GLENN HAEGE

Handyman: LED now viable choice for indoors, outdoors

Glenn Haege

Five years ago the light-emitting diode (LED) bulb weren’t common around the house because the product choices were very limited while the price was about 10 times higher than other light bulbs. But today the technology and options have improved greatly while the price has come way down, making them more practical to use both inside and outside the home. LED can be used in virtually any lighting fixture and are more energy-efficient and long-lasting than other types of bulbs.

According to DTE’s Lighting Selection Guide on its website (dteenergy.com) while the initial cost of LED is higher than compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or Halogen bulbs, the LED average of a 25-year lifespan and low energy use make it the least expensive option over a course of 10 years. In fact, when comparing 100 watt bulbs with 1600 lumens, DTE’s Lighting Guide says the LED annual energy cost is $2.88, while a comparable CFL is $3.02.

When choosing LED or CFL, the packaging for these bulbs now focuses on lumens (lm) rather than watts. Using wattage was the way we choose bulbs in the past, with the higher wattage providing more light. But today, the focus is on lumens, which measures the amount of light delivered by a single “candle.” Like watts, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light. An energy-efficient bulb that claims to be the equivalent of a 60 W incandescent bulb must have a minimum light output of 700–750 lm.

Another new number you’ll see on LED bulb packaging is for color temperature, or degrees of Kelvin (K). Most bulbs for residential use will range in the 2700K to 3000K range, or Warm White. Bulbs can move from there into Cool White (3100K - 4500K) and Daylight (4600K - 6500K).

Keeping up with the constant changes in the lighting industry has been a challenge according to Chick Ross, owner of Trevarrow ACE Hardware in Troy, 248-689-8030, trevarrowace.com. “Over the last four years we have updated our lighting center three times,” Ross said. Their selection of LED bulb manufacturers includes Feit, GE, greenlite and others.

Now there are LED bulbs that can handle rough-duty applications like the front porch or light in the garage door opener, and in unique applications such as candelabras and appliances.

There are even LED tapes that you can put in and around bookcases, and cabinets that are normally dark and hard to reach.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege" on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.