Four years ago I installed my first LED lighting fixtures. At that time, not only was LED NOT a first choice for me, I was apprehensive about installing and selling it. The few times I did use LED was when I needed a low maintenance solution, (like mounting fixtures high in a tree), or where having a colder white light was preferred, as in creating a moonlighting effect.
On a spec sheet LED was, and still is, the superior choice over traditional halogen and incandescent lights. LED offers many technical advantages including energy efficiency, flexible installation options, and long lamp life. HIgh quality LED fixtures and lamps have warranties ranging from 5 to 15 years and there is one manufacturer I know of that warranties their LED fixture for a lifetime. Imagine having a light fixture that NEVER needed a bulb changed!.
So, with such amazing specs, why has it taken so long to make a true LED believer out of me? That answer lies in the fact that aesthetics always trumps new technology in the design business. I’m not selling heating and air conditioning systems, energy output and efficiency are not what I’d consider to be top priority. My customers expect me to create a lighting portrait an aesthetic enhancement of their outdoor world. If that’s not achieved, impressive technical specs behind the product mean nothing.
Four years ago, LED had many aesthetic limitations. The color, (or temperature), of the light was often heavily skewed towards a higher kelvin temperature, (white to bluish color), and flexibility with beam spread was very limited. I would have never, for instance, used LED to up-light a house, especially a light-colored house, because of the harshness and inconsistency of the light color from one fixture to the next.
That has all dramatically changed over the past couple of years. This past year the vast majority of systems we’ve installed were mostly if not entirely LED. LED have not only matched incandescent in aesthetics, but in my opinion they’ve now exceeded them. Most manufacturers offer a choice of several color and temperature outputs for their LEDs. I can now match the warmth of incandescent or choose a cooler light depending on the application. In addition LED lamps have no filaments, reflectors, or gridded thick lenses that can create shadows and unwanted patterns in the light beam. LED light beams are much cleaner, smoother, and feather out much nicer across a surface than halogen or incandescent. The photo above is a customer’s house which we lit entirely with LED fixtures. The entire illumination and effect was achieved with a total of 42 watts.
The last remaining concern I had was whether snow cover would become problematic since LED lamps generate much less heat than traditional halogen/incandescent lamps. Well, that concern was tested here in Central Ohio with the recent blanket of snow. It may take longer, but the snow does melt around the fixtures and the affect is both unique and beautiful.
LED is now my first recommendation for all my customers. This does not at all mean that past customers have missed the boat. Most traditional fixtures can be retrofitted with an LED lamp. So it’s very simple to convert an existing incandescent system into an LED system.