Home Info and articles LED light bulbs - are they right for me?

LED light bulbs - are they right for me?

Short version: Almost certainly yes.

LED bulbs are great for all type of lighting. From effect lighting such as inside a wardrobe, or to highlight a shelf display, or mark the edge of the decking your garden, all the way up to general room lighting, and outdoor spaces.

In recent years, the technology used in LED lighting has progressed rapidly. We are now happy to recommend that you use LEDs for most of your lighting requirements. There are still a few cases where the right product just isn't available yet, but this is rare, in general LEDs are the way to go.


LED lights used to be dim, and only really suitable for effect lighting, but that's no longer true. Modern LED light bulbs can be very bright indeed and are quite suitable to replace an old 100w light bulb. Many manufacturers specify an 'equivalent' wattage, to provide a rough idea of the amount of light produced when compared with an old incandescent light bulb.

Brightness is measured in 'lumen', which is the best way to compare the brightness of one product against another, comparing wattages is not relevant, as one some manufacturers have squeezed out more lumen of light for each watt of power consumed. The technology is constantly improving, so the 'lumen-per-watt' calculation is constantly increasing.

'Quality' or colour of light

The 'quality' of light is a perceptual issue. When we're really referring to is the colour of the light or the mix of colours that might up the colour we can see. Old LED light bulbs earned a poor reputation because they only produced a very specific wavelength of light, which made some objects look great, and others look a bit strange.

Modern LED light bulbs emit a good mix of wavelengths (which determine the colour), just like an old incandescent bulb, so this problem has been resolved. Producing a mix of colours means that objects can be seen as you would expect them to appear.

The various wavelengths produced by each LED light bulb can be controlled by the manufacturers, which has resulted in more choice of products. If you prefer a yellow warm white like an old style high energy bulb, then that's no problem. Want a cooler 'daylight' light - no problem either!

The overall colour temperature (shade of white) of light is measured in Kelvin, usually some thousands of Kelvin. The lowest lighting colour temperatures are about 2400K, which is a very warm (yellow/orange) shade of white. The highest commonly used is 6500K, which we describe as 'daylight' and appears blue than yellow. In the middle is 'cool' white at about 4000K.

Beware that the words used in describing colour temperatures can be misleading as different people use different words for the same thing. e.g. 'daylight white', 'natural white', 'cool white', 'neutral white' have all been used to describe anything between 3500K and 6500K, by different manufacturers. When comparing colour temperatures, always use the numbers!


Many LED light bulbs are not compatible with dimmers. if a non-dimmable light bulb is connected to a dimmer switch then it's likely to damage the light bulb. Even a dimmer switch set to maximum is not the same as a regular on/off switch, being turned on.

However, some LED light bulbs are dimmable, as long as you also use a suitable dimmer switch. It's important that a compatible dimmer is used, as an old dimmer that worked perfectly well with hundreds of watts of incandescent light probably won't work with LED lighting.

We recommend the Varilight V-Pro range of dimmers. These dimmers are also recommended by most lighting manufacturers as they tend to have the most compatibility with the largest variety of light bulbs.