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!