10 Types of LED Lights and How to Choose

Find the right type of LED lights to illuminate your home.

Recessed LED lights

Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images

One of the most popular lighting options, known as LED lights, are commonly installed in homes, businesses, and even vehicles due to their long life, low heat output, and high efficiency. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, don't rely on thin metal filaments to produce light, like traditional incandescent bulbs. Instead, the LED light works by having the electrical current flow through the semiconducting diodes, which produces light, but doesn't waste a lot of energy creating heat.

This design allows LED bulbs to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb without using as much energy, making them a great option for reducing the utility bills. Another attractive factor that LED lights have in their favor is their long life. On average, an LED light will last about 10 years before you need to worry about replacing it. To make the best choice about LED lighting for your home, use this guide to learn about these 10 common types of LED lights and how to choose.

  • 01 of 10

    Standard LED Lights

    Adding the correct light bulb to a lighting fixture

    The Spruce / Leti­cia Almeida

    Best for: High-efficiency home and business lighting.

    Standard LED lights are basic bulbs that have largely replaced traditional incandescent lights as the most commonly used type of residential and business lighting. This is due to the superior longevity and efficiency of standard LED lights.

    This type of LED light doesn't usually come with any extras, like being able to color change or connect to a smart home system. However, standard LEDs are the most affordable type of LED light, making them a brilliant choice for basic home lighting.

  • 02 of 10

    Can LED Lights

    Recessed lighting held up by hand with light on

    The Spruce / Liz Moskowitz

    Best for: Ceiling-mounted recessed lighting.

    Can LED lights are specifically designed to fit into recessed lighting sockets, which are commonly referred to as cans. These LEDs have built-in reflectors to help direct the light down and out of the bulb for longer beams and wider coverage. Can LED lights are available with a range of different features, so you can find dimmable can LEDs, RGB (red, green, blue) can LEDs that change color, and even smart home compatible can LEDs.

    Most can LED lights have a color temperature adjustment switch to go from warm (2700 K) to cool (5,000 K) and often several settings in between.

  • 03 of 10

    Dimmable LED Lights

    Buzzing dimmer switch being pressed

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Best for: Adjusting the brightness of the room.

    Dimmable LED lights are a relatively common option that gives the user the ability to control the brightness of the light with a compatible dimmer switch. Some dimmable LED lights require a physical dimmer switch to function, though many are capable of being controlled through a smart home system or a mobile app.

    If you have a room in the home where you spend a lot of your time, it may be a good idea to invest in a dimmable LED light, so you can increase or decrease the brightness of the LED to suit the time of day and the mood you want to set.

  • 04 of 10

    Track LED Lights

    Track lighting installed to ceiling with white pendants

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Best for: Focused lighting with compatible lighting tracks.

    Intended for direction lighting, work area task lighting, and spotlighting decorative features of the home, track LED lights need to be installed on compatible lighting tracks. The LED lights can be moved along the track and the direction of the light can be adjusted to focus the beam towards a specific area or object.

    Track LED lights don't just offer a high level of versatility and flexibility. They can also improve the interior aesthetic of the home and the compact design can help you make the most of a small living space.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Smart LED Lights

    Closeup of a woman adjusting a full spectrum LED light on her phone

    Oscar Wong / Getty Images

    Best for: Mobile device control and smart home compatibility.

    Smart LED lights are capable of integrating with existing smart home systems, allowing users to control the lights with voice commands or through a mobile app. These lights can also come with color change, color temperature control, and dimming functions, making it possible to completely customize your home lighting to suit your needs.

    However, it should be noted that in order to interact with the smart LED lights, these LEDs do need to be connected through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a compatible device. If the lights are not connected to Wi-Fi or through Bluetooth, they can still be turned on and turned off with the light switch, but many of the other features may be inaccessible due to the limitations of a physical light switch.

  • 06 of 10

    Tube LED Lights

    Upward view of a tube LED light on a ceiling

    Madhourse / Getty Images

    Best for: Professional applications in office buildings, kitchens, and other workspaces.

    Many businesses are installing tube LED lights as a replacement for fluorescent lighting tubes because tube LED lights are high-efficiency options that come in a wide range of color temperatures to suit any workspace. These LEDs offer a functional choice for lighting professional workspaces, kitchens, and office buildings.

    Tube LED lights also last significantly longer than fluorescent bulbs. A longer lifespan means less waste, so businesses can reduce their impact on the environment while saving money by making the change from costly fluorescents to tube LED lights.

    These tube LED lights come in two basic formats. They can be a direct replacement for the existing fluorescent bulbs as long as the existing ballast is rapid or instant-start. The option that most electricians prefer is the ballast-free type. Here, you rewire the fixture to eliminate the need for the ballast and the LED tube works off regular line voltage.

  • 07 of 10

    Full-Spectrum LED Lights

    Full spectrum LED grow light

    Olga Evtushkova / Getty Images

    Best for: Mood lighting, accent lighting, and customizable lighting.

    Commonly referred to as RGB lights, full-spectrum LED lights are capable of producing a broad range of color temperatures and colored light. Typically, these lights will come with a basic remote control or the ability to connect to a mobile device through an app. Using the remote or the app, you can change the color of the lights to one of thousands of different options.

    Full-spectrum LED lights can be used as the primary light source for a room, though they are more often used for mood lighting or for decorative accent lighting. You can find full-spectrum LED light bulbs, light strips, and even light panels for customizable home lighting.

  • 08 of 10

    LED Security Lights

    Closeup of an LED motion sensor light

    CASEZY / Getty Images

    Best for: Illuminating dark yards, porches, and paths to the home.

    Installing LED security lights is an excellent idea to help protect your home. Many LED security flood lights have dusk-to-dawn sensors that detect the ambient light level and automatically turn on the light when it gets dark enough outside.

    Another great feature that is common in LED security lights is a motion sensor. When movement is detected, the light automatically turns on, instantly bathing the intruder in a blinding spotlight. This is often enough to scare away any animals that are approaching the home and can act a deterrent against criminals.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Decorative LED Lights

    Christmas LED string lights

    The Spruce 

    Best for: Decorating for holidays and adding to the aesthetic appeal of the home.

    There are a variety of decorative LED light styles, depending on whether you are looking for classy, modern, or even holiday lighting. Look for colorful LED bulbs to deck out the roof or set up an LED spotlight to illuminate the home with a brilliant red or green for the holidays.

    Candelabra, globe, and Edison LED lights use LED technology for high-efficiency home lighting, but they are made with decorative glass bulbs to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the room. Candelabra light bulbs mimic the shape of a candle flame, making them an attractive option for chandeliers or wall sconces. Globe light bulbs have a spherical shape that gives the room a clean, modern look. If you are drawn to vintage designs, Edison LED bulbs have a classic shape that suits pendant lights and industrial chandeliers.

  • 10 of 10

    LED Light Strips

    Person applying an LED light strip

    Roman Budnyi / Getty Images

    Best for: Customizable accent lighting.

    Instead of tubes, tracks, and sockets, LED light strips have a built-in design with a band of material that holds the entire row of LEDs. LED light strips often come with adhesive backing, so they can be attached to the wall, ceiling, floor, computer desk, or any other clean, flat surface that meets the manufacturer's guidelines.

    However, not all light strips have an included adhesive layer, so you may need to use a different method to mount the lights. Some LED lights strips also come with remotes and built-in microphones that register the sound of ambient music and respond by changing color or flashing to the rhythm. Pick up some LED light strips if you are looking to customize your bedroom or home office.

Choosing LED Lights

Selecting LED lights can feel overwhelming if you're not sure exactly what you are looking for. To help narrow down the choices, start by considering how you want the light to look or how you want the room to look when the light is on. For instance, soft white LED bulbs give off a warm, comfortable light that is great for bedrooms or dens. Bright white LED bulbs have a cooler appearance that helps to accentuate appliances and plumbing fixtures, making it ideal for kitchens or bathrooms. You may also want to invest in daylight LED bulbs, which are intended to mimic the energizing glow of natural daylight.

Another factor to consider is how bright you want the light. LED light brightness is measured in lumens. One lumen is equal to the light produced by a single burning candle. For a more recognizable reference, a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 700 lumens. Opt for an LED light with a higher lumen output if you want bright lighting in your home.

It's also important to consider the features of the LED light. You can find full-spectrum lights for custom lighting color selection, or you may want to invest in a product that can integrate with your smart home system. There are also security LED flood lights with motion-sensing and dusk-to-dawn features to help keep your home safe. Select the LED light that best suits your needs.