Everything you need to know about LEDs

Posted by Jac Slaney on

Here at Utopia we design very much at the interface where client and designer meet, regularly being commissioned to problem solve lighting issues. A big part of our job is creating bespoke commissions that make a statement in a room when the source of light is key. This blog has a particular focus looking on light-emitting diodes (LEDs). But before we do that let's share some general information to put them in context of what is available.


There are 3 main types of light: incandescent, fluorescent and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) plus halogen bulbs, neon, candles, oil lamps etc. The type and strength of artificial light is an important factor - possibilities and variations are endless with cool and warm options, colour changing and sequential, and then of course dimmable too. Every light source has a colour temperature which describes how warm or cool the light it emits is. The Kelvin temperature scale is a useful industry standard to use where the higher the number the cooler the light source.

Warm white - 2500K-3000K is the standard colour of incandescent bulbs.

Bright white/cool white - 3500K-4100K.

Daylight - 5000K-6500K

For decades, the amount of light of a lamp/bulb was measured in watts because the brightness of traditional incandescent bulbs was directly related to its power consumption. Now the more appropriate method of lumens is used to denote the quantity of visible light. Most manufacturers mark the comparative values of lumens and watts on the packaging of their LEDs.


Since launching Utopia eight years ago, the industry's development in the design of LEDs has been amazing. No longer are these lamps/bulbs in traditional forms and colours, but are now available in a plethora of shapes, sizes, textures and colours. This has been hugely beneficial to our own design process and a support to our environmental remit. We design lights usually with redundant antiques. Objects that once society coveted but now no longer has a role for. Our first design took antique silver-plated teapots and transformed them into lights and lamps. They were an instant success and remain a stalwart in our catalogue.


Common questions we get asked


How long do LEDs last?

It varies, but 15,000 hours is about average.


Don't the bulbs get hot like incandescent ones?

No, they stay cool to the touch.


Can you get dimmable LEDs?

Yes they are widely available, but usually cost a little more than the non-dimmable ones. Always check the manufacturers specifications before purchasing.


Are LEDs cheap to run?

LEDs use very little power, so it makes sense in our energy conscious world to use them.


What colour LEDs are available?

They are available in almost every colour so the creative possibilities are endless.


What difference do the different colours make to the amount of light emitted?

It is not just the colours that effects the strength of the light but also if the colour is opaque or translucent. The amount of lumens each LED emits is the key to the answer - this information should be on the box and usually the LED itself too.


Can I use LEDs in my old lamp?

As long as the lamp is wired properly and safe to use there should be no reason not to use them.


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