Cost Comparison: LED spotlight versus Halogen spotlight

Update: Please scroll to the bottom of the article to find out more about the new legislation affecting halogen bulbs in 2018

Comparing LEDs with Traditional Halogen Lighting

LED bulbs are the (relative) new kids on the block when it comes to home lighting and if you go in to a shop today to buy one you will see that they are considerably more expensive to purchase than traditional halogen bulbs. Is the extra upfront expense worth it?

The answer, as our numbers suggest below, is a resounding yes!

The table below shows the lifetime costs associated with running a 5w LED spotlight versus a 50w halogen spotlight.

Type of lightbulb 5 Watt LED Spotlight 50 Watt Halogen
Cost per bulb £5.00 £1.50
Cost of electricity (@ £0.15 / kWh) £18.00 £180.00
Light bulb projected Lifespan (Hrs) 24,000 2,000
Bulbs needed to last 24,000 hours 1 12
Bulb price £5.00 £18.00
Total cost of buying and running the bulb £23.00 £198.00

So this shows that for each halogen bulb you replace with an LED equivalent, you are potentially going to save £175 over its lifetime.

The table below shows you typical savings per year – based on 5 hours usage per day (typical for a kitchen or lounge).

Type of lightbulb 5 Watt LED Spotlight 50 Watt Halogen
kWh used per year 9.13 91.25
Cost of electricity per year (@ £0.15 / kWh) £1.37 £13.69

So based on the fact that you are saving about £12 per year on each bulb, the payback is a little over a year if you were to use them for 5 hours per day!

The final table looks at the savings you can make from swapping out 6 halogen spotlights in your kitchen with 6 5W LED bulbs, and it assumes that you only buy new halogen bulbs every two years – so every 3650 hours (instead of the 2000 hours which is their expected lifeline, we need to give them a chance!).

>>> Click here to see our comparison between MR16 LED bulbs with GU10 LED <<<

The yearly energy costs are as follows:

For LED bulbs – 6 x £1.37 = £8.22

For Halogen bulbs – 6 x £13.69 = £82.13

 5w LED Yearly Costs   50w Halogen Yearly Costs 
Electricity Cost Cost of Bulb Cumulative Cost Electricity Cost Cost of Bulb Cumulative Cost
Year 0 £0.00 £25.00 £25.00 £0.00 £7.00 £7.00
Year 1* £8.22 £0.00 £33.22 £82.13 £0.00 £89.13
Year 2 £8.22 £0.00 £41.44 £82.13 £9.00 £180.26
Year 3 £8.22 £0.00 £49.66 £82.13 £0.00 £262.39
Year 4 £8.22 £0.00 £57.88 £82.13 £9.00 £353.52
Year 5 £8.22 £0.00 £66.10 £82.13 £0.00 £435.65
Year 6 £8.22 £0.00 £74.32 £82.13 £9.00 £526.78
Year 7 £8.22 £0.00 £82.54 £82.13 £0.00 £608.91
Year 8 £8.22 £0.00 £90.76 £82.13 £9.00 £700.04
Year 9 £8.22 £0.00 £98.98 £82.13 £0.00 £782.17
Year 10 £8.22 £0.00 £107.20 £82.13 £9.00 £873.30
Year 11 £8.22 £0.00 £115.42 £82.13 £0.00 £955.43
Year 12 £8.22 £0.00 £123.64 £82.13 £9.00 £1,046.56
Year 13 £8.22 £0.00 £131.86 £82.13 £0.00 £1,128.69
Year 14 £8.22 £0.00 £140.08 £82.13 £9.00 £1,219.82
Year 15 £8.22 £0.00 £148.30 £82.13 £0.00 £1,301.95
Year 16 £8.22 £0.00 £156.52 £82.13 £9.00 £1,393.08
Year 17 £8.22 £0.00 £164.74 £82.13 £0.00 £1,475.21
Year 18 £8.22 £0.00 £172.96 £82.13 £9.00 £1,566.34
Year 19 £8.22 £0.00 £181.18 £82.13 £0.00 £1,648.47
Year 20 £8.22 £0.00 £189.40 £82.13 £9.00 £1,739.60
TOTAL £164.40 £25.00 £189.40 £1,642.60 £7.00 £1,739.60
Type of lightbulb 5 Watt LED Spotlight 50 Watt Halogen
Light bulb projected Lifespan (Hrs) 24,000 2,000
Cost per bulb £5.00 £1.50
kWh of electricity used over 24,000 hours 120 1,200
Cost of electricity (@ £0.15 / kWh) £18.00 £180.00
Bulbs needed to last 24,000 hours 1 12
Bulb expense £5.00 £18.00
Total cost of buying and running the bulb £23.00 £198.00

LEDs last 12-15 times longer, they use 90% less energy and so overall contribute to enormous savings on your electricity bills – so what are you waiting for? The reason for these savings is because halogen bulbs, much like traditional incandescent bulbs produce light as a by product when they get hot. LED bulbs however work differently – providing light as electrons pass through a semi conductive material, so first and foremost they produce light far more efficiently.

Year 1* – This is the time it takes to pay for the additional cost of the LED bulb, and remember after that you are saving about £12 per year on electricity per bulb you replace.

Please remember not all LED bulbs are built the same though, if you want to see why our LEDs are the best, be sure to check out our LED buyers guide!

Update (September 2018): EU Legislation to Ban Halogen

Halogen lightbulbs are soon to become obsolete in the UK following a ban made by the European Union. Retailers will have to replace their stocks of halogen lightbulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives, such as LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs. If you’ve read the above then you’ll see why we think this is a great thing!

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      How much can LED bulbs save me?

      September 3, 2014

    We frequently get asked how much money people can save if they changed to LEDs. Obviously there is no end to the amount of figures and percentages stating how much better they are than the incandescent and halogen bulbs… but what does it actually mean, how much could they save per year and what is their payback?

    LEDs give you savings all year round

    Most energy saving measures rely on the heating within the home. This often means that the savings are only seen throughout winter – when the outside temperature drops but installed insulation means you don’t have to have the heating on as much. However lighting is something that is required all year round whilst the savings are often ignored.

    Case Study of an LED upgrade

    I have decided to use a worked example in the hope that people will have the confidence to buy LEDs and start being more efficient immediately. This case study is a real property, located in Yorkshire, and is an example of how TheGreenAge have shaved money off the owners’ electricity bill.

    Previous to TheGreenAge’s intervention, they had 35 halogen spotlights, each one guzzling 50W. Their electricity cost 12.5p/kwh and over the course of a year each light was on for an average of 5 hours per day. This meant that their electricity bill, for lighting only, come in at around £399.22.

    Now what we did was to switch over to LEDs. These provide the same fantastic lumen output to halogens as well as being available in a choice of colour temperatures, while importantly running off a fraction of the electricity.

    How much did they save?

    So those 35 x 50W, GU10 halogen spotlights were replaced, without the need to alter the fittings, with direct 5W LED replacements. This meant that instead of 1,750W, they were now only using 175W to light their home, dropping their bills to just £39.92 – a massive saving of £359.98 per year!

    Now obviously LED bulbs are slightly more expensive to buy; however they are designed and manufactured to last around 25 years. So those 35 bulbs that have been replaced will save an estimated £8,999.50 over the course of their lifetime.

    Each bulb costs around £8.99, so the whole order was £314.65 – thats a payback of well under a year and clearly makes changing your lighting one of the most important efficiency measure to do.

    Want to know more about LED bulbs? click HERE for our buyers guide to LED bulbs!

    Don’t believe us? Have a look at the maths.

    35 (bulbs) x 50 (watts) x 5 (h/d) / 1000 (kw) x 365 (year) x 0.125 (p/kwh) = £399.22

    35 (bulbs) x 5 (watts) x 5 (h/d) / 1000 (kw) x 365 (year) x 0.125 (p/kwh) = £39.92

    £399.22 (with halogen)- £39.22 (with LED) = £359.98 (savings per year)

    Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?

    Comment below to get your voice heard…

      Putting spotlights under the spotlight – GU10 versus MR16

      September 4, 2013

    The GU10 and the MR16 are the main two spotlights used in the home today. Most people have them in their kitchens and/or lounges and unfortunately the existing halogen spotlights are incredibly expensive to run. Both types of spotlight are pretty similar in appearance but underneath the bonnet they are fundamentally different.

    The main difference is that the GU10 bulb will run at 240 volts (which is the same voltage as supplied by the mains power supply), while MR16 bulbs run on just 12 volts.

    As a result MR16 bulbs need an external transformer to convert the buildings main 240 volts mains supply to the 12 volts required to run the bulbs. With GU10s, you can simply plug in and you are good to go.

    Retrofitting LED spotlights in your home

    Halogen spotlights normally run at 50watts while their LED cousins run at just 5watts. Therefore it is certainly worth replacing them since you can produce massive savings on your electricity bills by doing so.

    >>> Find out how much you could save by making the switch <<<

    The first thing is to determine the type of spotlight you have in your home – you can use our diagram below to determine which one you have.

    GU10 vs. MR16

    So you have GU10 Bulbs…

    If you have halogen GU10s firstly give yourself 10 seconds to feel smug – the LED bulbs will work perfectly straight out the pack and give you savings of over 90% on your energy bills.

    The only thing to ensure is that you buy dimmable LED GU10s if you have a dimmer switch or non-dimmable if you have a normal switch in your home.

    So you have MR16 bulbs…

    Installing LED MR16’s is much less straightforward, however it is still a worthwhile process since replacing six halogen 50watt bulbs with six 5watt LED bulbs will result in substantial savings over a very short space of time (they tend to pay back in a little over a year despite being 10 times the price!)

    The first thing you need to do is determine the existing type of transformer you have in your MR16 circuit. This will most likely be situated up in the roof above the light fittings – now in some circuits there is one transformer, but sometimes every individual light fitting has its own transformer. They tend to come in two varieties; the first is the older wire-wound magnetic transformers and the second is the newer electronic low-voltage transformer. Both work by stepping down the mains voltage (240v) to 12 volts, which allows the bulbs to function.

    Now the older magnetic transformers will work perfectly with LED MR16s. The issue is that the electronic low voltage transformers may not. The reason for this is that they need a minimum voltage to pass through them to operate; for example the transformer in my kitchen is 40w – 400w. Historically there were 6 50w halogen bulbs in the circuit – giving a total load of 300w.

    Replacing those 50w halogen bulbs with 5w LED equivalents will put a load through the transformer of just 30w in total. Therefore this means the transformer won’t work correctly and will probably result in your LEDs flickering. In this instance you need to replace the existing transformer in the circuit with an LED driver/transformer that is matched to operate on the total number of watts in your circuit.

    Final thoughts – GU10 versus MR16

    Now, in terms of ease, you can actually buy a GU10 LED bulb + a brand new GU10 fitting for just over £20 – so you can then ignore the MR16 transformer issue completely. However regardless with how you want to move forward, moving to LED bulbs is the future.

    Using just 10% of the energy to power them means that they are going to deliver really significant savings on your energy bills. This blog looks at the sort of savings you could potentially make from the relatively simple swap.

    >>> For our LED Buyers’ Guide please go here <<<

      Have a question or would like to find out more?

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      I would like to be contacted by a local installer/supplier

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        Light bulb Colours and Brightness

      The local DIY store has plenty of different shades of white paint, and just as you can paint your walls different types of white, so you can have different types of colour in light bulbs.

      Colour Temperature

      Different types of light bulbs emit their light in different ‘colours’, so that those over 5,000K are called cool colours (bluish white), while those around 2,700K are considered warm colours (yellowish white).


      What About LED’s?

      So there is a wide variety of colours, with different bulbs emitting different ranges of colours. Some people prefer the warmer colours, others the cooler ones, and of course different rooms and areas of the home might be better suited to certain colours. You can get many of these colours in LED bulbs now.

      What are Lumens?

      You often see lumens quoted on various light bulbs. A lumen is simply a measure of how much light is being emitted that can be detected by the human eye. This is used because power (i.e. Wattage) can refer to invisible ranges of the spectrum of light, as well as the visible. So if your light bulb is giving off infra red, you won’t be able to see it, even though a form of light is being emitted.

      How many Lumens do I need?

      So the important thing to remember is that Wattage and Lumens are very different. Even between the same style of LED bulbs there can be differences in the ratio of Watts to Lumens – this is simply because one bulb is more efficient at turning that power into visible light, with less power being used to create invisible parts of the spectrum. Also remember that LED bulbs last much longer, and dim more slowly over their lifetime compared to older bulb types, so bear this in mind when buying!

      To give you an idea of how lumens compare between older light bulbs and LED, we have made a comparison table for you below:

      Wattage (Halogen / Incandescent) Approximate LED Lumens Approximate Wattage for LED’s
      40 W 200-300 3-4
      60 W 450-500 5-6
      100 W 800 10-12

        Don’t wait to swap your light bulbs to LED!

        August 6, 2013

      Change your light bulbs now

      So you are contemplating getting some energy saving light bulbs in your home, but you’re thinking, ‘I’ll wait until they blow, there’s no point in changing them while they are still working’. This is a real misconception, because as I will explain, it is worth switching over immediately.

      So we are going to look at this using two scenarios. In the first, I will use a standard halogen bulb for a year (about 2,000 hours), replacing it when necessary. The average halogen bulb lasts for about this length of time, whereas an LED lasts up to 20 years, and we have assumed paying for replacements in the below scenarios as a result of this.


      Now we always bang on about how long LED bulbs last (40,000 hours if you need reminding!), but what I am trying to show you here is that even taking into account they cost £15 or so to buy initially, they still pay back within the first year. Many people assume that in the short term the cost of LED bulbs outweigh the savings made. This simply isn’t true, especially in parts of the home like the lounge, where you will be using your lights for at least 5 hours a day. If you are using your lights at this sort of rate, then it really is worth switching right now. Remember this is just replacing one halogen bulb with an LED one – imagine if you were to replace 20 – the total cumulative savings on your energy bills will be massive!

      Now some people still go for the old style energy saving bulbs technically known as CFL bulbs. These are low energy, and although they aren’t quite as efficient as LED’s, they are far better than halogens or incandescents. Unfortunately, CFL’s also contain mercury, and as such we recommend LED’s as the most economic and environmentally friendly option to light your home.

      What about other areas of the home?

      In our second scenario we look at rooms where the lights tend to be on for shorter periods of time, like the bathroom and the bedroom. Here, there is still clear saving to be made by switching to LED, although it will take a little longer to get your money back. The graph shows that in a room where you only use your lights for around 2 hours a day, it will take about 2 years to pay back for the cost of LED’s, so even in a lesser used room, it is worthwhile changing over to LED bulbs sooner rather than later.



      So LEDs really are the way to go if you want reliable, cheap lighting in your home, but the real take home message here is that waiting till they blow doesn’t make sense since in that time there is a high chance the LED equivalent bulbs will have already paid for themselves!

      Feel it is time to join the LED revolution?

      Head over to our shop now!


        Types of LED Bulb

      LED bulbs and energy cost

      LED bulbs are one of the easiest ways to save on your energy bills – take a look at our GU10 halogen vs LED comparison to see just how much you can save. Obviously these are not the cheapest types of lights you can buy, so we want to ensure you get the right type of bulbs when you order them and that you continue to get the maximum benefit when you use them.

      The section below describe briefly the different types of bulb with pictures to help you identify the correct ones for your light units.

      Spotlight LED Bulbs

      On the whole spotlights come in two varieties – GU10 and MR16.

      This type of bulb tends to fit flush with the ceiling and they are commonly found in kitchens and living rooms. These spotlights tend to be comprised of multiple fittings embedded within the ceiling.  The way to tell the two apart is by looking at the base of the bulb. The diagram below shows the different fittings in a cross section diagram.

      GU10 vs. MR16 fitting type

      Provided you purchase dimmable GU10 and MR16 LEDs, they will work with dimmer switches, however traditional incandescent spotlights tend to be installed with a leading edge resistive dimmers (in the case of the GU10 bulb). Ideally these dimmers should be changed over to trailing edge dimmers – the GU10 LEDs will still operate with a leading edge dimmer, although the bulbs will not last as long.

      The GU10 will screw into place, while the MR16 will need to be pulled to remove them from the socket, and pushed back in to fit them.

      Bayonet LED bulbs

      The bayonet fitting is another common lighting fitting found within the home and these come in two different sizes – the B15 (small bayont) and the B22 (large bayonet). The B15 is 15mm in diameter, while the B22 is 22mm in diameter.

      Looking To Buy Bayonet LED Bulbs?

      Head over to our shop now!

      These bulbs fit into many types of ceiling lights from a basic fitting to a hanging chandelier, therefore they are commonly found in living rooms and bedrooms. The sketch below shows the bottom of the fitting.

      A cross-section diagram showing the difference between a B15 (small bayonet) and B22 (large bayonet) light bulb.

      Screw-in LED bulbs

      The third type of fitting is the screw-in bulb which is commonly found in living rooms, dining rooms and the bedrooms.

      Looking To Buy Screw-in LED Bulbs?

      Head over to our shop now!

      There are two types of screw-in LED fitting – E27 (large screw) and E14 (thin screw). The numbers 27 & 14 correspond to the diameter of the light fitting in millimetres. The diagram below illustrates what they look like:


      E27 vs. E14

        Low Energy LED Bulbs


      Introduction to low energy lighting

      Traditional incandescent bulbs work by passing an electric current through an extremely thin filament which becomes very hot, thereby emitting light. Of all the electricity that goes through the filament, only a small proportion is given off as light; the remainder is wasted as heat (approximately 90%), so these are grossly inefficient, and waste electricity.

      Energy saving light bulbs convert a far higher proportion of the electricity supplied to them into light (rather than heat) and therefore require less electricity to operate, saving the consumer money on their electricity bill. Until recently, there were two options when it came to energy saving lighting: LEDs (Light emitting diodes) and the older CFLs (compact fluorescent lighting). However, CFLs are no longer commonly sold, as they are inefficient when compared to LEDs.

      Many people have already made the switch to LED light bulbs, but they are set to become the norm in households. Under the Energy Efficiency Directive (which encourages the use of energy efficient appliances), traditional halogen bulbs have been being phased out in the UK since September 2016. Once stocks run out, shops will no longer be allowed to sell incandescent bulbs. This is good news for homeowners, because more efficient lighting can help them cut their bills, but it will also help the UK reach carbon reduction targets, by reducing energy demand.

      What types of low energy lighting are available?

      LED light bulbs

      PHILIPS GU10 LED BULB – 5.5W

      LED bulbs are comprised of numerous light emitting diodes that together produce light when a current is passed through them. The electrical current excites the electrons inside the diode which produce photons (light) as a result. LEDs are often referred to as solid-state lighting. This simply means that the light is emitted from a solid object (a block of semiconductor), rather than as a current passing through a filament, causing it to glow.

      This is the reason LEDs are so much more energy efficient; instead of needing to get incredibly hot to emit light (as is the case with halogen or incandescent bulbs), for an LED to emit light a small current passing through it will suffice. This means that LEDs are far more durable than incandescent bulbs and have an estimated life of 40,000 hours, compared to an incandescent bulb’s estimated 1000 hours.

      So apart from lasting 40 times longer, why else swap to LEDs? Well, because an incandescent bulb needs to get hot to produce light, it converts about 90% of the electricity directly into heat. The LED, however, doesn’t need to get hot to produce the light, so uses just 10% of the energy compared with an incandescent it can produce the same level of light – and that is why they are the future.

      LED bulbs require just 10% of the electricity used by an incandescent bulb, but produce the same amount of light.

      This means truly significant energy savings in the home. Replacing just one 50Watt halogen spotlight in your kitchen with a 5Watt LED equivalent could save you over £15 a year (just one bulb!) but produces the same amount of light.

      It is important to note that not all LED bulbs are made equal, so please refer to our comprehensive buyers’ guide to make sure you know what to look for when you are looking to get them for your home.

      CFL light bulbs

      CFL Lightbulb - low energy

      Older energy saving lightbulbs – CFL bulbs – contain an inert gas and the glass is coated on the inside with a layer of phosphor. When electricity is passed through the gas, it emits ultraviolet rays which cause the phosphor coating to glow, thereby providing light. Compared to incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs use 20% of the electrical power to produce the same level of lighting, and can last about 10000 hours. But there are downsides: firstly they take time to warm up when you switch them on, so they take a minute or two to start producing the required levels of light. Secondly, they contain a trace amount of mercury. This means they need to be disposed off in the correct way or they can have a detrimental impact on the environment.

      Essentially, they were the energy saving lightbulb placeholder before LEDs became affordable for consumers. The fact LEDs are now affordable means they should be consigned to the scrapheap.

      Why use LED energy saving bulbs?

      On average, lighting accounts for 8% of a household’s energy bill in the UK and therefore cutting this is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money in your home. If you look at our 5 Watt LED versus 50 Watt halogen comparison you will be able to see the kind of savings you will be able to make. In addition, LED bulbs last about 20 times longer, so gone will be the days of having to get the ladder out to replace a kitchen bulb every other week!

      Energy saving light bulbs in the home

      Philips 12W LED Bulb

      It doesn’t matter if you own or rent your property, or if you live in a house, flat or bungalow, you can save money today by changing the way you use your lights and by fitting new energy-saving lights. Many homes today use a mixture of standard light fittings and halogen down lighters or spotlights (mainly in kitchens and bathrooms). All of these light bulbs can be replaced by either the LEDs – so do it now!

      90% energy savings really do add up and they will quickly cover the additional capital cost of the LED bulbs in the first place and as we describe in this blog – don’t wait until your existing bulbs blow before you change them!

      You can buy low energy light fittings, which will only take low energy light bulbs, however since many of the new energy saving lights fit in existing fittings there seems little point in doing this unless you are having major renovations in the home. These low energy fittings use a ballast or transformer fitted into the base of the light fitting. It controls the supply of electricity to the bulb, allowing for a small surge of power for a millisecond to light the bulb and then reducing the electricity flow to a very low level. These low energy fittings require a pin based energy saving bulb. This is a different fitting to a conventional bulb but will ensure that the bulbs you buy in future will always save energy, money and the environment.

      How do you install LED light bulbs?

      Just like normal bulbs! They are available with screw or bayonet fixings.

      Do LEDs come in different shapes and sizes?

      Yes. The range is more or less the same as halogen bulbs, from standard bulbs to spotlights and floodlight bulbs.

      Are LED light bulbs bad for your health?

      Some people are worried about the rumoured health effects of LED light bulbs. Some LEDs give off a colder light than yellow-toned incandescent bulbs, and people have claimed that this ‘blue’ light damages eye health. This link has not been proven by scientists – and, as technology develops, there are more and more warm-toned LEDs on the market.

      Another worry for some people is that LEDs may interrupt sleep patterns, because white light can suppress the natural production of melatonin. The idea that bright artificial lighting at night time affects our body clock is nothing new though; if you’re worried, dim your lights close to bedtime!

      Are LEDs more expensive?

      LED bulbs are slightly more expensive to buy: most cost £5-10. They are, however, far cheaper to run, because they use 90% less energy than halogen bulbs. They also last much longer, as they are don’t have filaments, which is what eventually breaks and stops traditional bulbs working. LEDs can last as long as 25-30 years, as opposed to the normal 1 or 2.

      For these reasons, spending a little more in the first place will more than pay back in the long run. Plus, as LED bulbs become the norm in UK homes, prices are expected to fall.

      Cut your bills further – use your lights less

      As discussed earlier, energy saving lightbulbs will save you money within your house as they use less electricity to produce the same amount of light. An obvious – but often overlooked – way to save on your electricity bill is to use your lights more cleverly…

      Here are a few tips that will help you achieve this:




        A buyer’s guide to choosing the right LED lighting

        November 13, 2012

      A Buyer’s Guide to choosing the right LED bulb

      If you have been a regular follower of TheGreenAge blog, you will know that we are huge supporters of the LED lighting revolution.

      Not only do LED lights offer up to 90% energy savings compared to traditional halogen or incandescent bulbs, they also have a vastly superior life span – lasting 10,000s of hours compared to a traditional bulb which may last only 1,000 hours.

      LED bayonet or screw-in bulb sold in TheGreenAge Energy Saving ShopEven comparing LED bulbs with the older style CFL low energy lighting there are clear advantages – as you flick on the light switch, an LED light will instantly offer full illumination, while the CFL would still be warming up. LED lighting can also be manufactured to produce a range of different colour temperatures and quality of light (known as colour rendering).

      Now while the benefits of LED lighting are now fairly well recognised, what a lot of consumers don’t understand is that LED lights vary massively in quality.

      The majority of LED lighting manufactures all promise unparalleled performance, in terms of lifespan and the quality of the light the bulb produces, but they can’t all be right can they?


      Heat Dissipation

      One of the most telling aspects to a LED bulb when it comes to quality is how well the bulb dissipates heat.

      A common misconception is that LED bulbs don’t get warm, however this just isn’t the case. They don’t get nearly as hot as incandescent bulbs, but since power goes into the LEDs, they do produce heat and this must be drawn away from the LEDs.

      Unfortunately LEDs can’t radiate this heat away in the same way as an incandescent bulb – instead, the heat needs to be drawn away from the LEDs by a heat sink normally located in the bottom of the bulb. The heat sink absorbs the heat produced and then dissipates into the surrounding environment.

      If the heat sink doesn’t fulfil its job correctly, the LED will overheat and most likely burn out. So a badly designed heat sink will be detrimental to the lifespan of the LED bulb, and efficient thermal management is really important to ensure that the LED bulbs last as promised!

      There are lots of different designs for heat sinks, which is why the appearance of LED bulbs changes so much between brands. You may be familiar with the metal fins on some LEDs – higher end LEDs will have aluminium fins or ceramic heat sinks. The ceramic fins in many cases can be more effective than any metal heat sink, since they possess lots of tiny pores, which provide an even greater surface area to dissipate the heat from compared to metals. Ceramic heat sinks have a very low thermal capacity, but the highest surface area to maximise heat loss into the surrounding environment.

      So in our experience better LED bulbs will utilise ceramics or aluminium, but this alone does not make them a market leader!

      Chip Set

      Whilst heat dissipation is important – the chip used to convert electricity to light is also really important.

      A poor chip will generate more heat, and will therefore not last as long. Better bulbs will use chips from better manufacturers, which generate less heat and convert more energy to light – it kind of goes with out saying you get way you pay for, and this is 100% true with LED lighting, if you buy a GU10 for £3, you should probably question the quality of the chip set used.

      Bridgelux for example are world renowned for producing extremely high quality chip sets having worked with the might of Toshiba’s R&D department – and these are found within the Philips Masterspot LED bulbs, which are considered some of the best LED bulbs available in the market.

      You are paying for brand a little bit though! You can get cheaper LEDs that function just as well!

      Power Driver

      The driver regulates the power entering the LED’s, ensuring that the bulb operates optimally and does not overheat. In an MR16, this device will be found in the light switch or in the fitting, because the bulb does not have an inbuilt driver. GU10s have an inbuilt driver and therefore do not need an external device.

      In all honesty, if you do decide to make the switch to LED bulbs, we recommend ignoring MR16 spots completely and just installing GU10s even if you have to change the fitting. To swap an MR16 for a GU10 will cost you less than £25 per bulb (including the new GU10 fitting), which you will pay back in just a couple of years based on the energy savings.

      colour temperature

      Colour Temperature

      Unlike traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs that tend to produce a warm white light, LED lights are available in many different colours – this is known as the colour temperature of the bulb. To replicate the colour temperature produced from a halogen GU10, you would need to opt for a warm / daylight coloured bulb. If you prefer the cooler light often associated with office spaces, then you would probably prefer the cool light bulbs. The diagram on the right shows the different types of light available with their equivalent colour temperature.

      Lumens – comparing different lightbulb brightness

      Aside from the colour temperature, LED bulbs also come with varying brightness’s. Gone are the days when you can compare the wattages of bulbs to distinguish, which bulb will be brighter – instead now you need to think Lumens.

      The reason for this is that a 50w halogen GU10 spotlight can be replaced with an equivalent 5w LED GU10 spotlight – the lower wattage is the main reason households can achieve such massive energy savings from LED bulbs – you just need to ensure that the lumens are similar between the two types of bulb to make sure you are going to get the same sort of light intensity.

      Colour Rendering

      Colour Rendering is the ability for a light source to give a true reflection of the colours of the object it is illuminating. That is a bit of a mouthful, but essentially the higher the colour-rendering index the closer to daylight the bulb is (daylight portrays objects perfectly – it has a CRI of 100%).

      If the lights are used a lot, then you want to go for an LED bulb with a CRI of 80+, however if the bulb is just used for emergency lighting for instance it can be sub 80. The higher the CRI of the bulb, normally the more expensive it will be to buy, but if you are into painting for example, you will want to pay more to ensure the bulb has a CRI of 90+ to ensure you are getting a more accurate view of what you are painting.

      What about LED spotlights?

      Beam Angle

      The final thing to consider when buying LED bulbs is related to the beam angle. This is something that you might not have considered before, but if you are swapping from halogen spotlights over to LED’s, it’s actually quite important.

      Halogens tend to produce a wider angled light than is suggested on the pack, so simply swapping a 35 degree angle bulb for the equivalent LED will create a very narrow angle of light. If you have a low ceiling or need an even spread of light across the room, it is really important to look for a wide 100+ degree angled LED. If you have high ceilings or need a narrower, focussed light, you should go for a lower angle beam.

      Quality is Key

      With LED lighting, as with many products, quality is absolutely key. Whilst you may be able to find an LED in the shops for £3 a bulb, chances are that it will produce poor light and pack up within the year. We recommend spending a little more on a quality bulb and getting one that will last for years, give off a quality light and save you money.

      Perhaps more important – make sure you shop around and work out exactly what you require. And feel free to call us here at TheGreenAge – we will be happy to help!

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