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Buying LED Light Bulbs (When You’re Used To Xenon)

Buying LED Light Bulbs (When You’re Used To Xenon)

Posted by Chris Johnson on Jan 19th 2016

You can replace xenon lights with LEDs.

Xenon light bulbs are a kind of incandescent light. If you are not a dedicated lighting nerd (like yours truly), you've probably heard of xenon in reference to car headlights - but they are also great to use around your living space like in under cabinet lighting, puck lights, and more.

What makes a xenon light bulb different from a regular filament lamp is the small amount of xenon gas inside the glass envelope. The gas helps prolong the life of the light bulb, and makes it more efficient – producing more light with less energy.

Xenon lights also have the upper hand on halogen lights (another type of gas-filled incandescent) in a few different ways. They produce much less heat than halogens, and are not as sensitive. You don't have to worry about touching them with your bare hands – the oils from your skin won't cause them to fail prematurely like with halogen.

So overall, xenon lights are pretty great. But they could be better.

While xenon lights are more efficient, longer lasting, more durable, and cooler than halogen and regular incandescent light bulbs, they still don't beat LEDs. If you want to use lights with the longest rated life, that use the least energy, that are the most durable, and the least hot, it's time to transition.

You're probably thinking – what about looks? Sure, an LED looks better on paper, but what if it's illuminating your counter tops? Xenon lights are notoriously good looking, so you need an LED that can measure up.

Here's what to look for when picking out a xenon-like LED:

  • Choose a color temperature slightly cooler than an incandescent lamp, but warmer than a halogen – between 2,800K and 3,000K. These do exist, trust me.
  • Find a light with a quality CRI (Color Rendering Index). Xenon lights have a CRI of 100 – which is perfect. They render colors with the same accuracy as the sun. LED lights generally render colors with slightly less accuracy, but if you find one with a CRI above 80, you should be golden.
  • If replacing a xenon light you already use, observe its brightness level and find an LED with a similar output. The best way to do this is to find out how many lumens the xenon lights emit, and find LEDs with a comparable number. If you try to measure brightness by watts, you won't be accurate, because LEDs produce much more light per every watt of energy they use.
  • Xenon lights, like other incandescents, can dim easily with a standard switch. This feature is very convenient for when you want to change the look or mood of your room, or just save some energy. When looking for an LED replacement, make sure your chosen fixture has dimming capabilities. You may need a special switch to make this happen.
  • When using LED replacement lamps in a xenon fixture, you need to make sure they will be compatible. Make sure the light bulbs have the same wattage and voltage ratings, the same kind of base (bipin, wedge, festoon, etc), and that the glass envelopes are the same size. Before you invest in new light bulbs, make sure they will be able to stay relatively cool within the fixture, because too much heat can reduce the rated life of an LED.
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