Posted by Doug Root on 2nd Feb 2021

What’s the Point of a 4 Pin LED?

Looking around on our website or elsewhere on the web and coming across something like a “4 pin LED” might raise a few question marks. We’re going to shed a little light on just what these things are and why they matter.

A 4 pin LED, basically, is an LED light that has four pins in the base. You may be familiar with some common light bulb bases just from replacing light bulbs around your house. While many domestic light bulbs have screw bases, many other light bulbs do not. For example, many common fluorescent lights, including domestic models, have bases that need to be “pressed” into a receptacle for the connections to meet. Still, other lights, including some automotive bulbs and some small electronic bulbs, have bases with exposed connectors that need to be wedged or seated into their sockets.

Therefore, at its most basic, an LED with a 4-pin base is not significant because it has four pins, but rather because of how it can be used. For example, many of the 4 pin LEDs on our website are designed to replace CFL bulbs that are common in many residential settings.

But I thought CFLs were a useful replacement? Why switch to a 4 pin LED?

That’s a good question because for a long time CFLs were marketed as the ideal replacement to incandescent lights, or at least as a desirable and serviceable replacement. In many ways, they still are.

While they are not categorically cheap, CFLs are longer lasting than incandescents and also much more energy efficient. Both of these things together justify their cost in the long run, despite the fact that they have a higher upfront cost.

The idea here is twofold. For one thing, the fact that CFLs draw less power means that they burn less fuel to produce electricity, which is good for the environment. In the same vein, because they last longer, there will be fewer of them clogging up landfills.

But just as there are two benefits here, there are two distinct drawbacks that counter produce these initiatives. For one, despite the fact that they are energy efficient, they are not more energy-efficient than LEDs that have been increasingly replacing them.

More disturbing is the additional fact that CFLs, like all fluorescent lights, contain mercury. Mercury is essential to the process of fluorescence, which enables these lights to work at all. Although it makes them more energy-efficient than incandescents, and though they do last longer, when they eventually find their final resting place in the trash, that mercury is not good for the Earth.

Previously it was the lesser of two evils, but since the rise of LED technology, fluorescents’ benefits are quickly getting overshadowed. LEDs were once cost-ineffective, which made them rare as replacements, but since the cost of semiconductors has dropped, LEDs have been making a rise as a replacement, even for previously desirable light bulbs like fluorescents. Below you can see an itemized list of some of the best advantages that LED lights bring with them.

●LEDs are affordable: The price of LEDs was once inexcusably high, but about 20 years ago the cost of the semiconductors that are used to make them dropped off. Since then, LEDs have been getting better, more reliable, and, importantly, much cheaper.

●LEDs are extremely energy efficient: Even without the fact that the price of LEDs has been dropping over the years, the fact remains that you could pay them off with the cost of energy savings alone. It has been said that LEDs will pay themselves off within one year of investment. We can’t make such a blanket claim, because it will depend on your energy consumption, but the reality remains that LEDs are enormously energy efficient.

●LEDs produce very little heat: Those who struggle with keeping the heat produced by their lighting down during the summer months will really find a bonus with LED lights. They produce very little heat and can help you keep your cooling costs down throughout the year. So, in other words, they save you double on energy expenses.

●LEDs last a really long time: Fluorescent lights in general and CFLs in specific have been highly regarded in the past because they have some of the longest lifespans of all types of lighting. Even today, LEDs are the only lights that regularly come close to matching the lifespan of fluorescent lights. Here’s the thing, though. They don’t match it. They outstrip it significantly. The best fluorescent lights can last somewhere close to 50,000 hours. There are LEDs that approach a 100,000-hour lifespan.

●LEDs produce great color temperature, a range of CRI, and excellent light output: Some people don’t like the cool white light produced by fluorescent lights and CFLs. LEDs can be manufactured in a range of color temperatures, brightnesses, and much more. In other words, you can have exactly what you want from LED lighting.

●LEDs require effectively no warm-up time to reach full brightness: Fluorescent lights were (and sometimes remain) notorious for taking a long time to reach their full brightness. Some of them even have problems with flickering and buzzing. LEDs have no such similar problems. When you switch on an LED light, it will reach its full brightness faster than your eyes have the ability to detect.

●LEDs are not affected by temperature or most other environmental factors: In addition to the fact that some fluorescent lights take a few moments to warm up and reach full brightness, they can be adversely impacted by environmental factors like extreme cold. That is not the case for LEDs. In fact, LEDs respond to extreme cold and heat better than almost any other light source. They start right up immediately in both heat and cold.

●Most importantly, LEDs are not harmful to the environment: It bears noting that LEDs are not only not bad for the environment, but that they are good for the environment in more than one way. Not only do LEDs burn less energy, meaning they require less energy to be produced by burning fossil fuels, but they also contain no harmful components. Almost the entire unit of an LED can be recycled, and there are no harmful materials in an LED, unlike CFLs and fluorescents, which contain mercury.

What to Look for in a 4 Pin LED

For interested homeowners or business owners who want to switch to LEDs, the most important thing to look for is an LED that will work with your current infrastructure or can be practically used to make a replacement.

Not all LEDs, not even all 4 pin models are created equally. You may need to consult the manufacturer of your current CFLs or other lighting in order to find a model that will work in your home or business.

However, all other things being equal, here are some traits that are desirable in 4 pin LED lights.

●Plug and play compatibility: It’s no secret that LED lights, like fluorescent lights, including CFLs, require additional electrical infrastructure in order to work. In the case of a fluorescent light, you’ll need a ballast for the light to start up and work properly, whereas in the case of an LED light you’ll need a driver. The thing is, some LED lights come with their drivers preinstalled, but that isn’t the only thing you need to account for. You also need to ensure that, if the CFL leaves behind a ballast, that the LED replacement in question will be compatible with it. In many instances, our 4 pin LEDs are plug and play, which means you can remove the CFL and plug the new LED right into the old socket and it should just work fine. Check the product pages for more information or contact our customer service team if you can’t figure it out.

●Long lifespan: A long lifespan practically comes built into an LED, but it pays to get the compatible light with the longest lifespan that you can find. All you need to do is look through a couple of the listings for LED lights and you can see right in the product pages what the expected lifespan of the light is. Budget this way for lifespan and you might be able to economize even more than expected. Check our listings: some of our LEDs are rated to last 50,000 years or more.

●The proper base type for compatibility: Whatever else works, if the base doesn’t, you won’t be able to plug the light in the first place. Make sure that you get a light that has the proper base. You can see the base type right on the product page, as well as what it will work with. Again, if you have any questions, call us and we can help you find the right equipment.

●Durability: Another edge that LED lights have over some other forms of lighting like many fluorescent lights is the fact that they are physically tougher. To understand this, you need to understand more about how LEDs work. They are considered SSLs, or Solid State Lights, which are not true light bulbs. They contain no gases and are not even commonly made from glass. Most often they are made from tough hard plastics like epoxies and are highly shatter-resistant, even nearly shatterproof. Contrast that with fluorescent tubes and some glass CFLs, which break almost too readily.

●Ability to be mounted horizontally or vertically: It rarely matters with CFLs and fluorescent lights, as these can usually (but not always) be mounted in a variety of positions. This is useful because some lights cannot be. For example, many HID lamps can only be - and must be - mounted horizontally or vertically in an “up” or “down” orientation. The bulbs won’t work otherwise. Pay attention to the products you are looking at: some of our 4 pin LEDs can be used horizontally and vertically, whereas others cannot be.

●A good warranty: Warranties and guarantees vary according to each specific product, but many of our pin-based LEDs come with supportive warranties. For example, many of our Halco pin LEDs come with a 5-year warranty and offer excellent customer support. It might not be something to worry about as a homeowner replacing one or two bulbs, but for businesses going through big refreshes, that support might be considered very valuable.

●The right CRI and color temperature: Ensuring that you get the right CRI or color rendering temperature from LED replacement bulbs is not a matter of whether or not your equipment will work. It’s a matter of ensuring that your LED bulbs look the way you want them to, where you place them. To get an impression of the color temperature and CRI offered by one of our 4 pin LED bulbs, just check the product page. Some of the photographs show an interpretive representation of color temperature and CRI so you can know what you’ll be getting.

Contact Us for More Information

Want to learn more about the difference between the different styles of LED lights that we sell here on our website? We sell much more than 4 pin lights and not all of our LEDs are designed for replacements for CFLs. We also provide LED replacements for linear fluorescent lights, LED replacements for HID lamps, such as corn cob lights, LED replacements for antique incandescent bulbs, and many others.

However, since the matter at hand hinges on 4 pin lights, and there is a lot to sync up, we understand if you have questions. Just give us a call any time you want to learn more.

Have questions about whether or not a given 4 pin light will work as a replacement for you? Call us and let us know what you have and we’ll help you find compatible lighting solutions. Have a question about savings or how LEDs work? Call us up just the same. You can reach us at 1-888-988-2852. We love hearing from our customers and we love helping them even more!