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Your Guide to Integrated LED Light Fixtures

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
May 29, 2021

By now, most homeowners know that LED lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home's energy efficiency and reduce energy bills. The Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law in 2007, was initially intended to legally phase out certain light bulbs such as incandescent and halogen bulbs by 2020. Though light bulb "bans" have not materialized due to opposition and other legal setbacks, LED lighting is still quickly becoming the norm for homeowners and businesses.

LED lights use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. The transition to LEDs a no-brainer for many people. The US Department of Energy (DOE) believes that the "widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States."

Even beyond the massive potential for energy savings and a payback period that we here at Rise estimate to be about five months, there is another reason why so many homeowners are eager to change to LEDs: unique and innovative lighting schemes. LEDs have " brightened up " our homes, from smart lighting setups to motion sensor exterior lighting and colored bulbs that you can control via a smart home speaker.

Today, the sheer amount of LED lighting products that homeowners can choose from risk making light bulb shopping a daunting task. When walking through the lighting aisle at your local hardware store, you might find yourself asking some of the following questions:

  • Are these LED bulbs compatible with the smart switches I recently bought?
  • How many lumens are best for a LED bulb that I use on my bedside lamp?
  • Will these LEDs work with my smart home hub?
  • Do these smart LEDs work with Z-wave or Bluetooth connectivity?
Craftmade Mira Chandelier
Craftmade Mira Chandelier. Photo Credit: Craftmade

We help you find some of the answers to these questions in our smart lighting complete guide that you can find here. This short article will turn our attention to yet another decision that comes with finding the best LED lighting scheme for your home: Integrated LED lighting fixtures

Illume Recessed Integrated LED
Illume Recessed Integrated LED. Photo Credit: Home Depot

What Are Integrated LED Light Fixtures?

Integrated LED fixtures refer to a light fixture that comes complete with the LED arrays already built into the fixture. For example, lamps, chandeliers, spotlights, and many other types of lighting "appliances" today often come with LED bulbs built into the fixtures themselves. Manufacturers of lighting products and appliances are increasingly moving towards this type of integrated setup for several reasons.

Firstly, by integrating a LED bulb directly into the fixture or appliance, the manufacturer has more control over the specific color and lumen output that comes with the device. For example, instead of simply marketing yet another bedside lamp, a company could integrate a Phillips Hue color LED that works with certain brands of smart speakers. This technology allows you to program "bedside moods," limit harmful blue light during the evening and even have your bedside lamp turn a particular color when your alarm sounds. This type of bedside lamp would undoubtedly allow for more unique marketing opportunities.

Secondly, integrated LED fixtures tend to last longer than regular LED bulbs. They might even be a bit more energy efficient. Integrated LED systems are more adept at controlling the temperature of the LED module. This feature, in turn, improves the lifespan of the fixture, especially when compared to a regular, screw-in LED bulb. According to one estimate, a standard, filament, screw-in LED bulb may only last 3,000 hours. In contrast, an integrated LED module might last for about 50,000 hours.

Recent market estimates find that LED integrated lighting fixtures should outpace LED-ready types by 2022. In essence, manufacturers are increasingly opting for LED-integrated fixtures because they offer an "added-value" for the fixture, increase design opportunities, allow for better light optimization, and are potentially longer-lasting and nominally more energy efficient.

What Are the Downsides of Integrated LED Light Fixtures?

Changing the bulb on your lamp, ceiling fan, or other integrated LED fixture will take a bit more work than simply unscrewing the burnt-out bulb and replacing it with a new one. If you're not the DIY type, having to find the right screwdriver and dismount all sorts of parts to change a bulb might seem like overkill. Also, some LED fixtures make their bulbs directly built into multiple electrical circuit boards. Unless you are an electrician, changing these bulbs is not going to be possible. In some cases, the integrated LEDs might impose an "expiration date" on the lighting fixture if there is no accessible way to change the bulb. Fortunately, most of the integrated LED bulbs should last for 10 to 20 years, depending on the amount of use the fixture receives.

Another potential downside to integrated LED fixtures is that they might make it difficult to upgrade in the future. What happens if two years down the road, new lighting technology comes along that cuts energy consumption by half from current LED wattage? With many types of integrated LED fixtures, you may be stuck with your current, now-inefficient bedside lamp until the bulb eventually goes dark.

Slim LED Multi Home Hardware
Slim LED Multi. Photo Credit: Home Hardware

What Types of Integrated LED Light Fixtures are Available?

There are dozens of different types of LED fixtures on the market today, with the most popular being standard, can or recessed, flood, and globe. As the industry continues to shift in this direction, consumers should expect to find integrated LEDs as the industry standard for any home item that includes lighting.

Solar Integrated LED Flood Light Wayfair
Solar Integrated LED Flood Light. Photo Credit: Wayfair

How Much Energy Do Integrated LED Light Fixtures Save?

When compared to incandescent bulbs, integrated LEDs certainly offer significant energy savings. As we mentioned above, the ability to control the temperature of the LED module also tends to extend the lifespan of the integrated lighting fixture. Integrated LEDs also generally offer a higher lumen output for similar wattage. If you need a high lumen bulb for an outdoor deck or some other ample space, an integrated LED fixture could save you money by allowing you to opt for slightly lower wattage than a screw-in LED bulb.

Honeywell Eamon Ceiling Fan With Integrated LED Light
Honeywell Eamon Ceiling Fan With Integrated LED Light. Photo Credit: Honeywell

Are Integrated LED Lights Environmentally Friendly?

The main environmental drawback to integrated LEDs is that they essentially impose an expiration date on the lighting fixture. Because the lights are built via a circuits-on-board technique, there is no socket to screw in the new bulb once the old one dies. This feature means that if a diode in an integrated fixture stops working, you're not going to be able to remove it and replace it without some significant electrical know-how.

This design goes hand-in-hand with the trend of "planned obsolescence" that has dominated our consumer society for decades. The question we need to ask ourselves is: "If an integrated LED bulb on a table lamp or ceiling fan lasts ten years, is that long enough to warrant a replacement?" It is essential to understand that every household appliance or item comes with an embodied energy footprint

The less "stuff" we purchase, the less impact our homes and livelihoods will have on the environment. Homeowners should question whether the "expiration date" on an integrated LED feature is significantly lower than a similar household item that allows the bulb to be replaced easily. Suppose a regular ceiling fan can last you 30 years. In that case, an identical item with an integrated LED fixture could force you to purchase three ceiling fans in the same period.

Chrome Home Vanity Light with Integrated LED Home Depot
Chrome Home Vanity Light with Integrated LED. Photo Credit: Home Depot

How Long Do Integrated LED Light Fixtures Last?

This answer depends, of course, on how often you use the fixture. An integrated LED table lamp in a rarely used guest bedroom, for example, will probably last significantly longer than an integrated LED light in your central kitchen. Homeowners should check the warranty on any integrated LED fixture you buy. Some products might only offer a two to five-year warranty. Other products might offer warranties of 15 years or more. The longer the warranty, the better chance that you will be able to send the product for repair if the bulb does go out before the warranty expires.

Installing Integrated LED

How Do You Install Integrated LED Light Fixtures?

One of the attractions of integrated LED fixtures is that they are "plug and play." The lighting is already incorporated into the device. However, if your integrated LED fixture does fail after the warranty has expired, fixing it can be a problem. Check out this detailed tutorial on how to take apart a fully integrated LED and make potential changes to repair the lighting mechanism.

Do Smart Integrated LED Light Fixtures Exist?

Yes, and in abundance. These smart features are one of the main reasons why so many manufacturers turn towards integrated LED fixtures. The global Smart Lighting Market was estimated at $11.23 Billion in 2019 and should reach $36.84 Billion by 2026. Homeowners are increasing the demand for smart lighting in virtually every type of lighting fixture. Many of these smart LED lighting manufacturers are increasingly opting for integrated fixtures.

Vonn 50,000 Hour Living Room Integrated LED Pendant Light Fixture
50,000 Hour Living Room Integrated LED Pendant Light Fixture. Photo Credit: Vonn

What Should You Look for in Integrated LED Light Fixtures? 

With integrated LEDs dominating the lighting market, there is no shortage of products to choose from. To select products with a longer useful life, we recommend that homeowners search for products that come with at least a 10-15 year warranty. Alternatively, check to see if the manufacturer offers a maintenance service to replace the integrated bulbs should they burn out after the warranty has expired. In terms of energy savings, prioritize integrated LED fixtures that advertise a lifespan of 40,000 hours or more.

Outdoor Integrated Deck Lighting National Decking
Outdoor Integrated Deck Lighting. Photo Credit: National Decking

Integrated LED lighting fixtures are most likely set to become the industry standard shortly. Though they offer some advantages, they also tend to impose an expiration date on many lighting fixtures.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-27T18:12:19+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.