Monday, 31 January 2011

LED lighting: what is it like in practice?

Having blogged about our search for LED lighting, it is time for some photos of them in operation.  Leading up to moving in, I was quite concerned about supply and the quality of their light.  We had trialled one Crompton LED light and been able to compare it against others in two houses with LED, halogen and CFL downlights.  Now we have them and use them, I think they are excellent.
One row of dimmable LED downlights (four on)

We have 12 in the living area, in three rows of four.  Each row is on its own switch.  The row against the wall, which is also above the TV, is on a dimmer.

When watching TV and movies, we sit with just the row against the wall on, dimmed quite low.  We have also sat with just one other row on, and to date, for a long period not used them all at once.  The light is a warm white, not harsh and clinical like others I have seen and read about. However they are bright and I recommend a dimmer so that you can adjust them to a comfortable level for the use of the room at any one time (but note that not all LED lights can be dimmed).

With each downlight being 12W each, there is 144W of downlights in the living area when they are all on.  Using one row of four is only 48W, a small saving over the former standard of a 60W globe for a room, and a bigger saving that lighting the room with halogen downlights.

Living area LED downlights (all 12 on)

We also have downlights in our verandah, but chose to use cool white CFL downlights.

From our review of working downlights, speaking to our builder and our electrician, the overall feeling is that you get what you pay for.  The cheaper downlights I saw were definitely cold and harsh in comparison, and if you are considering LED downlights, you really need to see them in operation before committing.

This might mean you consider buying just one if you are purchasing online, and trial it in a location like an ensuite bathroom or hallway to make sure you are comfortable with the colour and brightness of the light.

You also need to be sure of delivery lead times, with one online supplier telling me that they could supply a LED light at a great price, but that if it did not turn up the next delivery was three months later.   If you have a building project, that sort of uncertainty is costly and unacceptable. I went with my electricians supplier at a much higher price, which was less of a concern given our relatively low number of downlights (18).

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