Most LED lights for traditional home and office use will dim when used on a dimmer ... although if you need this function, make sure to verify that a lamp is rated as dimmable before you purchase it. Beyond this blanket statement, we would add that you'll need a compatible dimmer. LEDs may dim on non-compatible dimmers, but may also have some issues, possibly as simple as not dimming as much as you'd like.
Some LEDs, however, are simply not meant to dim. Yes, there are household LEDs that don't dim in order to keep costs down. But others don't dim because dimming isn't common in their application. This is true of high bay replacements like corn cob LEDs. So what happens if you do try to dim this kind of bulb? You get the sort of flashing / strobing seen in this short video.
As familiar as many of us have become with LED lighting, we're still in the early stages of replacing lights nationwide with this highly efficient lighting. But as we head through 2017, here are some of the things we're seeing in LED:
LED Quality is Becoming Important
We all love a bargain, and a lot of people have eagerly sought the lowest prices possible in LED bulbs. But a low price is worthless if it doesn't give us the product we're looking for. Many people have learned the hard way that quality is important when it comes to LED lights. Cheap brands often use cheap parts and poor manufacturing methods, and their bulbs may buzz, shift color, lose brightness, and die early.
That means so-called bargain LED bulbs might not only lead to lost patience, but also to lost money when they're ultimately replaced with the LEDs that should have been bought in the first place. If you haven't upgraded to LED lighting yet, consider sticking with quality brands the first time around.
More Flexibility for Better Replacements
As a digital technology, LED lights have a lot more flexibility than older technologies. Sometimes this means getting more precise about looking like the bulbs they replace, as with LED bulbs that "warm" as they dim. Other times it means doing a job better than the older lights ever did.
For instance, early HID replacements known as "corn cob LEDs" replicated HID lighting with diodes placed around the bulb for omnidirectional lighting, even though individual diodes only provide single-directional lighting. Some new corn cob LEDs, however, offer moving panels, providing the option to stick with omnidirectional lighting or to aim the light more precisely where it's needed.
Fluorescent Tube Retrofits
While other forms of LED lights had fallen considerably in price over the last couple years, it's really only in the last year or so that LED tubes have gotten competitive with fluorescent lamps. We've now reached a point when it's hard to ignore the benefits of LED when replacing fluorescent tubes.
The question that remains is what LED option to go with. LED tubes come as standard retrofits (simply replacing the fluorescent tube and making use of the electronic ballast already in place) or direct wire (taking the ballast out of the equation and using a built-in driver). Both have their pros and cons. And both have their alternative: you can remove entire lighting troffers and replace them with LED panels.
Connected, Colors, and Controls
"Smart" seems to be the keyword these days, with the idea that your entire home and even your life will become connected. This includes your light bulbs and, in some ways, light bulbs are a foundation of home connectivity because they're used in every room. But the other side of this topic is "caution," as connected products open up more and more gateways for someone hacking your life. It's worth learning more about this before installing connected products.
Smart LEDs can offer plenty of features; among these is the ability to change their colors and program them for on/off cycles and potentially to otherwise react to their environment. (In home settings, a bulb might blink to alert you to a text, or might flash and change colors with music for example.) So while you can already set your LEDs up with traditional occupancy sensors, some lamps may have this kind of functionality built in. Controls like these are often programmed through smartphone apps.
LEDs no doubt still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. We continue seeing greater efficacy so that new LEDs run on fewer watts while maintaining light output. And we're reading about entirely new ways of making LEDs, which could lower their costs, further improve their efficacy, use less precious resources, etc. But whatever their future, we feel that LED lighting is already a valuable way to upgrade your lighting systems!
Seth Godin -- a widely known blogger, speaker, and marketer -- often talks about price. He's a big believer in bringing quality to market and never being in a "race to the bottom" (i.e., winning market share just because you're willing to charge a penny less than the next guy rather than offering anything unique).
This doesn't just reference the selling price of retail goods, but also the value of people. For instance, taking a job just to have a job even if it pays poorly; or believing the value of a job is in its salary without considering its other conditions; or from the other perspective, hiring based on price alone.
In today's blog, he says that "Sort by price" (found on many retail websites) is lazy. That it's a lazy way to present products, and it's a lazy way to shop. As if the best value is the item with the best price. This would ignore how good a fit the product really is for your overall wants and needs, presuming you actually have a purpose for buying the product.
There's a time and place when all someone wants is to pay the best price. Maybe it's for bragging rights. Maybe it's because they just need a placeholder. A builder placing light bulbs in a home he'll never live in might be a good example. The eventual home owners can replace the low-quality "placeholder" bulbs with something that provides better, more lasting light if they wish to.
But we agree in spirit with Seth, which is why we consider quality before even carrying a lighting product. When you sort by price on Lighting Supply (our default sort), a "quality" sort is already built into that because we don't carry brands we don't trust. Which means you won't necessarily find the cheapest LED bulbs (for instance) on our site, because we don't want something that loses its brightness, changes color, buzzes, or otherwise provides you with a bad experience. Our goal is for you to find a great lighting value.
This still doesn't narrow things down to the best choice for you. For instance, in our video here, you can see that our lowest priced BR30 LED at the time of this post is $5.25 ... but you can choose a 2-pack of these exact lamps for $7.48, or $3.74 per bulb. You just have to look at a higher price to find these.
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Even then, maybe you're looking for a "warm glow" feature, which mimics the warm dimming effect of an incandescent. Well, you'd have to browse toward higher prices for this. Or maybe you simply need a different color temperature (how warm or cool the bulb appears).
This is why we have product refinements down the left side of our site (elsewhere on a mobile page) so you can find bulbs by the light output you're after, the look you're after, the voltage requirements you have, etc. As you refine your search, you can know that you'll have high-quality options ... sorted by price.
So yes ... 'sort by price' alone is a lazy way to shop. It's certainly one that can lead you into the land of buyer's remorse. But that doesn't mean you can't use it as a factor in your buying decision on your way to finding a great value in lighting, or in anything else you buy.
The search for outdoor flood lights is really the search for one of two things: bulbs or fixtures. Are you simply looking for a bulb (or lamp) to replace one that's gone out in a current fixture, or are you installing outdoor lighting in a new location?
When looking for lamps that you'll use in a current fixture, you can often just find a part number on the lamp that's burned out and then buy a replacement. We have, for instance, a range of high-watt, double-ended halogen lamps often used in halogen flood light fixtures, which use a lot of energy but also have instant on/off capability and don't require ballasts to run. We also have plenty of metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps used in HID flood light fixtures; these use a lot less energy than halogens, but they have warm up and restrike periods that slow their on/off capabilities and they require ballasts to operate.
In some cases, an old lamp may no longer be sold, but you can either search our site for compatible specifications or call us for help with ordering something that will work. (We'll still need the original part number or specs like wattage, lamp type, etc.)
If you're installing new lighting, however, you have a bit more of a challenge in the sense that you need to determine how much light is needed and how you need it to spread. In this case, it's a good idea to talk with a lighting designer or someone who knows how to achieve your desired lighting effect.
Besides these considerations, you also need to choose between available technologies. At the time of this writing, we still carry some HID and halogen flood light fixtures, which have the pros and cons mentioned above. Both are rapidly being replaced by LED flood light fixtures, whose only "con" is their initial price. Beyond that, they provide the greatest efficiency and longevity along with instant on/off capabilities and quality light. In locations where they're used often, the energy and maintenance savings quickly make up the difference in initial price.
Plus, even on the topic of price, LED fixtures have come a long way in terms of affordability, and we're not only competitive on name brand fixtures but we also offer some exceptional values through our "Standard" brand (where quality components still matter!).
So whether you're just replacing flood light bulbs or you need new fixtures, we hope you'll look to Lighting Supply for friendly service, fast shipping (same business day for in-stock items!), and a commitment to you as our customer.
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