What Determines an LEDs’ Quality

Some people believe that all LEDs are created equal! After all there is a world full of manufacturers and suppliers from Asia and China in particular providing low cost solutions. It may then be a surprise for some people that there are only a handful of high quality LED manufacturers in the world.
In many applications it is sufficient to use lower quality LEDs but don’t expect to get a long life from these. High quality LEDs are required for consistent and reliable operation, in regard to output and long life.

So how do we tell a good quality LED from an inferior one? Selecting a good LED begins at chip level and ends with assembly.

Commercial quality grade 1 LED manufacturers use quality materials to produce superior, consistent wafers and chips. The chemistry and materials used during the wafer process are important variables in determining the overall performance of the LED. A good chip manufacturer produces chips with the fewest inconsistencies in colour, intensity and voltage drop.
Superior LED manufacturers are distinguished not only by the quality of their chips but also by their ability to sort LEDs into various bins based on colour, intensity, voltage drop and viewing angle. High quality LED suppliers offer customers consistent operating characteristics while lower quality manufacturers offer a ‘mixed bag’ of LEDs.

Beyond the LED itself,, the assembly and electronics supporting an LED are just as important to the performance, brightness and colour of the LED. Since ambient heat, operating currents, circuit design, voltage spikes and environmental factors can all affect the final performance of the LED chip. It is critical that product assembly and circuitry are suitably designed to protect the LED and ensure its performance.


Photos showing the cooling fins required on a 40w LED on the left and a 150w on the right.

With the rapid increase in demand for LEDs, the number of manufacturers and assembly designers serving the world market has likewise increased rapidly, with the end result that suppliers have flooded the market with low quality LEDs, but inexperienced packaging and design engineers. OEM manufacturers must test the circuitry and the LED assembly to ensure that design specifications are being met and the design provides for adequate heat dissipation as heat is a major cause of LED failure and inconsistent performance.

Accelerated life testing can be a critical element in avoiding failure in a specific application, as it can help ensure that you will not be surprised by premature dimming or fading after only 1000 hours or less of operation.

This can happen because low quality LEDs or even high quality LEDs in poorly designed assemblies can begin to dim and fade. In fact a low quality LED may initially appear brighter than a high quality one because it can have a higher drive current. However the extra current causes the LED to heat up more quickly and ultimately fade or burn out.

Generally LED lamps should not be used in enclosed fittings as the heat build-up will ultimately degrade the lamps performance and lead to premature failure. There are however, LEDs that are designed for this purpose but they are few and far between.

This is one example of where assembly has more impact on the LED performance than a chip itself. Some quality LED suppliers will guarantee their assemblies for two or more years, adding further verification that the end product contains a quality LED and is suitably designed for that specific application.

Hopefully you may find this information is helpful to you in deciding which LEDs to buy. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for the average person shopping for LED Lights to make a judgement call on what is a quality product and what is not. However, as a yard stick, you pay for what you get!
If you would like more information about what type of LED is right for your home or office, please contact us.

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Retrofitting LED Lights in Place of Halogen Lights

One of the many questions we receive here is “how do you go about retrofitting 12v LED lights in place of 12v halogen down lights?”

Many people seem to think that you have to replace the halogen with an LED kit, ie, a LED Bulb (that fits into the existing frame) and a LED Driver.  While this is the optimum choice to ensure long life of the LED Lamp, it is not the only way of retro fitting.


Most of the MR16 low voltage 12v lamps that we sell are compatible with most (not all) existing electronic transformers that are already in place in your ceiling.  It is simply a matter of changing bulbs in most instances.

My recommendation to the customers who come in to our store is to simply buy one or two to start, and plug them in to the existing transformer.  If they come on and stay on, chances are they will work  fine.  If they flicker, flash or do not come on at all, that is when you would need to change the transformer for a proper LED Driver.  We can advise you on the best method of doing this.


We can supply complete retro fit LED Down Light kits if necessary, but there are a variety of these on the market and some may not be suitable for your application, so if in doubt before proceeding, please contact us.

Additionally, if your lighting circuit incorporates a dimmer, then we have 12v MR16 dimmable LED Lights as well. The set up would be the same. Try a couple first and if all works well, then you can order some more.

In the case of GU10 240v halogen down lights, this is simply a bulb change, nothing else, with both dimmable and non -dimmable being available.

If you’re not sure of your set up, please do not hesitate to call us and discuss your requirements with our staff on (07) 3391 6230.

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Mercury Dangers of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Did you know that mercury, contained in Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, is more dangerous than lead or arsenic? Warnings about the dangers of CFL bulbs have been prevalent for many years now. When the mercury contained in CFL bulbs ends up in landfills, waterways, oceans and the ground it affects not only humans, but animals and the environment. The truly devastating consequences of this will mostly be seen by future generations, so it is important to understand the dangers now and take appropriate action to help mitigate further damage.

Broken CFL bulbs can be extremely harmful to your health. Read on for information on how to deal with a broken bulb.

Something that isn’t so well advertised, however, is the immediate damage caused when a person is exposed to the the high levels of mercury when cleaning up a broken or damaged CFL bulb. Toxic mercury droplets spread by the broken bulb can cause migraines, disorientation, imbalances and other health problems when inhaled. Just by touching or inhaling the substance, people can also contract severe skin conditions, infections in cuts and other diseases.

To see the effects that mercury from a broken CFL bulb can have, click here (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Special precautions should therefore be taken when dealing with a broken lamp. We recommend taking the following precautions when dealing with the cleanup of a broken lamp:

1. Open all the windows and immediately vacate the room for at least 15 minutes, taking special care not to step on any shard of glass;
2. Avoid the use of a vacuum cleaner as it could spread toxic mercury droplets around the house;
3. Wearing rubber gloves and trying not to inhale dust from the broken bulb, sweep the debris into a dustpan. You will need to discard of the dustpan and brush used to do this as any further use will spread the mercury to other parts of the house;
4. To help pick up the smaller pieces of glass from soft furniture or carpet, sticky tape (duct tape or similar) can be used;
5. On hard surfaces wipe the area with a damp cloth and dispose of this in a sealed bag;
6. Place the remains in a sealable plastic bag, and then within another bag to minimise cuts from the glass, but do not put in your household bin. Alternatively, place in a sturdy box. You will need to place the bag/box in a municipal recycling bin for batteries and other hazardous materials, or a council dump which can safely dispose of the waste.

Dispose of the bulb by placing in a double lined bag, and then into a hazardous waste or batteries bin.

Keep in mind that just one CFL bulb can contain up to 5mG of mercury. This is enough to contaminate up to 30,000 litres of water when it goes to landfill. Professor John Buckeridge, Head of the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, says the public health effects of having millions of mercury-contained fluorescent tubes dumped in landfill will be ‘disastrous’, with possible severe environmental and health costs for both humans and animals.

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What can LED lights do in 2013?

This post will address some market preconceptions about:

  •      What LED lights can do in 2013?
  •      What is a fair price to pay?
  •      What work still needs to be done?

What LED lights can do in 2013 – 2012 was a big year in the lighting industry. Energy efficiency barriers weren’t just addressed but completely smashed with the technological advances which took place over the last 12 months.








It’s hard to get your head around but the notoriously energy sucking 50w halogen downlight can now be replaced by a ’7w LED retrofit LED lamp’. 2 years ago this was unheard of with a 15w LED being required to give sufficient light output. In addition we have seen the market presented with affordable LED bulbs of 10w or less which last in excess of 10 years and match the light output of 60w and 75w incandescent bulbs.

The most significant advances have been made in the area of compatibility. Issues of flicker and colour matching have been addressed and solved. The most important being 12v halogen transformer compatibility. Lamp for lamp replacements make it easy for non-electrical qualified consumers to convert to LED. More compact light design aids in this process to the extent that LED bulbs are now the same size making them suitable for installing into all size light fittings.

The energy savings speak for themselves and we don’t need to repeat here what the financial and environmental benefits are. More information can be found here about benefits or here to calculate savings.

What is a fair price to pay – The creation of several research and development LED lighting companies in Asia has seen a massive shift of influence in the energy efficient lighting market. There is little doubt that China now leads the world in the technological development of LED lighting. It is not just the export of lighting from China that has spurred the significant price reduction of LED lights, but also the massive consumer demand from China’s emerging middle class.

The price of ‘high power’ LED lighting in the last 18 months has on average, more than halved. LED bulbs which were $49.00 are now ranging from $15.00 to $29.00. Consider for a moment that these products have a life expectancy exceeding 10 years in  a domestic environment and begin to imagine the shock-waves this will send through the entire lighting industry. Of-course there are quality issues to consider where the wisdom of ‘you get what you pay for’ is still a good guide for wary consumers. As mentioned in previous posts, we as consumers need to change our thinking about lighting to the extent that LED bulbs are now a long term investment that you can take with you if you move house.

What work still needs to be done – There can be little argument about what benefit consumers and society as a whole can gain from adopting LED lighting technology. A sustainable future for conservation of energy and what we put into land fill and how often are hot topics today. LED lights are a logical and natural progression toward this goal which seems to be happening much slower in Australia than in many other parts of the world. We are part of one of the greatest industries in the world. ‘The energy efficient lighting market’ which is a pro-active and ethical movement toward our planet’s sustainable future. ‘Planet LED‘ get it? More than anything that is what we are about.

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How does colour work in LED lights?

The white colour spectrum is the standard used for determining emitting colour of commercially available LED lights. When we say warm white we are actually referring to the 2900 to 3200 kelvin colour temperature on the colour spectrum. 4800 to 5500k is natural white and 5800 to 6500k is daylight.

Here is the difficult part. Commercial lighting experts in Australia and some European countries call 4000k cool white, but Chinese manufacturers and many consumers know cool white as 6000k (daylight). Confused?

Why do we need to know this? With the development of high power LED bulbs, consumers are spoiled for choice in emitting colours. This can also become confusing when words such as 4000k (cool white) and 6000k (cool white) are used. What is cool white? Answer: It depends where you’re from.

We can avoid the confusion with using general terminology like ‘cool white’ by understanding the white colour spectrum chart as pictured above. You will find that on LED bulb packaging and websites that sell LED lights, the specific colour in kelvin (colour temperature) will be clearly stated. Take a mental picture of the chart above and you will reduce your chances of being caught by getting the wrong colour bulb.

By the way, if you are after that candle like effect for mood lighting, that is ‘interna’ (2700k). This too is also often referred to as super warm or warm white by suppliers and manufacturers.


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LED strip lights and their applications

Led strips are one of the oldest high power LED lighting applications around. they have been available for many years in Australia. The lighting effects of LED strips can be seen on our city buildings, around our houses at Christmas and in our gardens or pools.

What makes LED strip lights so versatile both indoors and outdoors is the low voltage and easy DIY installation. Use of double sided tape and a couple of connectors is all that is required to hook up to a transformer or car battery.

Strips are available in 24v but most commonly in 12v and can be supplied with waterproof LED drivers, making them suitable to be installed in outdoor areas. People drape them over trees, line pool fences and use them as a feature on awnings and verandahs. Low voltage garden cable can be used safely to run from a 12v DC power source. They are also perfectly suited for portable solar panels.

Indoors they are used in pelmets, under benches and in display cabinets. We have had people buy them to put around their home bars and pool tables or to back light recessed TV cabinets.  They have also been used in cars to add some fun lighting effects for car enthusiasts and also outside cars, though there could be some legal ramifications with this, so check your local laws.

When looking into LED strip, you will come across some terminology regarding different types of strip. These different types generally refer to power used which is directly related to how bright the strip is. For most domestic applications 3528/60 strip is sufficient. This is generally 4.8w per metre strip (60 LEDs per metre). So a normal 5 meter reel is 24w in total power and therefore requires at least a 24w rated DC power supply.

3528 LED strip is available from the Planet LED website here.

5050 LED strip is quite a bit brighter and suitable for areas where you want to see the light from a long way off. Commercial buildings or retail shops might use this to back-light signs or highlight building features. 5050 strip is 14.4w at 60 LEDs per meter. So a standard 5 meter reel is 72w.  5050 LED strip is also often used for indirect decorative lighting such as when the strip is placed in a pelmet or facing toward a roof structure to highlight the perimeter of the area.

In addition to the above mentioned types there are the lesser used varieties of LED strip such as 120 LEDs per metre and 30 LEDs per metre in both 3528 and 5050 which alter the brightness of the strip at either end of the scale.

The most common colours of LED strip are white, warm white, red, green, blue and yellow and colour changing which is also referred to as RGB.





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How do you know LED lights are good quality?

The main purpose of our blogs is to answer frequently asked questions about LED lights. We have found that quite a few people have been burnt by past purchases of LED lighting products, so this little blog will try to address some reasons why.

Aggressive advertising of LED lights on the web has utilized various techniques to talk up the quality of their LED lights. Many of these sellers are difficult to contact or have no accountability.

Lets start by talking about the most used technique of talking up ‘LED chip brands’.

Cree XRE, Cree XPG, cree, cree cree! It’s all over the net. Don’t get me wrong, Cree is an excellent range of LED chips. So is Bridgelux, Epistar, Sharp and Osram. All of these chips are good quality with a varying range of light output capabilities. Different light outcomes can be achieved by using different raw materials, mixed in different ways. All of the above mentioned brands have several versions and generations of LED chips. Just about all LED lights made today have one of the above mentioned LED chips inside it.

Forget parrot advertising and lets talk about what truly affects quality of LED lights!

It is the way the light bulb or light fitting is constructed around the LED chip that determines quality and longevity’.

Most LED manufacturers are actually ‘fabricators’ who bring together materials to make up a finished LED lighting product. Their engineers come up with a design and choose the most appropriate materials to bring together to make a certain bulb or fitting to suit a particular application. They will consider how much light they want to achieve, how to achieve effective air flow to keep the LED chips and pc-boards cool, what sacrifices to make to achieve compactness or dimming capabilities and so on.

4 factors affecting this are:

  • The quality control used to ensure good solder points inside the luminaire – wires are connected between pc boards and the LED chips and also the pins or bulb base. Good quality control when connecting different components together is an important factor.
  • Heat dissipation designs of the bulb or light fitting housings – The thickness and type of material used in conjunction with air flow design, greatly affects longevity and performance of LED lights.
  • The voltage and power factor ranges – Not all LED lights are suitable for the Australian market. We operate on different voltages than other parts of the world. If you try and run a bulb made for the American market, it is made for 120v. The most common voltage internationally is 230v. We operate on 240v. If you purchased an LED bulb and it didn’t last, chances are it wasn’t rated for the Australian power supply.
  • A good combination of the above factors – Not all components are designed to work together. Some fabricators may sacrifice one of the above to achieve a certain price point.

In summary. LED chip brands and models have little bearing on the overall quality of LED lights. Instead, they are designed to fulfill a particular lighting outcome. Quality is determined by the manufacturer (fabricators) quality control and the way they bring the different components together to form the finished product. Always buy from a reputable Australian supplier to ensure the LED lights are made for our power supply.

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Think differently about your lighting

There is an explosion of interest in LED lights both on and off the web. We get many phone calls and inquiries each day asking what LED bulbs can and can’t do. Sometimes people ask, why do they cost that much? Good question, especially if you are trying to justify cost verses standard bulbs.

LED bulbs are not just a led chip with electricity passing through it. Many people still view LED bulbs the same way as a filament lamp. LED bulbs have PC boards inside them which serve the functions of voltage conversion, over current protections and dimming capabilities. The housings are often made of metal or fire rated plastics. All of this works together to form a lighting product than can last as long or longer than your television or fridge.

We have heard stories of business or house owners who treat there LED bulbs like some of their larger appliances in respect to taking them with them when moving house or business premises.

Think of your LED lighting as an investment. Not just for saving power, but also something that becomes a part of your home or business for 10 or more years.

Maybe in this throw away society, the concept of a better longer lasting product goes against the trend of what people expect today. LED lights are definitely an exception to this trend.

With any technological revolution, a radical change of thinking usually takes place and the way we think about lighting is definitely changing.




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A quick look at the advantages of LED lights

LED lights are far more energy efficient than other forms of illumination. Currently LED technology is replacing a standard 60w bulb with an average of 9w power consumption. 7w LED downlights are replacing 50w halogens and 3w can replace 20w halogen. It is quite obvious the advantages this can have saving money on power.

LED bulbs light up instantly. This is where LED has a huge advantage over it’s closest competitor, compact fluorescent bulbs. Although a 15w compact fluorescent can replace a 60w bulb, it takes up to a minute to warm up, not to mention they are really bad for the environment with the phosphor powders and mercury contained in the tubing. LED’s don’t emitt any UV radiation and the components are recyclable and environmentally friendly.

LED’s have a very long life expectancy. It is almost common knowledge now that LED bulbs can last in excess of 50,000 hours. The average life span of a compact retrofit LED bulb is 35,000 hours before any light degradation. Compare this to halogens that have an average life expectancy of 2000 hours and a compact fluorescent  at 6000 hours.

LED bulbs are resilient. Although we don’t suggest you play football with them, most LED lights have a durable design which is intended to last 10 or more years. It is less common to see LED’s with glass, but rather metallic heat sinks and fire grade plastics. This serves a dual purpose. To expel heat and to protect the LED chips inside the luminaire.

Better lighting design capability. LED lights can come in a variety of colours and control gear to create colour changing patterns to create virtually any type of lighting design effect.Products such as LED decorative strip and LED neon replacement tubing have made significant impact on the lighting landscape. Chances are, if you live in a city you can see these effects at night on buildings and signs.



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Dimming LED bulbs

Led bulbs have come a very long way in the last couple of years and dimming compatibility is one of the area that has been confusing for consumers wanting to convert to LED. The reason is that there are different types of dimmers for different applications.  Led bulbs usually dim best on leading edge dimmers and Clipsal universal dimmers. Then Osram makes some LED bulbs that prefer to dim with trailing edge.

Because most people invest a fair bit of money converting to LED for long term energy savings or to save on maintenance costs, it is prudent to not look at the LED compatibility, but the dimmer. The best way to go is the excellent Clipsal (32E450UDM) universal dimmer. You can pick them up for around $50 and they are a one fits all dimmer. All good electrical wholesalers will sell them and they are a high quality product with features such as short circuit protection. Now LED bulbs which are being made for the Australian market are made to work on this dimmer because of it’s long standing reputation in our market.

Another specific area that warrants mentioning with dimming LED lights is with MR16 LED bulbs. ‘Any dimming MR16 bulb should come with it’s own LED driver’ or 12v transformer. Why? because their is an added compatibility issue with the 240v to 12v conversion within the transformer.

Many manufacturers have made 12v MR16 LEDs that will work on some halogen transformers and a very few such as the excellent Go Green MR16 LED bulbs are compatible with all halogen transformers, but are not dimmable. The added risk of buying an MR16 ‘dimming’ LED that not only has to work on your dimmer but also the halogen transformer makes for more things to go wrong. Just buy a MR16 dimming retrofit kit complete with the LED driver and you won’t go wrong.

If you are changing your fitting, you might as well skip the MR16 and transformers, and just go for a mains voltage GU10 dimming LED or an integral downlight that dims.

In Summary. Our advice would be to:

  • Use Clipsal universal dimmers when dimming LED lights
  • Only buy MR16 LED bulbs that come with a dimming LED driver OR
  • Get mains voltage dimming GU10 LED’s instead.
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Verbatim LED lights

A couple of weeks ago we talked about Osram, one of the oldest and best respected lighting companies in the world. Today we are going to talk about a well known company called Verbatim which has been around since 1978 and has made its name in tapes, SD cards, flash drives, CD and DVD disks. Verbatim is owned by Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation of Japan and is based in North Carolina, USA.

The company has quickly and seamlessly moved into LED lighting and already made a significant stamp on the worlds LED market. The very high quality and good price point of their range has seen them become a familiar brand in lighting stores. If the success of their digital media products is any indication, Verbatim LED lights will be giving the big boys like Osram and Philips a run for their money in the branded LED lighting market.

When we first received the samples from Verbatim, we were very impressed and frankly surprised at how compact and classy they looked, but more importantly they ‘punch out some serious light’. The Verbatim 10w Classic A LED bulb is a perfect example of how far ahead Verbatim is in terms of light output in their price range.

I suspect we are going to be seeing a lot more of Verbatim in the Australian lighting industry.

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Why not use LED downlights instead?

In the many years I have been selling or installing lights, I have seen so many installations with the good old gimbal downlight fitting that has a halogen bulb in it. As LED lighting gradually takes over the industry we see retrofit products such as MR16 LED bulbs and GU10 LEDs being put into these gimbal fittings.

Since LED lights have started their mainstream run, many people are buying LED GU10 gimbal kits. I find it interesting that people often overlook the much better integrated LED downlight fittings. I guess people will buy what they know and are use to.

Advantages to LED downlights as opposed to the standard gimbal fittings are that the components that make up the fitting are contained within the unit and there is much more room for the components which means better heat dissipation. Many downlights are also more shallow in depth and therefore fit in small ceiling spaces. The internal or external voltage conversion is also manufactured to work seamlessly with the LEDs contained in the fittings which ensures maximum light output and fitting life.

Some downlight fittings can cost less than the LED replacement bulbs required for gimbal fittings. Make the switch to integrated downlights instead of the standard gimbal fittings and you won’t be disappointed.

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Chinese LED lights leading the pack

In past years there was certainly a stigma attached to anything made in China. This was more the case that importers were going for the cheapest products available. China has the largest population in the world at more than 1.3 billion and it therefore stands to reason that there is a massive labour force and manufacturing base. Many major manufacturers from Australia, Europe and America outsource their manufacturing of LED lights to China and market there products as Australian owned or American owned.

This preconception of ‘cheap Chinese crap’  is losing credibility as we see the Chinese dominance of LED lighting in quality, functionality and price. The reason for this is their ability to draw on foreign investment capital and knowledge provided by foreign companies outsourcing. This has in turn seen many LED manufacturers in China develop very strong in house research and development (R&D) departments for the constant improvement and evolution of the LED lighting industry.

The most notable and recent improvements to LED bulbs is the improving heat sink technology. LED chips require air flow and the better the air flow, the more chips can be inserted into a bulb, giving higher light output. This has brought the LED bulb retrofit industry into a new era with LED lights providing more than sufficient light to replace traditional light bulbs for much less power.

This doesn’t change the fact that LED lights are an electrical product and therefore still require Australian approvals. LED bulbs imported from china, America or anywhere else still need a C tick, RCM number or equivalent approval to be sold here.

If you are importing LED lights from ebay or similar sources; Buyer beware, because more often than not the seller in another country doesn’t know or care what electrical parameters we operate under here.

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How to determine energy efficiency in an LED light

So often, when people are choosing an LED bulb or downlight for their home or work, they will choose the highest wattage light. Some people may come away disappointed at the results because LED lighting technology uses a different system of determining light output (brightness) to the old incandescent bulbs. After all, the biggest advantage of LED lights is to get the same or better results with much less power consumption. For example, an Osram 12w superstar bulb will give 650 lumens, while a 8w Chrome LED bulb will give 600 lumens. Both are 60w incandescent replacements.

A 7w GO Green MR16 gives 580 lumens, but a Osram 7w Parathom Pro MR16 gives 420 lumens. Both are 50w halogen replacements, but they are different beam angles and therefore have different lumens because they are used for different applications.

Even though many people are learning to look at lumens as a total light output measurement instead of watts, there are still other factors involved such as beam angle (which affects light intensity) and most important lumens per watt (Lm/w).

Lumens per watt simplifies the whole process, because it determines the overall energy efficiency of the LED light. A 10w LED bulb at 100 lm/w = 1000 lumens. A Neilsen 3w GU10 LED gives 100 lm/w, therefore its overall light output is +300 lumens.

Most ‘good’ warm white LED bulbs will give between 60 and 75 lm/w. Pure white and daylight should give between 80 and 105 lm/w. Take into account beam angle for downlights and spotlights because a tight beam spread such as 30 degrees will give twice as much light intensity as 60 degrees.

In summary, the best way to determine the energy efficiency of an LED light is to find out lumens per watt.


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LED lights get the Royal treatment

Since 2006 Buckingham Palace has been overhauling it’s old lighting technologies to LED lights. Since then conversions of massive stair case lights, chandeliers and external lighting have been getting converted to LED. Eager to reduce their carbon footprint the Royals were quick to implement the new technology. None of this is surprising considering Prince Charles commitment to sustainable environmental practices.

Of course apart from the environmental advantages LED lights will save the royal household a tremendous amount of money on maintenance and power consumption, with the average LED lasting anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 hours. That can equate to 22 years without any need to change a light bulb.

With emerging lighting technology and manufacturers constantly improving LED bulb performance, these energy savings are being transplanted into businesses and households. As LED bulb prices drop to more affordable levels, it is estimated that by 2020, the majority of all lighting in homes and businesses will be LED.


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Osram LED Lights

Since 1919 Osram has been producing and selling lighting products to all parts of the world. From its headquarters in Munich it supplies 150 countries from its many manufacturing plants.

Osram Opto Semi-conductors is the branch responsible for LED lighting and they already have a massive market share, especially in the United States. Their products are noted for quality and backed up with a 3 year warranty for their LED bulbs. Of course they are well known here in Australia too, with a major local headquarters run by Osram Australia.

The important thing to note about Osram is their price point. If you compare other notable lighting manufacturers such as GE and Philips, you will notice they have made brand name LED lighting affordable. Although conservative with their technological claims, Osram tends to underrate its product features instead of building them up. It is important to note this when comparing LED lights from other sources.

Notable LED products from Osram are The 12w Superstar LED bulb, 7w Parathom PRO MR16, 10w GU10 Parathom Pro  and their Classic A LED bulb range.

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How do I know which LED bulb is bright enough?

LED bulbs and downlights work very differently to halogen and incandescent lamps. It can be said that compact fluorescent bulbs are similar only in respect to their requirement for internal electronics. Below is a very quick basic guide for changing existing bulbs to LED bulbs.

Wattage is an indication of power consumption only. Do not use watts as a guide to light output for LED. Different brands at the same wattage can have significantly different results.

It is also good to remember that colour rendition and light clarity from LED lights is far superior to traditional light sources. This means LED bulbs can produce less lumen, but still appear as bright or brighter than incandescent or halogen.

  • Lumen measurement is how to determine total light output from a LED light.
  • An average 60w incandescent bulb would give 700 to 800 lumens
  • 40w incandescent bulb = 400 to 450 lumens
  • 50w halogen = 700  lumens

Because of the characteristics of LED bulbs and virtually 0% light wastage with carefully designed beam spreads, it is safe to generally take 100 lumens away from your light output requirement. That is why you will see 500 to 600w lumen LED MR16s replacing 50w halogen (700 lumen), without noticeable difference to the naked eye.

Confused? Don’t worry, just go on the manufacturers recommendations which are usually displayed on the product box and you won’t need to do too much guessing.

All product pages on Planet LED website clearly indicate lumens and what the product is suitable for.

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LED lights technology moving at lightning speed

It is the sign of the times that with such easy world wide communication between individuals and companies, technology is moving ahead at a rapid pace. LED lights have been pushing conventionally accepted boundaries more in 2012 than ever.

7w LED bulbs are pushing out light that only a year ago took a 12w to produce. LED fitting designs are becoming more compact and colour reproduction has reached 90%. Just in time too with the rising prices of electricity.

If you look at the low wattage of some LED lights and think, ‘how can that be bright enough?’, you may be surprised just how far the LED lighting industry has come in just 1 year. Staying at the forefront of this rapid change is a challenging business for lighting suppliers but the winner in the end will be the consumer with LED bulbs that last ages and use very little energy to run.

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What colour LED light do I choose?

When choosing a LED light for your home or business it may occur to you that there are 2 or more colours available to choose from. Colour in lighting can be a matter of taste and many people automatically go for the warm white colours. These warm colours are 2700 to 3500 kelvin on the white colour spectrum. As someone with a lighting design background I believe the reason for this is because people are use to it. After all, a few years ago most of what we had to choose from was incandescent and halogen colour which is warm white.

If you are getting LED lights for your home, don’t discount natural white for your living areas. If you have white walls and plenty of colour in your house, warm white may be the colour for you. But if your walls are one of the darker colours such as light browns, beige or creme and you have brown furniture, the natural white colours can add needed brightness to your living rooms. Natural whites usually come in 5000 to 5500 kelvin on the white colour spectrum and don’t have that blueish tinge that people dislike about the daylight colours.

Daylight colours range from 6000 kelvin to 7000 kelvin and most people would recognize this colour from daylight fluorescent tubes. I believe daylight is too stark for the home unless it is diffused by a frosted cover or if your walls are timber or a very dark colour. Take my word for it, if you have grey carpet, do not use daylight. Use warm white instead because white light on grey just looks ugly.

Light colour does come down to a matter of taste, but for those who are a little unsure, see below a summary of a few lighting design rules.

  • Dark or grey carpet / white walls – warm white
  • Dark or grey carpet / darker walls – warm white
  • light or bright carpet / darker walls – natural white
  • wooden floors / white walls – warm white
  • wooden floors / darker walls – natural white
  • light or white tiles / darker walls – natural white
  • light or white tiles / white walls – warm white
  • Darker tiles / white walls – natural white
  • Darker tiles / darker walls – natural white
  • Walk in wardrobe – warm white
  • bathroom/toilet/laundry – natural white or daylight

The above rules don’t apply to bedrooms. Bedrooms are almost always better in warm white with the exception of a bedside reading lamp which should be natural white or daylight to avoid eye strain.


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How do LED downlights differ from spotlights?

The difference between a LED spotlight and LED downlight is that downlights are integrated or come as a complete kit. This means that instead of being a detached light bulb or lamp such as a GU10 or MR16 lamp, the downlight comes complete and sometimes enclosed. The concept of an integrated downlight has much more relevance now that LED technology means the fitting won’t need replacing for many years. By the time the LED downlight fails, the average life of any traditional light fitting would have run its course with many lamp changes.

A non-integrated downlight is a LED spotlight that is sold as part of a kit which includes the most appropriate transformer and fitting for maximum performance. All of the individual parts could be interchanged with other brands and wattages if desired.

The most common cut out belongs to the 50w MR16 halogen fitting which is usually 92mm.  These round fittings are referred to as gimbals and are a standalone fitting not attached to any power. Inside the ceiling is a 12v transformer which is often plugged in to a power point in the ceiling.  In some older houses and buildings these transformers may be hard wired. These type of fittings are what LED downlights are designed to replace.

LED integrated downlights will on average last longer than LED spotlights because all components of the fitting are designed to work seamlessly as a unit. The integrated or attached transformer is matched perfectly to the LEDs it is running, ensuring maximum durability and life. It is well worth spending the extra few dollars for an integrated LED downlight because they are a prime example of just how superior LED lighting is to fluorescent or halogen lighting. In addition most LED downlights give more light output per watt than spotlights because lighting manufacturers have a larger area to design reflectors and to position the LEDs.

LED downlights are popular for new installations because of their design capability. Much more light can now be achieved from smaller luminaries than ever before. We now have the ability to achieve almost any design outcome imaginable with a wide array of down lights now available.

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