Confused by LED lighting? You are not alone! With so many different types of LED products on the market it can be difficult to decide which type of lamps or switches to buy for your home.

We have developed this short guide to help you navigate some of the product options which are available to you:

Leading edge or trailing edge?

Domestic electricity is supplied as an alternating current (‘AC’). This means that electricity is supplied in oscillating waves. LEDs, however, can only accept direct current (‘DC’), because they can only tolerate electricity flowing through them in one direction. A choice therefore has to be made as to whether an LED will take its power from the ‘leading edge’ of the waveform or from the ‘trailing edge’. Because the waveform of an alternating current is symmetrical, it is largely irrelevant from which ‘slope’ of this waveform an LED derives its power. However, it is important to know whether an LED lamp is of the ‘leading edge’ or ‘trailing edge’ variety, because some dimmer switches are only compatible with ‘leading edge’ LEDs and vice versa.

Unfortunately, even lighting retailers struggle to understand the importance of this distinction. It is therefore advisable, if you wish to install dimmable LED lighting in your home, to engage the services of a professional electrician, who understands the science behind LED lighting. All Prime Electricians are qualified to Level 3, with graduate or postgraduate qualifications, so know exactly how to match LED lighting with suitable controllers and switchgear.

Cool white or warm white?

Historically, LED lamps were either described as offering a ‘cool white’ or ‘warm white’ colour output. In reality, this is an oversimplification, because these two terms are not used consistently between manufacturers. If your primary concern is an aesthetic one, then we advise you to purchase a number of different lamps and to try each of them, in situ, until you find one which best meets your lighting requirements. Of course, this approach may not be feasible for integrated LED light fittings, because these fittings do not have removable bulbs. The best option therefore, when selecting integrated fittings, is to get some advice from a professional electrician as to which colour output would best suit your design requirements.

If you are also concerned about the health implications of different types of LED light output, then we would advise you to select LEDs which create white light by mixing red, green and blue light, as opposed to those which produce only blue light and use a phosphorous filter to make that light appear white. Unfortunately, lighting retailers tend not to understand this distinction. It is therefore advisable, if you are concerned about the impact of LED lighting on your health, to engage the services of a professional electrician, who understands the science behind LED lighting. All Prime Electricians are qualified to Level 3, with graduate or postgraduate qualifications, so know exactly how LEDs work and how to minimize the health risks associated with these products.

Instant start or soft start?

‘Instant start’ LEDs will reach their full brightness in a very short space of time after they have been switched on, provided that the switch itself is compatible with the LED lamp and does not itself have an integrated ‘soft start’ function. ‘Soft start’ LEDs, take longer to reach their full brightness and, with this type of lamp, there can be a considerable delay between the time you switch on your light and the time that the light appears to come on. The benefit of ‘soft start’ LEDs is that they tend to last longer than their ‘instant start’ counterparts but, in our opinion, the delay in operation can be irritating.

Dimmable or non-dimmable?

LED lamps and integrated LED light fittings are usually described as being either ‘dimmable’ or ‘non-dimmable’. Unfortunately, this is an over-simplification. A better taxonomy is one which differentiates between LEDs which are non-dimmable (i.e. suitable only for on/off switching), trailing-edge dimmable (i.e. suitable for dimming with a tailing-edge dimmer switch) or leading-edge dimmable (i.e. suitable for dimming with a leading-edge dimmer switch).

Even this taxonomy is imperfect because different manufacturers test their dimmer switches with different brands of LED lamp, which means that their performance with other brands cannot be guaranteed, even if the product states that it is suitable for a particular type of LED light bulb or fitting. Therefore, it is important to choose a dimmer switch that has been manufactured and tested using the LED lamp or light fitting which you have selected.

Integrated or non-integrated?

An integrated LED light fitting is one in which the LEDs are ‘hard wired’, i.e. the LEDs are not removable. The advantage of integrated LED light fittings is that they tend to be smaller in profile than those which have removable light bulbs, and can therefore be installed, for example, in ceilings which do not have much space above them. The disadvantage of integrated LED fittings is that when they do, eventually, stop working, the whole light fitting needs to be replaced. When that time comes it will be very difficult to find an identical replacement light fitting, which will be a problem if you have several of the same integrated LED light fittings in your home and wish to retain consistency. Consequently, if you do decide to purchase integrated LED light fittings, we would advise you to purchase a few spares, so that you will have identical replacements in the future.

Selecting the right LED lamps your home is not a straightforward task. Prime Electricians are experts in all aspects of LED lighting and we can help you to select the best products for your requirements. Call today on 0207 06 06 06 1.