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LEDs (light emitting diodes) have been around since the 1960s and used in coloured fairy lights, display text, indicator lights, torches, traffic lights and car lights, etc. Until fairly recently LEDs have not been used for general household lighting but this is changing. LED lighting is undoubtedly the way forward for home lighting because energy use, and therefore running costs, is so much less than conventional bulbs. At present LED lighting is less commonly used due to the higher initial cost but as the technology improves they should become cheaper and more readily available. Modern super bright LED bulbs and spotlights give a strong light which compares favourably with less efficient lighting sources such as halogen or standard filament bulbs. As LEDs are fairly new, many manufacturers are giving slightly exaggerated claims regarding the light output and efficiency of the bulbs. 

The number of LEDs is not the issue in determining how bright the bulb will be. The brightness of LED bulbs is measured in lumens or lux. Lumens are used to measure the total amount of light emitted by the bulb and lux measures how bright the light is on a surface at a specific distance. A candle generates 13 lumens, a 100 watt filament bulb will generate 1200 lumens and a 50 watt halogen spotlight bulb will produce about 600 lumens. The new breed of super bright LED lights produce about 80 lumens per watt of power. When choosing LED bulbs the important thing is to compare how many lumens the new bulb produces with how many lumens your old bulb produced. Available LED bulbs vary in brightness from less than 50 lumens up to around 1200 lumens. The brightest LED bulbs, that are roughly the same size as an ordinary incandescent bulb, use about 25 watts to produce light comparable to a 120 watt incandescent bulb.



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