Installing LED Lighting

One symptom of the changes brought about by our emerging energy conscious attitudes is the demise of the incandescent light bulb. These bulbs convert a maximum of 10% of electrical into light; the rest is wasted as heat. These inefficient bulbs are now almost impossible to purchase legally in the UK.

Taking on board the toxic problems of compact fluorescent bulbs, light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are becoming ever more established in both commercial and residential premises. LED bulbs have been around for decades and are used in applications ranging from the school physics laboratory to the Christmas tree lights that are now hibernating in the attic until the 2015 Yuletide celebrations.

LED bulbs, watts and dimming

Clearly, the most important point to consider is how much light you actually need and even more obviously every situation is different. Thus, there is no one size fits all approach. Light is measured in a unit of brightness called a lumen and as a rough comparison LED lighting requires approximately 10% of the wattage required by an incandescent bulb.

So, if you are looking to maximise your efficiency savings replace the lights you use the most first and choose a 10W bulb for every 100W bulb you are replacing. Concurrently, this 10% rule can be applied to every bulb. Dimmable LED light bulbs are little more expensive than the standard variety and are indicated by the appropriate symbol on the packaging. Installation of dimmable LED lighting could also require work on your dimmer switches.

Fitting LED bulbs

When it comes to actually fitting new LED bulbs, it is crucial to check the fittings. This is a simple process analogous to checking whether or not an appliance comes with a screw or bullet fitting.  As a corollary, it would be a good idea to try a variety of bulbs to see which is the most effective for different rooms in the premises.

In addition, it is important to remember that installing LED lighting is a long-term investment; the bulbs will last up to 15 years and significantly reduce the electricity bill. So how is an LED bulb installed?

1) Make sure the power is off and that no current is flowing through the electrical works area.

2) If LED tubes are being fitted then the wires must be capped, and the starter and reflectors removed from the back of the LED.

3)  Almost all LED tube lights have ballast, and this must be removed and the cover of the fixture penned. The ballast converts electrical current and most fittings will have the device fitted as standard.

4) The next step is to complete the circuit; this is fundamental because any gaps mean that the current will not flow and there will be no light. The wires from the circuit must connect with wire bits on the LED bulb (or tube).

The wire nuts ensure that the circuit wires do not touch and that the circuit is complete once the bulb is fully secured the reflector and fixture can be fully refitted. Although the procedure is essentially simple, it is strongly advised that a qualified electrician is consulted before installing any LED lighting. 

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