Many remodeling choices are anything but black and white. Lighting isn’t one of them. The wise move is decidedly LED. Yet it still is easy to get wrong.
Remodeling is your gateway to LED upgrades
The sooner you make the change to LED (Light Emitting Diode) the faster you will begin to enjoy its many benefits. Replacing an incandescent or compact fluorescent lamp with LED often is as easy as screwing in a different type of light bulb. But a licensed electrician on site during a major remodeling project can upgrade or add fixtures (luminaires) and switches and ensure you achieve the desired light color (temperature), brightness (lumens) and control, and overcome notorious air leaks from recessed lights that waste energy and lead to attic or roof moisture problems.
Residential LED lighting offers many benefits
Most residential LED lights project blue light from diodes through a phosphorous-coated lens to create white light. The greater the phosphorous, the more yellow (warm) the light.
Early LED lights were expensive and produced unflattering light that often was too directional. Quality LED lights now are more affordable, look great, and can spread pleasing light more evenly.
Tomco Company recommends LED lighting for many reasons:
- Save money and energy – LED can create the same illumination with 8 watts that incandescent bulbs produce with 40 watts. LED also produces less heat, which can reduce air conditioning demands. What’s more, a quality LED light will last as long as five CFLs, 22 incandescents or even more halogens. If your budget won’t support LED, consider Xenon fixtures for under-cabinet. They cost less to buy and perform better and longer than fluorescent.
- Avoid mercury in fluorescent lamps – Unlike fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps, LED poses no risk of environmental pollution from heavy metals that can occur when fluorescent lamps break or are disposed of improperly.
- Improve color rendering – LED is much better than fluorescent and almost as good as incandescent at achieving natural looking light. Choose 2700 Kelvin for warm yellow, 3,000 for a slightly whiter light, or 4,000 for cool white that mimics the noon sun). Important: The higher the CRI (color rendering index) the more natural everything and everyone will look. So compare CRI specs.
- Reduce maintenance — An LED lamp can last 50,000 hours vs 8,000 for compact fluorescent, just 1,000 for incandescent and even less for Halogen. As such, LED is ideal for high or hard to reach fixtures. LED lamps also are more durable (less likely to break) than incandescent or fluorescent lamps.
- Enhance control – Unlike fluorescent lamps that brighten slowly, LED lighting is instant on and can be smoothly dimmed with compatible switches.
- Improve cold weather performance – The colder the temperature of the environment, the less light compact fluorescent lamps produce. At 32 degrees F, a CFL loses 25 percent of its brightness. An LED loses no brightness in the cold so it is great for garage and outdoor lighting here in Minnesota.
Gauging Quality in LED Luminaires, Lamps
The first thing that will hit you when you shop LED lighting is that both luminaires and lamps cost more. The LM-79 standard measures LED output, intensity and color. Meanwhile, the LM-80 and TM-21 standards assess lumen depreciation (which can be caused by inferior design). The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) approved these methods for the Electrical and Photometric Measurements of Solid-State Lighting and the U.S. Department of Energy uses them for ENERGY STAR program qualification.
These third-party ECO labels rate products from a high of A++ to a low of G. So when comparing products, check the labels from an EPA certified lab. Don’t rely on the manufacturer’s own claims.
More is better
When remodeling, take advantage of opportunities to increase task and ambient lighting and upgrade controls, especially if you expect to keep your home after retirement. With LED, we can increase lighting needed as we age and conserve energy.
Under-cabinet lighting in kitchens provides critical, shadow-free task lighting when working at counters. Dimmer switches both save energy and enable you to achieve the desired functionality and ambiance. Modern LED recessed lighting overcomes the heat and moistue leaks that plagued old-style can lights Because they produce less heat, recessed LED fixtures can be effectively sealed and insulated to avoid air bypass and heat loss.
Not all dimmer switches are compatible with LED lighting. When choosing a switch, look for labeling that states it is LED compatible such as those from Lutron and Pass & Seymour. The more an LED lamp is dimmed, the less energy it consumes. You also can save energy by installing switches equipped with room occupancy, motion or daylight sensors. Even the most energy efficient lighting fixture wastes energy if it is on when it should be off. Sensors are good for LED lights in bathrooms, garages and outdoor lighting.