Light years ahead

While traditional halogen lamps are still widespread in residential applications across the UK, LEDs are quickly cementing their reputation as the more modern, efficient and durable choice. This is reflected in the booming LED market, which is reported to have grown by around 400-500% since 2010 – even in spite of the EU’s decision to delay the ban on halogen lamps (with an efficiency rating of Class D or below) until 2018. Within this growth market, one product has emerged as the true frontrunner – LED spotlights, used as direct replacements for conventional halogen spots.

In recent years, LED spots have become bestsellers for domestic applications (at LEDHut Trade, for example, GU10 LEDs make up more than 75% of our top-ten product sales). What’s more, the rise and rise of LED spots in the residential sector – and across the board – is only set to continue for the foreseeable future. Therefore, what do specifiers need to know about making the transition from halogens to LEDs?

Highlighting benefits
As a relatively new technology, LEDs can fall foul to certain misconceptions. First and foremost, people are often put off by the higher upfront costs of LEDs in comparison to halogens and other conventional lamps and, as a result, are overlooking the considerable long-term money and energy savings they deliver. Yes, LEDs have a higher price point than halogens, but that’s because they operate at a higher level of efficiency and have such a lengthy lifespan. This means they continue to deliver on-going savings and reduce maintenance costs long after they have paid for themselves. What’s more, thanks to heavy investment in R&D, supply chain management and marketing, in 2015 LEDs are less of a specialist item and more of a commodity than ever – with increasing demand and availability pushing prices down market-wide.

The sheer breadth of products available is also sometimes underestimated. Contrary to what some believe, the vast majority of modern LEDs are designed for quick and straightforward installation into existing light fittings, with no specialist tools or product training required. Moreover, while spotlights may be the overall bestsellers, there is an LED to suit every application – from standard lamps for domestic properties, right through to large-scale commercial and industrial lighting solutions.

Specifying for success
As LEDs become the norm, manufacturers are responding to specifier feedback, and this constant market evolution means LEDs are easier to specify than ever before. For example, at LEDHut Trade we have recently launched a new range of LUMiLife GU10 spotlights, which are our best-ever like-for-like replacements for less efficient halogen spots. These have been designed specifically to tackle a key concern among customers specifying halogen replacements – brightness. The new spots boast enhanced luminosity, exactly matching the lighting outputs of halogen spotlights in the 35 W to 70 W range, while cutting electricity consumption by up to 90% and lasting up to 20 times longer too.
As well as growing and improving their product offering, reputable manufacturers are also working hard to provide better specifier support, with the introduction of additional services such as lighting scheme design.

Quality assurance
While the thriving LED market means there is no shortage of choice for specifiers, it also means that new manufacturers are emerging all the time. This can make it difficult to tell the difference between high quality products and ones that are unlikely to stand the test of time, especially given that most LEDs appear very similar on the outside.

To ensure they are opting for the real deal, the first step for specifiers is always to choose products with a strong warranty – guaranteeing long-term performance and reliability, and providing all-important peace of mind. At LEDHut, for instance, we offer trade customers an extended five-year warranty on our full range of LUMiLife lamps and spotlights (on completion of a warranty form).

You should also always look out for proof of certification, which confirms the manufacturer has met the necessary electrical certification requirements. Last but not least, it’s worth listening to others. Online review platforms like eKomi are the ideal place to seek out an independent seal of approval when it comes to quality, as they are usually the best source of impartial, honest and useful feedback.

Bright future
As awareness of the advantages of LED spotlights as direct halogen replacements carries on rising, residential demand will continue to soar with it, and the market will inevitably grow and change in response. It’s crucial that specifiers keep up to speed with these fast-paced developments – as only those who do will be able to unlock the full potential of LEDs for future projects.