace the everyday pear-shaped bulbs we all know. Many have an opal finish, which conceals unappealing LED chips but also helps to smoothly disperse light. Manufacturers like Crompton and Megaman go to some trouble to replicate the look and feel of incandescent bulbs.
LED Golf Balls and Globes are usually meant to be seen. Golf balls in particular are used with a clear glass finish in chandeliers and decorative pendants, so manufacturers try to make LED retrofits look attractive. Some golf balls and most globes have a translucent finish, which produces less sparkle but is good for soft, flattering light.
LED Low Voltage Spotlights are natural replacements for dichroic cool-beam 12V halogen spotlights, since they don’t project IR heat. One thing to note about all LED spotlights is their available choice of colour temperatures, which is impossible in halogen lamps. You can use this to accentuate different colours in display items. The little MR11 comes in LED form, as does the popular MR16.
LED Double D Bulbs offer savings of up to 60% over their fluorescent equivalents, whilst also boosting lifespan. Lesser known LED advantages include zero warm-up time, superior cold temperature performance, negligible UV output, shock-proof, vibration-proof and no mercury content. Many of these characteristics are beneficial for the type of use these lamps will see.
LED PAR Reflectors are used in a diverse range of applications, from swimming pool lighting to retail display or task lighting. Far more energy efficient and longer lasting than filament rivals, the wide choice of form and colour in these lamps makes creative lighting easy.
LED AR111 Reflectors replace halogen equivalents, which are often used in retail display lighting and domestic fittings. You’ll see a variety of designs, including the Kosnic 15W LED COB ES111, which emulates halogen lighting with its sunken COB LED module. Note that the ES111 is a mains-powered version of the AR111. Lyco sells a selection of both.
LED T8 Tubes are a replacement for the popular T8 fluorescent tube, which itself replaced the phased-out T12. Our LED tubes use 40-60% less energy than fluorescent rivals, whilst also outlasting them. In some cases LED tubes are rotatable for precise illumination, which avoids wasted light. Other benefits include zero warm-up time, no mercury content and little or no UV output to attract insects or fade artworks and fabrics.
LED Capsules are useful for everyday applications like desk lamps and wardrobe lights. They tend to be bulkier than halogen equivalents, so the size of the lamp housing should be checked before purchase. High-powered halogen capsules for specialist projector and theatre applications are not replaceable by LED.
LED Colour Lights are great for enlivening retail displays, social events, and swimming pools. Our coloured MR16 and GU10 spotlights are available in cheaper cluster LED form for low-power decorative lighting (10W halogen equivalent). The Lyco 5W LED COB Colour GU10 delivers a stronger and smoother light for purposes such as retail window displays.
LED Double Ended Linear bulbs replace the powerful elongated halogen bulbs often used in floodlighting applications. Bulkier than the bulbs they replace, these offer astounding levels of luminous efficacy and are vastly more energy-efficient. For instance, the 12W LED R7S LED Double Ended Linear delivers a 91 lumens-per-watt performance and uses 97% fewer watts than its halogen equivalent.
LED Pin Fittings replace non-ballasted CFLs, saving about 50% in energy costs. You’ll typically have to bypass or remove the ballast from a fluorescent fitting during installation. Like LED tubes, one way these lamps save energy is by not wasting light. For example, the Goodlight 8W LED allows 180° of adjustment for perfectly aimed illumination. Note that most of our LED pin fittings are non-dimmable, which may affect a decision when replacing 4-pin CFLs.
Watts versus lumens
One cause of confusion when switching to LED lighting is the abrupt uselessness of watts as a means of comparison. You can use “equivalent watts” as a guide to replacing incandescent bulbs, but you can’t use watts to compare LED products.
Lyco encourages use of lumens as a measurement of light output. Lumens measure the total amount of light produced, regardless of direction, whereas candelas measure light intensity in a specific direction. The second are more relevant to spotlights.
Can you replace any bulb with an LED?
Not quite, is the answer. The compact size of LEDs allows them to replace most bulbs, but there are three particular areas you need to be aware where issues can arise:
LED’s naturally directional light isn’t always ideal. To emulate omnidirectional bulbs, LED chips are usually mounted in relatively stout 360° configurations, which is only a problem when replacing skinny light sources like halogen capsules or linear lamps. LED versions of these products are normally broader, and some specialist types are not reproduced.
Heat dissipation needs in LED bulbs are significant. If you install a retrofit LED bulb into a confined and sealed fitting such as a fire-rated downlight you run the risk of shortening its lifespan. In some instances, a dedicated LED luminaire may offer a superior long-term solution.
Whether or not an LED bulb is dimmable depends on its driver, and even if it is dimmable you’ll still need an appropriate switch. We have an article to help navigate these choppy waters, here.
We hope this article has conveyed some of what LED currently has to offer. LED replacement bulbs make more economical sense than ever before, with many options now available at under £10. Why not embrace one of the greatest technologies of our time?
For more inspiration, ideas and advice try our Lighting Advice section.