Understanding LED Light Specs & Labels
Shopping for the best LED light can be confusing. Do you want to buy something based on wattage or lumens? What are the quality standards you should look for? Will this LED be bright enough for your needs? Reading an LED label doesn’t have to be confusing once you know what you’re looking for.
Lumens: A lumen is an easy indicator that will help you determine how much light an LED will output. Lumens are a measurement of the amount of light by a source, the more lumens an LED produces, the more light you can expect to have from it. You may see this listed on a package as Light Output, Luminous Flux or Lumens. As a quick comparison, a regular 60 watt incandescent bulb generates roughly 600 – 800 lumens. Lumens are irrespective of watts for LED lights which means the greater the watts doesn’t always equate to greater lumens.
Watts: A watt is a unit that measures the amount of power an LED bulb requires for it to produce light. The higher the watts a bulb indicates the more power it will require which also increases the energy costs related to using that bulb. LED lights are well known for their low wattage in comparison to traditional incandescent bulbs. You may see this listed on a label as Watts.
Lumens per Watt: When you notice lumens per watt on an LED package, this refers primarily to the efficiency of the LED light. Why does lumens per watt matter? The greater the efficiency of the bulb, the more cost effective that bulb is and the lower your electricity bill will be. You may see packaging display this as Luminous Efficacy or Lumens per Watt.
Correlated Color Temperature: If you’ve ever tried to determine whether a light in your home is considered a warm or cool tone than you’ve unknowingly pondered the correlated color temperature (CCT) of a bulb. CCT levels can range from 2700 K (Kelvin – a unit that measures temperature) to 6500 K. Low CCT values generally correlate with “warmer” tones, sometimes appearing yellowish, while high Kelvin generally relates to a cooler tone, often described as ‘blue’. Correlated color temperature can completely change the perception of a room. Warmer tones are best utilized for intimate, romantic spaces while cool tones are best chosen for areas like the kitchen or bathroom where greater visibility is essential. Often the CCT scale will be accompanied by a color tolerance system such as the color rendering index. Read how you can use colour temperature as a factor in your interior design here...
Color Rendering Index: To determine a lights ability to properly, or realistically, show an objects color, you may find the Color Rendering Index or (CRI) on the label alongside the CCT. Simply stated, the lower the CRI amount of a bulb the greater the chance that an objects color will appear unnatural. The maximum value a bulb can achieve is 100; however, as a basis for comparison an average fluorescent bulb may only have a CRI in the low 60s.
Compliance and Regulations: When purchasing an LED it is important to ensure it is certified and complies with the most recent regulations for health and safety. The Standards Association of Australia (SAA) and approved affiliated organizations certify products for use once they pass safety testing. All electrical products must go through an approval process and approvals must comply with local safety regulations before it can be sold. Look for SAA approval markings on any LED lighting you look to purchase.
The Consumer Electronics (CE) Mark is another certification electronic manufacturers can use to show they comply with standard regulations put forth by the European Economic Area (EEA). Manufacturers can solely choose to adorn this mark of compliance without any other government testing involved, however, a manufacturer must complete internal testing with detailed documentation made available upon request. For this reason, you can see the CE mark on many products outside of the European market signifying that they comply with the current EEA regulations.
The Lighting Council of Australia also implemented the Solid State Lighting (SSL) Quality Scheme that allows manufacturers to voluntarily provide labels detailing the claims made for their product. Performance parameters, reports and other evidence are provided to the Lighting Council to verify the claims. You can find all registered products on the Lighting Councils website.
When shopping for the right light, knowing what to look for can completely change your experience. Labeling can sometimes cause confusion, but now with the right information, you can make educated choices that can be aesthetically pleasing but still cost effective.