31 August 2014

Converting your home to LED lights is still a challenging user experience

Be the first to share

Switching to LED bulbs in your home is still a bit expensive, but makes a lot of economic sense – as you quickly earn your money back through a MUCH lowered electricity bill. Yet it is quite a challenge for most people.

I just successfully replaced 40 halogen and incandescent bulbs of the most varied fittings, sizes, lighting strengths and shapes. The new bulbs all fit and have the luminosity and color warmth that we want in our house. But I can only conclude that industry and retailers need to do a much better job at explaining the challenges and helping customers understand why to buy LED bulbs and what types to buy.

The first impression most people have of LED lights are usually the display racks in retail stores. The fact that LED lights sometimes come in the most bizarre form factors are off-putting if anything, while key information is largely provided in jargon (kelvin, lumen, fitting mount codes, etc.).

The next thing you might then do is go online and search for more relevant information, only to get lost in myriads of blog posts, tech jargon filled pieces, or product tech sheets. The best backgrounders I found – with some effort – are this one from The Guardian and one from the European Commission (in 22 languages!). Nothing much from industry, where websites focus immediately on individual products.

Then you have to figure out what you need in your house (or office). Besides the fitting mounts, the bulb sizes and the wattages, there are four key things to take into account:

  • Colour temperature: In short, the lower “K” or “Kelvin”, the better. For home use stay on or below 2700K for a warm white.
  • Luminosity or light strength: Commonly described in watt, but the most accurate value is actually “lumen”, or even better “lux”.
  • Dimmability: Some LED bulbs can be dimmed but it is usually never clear if you need a special dimmer for that or can do so with your regular dimmer – so trying out is the only option consumers have. Good luck.
  • Avoiding false savings: As The Guardian writes, “halogen bulbs use so much electricity for the light they produce – just feel their heat – that it’s a false economy to wait until they blow to replace them”.

Finally there is purchasing itself. Most DIY stores and electricity supply retailers limit themselves to the most common bulb choices. Special sizes and fittings are not that easy to find. You may want to buy online (which is what I ended up doing).

It is generally recommended to buy only products from reliable brands (Philips, Samsung, etc.), as there is quite some unreliable junk on the market. But these “reliable” brands may not have the exact fitting mounts, wattage or colour temperature you are looking for. It is also hard to find out what quality control the various retailers have in place, and what guarantees consumers have if a product is not up to par.

In all, this is not a trivial matter. If all homes and offices in a city would switch to LED, much less power would be needed in that city, and this would mean a significant impact on carbon emissions. Governments and media are starting to do their part in helping people navigate this.

Industry is lagging behind. Making the products is only part of the challenge. Guidance in consumer education and behavioural change is hardly addressed. It is a job for service designers and good writers/storytellers.

The industry or retailer that ends up doing that job well will gain quite a competitive edge in a rapidly growing market.

Be the first to share
3 October 2015
Building a design-driven culture
It’s not enough to just sell a product or service—companies must truly engage with their customers. McKinsey & Company outlines four elements of a design-driven culture, necessary to embed experience design in an organization. Really understanding …
29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness
As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council …
27 September 2015
Privacy is UX
UX strategist and researcher Alex Schmidt argues that in a world full of security breaches, snooping, and third-party data aggregators, you should know where your users’ data goes. In this article, she explains why it’s …
26 September 2015
[Book] The first-ever ethnographic study of the global reinsurance industry
Making a Market for Acts of God: The Practice of Risk Trading in the Global Reinsurance Industry By Paula Jarzabkowski, Rebecca Bednarek, and Paul Spee Oxford Scholarship Online April 2015 Abstract Reinsurance is financial market trading in the risk of …
24 September 2015
[Free eBook] Understanding the Connected Home
Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow's connected home By Peter Bihr and Michelle Thorne Berlin, September 2015 Available on GitBook We know that connectivity increasingly makes its way into our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. Into …
24 September 2015
Is it time to forget Big Data and focus on real people?
Big data opens up whole world of insight for designers, but only if we focus on the actual users behind the numbers, writes Maya Nix, the Marketing Content Producer for ClickTale, in this UX Magazine …
24 September 2015
Using business anthropology for strategic cost reduction
When business anthropologists work with the C-suite of large companies, the clients or employers tend to be the chief marketing officer (for consumer research), the chief strategy officer (for strategy work anchored in an outside-in …
5 September 2015
Gallup: quantitative customer experience metrics aren’t enough
Over the past decade, Gallup has observed a growing arms race among brands to implement bigger and better customer experience platforms. These systems -- also called customer experience platforms, customer experience management or CEX management …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

See all articles