5 Steps to Follow so You can Pick the Right LED Replacement

5 Steps to Follow so You can Pick the Right LED Replacement

So the next time someone says, 'Come on already, what LED bulb do you want, this isn't rocket science.' Well it may not be, but I bet you never knew picking a stinking light bulb could be so hard! Here are 5 steps to help you pick the correct replacement LED bulb. 

Step 1: Remove your old bulb from the fixture and take a picture of it. Pictures are worth a thousand words, well let me rephrase that, good pictures are worth a thousand words. Try your best to include a model number or any verbiage that indicates bulb type or wattage in your photo. Here is an example of a BR30. If you can not get a picture of the bulb then a picture of the old box that the bulbs came in can be just as helpful.

Step 2: Understanding the application or fixture type will give you an indication of what type of bulb you could use. Was the old bulb in a lamp, in a wall sconce, a recessed light? What size base does your old bulb have?  Typical bulbs have an E26 base while most of your smaller decorative bulbs have an E12 base.

Step 3: Good lighting has become such an afterthought that many times a homeowner just replaces a burnt out bulb with whatever they have laying around. Take this opportunity to check and make sure the best bulb type is being used. Even though it is a matter of personal preference, there definitely will be a big difference if you have a large room with 4 recessed cans that had BR30's in them and you replace them with PAR 20's. Understanding what each bulb type does will help guide you to the correct replacement product. Here are two most common bulb types: 'R' (or 'BR') and the 'PAR'.


Step 4: Are you happy with the light output from your older bulbs? If so, then your choice is simple. Just find the LED product equal and you are done! If you would like more light output (lumens), then you can select the next higher available wattage for that bulb type and vice versa if you want less. Keep in mind that by changing the color temperature your mind's eye may perceive the light to be brighter (3000K-4000K range) or not as bright (2000K-2400K range).

Step 5: Are you happy with the Color Temperature of the bulb that was installed previously? Keep in mind this is not how bright the light was but more to do with the color of the light. See this basic chart below for a guide.

 A Step that I didn't put on here but something worth considering is a term called CRI.  CRI stands for Color Rendering Index and it is a scale from 0 to 100 percent indicating how accurate the light source is at rendering color when compared to a "reference" light source.  For many people anything around 82-85 will be sufficient but for areas where you need the colors to appear as they should, selecting something above 90 will do the trick.

So let's put this to practice:  Lets say you have 10 recessed lights in your kitchen that are just not bright enough and the light always feels dim. Your cheat sheet might look like this:

Step 1. From the picture I took it looks like we have a 50W PAR20.  Fair enough,  now let me check my fixture type.... 

Step 2.  So looking at my fixture,  I have a 5" recessed can with a standard white 5" circle trim.  Hmmmm,  based on the size recessed can and trim,  a BR30 or PAR30 bulb would work and might also address my issues with the light not being bright enough.  But what bulb should I pick between the BR30 and PAR30?.......

Step 3.  Well the choice between BR and PAR truly is a matter of preference but there are a few things to keep in mind.  If your room does not have enough Recessed Fixtures, than using a PAR style bulb, which is more of a directed light, may not give you the light coverage you want.  In this case we have 12 recessed fixtures for a small room, so I am confident that if I use a PAR30 Flood type bulb then I will get the coverage I want and need. (R Style lamp on left casting a general light versus PAR Style lamp on right casting a more directed light.  Neither right or wrong just different.)

Step 4.  Well by choosing a PAR30 bulb I am already getting a higher output bulb than the PAR20.  Even though I am going to a larger sized bulb, I still want more light output so I think I am going to choose the highest equivalent wattage PAR30 I can get.  Since I am using an Approved Dimmer,  I can dim the lights down when I don't want the full amount of light.

Step 5.  Because this is my kitchen,  I would like for the light to be a little whiter, something better for task lighting. I also want to use the highest CRI bulb I can get because it is my kitchen and I want my foods to look good.  So because of that I want to go with a 3000K color temperature instead of the 2700K that the PAR20 bulb was with a 90 CRI.

ALL DONE--now just choose a manufacturer and you are all done.

If you want a cleaner more elegant look and products that offer longer lifetimes,  check out some of the ALL-in One retrofit options.  Also available in High CRI models.


CONTACT an Energy Squad Professional for more help in choosing your LED replacements.

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