LED bulbs g4 to 12v: features, rules of choice + review of the best manufacturers

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Oksana Chubukina
Last update: May 2019

The miniature halogen illuminators are being replaced by energy-saving brothers - G4 LED bulbs 12V, providing full lighting. LED products have many advantages and are the most promising light sources.

However, in order to maximize the potential potential of capsule bulbs, you should correctly approach the issue of choice, taking into account the peculiarities of their operation.

We will help you solve this problem. The article describes the features of the operation and application of low-voltage lamps, presents a step-by-step algorithm for choosing a lighter, and also identifies the best manufacturers of LED lamps.

The device and principle of operation of G4 lamps

Among the general variety of diode bulbs G4 modifications are distinguished by the minimum size, the shape of the base and the power supply from the network of 12 V. Due to their appearance, such illuminators are often called capsular.

The design of LED lamps, in general, and G4 diodes, in particular, is fundamentally different from analogues with incandescent filaments or fluorescent products. There is no fragile glass and unreliable moving parts.

The main elements of the LED illuminator are a transparent bulb, a module with LEDs, a radiator, a driver, and a pin base.

G4 lamp unit
In the center of the board there is a coil, a microcircuit with pins and a resistor. A capacitor is visible on the back of the bulb (yellow rectangle - 107D)

The mini-bulb operates according to the standard scheme of operation of LEDs made of semiconductors.

When an electric current is applied, charged particles of dissimilar materials actively move, and when they touch, they emit photons - light is emitted.

LED operation principle
The crystal dimensions are very small, therefore, to obtain a sufficient glow, the diodes are grouped and placed on a circuit board with conductive paths

An important condition for the operation of 12 V bulbs is the connection of a step-down transformer. The device is connected in front of the light source.

In addition to correcting the voltage to the desired value, the power supply converts alternating current into direct current.

Features of low-voltage illuminators

For G4 12V lamps, all the main advantages of LEDs are characteristic: economical energy consumption, durability, environmental friendliness and low heat transfer. In addition, thanks to the design differences, capsular illuminators have additional advantages.

One of the significant advantages is their versatility. The compact size allows you to install lamps in miniature fixtures, use for lighting ceiling structures, steps, furniture, decoration and zoning of the interior.

Demand for capsules is high among car and motorists - diodes are involved in the lighting system of vehicles.

Bulb replacement
The pin base allows you to replace halogen lamps with more economical LEDs. This gives tangible savings on energy - electricity consumption is reduced by two to three times

Despite the high initial investment, diode bulbs fully pay for themselves - they last 15 times longer relative to halogen counterparts.

Additional advantages of low-voltage LED-illuminators:

  1. electrical safety. It is believed that an electric current of 12 V does not cause damage to humans. Therefore, low-voltage bulbs are permissible for installation in hazardous areas: pools, saunas, cellars, etc.
  2. Instant inclusion. The operation of the LED eliminates the ignition stage - the LED lamp immediately generates one hundred percent light output.
  3. Reliability. Capsule models are resistant to mechanical damage: scratches and chips.

LEDs with a G4 base are available with different shades of glow - from neutral pale yellow to cool white with blue.

If we talk about the disadvantages of capsule models, we can distinguish several significant disadvantages:

  1. High price. You will have to pay a lot to guarantee long-term performance. Saving on quality is definitely not worth it - the parameters of cheap Chinese counterparts from unknown manufacturers do not correspond to the declared characteristics. Moreover, when using bulbs with a low capacitor, there is a risk of it breaking.
  2. Increased current - a consequence of low voltage. It is necessary to adjust the length of the conductors. As the length of the wires increases, the resistance increases, and the quality of the lighting deteriorates.

To avoid dimming of the bulbs, it is necessary to check that the length from the power supply to the bulbs is approximately equal, the permissible error is 2-3%.

Power Supply
The most significant minus of the micro bulbs is the use of a stabilization power supply equalizing the voltage to 12 V. The device complicates the installation somewhat, and it is sometimes difficult to hide large dimensions under the body of the chandelier or suspended ceiling

The place for the power supply must be thought out in advance, you may have to create a certain niche for the equipment. In addition, the device has its own efficiency, due to which the lighting efficiency may decrease.

And the very presence of an additional link in the circuit increases the risk of failure of the entire chain.

Miniature LEDs Selection Algorithm

The range of LED bulbs G4 at 12 V is very diverse. When determining the appropriate option, one must understand the purpose and operational features of different types, as well as correctly assess the basic characteristics of the illuminators.

Variety of designs

The primary task is to choose the desired shape of the bulb.

Among the low-voltage LED-models with a 4 mm pin base, mainly five types are used in everyday life:

  • capsules;
  • corn;
  • petals;
  • candles;
  • disk.

The first group is most in demand. The case has a cylindrical shape and is covered with a transparent or opaque bulb - diffuser. Such products more often than usual are a substitute halogen bulbs.

G4 lamp shapes
Performance forms of miniature illuminators.Designations for the photo: 1 - capsule, 2 - corn without a bulb, 3 - petal, 4 - candle, 5 - disk lamp or “pill”

In corn, all diodes are located on an open cylindrical platform. The absence of a bulb contributes to brighter lighting and eliminates the possibility of overheating. Like a traditional capsule, corn is installed in chandeliers and lamps.

The main disadvantage is the unattractive appearance when turned off. Corn is selected so that the lampshade covers the lamp itself.

The “petal” and “candle” models are more often used in vehicle lighting. However, in the organization of home light, they found their application - this is spot lighting, the creation of ceiling or wall luminous patterns.

Disc-shaped flat illuminators are used in luminaires designed to create directional luminous flux. The angle of illumination of the "tablets" is not more than 120 °.

In addition to the form factor, low-voltage bulbs differ among themselves with the internal filling - the type of LEDs.

Three options are possible:

  • SMD
  • COB
  • Filament.

SMD. Single semiconductor crystals coated with a phosphor. Diodes are located on the heat sink circuit board.

The visible glow angle of one crystal is 20-140 °. The main advantage of SMD LEDs is their intense heat dissipation and, as a result, their durability.

COB. Structurally, a COB matrix is ​​a set of crystals on a single platform, flooded with a phosphor. Due to the tightness of the fit of the SMD diodes, a bright glow is achieved. COB lamps illuminate about 180-220 °.

LED types
Designations for the photo: 1 - SMD-LEDs, 2 - illuminator with COB-panel. Models of the second option are prone to more intense heating, and when one diode fails from the matrix, the entire lamp dies

Filament. It has the most effective light parameters. A plurality of crystals are mounted on glass filaments, which are then coated with a fluorescent solution. The main achievement of the technology is 360 ° illumination.

Bulb Filament
Filament LEDs always have a transparent bulb, and their glow is similar to the operation of incandescent lamps. This option is optimal for creating uniformly directional light.

Light metering

Having decided on a suitable shape, you should evaluate the main parameters of the LED bulb:

  • power equivalent;
  • light flow;
  • glow temperature;
  • color rendering quality;
  • degree of ripple.

Glow brightness LED bulbs are characterized by two indicators: power equivalent and luminous flux. Parameters are interconnected.

Using the summary table, you can determine at what power of different lamps a certain level of luminous flux is achieved, expressed in lumens.

Power equivalent
For example, a 40 W incandescent bulb gives an illumination of 470 lumens. For a full replacement, a 6 W LED analogue or 32 W halogen analogue (+) is suitable

If there is no comparison table at hand, you can focus on the manufacturer's data - often the luminous flux and an analogue of the power are indicated on the package.

In the absence of information, an approximate guideline is suitable: 10 W of incandescent lamps correspond to 1.5 W of an LED illuminator.

Glow temperature. An important parameter that determines the comfort of light perception and the quality of illumination of the surrounding space. Low-voltage LED-lamps operate in the range of 3000-4500 K, which corresponds to neutral and daylight.

Habitual incandescent lamp creates a soft, slightly yellowish tint, LED models give a colder tone.

Glow temperature
As the color temperature decreases, red tones prevail in illumination, with an increase, blue and greenish shades begin to dominate (+)

The choice color temperature depends on the purpose of the bulb and its location. In the bedroom, it is better to choose products with an indicator of no more than 3000 K, for the nursery a LED for 3000-3200 K is suitable, and for the design of the workspace - 3500 K or more.

Color rendering. Unfortunately, this characteristic is rarely indicated by capsule bulb manufacturers. But it is precisely the color rendering index that largely determines the reality of the perception of surrounding objects and their own reflection in the mirror.

The parameter is expressed in absolute units within 100 and is designated - CRI. The reference indicator is sunlight, CRI = 1. Incandescent lamps give a good result - CRI = 97.

Color rendering index
Inexpensive LED-illuminators are capable of distorting the color spectrum, their CRI sometimes does not reach 70. For a living room, this figure should not be less than 80

If the data is not displayed on the package, then the color rendering quality is checked experimentally. Substitute a palm under a luminous bulb, if it seems grayish, then the product is clearly of dubious quality.

Flickering light. Another characteristic that manufacturers are in no hurry to share is the degree of ripple. At work LEDs may flickercreating a significant strain on the eyes.

Immediately after switching on, the pulsation is not felt, but with such a glow, a person becomes tired more quickly, and vision may deteriorate.

To diagnose a deficiency, you need to look at the included capsule through the smartphone’s camera. The presence of pronounced bands indicates an unacceptable flicker intensity.

Light ripple test
A strong pulsation is noticeable by lateral vision. To confirm the guesses, you can perform a pencil test. A loop of many contours clearly shows flickering light

According to the norms of SNiP, the level of pulsations for the house should be within 30%, when lighting a workplace - up to 20%.

For smoothing flicker in low-voltage LEDs, a capacitor is responsible. Whether an element will cope with its task depends on its capacity. For LED lamps with a power of 1.2-2 W, a capacitor of at least 100 μF is needed.

The actual capacity of an element can be calculated from its marking. The first two-digit number is multiplied by the number encrypted in the third (6 means 1 μF, 7 - 10 μF). The letter marking is the operating voltage of the capacitor.

Capacitor capacity
Calculation example for 476 C module: 47 * 1 = 47 μF. Such a capacitor does not completely block the ripple even of a 1 W LED

Additional selection criteria

Comparing light bulbs with the same characteristics, you should pay attention to their parameters.

Dispersion angle. The value depends on the type of LED used and the shape of the lamp itself. The maximum illumination of 360 ° is given by the Filament models, the minimum - by diodes on flat disks. When choosing, you need to start from the purpose of the lighting device.

Bulb type. On sale are models with a matte and transparent diffuser. The first create a soft glow and hide the filling of the lamp.

Frosted bulbs are suitable for fixtures with open shades. Transparent diffuser provides brighter glow.

Body material. For models with a power exceeding 2.5-3 W, thick silicone is mainly used. Mini lamps with a matte cap are made of polymers - polycarbonate and durable plastic.

The service life of a low-voltage LED illuminator is about 15-30 thousand hours. When choosing a diode, experts recommend taking into account the unspoken rule: the longer the warranty period from the manufacturer, the more durable the product.

Additional information on the characteristics of LED bulbs is provided in this article.

Overview of products from the best manufacturers

The position of the market leader in LED bulbs is shared by two world brands: Philips (Netherlands) and Osram (Germany). Actual indicators of lighting fixtures of European companies correspond to the declared characteristics, and their service life is beyond competition.

Mini-bulbs of both brands in comparison with their analogues win in many respects: design, high level of color reproduction, and the actual absence of ripples.

Philips bulb
A worthy representative from Philips is the 2.2W CorePro Ledcapsule.Characteristics: luminous flux - 200 Lm, type of diode - SMD, diameter - 14.3 mm, glow temperature - 2700 K. Estimated price - 5 cu

The Osram mini-lamp - Star Pin G4 also has similar parameters.

Osram lamp specifications
A feature of the LED is a scattering lens with a concave shape. Such a solution directs the light beam in a certain direction, and less intense light is emitted on the sides (+)

In addition to branded bulbs, a wide selection of worthy analogues at a more affordable price is presented on the market.

Among the recommended manufacturers include:

  • Gauss (Russia) - the company is constantly improving its products using the latest technology and introducing design solutions;
  • Maxus (China) - 1-2 W LED lamps, the company provides a 2 year warranty;
  • Biom (China) - a wide range of different forms of low-voltage illuminators, excellent price / quality ratio;
  • Foton lighting (Great Britain) - offers light bulbs of European quality at a moderate cost;
  • Navigator (Russia) - the models use a highly efficient driver and planar LEDs with a CRI> 80 light transmission; The manufacturer offers ceramic, silicone and polycarbonate cases.

Definitely worth avoiding products from nameless manufacturers. Count on the quality, durability and safety of their lamps is not worth it.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Video report on checking various low-voltage G4 LEDs:

Review of Foton Corn Mini Bulbs:

LED illuminators with G4 socket are a worthy alternative to halogen bulbs. Their use can significantly reduce energy consumption, while maintaining high levels of illumination.

In order for the transition to LEDs to have exclusively positive aspects, you must carefully consider the choice of mini-lamps.

Have something to supplement, or have questions about choosing low-voltage LED lamps? You can leave comments on the publication, participate in discussions and share your own experience in using such lamps. The contact form is located in the lower block.

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