LEDs

LED lightbulb

LEDs are the most efficient and longest-lasting lighting option and good for all general household use. Whilst they cost a bit more upfront, over their life the energy savings make up for that many times over. Each LED bulb you buy to replace an incandescent light bulb can save you between $100 and $300 over its life (depending on the wattage of the bulb you replace).

Features

  • Most LEDs cost less than $10 per bulb, some as little as $3.
  • Use up to 85% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs for the same light output.
  • Should last about 15,000 hours, around 15 times longer than a standard incandescent light bulb (based on manufacturer’s claims).
  • Instant full brightness when turned on.
  • Available in many different types, including as standard lightbulbs, candles and spotlights.
  • Available as dimmable and non-dimmable bulbs, or bulbs that can change their light colour or brightness even without the need for a dimmer switch.

Keep in mind

  • Base: Make sure the base of the new bulb is the same as the one you're replacing. For standard light bulbs, check if you need a bulb with bayonet or screw fitting. To replace halogen spotlights, check if you need a low-voltage (12 V) MR16 (also called GU5.3) bulb with two sharp pins at the bottom, or a mains-voltage (240 V) GU10 bulb with two studs at the bottom - they look very similar but are not interchangeable.
  • Brightness: If you want to replace an existing incandescent bulb with an LED, use the wattage of the old incandescent as a guide. The packaging of LEDs usually indicates the equivalent wattage of incandescent bulbs that produce a similar brightness. If you want to buy an LED to replace a standard incandescent bulb, chances are the LED will appear brighter than the equivalent incandescent. This is because the beam angle of LEDs is narrower, so the light comes out more focussed.

    You will also find a lumens number on the packaging. While wattage (W) measures the energy a light bulb uses, lumens measure light output - the higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Both will appear on most light bulb packaging, which can be helpful when you want to find out which bulb uses the least energy for the most light output.
  • Colour: Choose a warm white LED for most rooms in your home for a more comfortable light. Cool white LEDs are good for task lighting where contrast is important e.g. workshops, garages and offices.
  • LEDs shouldn't be used in closed fittings as they need good ventilation to ensure their long life. If they get too hot, they are likely to fail early. Check the LED packaging for details.
  • For recessed downlights, replacing the whole fitting with a dedicated LED downlight is recommended.
  • Dimmable? If you want to use LEDs with dimmer switches, check the packaging to make sure you choose a model that suits dimmable light fixtures. Also ensure your dimmer switch is compatible with the dimmable LED bulb (it will say on the packaging).
  • Hold on to your receipt. With LEDs costing a bit more to buy, keep your receipts in case you happen to buy a dud.

Where to buy

Most hardware stores, supermarkets and specialty lighting stores sell LEDs.