10 Types of LED Lights and How to Choose

1. LED Bulbs

LED bulbs are designed to replace traditional incandescent or CFL bulbs in standard light fixtures. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and lumen outputs to fit different applications.

Key Features:

  • Energy efficient – Use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs
  • Long lifespan – Last over 25,000 hours
  • Instant on – Reach full brightness immediately
  • Dimmable – Compatible with most dimmer switches
  • Omnidirectional light – Light shines in all directions

When choosing LED bulbs, consider the intended location, desired brightness, light color, and dimmability. Bulbs with higher lumen outputs are better suited to use in ceiling fixtures, while lower lumen bulbs work well in lamps.

2. LED Tubes

LED tube lights are designed to replace fluorescent tubes in commercial and industrial fixtures. They contain LED chips housed in a tube-shaped casing with pins at both ends.

Key Features:

  • Direct replacement for fluorescent tubes
  • 50% more energy efficient than fluorescent lighting
  • Operate cooler than fluorescent tubes
  • Long 50,000+ hour lifespan
  • Shatterproof and flicker-free operation

When selecting LED tubes, pay attention to the tube diameter, length, wattage, lumen output, and compatibility with existing ballasts. LED tubes with external drivers offer more flexibility.

3. LED Downlights

LED downlights, also called recessed or can lights, are compact circular fixtures designed to fit into ceiling cutouts. They distribute light in a downward direction.

Key Features:

  • Energy efficient alternative to CFL and halogen downlights
  • Wide beam angles from flood to narrow spot lighting
  • Dimming capabilities on select models
  • Airtight housings for insulation contact (IC) installations
  • Durable metal housings with fins for heat dissipation

Consider lumen output, color temperature, beam angle, and dimmability when selecting LED downlights. IC rated fixtures are optimal for installing in insulated ceilings.

4. LED Panel Lights

LED panel lights consist of an array of LED chips mounted on a flat, rectangular surface. They are designed to replace fluorescent troffer panels in offices and ceilings.

Key Features:

  • Even distribution of glare-free, flicker-free light
  • Energy savings of 40-50% over fluorescent panels
  • Can be installed in grids or as individual fixtures
  • Slim, lightweight and easy to install
  • Long 50,000 hour lifespan with minimal maintenance

When choosing LED panels, look for models with high color rendering index (CRI) and lumen output. Also consider dimming capability, lens type, and suitable mounting accessories.

5. LED High Bay Lights

LED high bay lights are designed to provide focused and efficient illumination from height in warehouses, gymnasiums, and other locations with high ceilings.

Key Features:

  • Very high lumen outputs – 10,000+ lumens
  • Narrow to wide beam angles available
  • Operate in high ambient temperatures
  • Withstand vibration, dust, and impacts
  • 50% more efficient than HID high bay fixtures
  • Instant on/off, no warm-up time required

When selecting an LED high bay, consider the mounting height, beam angle, lumen output, and photometric distribution that best suits the space. Look for durable industrial-rated fixtures.

6. LED Retrofits

LED retrofits involve installing new LED lighting modules into existing light fixture housings. This allows reaping the benefits of LED technology without replacing entire fixtures.

Key Features:

  • Convert old halogen, incandescent, and CFL fixtures to LED
  • Retain the existing fixture housing for a low-cost upgrade
  • Choose from replacement kits for downlights, strips, under-cabinet lights etc.
  • 50-75% energy savings over outdated lighting
  • Improved light quality and brightness
  • Long 50,000 hour rated lifespan

When choosing retrofit kits, ensure correct wattage, form factor, connector type, and dimmability as per the original fixtures. IC rated kits allow installation in insulated housings.

7. LED Strip Lights

LED strip lights consist of surface-mounted flexible strips with small LED diodes. They are easy to install in cabinets, coves, displays, and under counters for accent lighting.

Key Features:

  • Flexible strips can be bent and shaped as required
  • Self-adhesive backing for easy installation
  • Connector wires available for extending strips
  • Cuttable at specified intervals to customize length
  • Waterproof strips available for outdoor use
  • Color changing and dimmable options available

When selecting LED strips, determine the correct length, lumen output, power supply wattage, and cuttability as per application needs. Water resistance is vital for outdoor strips.

8. LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are designed to provide illumination optimized for indoor plant growth. They emit wavelengths that stimulate photosynthesis and growth in plants.

Key Features:

  • Promote faster and healthier plant growth
  • Emit a balanced spectrum beneficial for plants
  • High photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD)
  • Generate less heat than HPS/MH grow lights
  • Energy efficient and long-lasting
  • Daisy-chainable and dimmable models available

When choosing LED grow lights, match the power wattage and coverage area to the grow space. Full spectrum and adjustable spectrum lights offer more customization for different plants.

9. LED Flood Lights

LED flood lights project a broad swath of illumination from a compact housing. They are commonly used for security, exterior lighting, and to highlight architectural or landscape features.

Key Features:

  • High lumen output up to 20,000+ lumens
  • Adjustable mounting brackets for precise light aiming
  • Durable, weatherproof construction for outdoor use
  • Long operating life of 50,000+ hours
  • Motion sensor and timing controls available
  • Enhanced night vision with IR flood light models

When selecting LED floods, consider the beam angle, lumen output, color temperature, and durability ratings needed for the intended application. Ensure correct beam spread and intensity.

10. LED Emergency Lights

LED emergency lights are backup lighting sources that activate when the main power supply is disrupted. They are a vital safety requirement in commercial buildings.

Key Features:

  • Provide illumination during power outages
  • Long-lasting internal batteries provide 90+ minutes of light
  • Automatic external battery backup options available
  • Diagnostic self-testing to ensure functionality
  • Meet code compliance for emergency lighting
  • Low power consumption in standby mode

When choosing emergency lights, look for reliable, long-lasting units listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that meet state and federal codes. Also consider lumen brightness and coverage patterns.

How to Choose the Right Type of LED Lighting

With the wide diversity of LED lighting available today, some key factors to consider when selecting fixtures include:

Application – Consider where the lighting will be used and the required brightness, coverage, and durability. Task lights, accent lights, and ambient lights have very different requirements.

Light Output – Measure the lumen output to ensure sufficient light for the intended application. High lumen lights may cause glare in some settings.

Beam Angle – Narrow spot beams to wide flood beams are available. Match the beam angle to the fixture location and lighting application.

Color Temperature – Cool white, neutral white, or warm white color temperatures are available. Cool white is energizing while warm white is relaxing.

Efficacy – Compare lumens per watt to select the most energy efficient option. Efficacy rates typically range from 50 to over 100 lumens/watt.

CRI – Color rendering index indicates how accurately colors are displayed. 80+ CRI is ideal for most indoor residential and commercial purposes.

Dimmability – Ensure the selected LED fixture is compatible with standard 0-10V or PWM dimming controls and systems.

Durability – Verify ratings for impact, vibration, moisture, dust and extreme temperatures are suitable for the installation environment.

Warranty – Reputable manufacturers offer at least a 5 year warranty covering defects and excessive brightness degradation.

Certifications – Look for UL, DLC, or EnergyStar certifications that verify quality, standards compliance, and claimed performance.

With the right LED lighting choice, you can achieve substantial energy savings while enjoying superior quality illumination for many years to come. Carefully evaluate the type of fixtures suited for the intended purpose and environment based on the above criteria. Reputable brands also offer better warranties to protect your investment in LED lighting.

Frequently Asked Questions About LED Lights

What are the advantages of LED lights?

Some key advantages of LED lighting include:

  • Energy efficiency – Use up to 90% less electricity than incandescent bulbs
  • Long life – Last over 50 times longer than traditional bulbs
  • Durability – More resistant to vibrations, shocks, and impacts
  • Cool operation – Produce less heat than other conventional light sources
  • Instant illumination – Reach full brightness immediately with no warm-up time
  • Mercury free – Contain no hazardous materials like fluorescent lamps
  • Dimmable – Compatible with most dimmer switches and lighting controls
  • Flexible – Available in a wide variety of designs, colors, and brightness levels

How long do LED lights last?

The expected lifespan for quality LED lighting is typically over 50,000 hours of use. This is 2-3 times longer than CFL bulbs and over 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. With an estimated usage of 6-8 hours per day, LED lights can effectively last 15-20 years or more.

Are LED lights cost effective?

Although LED lights have a higher upfront cost than traditional incandescent and CFL bulbs, they offer significant long-term savings from lower energy consumption and extremely long lifespans. LEDs consume 40-70% less power than conventional lighting. The energy savings and reduced maintenance costs make them highly cost effective over the total lifespan.

What color temperature should I choose for LED lights?

Color temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of white light. Lower Kelvin temperatures (2700K-3000K) are warm white resembling traditional incandescents. Higher temperatures like 4000K-5000K are cool white mimicking daylight. Cool white is preferred for workspaces while warm white works well in living areas.

Can LED lights be dimmed?

LED bulbs and fixtures that are designed to be dimmable work very well with standard dimmer switches. Always check for dimming compatibility before purchase. Use dimmers designed for LEDs for optimal performance. Some LEDs can also be paired with smartphone app-based wireless dimmers.

Do LED lights emit harmful radiation?

LED lighting does not create any harmful ultraviolet or infrared radiation like fluorescent or incandescent lights. LEDs also do not contain mercury and can be safely disposed of with regular recycling. The solid-state technology makes LED lighting much safer than conventional lighting.


The wide selection of LED lighting technologies makes it possible to find energy efficient, long-lasting, and high performing fixtures suited to nearly any residential or commercial application. LED bulbs offer a simple energy saving swap for outdated lamps while more advanced options like downlights, panels, and high bays provide durable and customizable commercial illumination. Thanks to the instant-on illumination, cool operation, and 50,000+ hour rated lifespans, LED lighting delivers outstanding functionality, savings, and hassle-free maintenance compared to traditional lighting. With the right LED lighting choice matched to your specific lighting needs, you can enjoy superior quality illumination while reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs.