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LED Glossary

Base - used to secure a bulb in place and connect it to the electricity supply. Bases come in many types and are the most common way of identifying a light bulb. Most bases use either a screw, such as the E27, bayonet, such as the B22, or pins, such as the GU10.

Beam Angle - describes the spread of a light source. A standard GU10 has a beam angle of about 38 degrees. Bulbs with wide beam angle are more suitable for general purpose. Bulbs with narrow beam angles are better for directional lighting.

Binning - the process of sorting LEDs according to different criteria, such as brightness and colour temperature. Binning ensures quality and consistency of LEDs and will vary depending on the eventual application.

CFL - stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp. A small fluorescent light source designed as an energy efficient alternative to incandescent lighting. LED Lights last longer and use less energy than CFLs. Moreover, they come on instantly, requiring no 'warm up' period and contain no harmful chemicals.

CRI - stands for Colour Rendering Index. Measures the effect a light source has on the colour of an object. The higher a light source's CRI, the more true an object's colour. The highest possible CRI is 100, which means an object's colour will remain unchanged.

Colour Temperature - also known as correlated colour temperature (CCT), colour temperature is a measurement of how warm or cool a white light source appears. Warm light sources are more orange in colour and have a lower Kelvin rating. Cool light sources have a higher Kelvin rating and are brighter and bluer in appearance.

Fluorescent - a tube-shaped light often found in kitchens and offices. Fluorescents contain mercury gases, which are potentially dangerous. LEDs contain no mercury, making them a safer and more eco friendly option.

GU10 - a type of mains voltage light fitting. Consists of two prongs and fits into a holder with a push and twist action.

Heat Sink - a special component designed to remove heat away from certain parts of an electronic circuit. LEDs are far more sensitive to heat than other types of lighting, which is why most LED luminaires feature a heat sink. Heat sinks help to keep the unit cool, thereby ensuring the longevity of the bulb.

IP - stands for Ingress Protection. Describes the level of protection offered by an electronic enclosure against the entry of moisture and solid objects. The first number refer to solid objects and the second number describes the level of proection from moisture. The higher the number, the greater the level of protection. IP65 is suitable for bathrooms and kitchens.

Kelvin Rating - a measurment of a light's colour temperature. Lights with a low Kelvin Rating are warm with an orangey-yellow colour. Lights with a high Kelvin Rating are cool, with a blueish-white colour.

Leading Edge Dimmer - A common type of dimmer switch. Used to vary the power to a light bulb and therefore change its brightness. LEDs should only be used with a special Trailing Edge Dimmer.

LED - stands for Light Emitting Diode. A very efficient form of lighting that lasts up to ten times longer than a traditional light source.

LED Driver - a unit that regulates the amount of power received by an electronic device. LED Drivers are necessary in order to run low-voltage LED lighting, such as MR16's, MR11's and flexible LED Strip Lights.

Lumen (Lm) -  a unit of measurement of the visible intensity, or brightness, of a light source (also known as its luminous flux). Generally speaking, the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light source.

Luminaire - another term for a light fitting. Common types of luminaire include ceiling lights, desktop lamps and spotlights.

Luminous Efficacy - refers to the efficiency of a light source. The easiest way to calculate luminous efficiacy is to divide the light output (measured in Lumens) by the power consumed (measured in watts). The resulting figure is called the lumen-to-watt ratio (lm/w). Compared to other light sources, LED Lights have a very high luminous efficiacy.

OLED - stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. A type of light emitting device that features organic materials in its light emitting layer.

Retrofit - a term used to refer to any situation where the addition of new components are used to update an existing system. In the specific context of lighting, LED lights would be retrofitted in order to make a home more energy efficient. The term retrofit also implies that little or no modification is required and that the newer technology will be compatible with the existing system.

RGB - stands for red, green and blue. Refers to the three primary colours used by colour changing LED products.

SMD -  stands for Surface Mounted Diode. SMDs are a special type of LED that can be soldered flat against a surface. Generally speaking, they are smaller and more compact than traditional LEDs. Their beam angle is also much wider.

Solid State Lighting - a term used to describe any type of light source that uses a semiconductor diode. Types of Solid State Lighting include LED lights and OLEDs (Organic Lighting Emitting Diodes).

Trailing Edge Dimmer - a type of dimmer switch specifically designed for use with dimmable LED bulbs.

Transformer - used to change the voltage of an electricity supply. Transformers are commonly used in conjunction with low voltage lighting systems where they change the mains voltage electricity supply (240v) to 12v.

Volts - Think of voltage as a measurement of electrical potential. It is what pushes electrical current through a conductor. Most household bulbs are mains voltage (240V), but you can also get low voltage (12 and 24V) lighting as well.

Watts - a measure of power consumption. Traditionally used to describe the brightness of incandescent light sources. This has more recently been replaced by lumens, which are an actual measure of light output.