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LEDs are the future way to light our home, as each bulb lasts a long time and they use very little energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. They are many advantages and some disadvantages, all of which we will go through here.

LEDs were invented in 1907 but it wasn't until 1962 when they were first produced for practical use. They have been used in a variety of devices over the years and most commonly in televisions both in remote controls and recently in televisions themselves. It is only in the last 10 years that they have been used in light bulbs.

Early LEDs had high prices and the light emitted was relatively weak, but the technology moved on very quickly since the first commercial bulbs were produced and now, some of the most efficient LED bulbs can match old-style 100W bulbs. They also look similar to the traditional bulbs we are used to. Prices are decreasing and people are able to replace Halogen and CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) with like for like LEDs. While some LEDs still cost around £20, most are available for under £10, and the savings in energy you get in your home mean it is worth upgrading your existing lighting to LEDs.

LED light bulbs produce light in a different way to incandescent bulbs. Traditional bulbs passed electricity through a wire filament, whereas LEDs produce light by use of a thin semi-conductor which emits light when the electricity is passed through it.

Advantages of LED bulbs:

  • They are the most energy-efficient light bulbs available. Typically they will use 10% of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb and over half that of a halogen. This can mean that LEDs can sometimes pay for themselves in a few months, resulting in significantly lower annual energy bills.
  • LEDs last for a long time - on average claims are approximately 20-30 years, depending on the quality of bulb you buy and how many times a day it is turned on (this is called a cycle). The life span of LEDs is measured in thousands of hours (Philips Master bulbs last at least 20,000 hours) and numbers of cycles (typically a quality bulb will last 30,000 cycles).
  • LEDs can work at lower temperatures and therefore are a better direct replacement for filament bulbs than CFLs. If you prefer softer lighting, for example in your living room or bedroom, then buy LEDs with colour temperatures of around 2700K. (see LED colour explained)

Disadvantages:

  • Some LEDs produce a cooler bluish light that can seem harsh in a home environment. Making sure you buy the right colour LED for each room in your house can make all the difference.
  • There are a lot of cheap LEDs being imported from China which would not pass the quality controls of the branded LEDs from companies like Philips, GE or Osram. These bulbs typically don't last very long, can produce a harsh cold light and use more energy than they claim. You can often save money by buying a quality LED in the long run as they last longer than the cheap alternatives (see Why paying more for LEDs could actually cost you less)