Everything You Need To Know About Switching to LED Bulbs

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated December 9, 2021
A woman adding new LED bulb
Andrey Popov / stock.adobe.com

Highlights

  • LEDs use 85% less energy than incandescent lights and last 25 times as long.

  • Even though you’ll pay a bit more upfront, LED bulbs can greatly reduce your energy bill.

  • LED bulbs have a lifespan of between 11 and 17 years.

  • They’re available in a range of colors and diffusion styles that are great for just about any space.

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After subbing out your hundredth burnt-out incandescent bulb, you may be considering LED bulbs. They have a lot going for them, yet many still wonder if LED bulbs are worth it. In addition to being both cost-effective and energy-efficient, they’re designed to stand the test of time and are perfect for mood lighting because they’re available in so many warm shades. Should you make the switch?

The Difference Between LED and Incandescent Bulbs

LED stands for light-emitting diode, a component that emits light when powered with electrical currents. It produces a similar amount of light to incandescent bulbs but in a more efficient manner. 

Incandescent bulbs are one of the most common types of light bulbs because they are affordable. However, their quality reflects their reduced cost. Regular bulbs die quickly, light unevenly, and use almost three times as much energy as LED bulbs. 

On the upside, incandescent bulbs give off a naturally warmer color than most LEDs and are easy to find in almost any shape and size. Reserve them for cozy areas of your home where setting the right tone is especially important. And always turn them off when they’re not in use to save as much energy as possible.

Benefits of Switching to LED Lights

LED Bulbs Can Greatly Reduce Your Energy Bill

LEDs use 85% less energy and last 25 times as long as incandescent lights. On average, homeowners save about $1000 over a decade by converting their lights to LEDs. You can use a savings calculator like this one to find out exactly how much less you’ll pay depending on how much you change and where you live. 

They Last for Years 

Incandescent light bulbs have a short lifespan (about one year, depending on how often you use them) and need replacing more often, which is a big part of why they’re not as eco-friendly as LEDs. 

On the other hand, LED bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours. That’s roughly 11 years if used 12 hours a day and 17 years if used 8 hours a day. They’re also never hot to the touch because they don’t emit heat like incandescent light bulbs. You’ll reduce waste and energy costs. The only downside is that the color of these bulbs may change slightly as they age.

They Come in a Range of Color Temperatures

Early iterations of LED bulbs were notorious for their blue and green undertones and lack of warm lighting. But modern advancements have ushered in a new era of LED lighting full of cozy colors, shades, and temperatures, including blue, red, green. 

To be sure you’re getting LED bulbs with the best quality of light, check the back of the box to find out where it lands on the Color Rendering Index (CRI). The CRI measures the quality of light on a scale of one to 100, and the best LEDs will have a rating of 80 or higher.

They Are Perfect For Accent Lighting

Unlike incandescent bulbs—which cast light in all directions—LEDs produce highly focused beams that are great for accent, recessed, and under kitchen cabinet lighting. These beams of light are highly flexible and can be diffused in several different ways. The package will tell you whether you can expect a full 360-degree sphere of light diffusion or a more targeted 60- or 10-degree scope.

Are LED Bulbs Worth It?

A man switching to LED bulb from a fluorescent
Khunatorn / stock.adobe.com

The truth is that most homeowners are convinced once they learn about the durability of LED bulbs. But any responsible homeowner will weigh the good with the, well, not-so-great before committing. Consider these significant differences in bulbs first:

  • They might need to be installed by a pro: Installing LEDs gets more complicated if your lighting system is old or outdated. Outsourcing this project to a professional electrician near you with the right tools and sockets will cost between $100 to $150 per light fixture

  • They are more expensive: LED bulbs cost roughly $10 per bulb and will rise depending on wattage. Regular bulbs only cost a few dollars.

  • Their colors fade over time: Though LEDs last far longer than incandescent lights, their quality will diminish with time due to temperature variations and age.  What was once a warm, bright light will fade eventually.

  • Your current dimming system might not accommodate LEDs: You also may experience issues with LEDs if your dimmer lights are outdated. Some newer LED bulbs may not function properly or at all with older dimmer technology. Plus, if you want LED bulbs to dim, you’ll need to buy a special “dimmable” light.

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