If you’ve tried to buy a light bulb lately, you know it’s no longer as simple as running down to the hardware store for a couple of 60-watt or candelabra-style bulbs.
In just a few years – thanks to advances in technology, environmental concerns and federal regulations on incandescent bulbs – the choices in the lighting aisles have exploded, leaving many consumers confused and annoyed, especially when they learn that those 60-watt standard incandescents are due to be phased out in 2014.
Lucy Dearborn is here to help. The owner of the award-winning Lucía Lighting and Design showroom in Lynn is one of our go-to sources for interesting and beautiful fixtures. And she’s always got a smart take on the latest technology.
In the lighting world, there’s nothing more state-of-the art than money- and energy-saving LED. Lucy’s design associate Lisa Proulx helped us choose LED fixtures for a gut renovation kitchen project in Andover that is nearly complete.
Lucy herself spent time with us last month so we could share with you some of the best ways to incorporate LED technology into your projects. In future posts, we’ll discuss what’s new and next in recessed, undercabinet and accent LED lighting.
But first, the basics.
LED stands for “light-emitting diode,” and it’s a completely different method of distributing light than your typical incandescent (or even fluorescent) bulb. Each “diode” creates highly directed and intense light. They are powered by standard household electricity combined with a transformer or driver that is either built into the unit (as in with LED screw-in replacement bulbs) or installed in a convenient spot near the fixture.
LED lights offer an energy savings of up to 90 percent over the standard bulb. And since LEDs last for tens of thousands of hours – up to 100,000 hours in some applications – you likely will never have to change them out.
The technology looks as high tech as it is. Grouped together, Lucy Dearborn said, the diodes look a little like Lite-Brites – especially when they come in colors!
But more importantly, those clusters or strips of diodes, when packaged properly, increasingly can provide comfortable and useful task and general lighting throughout the home. Take a look at this beautiful transitional kitchen featuring recessed LED fixtures and accent lighting provided by Lucía:
A lighting design, Lucy said, should be like a “7-layer-cake” that satisfies every lighting need in a room.
“People use their rooms in so many different ways,” she said. “In a kitchen, for example, it’s not uncommon for someone to be cooking, someone to be on their laptop, someone to be reading a newspaper …”
Until very recently, LED lighting was either impractical, too expensive or simply too cold and sterile for the average homeowner.
Early LED residential lighting was a very cool, harsh white. Today’s new fixtures and LED replacement bulbs have color temperature ratings of 2700 to 3000 kelvins (or K), giving them a warmer cast.
A rating of 2700K is equivalent to the temperature of the light emitted by a standard incandescent bulb, and is the number to look for when bringing LED lighting into your home, Lucy said.
More – and much improved – LED lighting in this color temperature range is hitting the market, dropping prices and making it more accessible to the typical homeowner.
But how to bring it into your home? In our next installment, Lucy will tell us all about designing with LED recessed lighting.