How to replace halogen light bulbs with LED lights

LEDs outshine halogens with greater efficiency, longer life and lower costs.

led lights

Halogen bulbs were once the standard for bright, energy-efficient lighting. But they’ve since been outshined by LED bulbs that last far longer and use even less electricity. That’s a win-win for households. And on top of that, replacing halogens with LEDs is an easy way to upgrade your home lighting to the latest tech.

With a few simple tips, you can make the switch and start saving energy (and money) right away. Here’s the lowdown and everything you need to know when it comes to replacing halogen light bulbs with LED lights.  

What are halogen light bulbs and LED lights?  

What makes these two types of bulbs different from each other?

Halogen light bulbs  

Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light bulb that has a tungsten filament contained within a compact quartz capsule filled with halogen gas. The halogen gas allows the filament to burn hotter and more efficiently than a standard incandescent bulb.

These bulbs produce a bright, crisp light and have been a popular choice for recessed lighting, track lighting and outdoor fixtures due to their smaller size and higher light output compared to traditional incandescent options.

Halogen bulbs still rely on radiant heating, however. This is a process that makes them less energy efficient than newer lighting technologies like, you guessed it, LEDs. They also have a relatively short lifespan compared to LED bulbs.

LED lights  

LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a highly energy-efficient lighting technology that produces light through the movement of electrons rather than burning a filament.

LED bulbs are made up of multiple small LED lights encased in a bulb-shaped plastic housing. They use significantly less energy than halogen and incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. High-quality LED bulbs also have an extremely long lifespan, often 25,000 to 50,000 hours.

They emit light in a specific direction, which allows them to use light more efficiently in bulbs designed with built-in reflectors to disperse the light. LEDs also run much cooler than halogen and incandescent bulbs.

The technology used for LEDs has vastly improved and evolved in recent years. Today’s LED bulbs are relatively future proof and available in all shapes, sizes, colour temperatures and light outputs suitable for replacing halogens in nearly any home.

How do halogen light bulbs and LED lights work?

Now you know the differences between the two, how does each set of bulbs work?

Halogen light bulbs  

Halogen bulbs create light in a similar way to old incandescent bulbs - by heating up a filament wire until it gets so hot it glows and produces visible light. Inside a halogen bulb is a tiny wire filament made of tungsten metal enclosed in a compact quartz capsule filled with halogen gas.

When you flip the switch, an electrical current flows through that filament, causing it to heat up quickly to extremely high temperatures around 2,500C. At this scorching point, the tungsten filament becomes white-hot and radiates heat and visible light outwards.

The halogen gas helps extend the bulb’s lifespan by redepositing any evaporated tungsten back onto the filament as it burns away slowly over time.

LED lights  

LEDs work in a completely different way by converting electricity directly into light photons through the movement of electrons in semiconductor materials. There’s no heating or burning filament involved.

Inside an LED bulb are lots of tiny LED chips made from special semiconductor compounds. When electricity flows through these chips, it causes electrons to recombine with ‘holes’ in the material, releasing their energy in the form of light photons.

Unlike a hot filament bulb, the semiconductor LEDs produce light directly without generating much-wasted heat. This makes LED bulbs incredibly energy efficient while also allowing them to operate at much lower, cooler temperatures that you can safely touch.

The specific semiconductor materials used determine the colour of light produced, from warm yellowish-white to cool bluish tones. Manufacturers can mix different LED colours and phosphors to create any desired shade of white light.

How to replace light bulbs with LED lights

Replacing halogen or incandescent bulbs with LED alternatives is a straightforward process that most homeowners can do themselves.  

  1. Note existing bulb type and size: Before removing your old bulbs, take note of their fitting (screw or bayonet base), diameter and any other specifics like beam angle or brightness level. This is to make sure you purchase the right LED replacement bulbs.
  2. Select LED replacement bulbs: With the specifications noted, you can shop for compatible LED bulbs to replace your halogen or incandescent bulbs. Look for ‘halogen’ or ‘incandescent replacement’ and match the fitting, size, brightness level, beam angle and colour temperature.
  3. Turn off lights and allow to cool: Before removing the bulb, turn off the lights at the switch and allow the old bulbs to cool down completely if they were recently on. Halogen bulbs can become extremely hot, and the last thing you want to do is burn yourself by changing a bulb.  
  4. Remove old bulbs: Once cooled, you can safely unscrew, twist or release the base fitting to remove the halogen or incandescent bulbs. Go slowly and take care not to forcefully pull them out.
  5. Install new LED bulbs: Check that your new LED bulb fits the socket properly and is correctly oriented. Then simply screw, twist or lock it into place as you would a standard bulb, without over-tightening.
  6. Restore power and enjoy: Finally, flip the switch to restore power to the newly upgraded LED lights. You should immediately notice improved brightness levels while using just a fraction of the energy consumed by the old bulbs.

And that’s it. Use this process room-by-room in your home to replace inefficient halogens and incandescent with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED bulb replacements.

Halogen vs LED lights

When it comes to halogen versus LED lights, the comparison clearly favours LEDs in most categories. LEDs outshine halogens in energy efficiency, using 75-85% less power to produce the same brightness.1  

Their operational life of 25,000-50,000 hours also dwarfs a typical halogen's 2,000-4,000 hour lifespan. This translates to replacement costs every few years for halogens versus perhaps never replacing LEDs.

LEDs also run much cooler, reducing household cooling costs. And while quality LEDs have higher upfront pricing, their superior efficiency will help recoup those costs through lower energy bills over time.  

LEDs are simply the more economical and environmentally friendly long-term choice. The only potential downside is slightly higher initial bulb costs compared to basic halogen options. But with LED price drops, that gap continues narrowing.

Types of LED lights  

While LED bulbs provide a simple upgrade path to replace inefficient halogen and incandescent bulbs, there are several different types and styles to consider.  

  • A-line/standard bulbs. These are the classic light bulb shapes that work for general lighting needs in table lamps, ceiling fixtures, etc. They’re available in various wattage equivalents.
  • Recessed LED lights/can lights. Designed to fit neatly into recessed lighting housings, LED recessed lights fit trims or trim kits for different housing sizes.
  • LED flood lights. With a wide, bright beam pattern, LED floodlights work well for areas requiring concentrated lighting like security, work lights or utility rooms.
  • LED track lighting. LED bulbs are available with different bases to fit onto a track lighting system for flexible, directional lighting effects.
  • LED tube lights. These LED tubes replace fluorescent tube bulbs and ballasts in office ceilings, garages and other fixtures designed for linear bulbs.
  • LED strips/tape lights. Flexible LED strips or tape can be installed under cabinets, as accents, along railings or stairs for decorative lighting effects.

The type of LED you’ll need depends on the specific lighting application and existing fixtures. With options from recessed to track, flood and decorative LEDs, there’s an energy-efficient upgrade for pretty much every lighting need.

Where to buy LED Lights

With their increased popularity, LED lights are readily available from a wide variety of retailers. Most major home improvement stores like B&Q, Homebase and Wickes will carry a large selection of LED bulbs, fixtures and other lighting products.

Online retailers like Amazon and lighting speciality sites are another convenient option for browsing the full range of LED products. You can easily find detailed specifications, read reviews and have bulbs shipped straight to your door.

For better prices, keep an eye out for bulk LED light sales at warehouse clubs like Costco or Marko. You might also find markdowns on LED bulbs and fixtures periodically at big box stores like Tesco, Sainsbury's or ASDA as they aim to clear out older stock and make way for newer models.

No matter where you decide to shop, the growing increase of LED lighting options makes it easy to find the right energy-efficient upgrade for your home’s needs.

How much do LED lights cost?  

LED light bulb costs have dropped dramatically in recent years as the technology has improved and gained widespread adoption. However, prices can still vary widely depending on the type of bulb and its specifications.

For basic LED bulbs to replace standard incandescent bulbs, you can find decent options for £1 to £3 per bulb. Step up to name brands or speciality bulbs like dimmable, coloured or smart LEDs and costs rise to £3 to £10 per bulb.

Integrated LED fixtures tend to be more expensive upfront, but the cost can be made up for through energy savings over time. Recessed LED downlights may cost £10 to £30 each, while LED flush mount or track lighting fixtures range from £30 to £120 or more in some cases.

While premium LED bulbs and fixtures come at a higher initial price, their superior efficiency and longevity can provide a return on investment through reduced energy and maintenance costs long-term.

How much energy do LED lights save?  

One of the primary benefits of upgrading to LED lighting is the significant energy savings over traditional bulb types. LED lights achieve these savings through their superior efficiency at converting electricity into light.

Compared to incandescent and halogen bulbs, LED lights use up to 90% less energy to produce the same amount of light output.2  

How does this translate to real-world usage? A typical 60W incandescent can be replaced by a 10W LED delivering the same brightness. At three hours per day of usage, the LED bulb will save over £15 per year in electricity costs over the incandescent.

Scale those savings across an entire home filled with LED bulbs and you could reduce your lighting energy consumption by 80 to 90% or more each year. That’s money back in your pocket.  


Is replacing halogen bulbs with LEDs worth it?  

Yes, over time LED bulbs are much more energy efficient, longer lasting and cost effective compared to halogen bulbs.  

Which LED lights are best?  

The best LED bulbs are ENERGY STAR certified, dimmable and match the brightness, beam angle and colour temperature needed for the application.

What are the best LED lights?  

Top LED bulb brands include Philips, CREE, Sylvania and GE. Read reviews on sites like Amazon to find the best options for your needs.

How much does a halogen bulb cost to run?  

A 50W halogen bulb costs around £8 per year to run if used three hours per day.

How much more efficient are LED lights than halogen?  

LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy than halogen bulbs to produce the same brightness.

How can you tell if a bulb is LED or halogen?  

LED bulbs are cool to the touch, while halogen bulbs get extremely hot. LEDs also don't have a visible filament inside.

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