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Singapore Tatler Homes // The Green Light

Touted as the future of the lighting industry, LED lights offer users a lot more benefits than just energy efficiency

For the last few years, the traditional incandescent bulb has been living on borrowed time. In Europe, the United States and Australia, governments have passed laws to phase out the production of these lights.

Bed Room Lighting

Aside from saving energy, LED diodes are also smaller than conventional light bulbs and can be worked into narrow areas along the walls, stairs, ceilings and in wardrobes.

While no such law has been passed in Singapore just yet, industry insiders believe that it’s just a matter of time before halogen and incandescent bulbs make an exit from the scene here as well.

“At some point in the future, halogen lights will become a thing of the past because there will be a lot of societal pressure to not use lights that generate a lot of heat when in operation and in the process, squander energy,” says Ong Wei Ping, Executive Director of EcoLight Design Consultants, citing the rising cost of oil and electricity as one of the factors contributing to this possible development.

For many homeowners, the attractiveness of LED lights lies in their energy efficiency, as they utilize around 20 per cent of the power that conventional light bulbs use, thus helping to reduce utility bills as well. However, the benefits they bring are not limited to energy-cost savings alone.

One Light, Many Benefits

For a start, as they consume less energy, LED lights have a longer lifespan, which means that they do not have to be replaced frequently. Most manufacturers put the operational lifespan of LED lamps between 25,000 to 50,000 hours. Comparatively, conventional incandescent bulbs have a far shorter lifespan, lasting 1,000-2,000 hours on average.

“For architectural purposes, you can have modular LEDs that come in different wattages. These can be used anywhere and also be dismantled and used individually in places such as ceiling or wall coves,” Ong adds.

Thirdly, LEDs have an immediate restrike, which means that they light up immediately when you switch them on. Unlike conventional lights, they don’t flicker, making them gentler on the eyes as well.

Finally, the fact that LEDs do not discharge UV rays also makes them ideal for lighting art collections as this means that they won’t make paintings fade over time, unlike conventional lights.

How LED works: Light is produced via a chip. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs don't make use of a heated filament. 90 per cent of the energy used is released as heat while the light produced is just a small by-product of this process in conventional lights. When using LEDs, make sure the bulbs are compatible with your home's electrical circuit. In some cases, you might have to install special wiring if you want to use a dimmer with your lights.

How LED works: Light is produced via a chip. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs don’t make use of a heated filament. 90 per cent of the energy used is released as heat while the light produced is just a small by-product of this process in conventional lights. When using LEDs, make sure the bulbs are compatible with your home’s electrical circuit. In some cases, you might have to install special wiring if you want to use a dimmer with your lights.

A Luxury of Options

The first generation of LEDs came under a lot of criticism when it was first introduced to the market. Not only were they considerably more expensive than conventional lights, many felt that they had too cold a colour temperature. That has now changed with improvements in technology.

Ong, whose firm’s portfolio includes the newly opened Dorsett Regency Hotel & Residences in Chinatown, which features more than 95 per cent LED lights, says that they can be “very friendly” if used properly.

In fact, new technology has made it possible for homeowners to have a choice of cold and warm light in the same fitting. “How these bulbs work is that they are equipped with a particular radio frequency receiver that lets you adjust the colour temperature and dim it at the same time with a remote control,” he explains. Thus, one is not forced to choose between a cold light and a warm one for a room that serves multiple functions. Homeowners, for example, can choose a warmer light when entertaining guests in their living room and switch to a brighter one when reading.

In addition, with new advancements in technology, LED lights now have a far wider range of applications than before.

Apart from being used as decorative lights, they can also be used as mood, ambient and architectural lighting. One innovation offered by Ong’s company is seamless cove lighting. Unlike the conventional kind that has fittings at the end which result in dark spots on the ceiling, LED cove lighting can be designed to produce a consistent and seamless glow.

Outdoor lighting is also another avenue that homeowners can consider since LEDs consume less electricity and generate less heat, making them more sustainable and cost-effective, not to mention less of a fire hazard, than conventional lights.

Another advantage: since they do not have to be replaced as often as conventional lights, they create less of a hassle for owners of hard-to-reach flood lights.

That said, aside from these benefits, is there any other reason homeowners should consider switching to LED lights? For Ong, there’s also the matter of doing one’s part for the environment. “You can recycle your bottles, use less air conditioning or use energy-efficient light bulbs that don’t harm the planet. Once you start to do things like that, you feel better about yourself.”