Replacing CFLs With LEDs
If you've already replaced incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, are there any advantages to replacing those CFLs with LEDs?
Decorative fixtures, like sconces, can take lower-wattage LED or CFL lamps, but reading lights need higher light levels.
I updated most of the light bulbs in my table and floor lamps to CFLs about six months ago. I am wondering if upgrading them to LED would make a difference in regard to quality of light and lamp shade life from UV exposure. Most LED bulbs I have seen are around 80 CRI, while my CFLs are around 84 CRI, so I am not sure if I would perceive a difference in the quality of light. Would there be any advantage if I were to upgrade to LED?

With regard to using LED replacement bulbs in your floor lamps and table lamps, I would have you look at lumen output. Most LED replacements for household bulbs are not providing a high enough light output to equal what we are getting from incandescent lamps or compact fluorescents. The best we are getting right now is about 60W equivalent illumination from an LED household bulb. CFLs can easily provide the equivalent of 75W to 100W worth of illumination, which is more the light level we are looking for.

Switch Lighting does have a 75W equivalent LED "A" lamp and a 100W equivalent. These bulbs at present are pretty pricey — in the $50 to $66 range — but the company has announced that it will be offering lower-priced versions of its lower-wattage lamps. The 75W has a color temperature of 2700K, which is equal to that of regular incandescent, with a CRI of 80. The 100W is a much cooler 4000K and has a CRI of 80 as well. You can’t really tell the difference between a CRI rating of 80 compared to 84, but you would start to see difference if the CRI rating was in the 90 to 95 range.

Both CFLs and LEDs will be kind to your lamp shades. LEDs have no UV and fluorescents have very, very little. The worst UV comes from the sun, so any lamp shades that you have next to a window have the potential of fading. Incandescent bulbs, because of the heat they produce, will cause lamp shades to become yellow and crispy over time. To put UV in perspective: Indoor exposure to UV produced by a fluorescent lamp during one eight-hour day is equivalent to just over a minute of midday sun exposure on a clear July day in Washington, D.C.

Where I do see LEDs jumping ahead of the class is in replacing halogen MR16 bulbs (used in recessed adjustable fixtures and landscape lighting) and linear task lighting in kitchens, closets and laundry rooms.

Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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