LED fixtures in 2014 are lighting the way

The new year is looking bright, thanks to a host of fresh LED products designed to better light house and home. Featured in EcoBuilding Pulse's eco-friendly weekly product roundup, these lights merge sharp design with improved efficiency. For future homeowners, the potential cost savings of LED lights are worth a look. For people interested in energy efficient house plans, LEDs should be their first consideration.

These lights range from organic hanging fixtures to lamps to LEDs that resemble incandescents, building off of years of development and buzz. However, some consumers may be confused about the advantages and drawbacks of LEDs. While there has been plenty of debate over the benefit of LEDs, it seems that they may be the future of home lighting. 

The value of LEDs
LED stands for light-emitting diode, and it is a relatively new alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, LEDs have the potential to be more energy- and cost-efficient than incandescent bulbs, due in part to a longer life and better performance in extreme conditions. Additionally, because they don't use a filament, they are more compact, easier to maintain and more durable than other types of light bulbs. The Department of Energy has even made the claim that LEDs could cut general lighting energy use nearly in half by 2030, thereby reducing energy expenditures as well as carbon emissions.

LEDs are often used as underlighting for counters, stairs and halls, or backlighting for shelving and appliances. Usually, they are embedded as part of a series of LEDs that lend themselves as a form of subtler track lighting. However, as LED products improve, they are being utilized as single bulbs in a fixture.

Still in development
While LEDs seem to be a perfect solution, there are a few reasons why they haven't become more popular in homes already. First, LEDs do not naturally produce white light, meaning that researchers and developers have had to put considerable effort into making LEDs practical for general home use. Second, the quality and efficiency of an LED light can vary greatly depending on the producer as those developers continue to fine-tune LEDs. Finally, the upfront cost for LEDs still surpasses incandescent, meaning that consumers are more reluctant to make the investment, even though LEDs can bring returns above and beyond that initial financial loss.

Because researchers are always improving upon LED designs, it's important that even skeptics keep up with the most recent developments in the field. With the proper research, energy conscious consumers are likely to find an LED product that suits their needs. If not, it's much like what Mark Twain wrote of ever-changing New England weather – if you don't like it, wait a minute.

A new year
Of course, that minute may have already come. More recent LED developments combine improved efficiency bulbs with interesting and innovative designs. One of the more distinguished lights to hit the markets are the Bio Mass Pendant Lights from Jay Watson Design. These slender, cylindrical hanging fixtures are made from a hollowed-out ash tree branch, with LED lights installed on the ends. This organic display would fit in perfectly with a rustic, country home, such as HHF-7908. Less showy are the recessed LED modules from Lutron, which can be adjusted for directional lighting, suitable for desk or kitchen tasks. 

If you are still reluctant about making the switch from incandescent to LED, there are also a number of designs that aim to resemble incandescent. Philips' SlimStyle A Shape and Switch Lightings' Switch Infinia both take on the familiar bulb shape that make them fit well with lamps.