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Most Common Questions on LED Lights in New Zealand

1.       Can LED downlights be covered with insulation?

New Zealand has a standard which, if met, allows LED downlights to be covered directly with fiberglass insulation.  If the lights have the IC-A or IC-F certification, they are deemed suitable for direct cover with home insulation.  This is a topical consideration in New Zealand given the prevalence of LED downlights which extend into ceiling cavities and the lack of insulation generally in homes older than 20 years.  What few people know is the standard is designed to eliminate fire risk rather than increase longevity of your LED lamps.  Most LED lamps are sealed and flush to the ceiling, thereby avoiding the heat loss of the open top fixtures they replace. Insulation above your LED downlight helps little in power savings, while LEDs are adversely affected by even low levels of heat, particularly over time.  If your downlights are turned on most of the time, it is advisable to pull a fist full of insulation from above your LED downlight to decrease lumen decay over time and extend the life of your fixture.

2.       How often do LED ‘bulbs’ need replacing?

LED lighting requires a fundamental shift in ‘light bulb’ thinking.  LED lights are not bulbs in the traditional sense.  They are light emitting diodes permanently mounted in the light fixture.  They have long lives.  Most are expected to last 25,000 to 50,000 hours of operation.  Consequently, the warranty becomes more important than thoughts of replacing the diodes. 

3.       Can you repair an LED lamp?

The short answer is ‘yes’ but the practical reply is ‘you would likely not want to repair’.  The reason is it is commonly more costly to repair an LED lamp than replace it unless you have overpaid to begin with.  Quality lamps come with replacement guarantees.  LED lamps cost marginally more than LED bulbs.  If you are outside the warranty period the cost of replacement should be low.  The more units of the model sold by your supplier, the more likely it will be available for years to come.  Spartan LED stocks limited lines of the most popular sellers.

4.     What wattage LED is equal to a 60 watt bulb?


Again, a change from the conventional thinking is required.  “watts” is a measure of power usage.  Lumens is the measure of light.  Because LED efficiency can vary from 50 lumens to over 100 lumens per watt it is necessary to look beyond the wattage of LED lamps.  Look, for example, around 750 or more lumens to replace a naked 60 watt bulb or lower lumens if you are replacing the bulb in a recessed fitting.


5.     What is the difference between warm white and cool white?


Household illumination is measured by colour temperature on the Kelvin scale.  The colour spectrum for white ranges from 2,600 k for the warmest white (yellowest tone) up to over 6,000 k for the coolest white (bluish tone).  Traditional incandescent bulbs are 2,800-3,000 k.  4,000 k is closest to daylight.  Warm white in LEDs is typically 3,000 k, cool white is typically 6,000 k and natural or daylight would be 4,000 k.


6.     Which is better – warm white or cool white?


This choice is entirely a matter of personal preference.  One practical consideration is light at the high end of the 3,000-6,000 k range is easier to work and read by.  The drawback, if any, is some people find the cooler light a bit harsh in a home environ.


7.     Can I use these LED lamps in a bathroom?


When determining whether LED lamps can be used in damp environments, look at the “IP” rating.  IP stands for ingress protection.  The higher the number, the more resistant the fixture is to particle ingress.  If the IP rating is 44 or better it is acceptable for bathrooms where the fitting will not be subjected to direct water.  A waterproof light would have an IP rating of 65 or higher.


8.     How long does it take for an LED fixture to pay for itself in power savings in New Zealand?


We can only provide a 2016 example on our A-series downlight as a guide due to variations in LED efficiency and fluctuating energy costs.  Based upon 3 hours a day usage and $0.27/kwh energy cost, the 10-watt DL48 downlight will cost $2.96 annually to run.  This compares to $22.17  for a 75 watt incandescent in a downlight.  The power savings in this example would be $19.21 per year.