What to look for when selecting a LED lamp

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. The diode is the “yellow button” on the panel and is controlled by a driver. The driver changes AC, or alternating current, to DC, or direct current. The diode is either on or off.

We get a lot of calls at Outdoor Lighting asking what is the LED-equivalent to “X” watts incandescent? Believe it or not, the answer is not that simple.

When selecting a LED lamp, consider the following to make the best selection:

  • Wattage – Wattage is a power value given to the lamp; it defines how much electricity a lamp will use when it is on. Our monthly electric bills are measured using kilowatts (or 1,000 watts). Wattage size can vary and with today’s ever-changing technology, there is no set conversion for LED. However, here is an example: 7 watts = 50 watts incandescent.
  • Kelvin – Kelvin is the color the diode light will emit, and it ranges from 2,200 Kelvin up to 7,000 Kelvin. The higher the Kelvin number usually the “bluer” the light. Candlelight, for example, would be 2,200 Kelvin, and 2,700 Kelvin would be the equivalent to a halogen. White or tungsten is 3,000 Kelvin and 5,700 Kelvin is daylight or that of a metal halide. Keep in mind, the Kelvin rating will change the lumen output.
  • CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is a comparison of a lights ability to reproduce the Sun. This is given as a numerical value of 0-100, 100 being sunlight at noon. The Kelvin temperature will affect the CRI.
  • Lumen – Lumen is how bright the diode is. The higher a lumen number the brighter the light.
  • Driver – The driver is what turns the diode on, the engine. Because the diode is on or off, it is important for the driver to supply the proper voltage (12-24 volts DC) to the diode. A LED lamp with a constant driver will regulate the voltage and supply the diode with the proper voltage. Some LED lamps will only operate at 12 volts. LED lamps with a constant driver will have a voltage range (for example: 8-15 volts), which allows the LED to operate efficiently even during fluctuating voltage.