White-light LED lamps have longer life expectancy and higher efficiency (more light for the same electricity) than most other lighting when used at the proper temperature. LED sources are compact, which gives flexibility in designing lighting fixtures and good control over the distribution of light with small reflectors or lenses. Because of the small size of LEDs, control of the spatial distribution of illumination is extremely flexible, and the light output and spatial distribution of an LED array can be controlled with no efficiency loss.
LEDs using the color-mixing principle can emit a wide range of colors by changing the proportions of light generated in each primary color. This allows full color mixing in lamps with LEDs of different colors. Unlike other lighting technologies, LED emission tends to be directional (or at least Lambertian), which can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on requirements. For applications where non-directional light is required, either a diffuser is used, or multiple individual LED emitters are used to emit in different directions.
Some models of LED lamps are compatible with dimmers as used for incandescent lamps (although dimmers for incandescent lighting are not suitable for LEDs). LED lamps often have directional light characteristics. These lamps are more power-efficient than compact fluorescent lamps[better source needed] and offer lifespans of 30,000 or more hours, reduced if operated at a higher temperature than specified. Incandescent lamps have a typical life of 1,000 hours,and compact fluorescents about 8,000 hours.
The lamps maintain output light intensity well over their lifetimes. Energy Star specifications require the lamps to typically drop less than 10% after 6,000 or more hours of operation, and in the worst case not more than 15%. LED lamps are available with a variety of color properties. The purchase price is higher than most other lamps – although dropping – but the higher efficiency usually makes total cost of ownership (purchase price plus cost of electricity and changing bulbs) lower.