How to Choose the Correct LED Reflector Bulb to Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Reflector bulbs shine light by spotlighting (producing a narrow beam of light) or floodlighting (producing a broad cone of light). For today’s consumer, there are several choices in a reflector bulb. According to toptenusa.org, a non-profit organization that evaluates the energy efficiency of common household products, an LED reflector lamp may be the consumer’s best choice.
Traditional incandescent reflectors waste a lot of heat energy and burn out quickly. The newer, more energy efficient halogen lamps last longer, but produce light that is whiter or cooler in color, not always the desired effect for every lighting situation.
Compact fluorescent (CFL) reflector lamps are energy efficient and last longer than halogen lamps, but not always dimmable. CFLs produce a broad cone of floodlighting, but are not able to focus light, which produces a dimmer effect.
Enter LED reflector lamps! LED reflectors have many performance and aesthetic advantages over other lamps. While more expensive and heavier because of their metal housings, they are directional and dimmable, highly energy efficient, produce little heat and have a long life expectancy. Instead of “burning out”, their intensity simply diminishes over time. High quality LEDs can last between 30,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for an incandescent lamp or 8,000 to 10,000 hours for a CFL lamp.
What should you consider when purchasing an LED reflector bulb?
Diameter: Match the new diameter LED to the old diameter of the lamp you are replacing. A PAR 20 LED is 2.5 inches in diameter, a PAR 30 is 3.75 inches and a PAR 38 is 4.75 inches in diameter.
Lamp Length: Check the lamp length to closely match it to the length of the lamp you are replacing. A shorter length will work but some of the light will be absorbed in the fixture. Alternatively, a length that is longer than the fixture will project from the fixture and produce glare.
Beam Angle: If task lighting is your goal over a sink, countertops or to highlight artwork, choose a narrow-beam spotlight with angles from 9 to 16 degrees. If you would like diffuse light for a whole room setting, choose wider floodlights with beam angles from 16 to 40 degrees.
Light output: How much light a lamp produces is measured in lumens. Replace your old lamp with LEDs that closely match the same lumens, not wattage, which measures how much electricity the lamp uses. Color temperatures are also listed on product packaging to describe ranges from warm white, closer to the traditional incandescent color, to a more neutral, cooler white light.
According to energystar.gov, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a bulb that has received an Energy Star rating, the energy savings realized would be enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year and save Americans approximately 6 million dollars a year in energy costs.
Visit www.toptenusa.org for LED reflector bulb recommendations. For more information on LED basics visit The Department of Energy’s website at www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl.