If you go by the home improvement store and take a look at the selection of home and commercial LED lights you might be a bit confused. The truth is that the two lighting systems really dont look all that different if you have such a limited selection from which to choose. To really get a comprehensive view of what is available and why you should invest in such lighting, you need to go online.
Bulbs for the Home
The real goal of bulbs that are designed for home use is that they be entirely interchangeable with bulbs currently in use incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs. The selection is still small, but you can get A style bulbs, flood lights and C style bulbs. A bulbs are those that fit in your regular fixture and C7 bulbs go in chandeliers.
If you have a chandelier that uses standard screw bases there are adapters you can use which allow C7 bulbs to fit your fixture. One thing you wont find in your average home supply store yet is a tube light. Those are available online but are very pricey at this point, and since those fixtures use fluorescent bulbs already, the savings wont be as dramatic.
In the Commercial Setting
Commercial settings can be defined in a variety of ways. Some consider this application to relate specifically to office function, while others would include city wide lighting. Bulbs for these applications are available predominantly online through manufacturers. Lets look at both.
In the office, restaurant or store-based setting, fluorescent lights have been in use for quite some time. 2 x 2 foot panel lighting, traditional ballast lights and flood light cans are all replaceable with LED lamps at this time, but the initial investment is significant. Of course, the savings are just as significant, and in general, fixtures wont need to be changed. The exception is that if you have a ballast dependent fluorescent fixture, the ballast will probably have to be removed for the LED to work properly.
City lighting, such as that found in traffic lights and street lights offer some unique challenges. As part of the current stimulus package cities are switching over to LED lamps for the energy savings. What they have found, especially in cold climates, is that LED bulbs dont generate enough heat in traffic lights to melt off snow and ice, something the old incandescent bulbs would do. This means that during cold weather traffic lights get obscured. LED manufacturers are looking at ways to solve the problem.
On the other hand, cities that have invested in LED lighting for crosswalk signs, street lighting and architectural lighting report significant reductions in their energy bills. Some cities are saving 50-90% over their previous costs.
Unlike many of the other bulbs and applications, flood lights and their cans are essentially identical, whether they are employed in commercial or residential settings. Flood lights can be used inside or out, as long as the appropriate fixture is chosen. LED bulbs light instantly and can cycle frequently making them much more appropriate for security lighting than CFL bulbs.
While commercial applications are best served by online sellers or directly from the manufacturers, the homeowner has another option. LED bulbs are beginning to show up in home supply stores. The prices are high, though, and a gradual replacement policy is probably best for most individuals.
Among the advantages homeowners will note a decrease in energy costs, little need to change bulbs regularly and less heat build up during hot months. This translates into a secondary benefit when you dont need to cool your house quite as much.
Expect to pay about $20-$30 for a bulb designed to replace your standard 60w light. Some bulbs are dimmable, so if that is important in the setting you have in mind, make sure that you check for that feature. Also, take some time to learn about lumens, which is the most appropriate replacement wattage and so forth.