Incandescents are out, fluorescents aren’t vibing, so it’s LED lights winning the day - Albuquerque Journal

Incandescents are out, fluorescents aren’t vibing, so it’s LED lights winning the day

Shawn Lease, son of Sondra Lease, who co-owns Turn-On Lighting in Rio Rancho, screws in a LED bulb in a fixture in the store’s showroom. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
Shawn Lease, son of Sondra Lease, who co-owns Turn-On Lighting in Rio Rancho, screws in a LED bulb in a fixture in the store’s showroom. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

As incandescent light bulbs are phased out and fluorescent lights are failing to please everyone, it looks like LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are the new black.

In the past five years or so, a variety of LED lights have been selling more than any other kind, according to Sondra Lease, co-owner of Turn-On Lighting in Rio Rancho.

The reasons: customers find LED light more attractive; LED is more energy-efficient; and the bulbs can be used in chandeliers, drop-down lights, built-in fixtures called cans, and even strips of tape studded with tiny bulbs that create dramatic statements hanging from the ceiling of a dining or living room.

Incandescent light bulbs, which used to be easily found in grocery and hardware stores, are being eliminated due to federal energy laws. Soon they will be impossible to find, Lease said.

One of the many variations of LED bulbs is LED tape, above, which is often used as a fixture over dining tables. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
One of the many variations of LED bulbs is LED tape, above, which is often used as a fixture over dining tables. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

According to Charlie Silva, president of Bright Ideas Inc., who runs the Lamp Shop in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights, “In the long run, they are the most cost-effective lighting … They are also very versatile and come in different color temperatures and different color rendering and most can be dimmed. They are used in recessed can lights, under-cabinet lights, decorative fixtures, task lights and vanity lights.”

There’s virtually nowhere they can’t go, he added. “LED bulbs can now be used everywhere in the home. They even have LED strip lights to replace the fluorescent strip lights that most people have in the garage. LED bulbs are the future in lighting, and I see most fixtures being made with LED bulbs.”

The more efficient but less attractive fluorescent bulbs were supposed to take the place of incandescent lights, but they often get a thumbs-down from customers who prefer a warmer feeling light. “What we find is that some people have a negative feeling, or they just don’t like, fluorescent … a lot of people complain because the color rendition is different,” Lease said.

On the other hand, she added that the demand for LEDs is increasing – although other parts of the country have become LED bulb converts sooner than customers in the Land of Enchantment.

Turn-On Lighting’s showroom features a candelabra with candle-like LED bulbs with different base colors – one white, one silver, one brushed nickel – which cost about $12 apiece and are supposed to last 25,000 hours. By comparison, the fluorescent and incandescent bulbs cost a few dollars at local grocery and drug stores.

LED bulbs, like the one pictured at right, aren’t that different in appearance from incandescent bulbs. This one is a LED omni bulb, which gives out approximately the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent bulb. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
LED bulbs, like the one pictured at right, aren’t that different in appearance from incandescent bulbs. This one is a LED omni bulb, which gives out approximately the same amount of light as a 75-watt incandescent bulb. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

But with a lifespan of almost a quarter century – often 22 to 23 years – they are 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

The range of colors that LED lighting produces is related to the color temperature on a Kelvin scale, with the higher the number the cooler – or more blue – the light will appear.

“It’s a whole new world when it comes to light bulbs,” Lease said. And because that world is new, it would help for shoppers, who might be unfamiliar with it, to know what to ask for.

According to Silva, “Consumers should look for several things when shopping for LED bulbs: color temperature, lumen output (which is how bright a bulb is), and the color rendering index (CRI),” all of which are generally printed on the package. The higher efficiency of the LED bulbs should outweigh customers’ concerns about cost, he said.

“There is still some hesitation on the part of the consumer because the cost of an LED bulb is substantially higher than the bulbs they have been buying for years,” according to Silva. “I inform my customers of the advantages of LEDs so they can make an educated decision.”

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