Lighting Science Explains High Quality Lighting


Lighting Science's analyzes high quality LED lighting. (Lighting Science/LEDinside)

How do you determine the quality of lighting? You can’t squeeze a bulb to gauge ripeness, nor can you take it for a test drive. You can, however, utilize the following criteria to help you differentiate between low and high-quality lighting.

How well does a bulb do what it’s supposed to?

Just because a bulb turns on when you plug it in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s working the way it’s supposed to. When it comes to quality, you should not be able to see any dead spots in the illumination and it should be evenly distributed. High-quality bulbs produce uniform lighting that creates a soothing sense of visual comfort. Lower-quality bulbs, on the other hand, produce unwelcome results like low light levels, visual discomfort, and distracting patches of light on floors and walls.  Non-LEDs also only maintain a majority of their light level for fifty percent of their lifetime, whereas a quality LED will maintain it’s light-level for around ninety percent of its lifetime.

How aesthetically pleasing is the light?

As mentioned above, uniformity and distribution play a large role in the comfort they provide, however, we can’t forget about color.  A quality bulb should make the colors in a room appear more vibrant.  The Color Rendering Index (CRI) of a high-end bulb should be between 85 and 90. For track lighting, especially track lighting directed at a colorful piece of artwork, the CRI level should be closer to 100.

How efficient and durable is the light?

In today’s cost-conscious world, energy efficiency is a major concern. Addressing this concern, high-quality lighting generally trumps lower-end solutions in the energy-efficiency department. As with appliances and electrical systems, many high-quality bulbs bear the ENERGY STAR symbol – the ultimate proof of efficiency and durability.

Quality, energy-efficient lighting obviously outlasts the low-quality competition. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) burns for about 10,000 hours, while a conventional incandescent lasts a meager 1,200. Higher-end, modern LED light bulbs enjoy a robust lifespan of about 50,000 hours.


Companies providing high-quality lighting solutions typically back their products with rock-solid warranties. Generally, full bulb replacement is guaranteed for premature burn-out and manufacturer’s defects. Expect the coverage period to be quite a stretch since these bulbs last for ‘eons’.

Lumens per Watt

Lighting brightness is measured in a unit called the lumen. The higher the bulb quality, the more lumens-per-watt it produces. Again, modern LED light bulbs score highest in this category, but, when shopping for LEDs, it’s still important to mind lumens-per-watt as companies attempting to drive down the price of LEDs tend to cut corners on efficiency. A decent LED should generate 450 lumens for about 4-5 watts of consumed electricity. CFLs require about 9-13 watts to provide the same level of brightness. On the lower end of the quality spectrum, conventional incandescent bulbs consume about 40 watts to generate the same 450 lumens.

Is There a Single Solution for High-Quality Lighting?

While many bulbs deliver high-quality illumination to home, office, or school, modern LED light bulbs emerge as the best choice for covering ALL the bases. LEDs provide unsurpassed performance in every key area — lighting uniformity, color accuracy, energy-efficiency, durability, and brightness. The key is to look for differentiators such as an Energy Star Rating, warranties, and efficiency.

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