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Life with LEDs

One year on from the halogen ban, Holger Engelbrecht, LED Product Manager at Reichelt Elektronik, advises on how to make the switch from older light sources to LEDs

September 2018 saw the introduction of the EU halogen ban in the UK, encouraging homeowners and businesses to switch to the favoured LED source in an effort to reduce carbon emissions produced by lighting. This meant retailers would be able to continue to sell off existing stocks of halogen lamps, but wouldn’t be able to order in any more.

LEDs are far more energy efficient than the traditional halogen lamp – they need about 80 per cent less energy compared to conventional sources.

On average, the official lifespan is 25,000 hours, but lasting up to 50,000 hours is not unheard of. This is win-win for consumers and businesses as it results in lower costs and is better for the environment. It’s no surprise LEDs have been warmly welcomed by energy and sustainability managers.

For a long time, high pricing deterred people from switching to LEDs, but they are becoming cheaper. This means that users save money not only when buying, but also when using LED lamps in everyday life. In addition, the time required for maintenance and replacement is considerably reduced, since LED technology has a significantly longer lifetime.

So where are we now, one year on from the ban? What difference are LEDs making?

The EU estimates the switch is saving over 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, with retailers Sainsbury’s and M&S being the first big-name brands to fully install LED lighting across their properties. Companies that are currently using LED lighting in office spaces believe they are saving as much as 21-30 per cent since switching from conventional lighting (Reichelt OnePoll survey, 2018).

Let’s say you’ve decided to make the change and replace your existing lamps. Do you want to replace an E27 or E14 bulb? Check the label on the socket of the bulb which needs to be changed to determine the correct LED socket type. You should also take its shape into account, alongside advice on how to use LED bulbs in closed light fixtures. There is a risk of heat loss build-up if there is insufficient open space.

Since 2015, filament LED bulbs have been available. A typical filament LED contains six to eight filaments, which each contain a line of 30 light-emitting diodes. They are inspired by the design of the classic lightbulb.

LED products have unrivalled durability, which is determined not just by the LED’s natural lifespan but its number of switching cycles. One switching cycle is completed when you turn the bulb on and off once. If you are looking for a daytime light source which will be used frequently in places such as a corridor, you should consider an LED with a high switching cycle, such as one with a value between 50,000 and 100,000 cycles.

According to the EU regulation on the banning of incandescent lamps, the product description of each LED bulb must indicate in lumen how much light flux an LED has to emit in order to replace a similar incandescent product. The regulation stipulates that an LED bulb must emit significantly more light flux than a comparable incandescent bulb. The intention is to compensate for the LED bulb’s loss of light power when used over several years.

LED sources offer a wider range of colour temperatures than traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs. The unit of vcolour temperature is given in kelvin (K), and describes the appearance of the light reflected in different colour shades. The warmer the light, the lower the value in kelvin. For example, a candle has 1500K.

Office spaces should use LED sources of 4000-6500K. For a shop, garage or outside space, 6000-7000K is recommended. ‘Neutral white’ indicates neutral light in a range between 3300-5000K, which is normally used in office spaces or similar work areas. ‘Daylight white’ (also called ‘cold white’) refers to all lamps of more than 5000K, typically used in factory buildings or shops.

The next factor to consider is beam angle. The smaller the beam angle, the more intensely a certain area or object is illuminated. A large beam angle is more suitable for illuminating large areas. If you plan to use several bulbs in one room, you should choose small beam angles to create individual light settings for specific areas. If you are opting for a more traditional central light source on the ceiling, a high-beam light source is the best choice.

Light quality is determined by colour rendering. The higher the colour rendering code (Ra), the more authentic the colours when objects are illuminated. This value is measured on the basis of eight reference light colours, with a value of 100 Ra representing the highest possible colour fidelity.

In conjunction with the Ra value, the colour spectrum of an LED product also provides information about quality. The more colours the spectrum has, the higher the overall colour rendering. If you choose a bulb with warm light, you should ensure that the colour spectrum has a high proportion of red. In contrast, a cool light should have high blue content.

Always ensure that the LED light you choose is labelled as dimmable in the product description. You will be on the safe side if you choose a bulb with an incremental dimmer, since the product’s technology is built into the socket. If you want to control the brightness via a typical phase control dimmer, you should first check the product description for compatibility.

Many users make the mistake of thinking that failure is due to poor-quality lighting sources when, in fact, it can be due to the environment where the lights are being used. You can take steps to maintain the lifespan if you understand the various causes which can lead to damage to LED components.

Upstream devices which trigger via relays, such as impulse switches, motion detectors, timers etc. can cause voltage peaks. By activating these types of devices, a current impulse is given to the affected mains supply. This current pulse causes a voltage peak, which can lead to damaged LED components. The use of several LED lamps with a low power factor can cause an ‘apparent power’ in the form of induction voltage to act on the mains. The power factor (or electrical power factor) ‘refers to the ratio of active power to apparent power under periodic conditions’ (EU Regulation 1194/2012). As a rule of thumb, the lower the power factor, the higher the apparent power.

Overheating can occur due to proximity to older lamps. This is why it’s a good idea to switch all your light bulbs to LEDs in one go rather than replacing the blown lamps one at a time. A final tip is to use RC quenching elements as a preventative measure when installing LED lighting for the first time, to ensure that it functions perfectly and permanently.

About Sarah OBeirne

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