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Want to update to LED lights, save on power bills and likely never have to replace them again? LED lights are the answer. Our ‘Dummies Guide to LED Lights – you can do it’ is all you need to get motivated.

The Dummies Guide to LED Lights is part of our #Stop the energy rip-off campaign that focuses on how to save energy and money. It is among our highest rating series in 2020-2021. Why? Because we all want to reduce power bills and LED lights are almost the no-brainer thing you can easily do.

Let’s not forget that the switch to LED lights has already saved Australia over 570 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses (2017 figures). This alone has more effect that the zillions of hectares of wind farms or solar panels.

Yes – that is right. Save the planet simply by switching to LED lighting. Now with replacement bulbs less than $10 its time to act.

GadgetGuy spoke to Patrick Castellano Metropolitan Electrical Contactors for the inside tech info. The company is Australia wide and apart from doing the usual sparky things has expertise in smart homes.

Consumer Advice: If something has a three-pin AU power plug, then you don’t need a sparky. If it does not have a plug, you do.

We also spoke to Chris Lau, MD of LaserCo that supplies Laser brand Smart Bulbs and Connect indoor and outdoor lighting. The following is the joint expert’s advice.

Dummies Guide to LED Lights – you can do it!

To be blunt, we want all readers to replace older Halogen, Fluorescent, CFL and incandescent bulbs and start reaping the energy savings.

In my home alone, the change meant lowering my lighting energy usage by 83% from over 3000W to 250W. Then I added smart task lighting so that most of the time at night we use about 10W-50W.

Halogen vs LED Lights

  • Halogen bulbs last between 1000 to 2000 hours (and weaken considerably over time). A LED still produces at least 70% brightness after 50,000 hours – 20 years of average use.
  • LEDs use up to 85% less electricity. That means you pay 85% less to run them. A 50-60-watt halogen bulb replacement is a mere 5-7.5-watt LED.
  • Halogen bulbs burn hot – LEDs are not a fire risk (no more ‘Ruddy’ Pink Batts fires)
  • LED on the colour/white rendering index (a way of determining how ‘natural’ colours appear under the light) are now similar to conventional lighting.

Colour Temperature

LEDs come in different colour temperatures. Some even have a switch to select the one you want.

  • Warm (2700° Kelvin) is closest to daylight and the old incandescent bulb – what most want
  • Neutral white (3500K)
  • Cool white (6500K) is bluer and can be useful for makeup mirrors, early mornings, and task lighting. It can disturb circadian rhythms (sleep) so keep cool blue light out of bedrooms.

Replacing Halogen with LED is easy to DIY (Do it Yourself) but DFOTL (don’t fall off that ladder)

Older 50-60W Halogen non-dimmable downlights usually fit into a 90mm ceiling hole. Some have square or ornamental frames over the hole.

These have a transformer tucked in the ceiling that either has a 240V AU Plug or it is hardwired – if you do a bulb-for-bulb replacement that is no issue. These take 240V and supply up to 60VA (Volt-Amps = 12V/5W). These only work with 12V/5W LED lights.

We have tested the Philips 5W Warm White GU 5.3 fitting from Bunnings for $41.80 for a six-pack with the ATCO Possum brand transformer. Buy one bulb to try first – if it works, then replace the rest.

Consumer advise and warning:

  • When you buy LEDs, be aware that most are 6.5W and only 4.5 or 5W will work with your transformer. If the bulb does not work or flashes intermittently, it is not the right one.
  • Most fittings have a GU5.3 fitting (2-pin narrow neck), but some have a GU10 fitting  (2-pin larger round neck). Check what you have first!

Dimmable halogen downlights

If you have a dimmer on the halogen lights, you should be able to use a 5W LED blub-for-bulb replacement without any electrical issues. But most existing dimmers will only dim the light in one or two steps – not infinite.

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