Ask the Lighting Expert: Swapping in LEDs

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QUESTION: I live in a studio apartment with track lighting. The setup uses four 20-watt bulbs, like the one pictured below. One of my neighbors (who has the same track lighting setup) is moving. He’s offered to give me the LED lamps he bought and uses.

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ANSWER: Great question! First off, let’s identify the bulb. This picture shows a MR16 lamp (the industry term for bulb). MR16s are traditionally a type of Halogen lamp (which is what is pictured). “MR” stands for multifaceted reflector, and the “16” refers to the diameter of the bulb. MR16s are great to use in track lighting, because the reflector reflects that bright halogen source in the direction that you aim it.So, onto your question. First, how nice of your neighbor to offer up his LED track bulbs! The quick answer is that yes, these should be just fine in your track. Especially if your neighbor has been using them and liked them. LEDs are more efficent than incandescent and halogen light sources and will put out more light with a smaller wattage. As long as the wattage of the LED lamps are less than your 20w MR16 lamp, feel free to put them in your fixture, and see if you like the color temperature and color rendering. 

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The long answer gets a bit more technical–if your neighbor hadn’t had the same track setup, we would have advised that you check the voltage first. A lot of lamps for track lighting operate at 12 volts, but there are line voltage (120 volts) track lighting fixtures out there. Now that we’ve checked that, if you have that track light on a dimmer, you might have issues with dimming, as some types of dimmers have different dimming methods that might be incompatible with those particular LED lamps. If you have an incompatible dimmer you might see flickering, hear humming, or see the lamps turn off and then on. The good news is that many manufacterers now create LED lamps made specifically to dim with tradtional household dimmers.

The lighting facts label is a great place to start when shopping for replacement LED bulbs. We have a great blog post explaining that here.

Do you have a question for a Wolfers lighting expert? Stop by one of our showrooms, make an appointment, or leave your question in the comments below.


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