Finally! Time to Buy Small, Round Dimmable LED Bulbs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s about time.

Well, actually, it’s about energy conservation, saving money and light quality.

For years, I’ve been looking for a frosted, round candelabra base (G16) dimmable LED bulb that I can use in my high-use fixtures. And yesterday, I found what I’ve been looking for in my local hardware store.

Continue reading

Philips SlimStyle Dimmable LED Bulb Mini-Review

Philips 60w Dimmable LED bulb

Philips 60w Dimmable LED bulb

Woohoo, a high-quality, $10 (now $9 at Amazon), dimmable LED bulb!

Philips has been a leader in LED lighting for some time, and their new SlimStyle bulb securely places them at the front of the pack.

While there are other, sexier dimmable LED bulbs, the SlimStyle has the best price/performance that I’ve seen. If you run the numbers, for a high-usage fixture (I define that as 8-hours a day) then you’ll find that this bulb pays for itself in about half a year in saved electricity costs. In my book, that makes it a “no-brainer.” It’s inexpensive, durable, casts a lot of pleasing light and is the first LED bulb that I’d call *cute*🙂  Really, just look at it. What’s not to like? Continue reading

G7 Power 40W Retro Light Bulb – LED lighting has never been so beautiful


Conventional incandescent (front) and G7 Retro (back)

Conventional incandescent (front) and G7 Retro (back)

The new A19 style bulb from G7 power may change the way you see LED lighting. No more big heat-sink fins, just a classic Edison bulb style without the power penalty.

With just 3.6 Watts, the bulb casts 400 Lumens, the same as a conventional (now phased out by law in the United States) 40W bulb. After some visual comparisons, I can’t see why anyone would need to use an old incandescent bulb (other than price). The bulb comes on instantly and glows with the familiar color that we’ve come to expect from incandescents. Its efficiency is amazing, at 138 Lumens per watt – more than twice as efficient as most compact fluorescent bulbs and greater than 10x more efficient than an incandescent.

A quick comment about cost. If the bulb gets high use, say 8 hours per day, it will consume just 10.51 kWh per year. Compare this with 116.80 kWh per year for the 40W bulb it replaces. At an electricity cost of $0.15/kWh, you save $15.94 in electricity per year – more than the $11.95 cost of the bulb. So this would be a great bulb for high-use fixtures around the house or places where the aesthetics and light quality are important.

Keep in mind that this bulb is NOT dimmable, so it’s not a complete replacement for the incandescent.

Check out G7’s website for more info.


Initial impressions of the CREE 60w Warm White LED Bulb

Having received the just released CREE 60w warm white LED bulb, I wanted to get you my impressions ASAP since many of you are already asking about this ground-breaking bulb.

The vital stats:

  • Manufacturer: CREE
  • Cost: 6-pack, $74.82 at = $12.47 each.
  • Brightness: 60w equivalent – 800 lm
  • Consumption: 9.5 Watts
  • Efficiency: 84.2 lm/W
  • Life: 25,000 hours
  • Usage: Indoor/outdoor
  • Dimmable!
  • Assembled in the USA
  • Lead free / Mercury free

For comparison, an incandescent bulb has:

  • Cost: 4-pack, $6.00 on Amazon (Philips name-brand bulb). Sylvania are close to $0.50/bulb.
  • Brightness: 860 lm
  • Consumption: 60 Watts
  • Efficiency: 14.3 lm/W
  • Life: rated 1,000 hours

Operational costs?

Based on simple lifetime cost, the LED lasts 25x as long as the rated life of the incandescent and is roughly 25x the cost of the inexpensive Sylvania bulbs, so by that measure, these are the “same cost.” However, that doesn’t figure in inconvenience of having to replace the incandescent 25 times, going to the store, or paying for the electricity! It doesn’t take a physicist to see that the CREE LED bulb is the big winner.

For the 25,000 life of the bulb, the CREE saves 1262 kWh or electricity. That’s a LOT of energy savings! How much? That’s about a month of your home’s entire electric usage. Compare that with your electric bill and you’ll immediately estimate your cost savings. For me, this electricity costs about $200. 

Subjective comparison

The bulb feels different from any other bulb. It must have some sort of rubberized coating on the translucent housing. It almost sticks to your hands. In fact, I felt the urge to wash my hands after touching it. Very strange. The positive thing about this is that you’re not going to drop this bulb., unlike normal glass, which is slippery.

I immediately replace the bulb in my desk lamp, which is an old CFL. That works fine once it warms up, but it always seems to be a dim yellow for the first 10 minutes, by which point, I’m about to leave the room. Note however that I strongly recommend that you use this in fixtures with good reflectors on the back surfaces. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of light that doesn’t reflect off the back of the fixture. I learned this the hard way in my downlights (recessed light fixtures). Standard incandescent flood lights have internal mirrored surfaces to project the light forward. These LED lights are omni-directional, so you’ll waste a lot of their light output if they’re used in fixtures without good reflectors.

The CREE, being an LED light, is essentially instant-on to full brightness – very nice.

As for the color, it does appear to be a “warm white.” If you don’t tell someone that it’s an LED, they probably wouldn’t know, which is exactly the effect they’re looking for. In fact, combined with the shape of the bulb, I’m guessing that the only way one would know that this isn’t a regular bulb is when you dim it. Incandescent bulbs grow very warm at lower dimmer settings, whereas LEDs maintain their color temperature throughout the range or brightness.

The next replacement was in one of the downlights in my bathroom. These are particularly important because you want to maintain a neutral skin-tone. Nobody wants to look in the mirror and see a strange skin tone! In this case, the yellowish cast is definitely noticeable compared to the incandescent. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s quite obvious.

I then replaced the LED in my closet, which was a bright blue (my wife says it looks like s dentist’s office or something). The change in color was very apparent – definitely yellowy. I’m not sure it I like it or not. It’s definitely “warmer” but perhaps not as natural. I need to try some of the whiter versions of the CREE bulb which is supposed to be off-white. Here’s a comparison photo:

Which is which?

Which is which?

The container is very white while the counter tiles are almond. The photo was taken using the camera with manual white balance that is tuned for incandescent bulbs, so it will make the incandescent image look as white as can be. If you used a spectrophotometer, you’d get a more accurate image. However, it’s not how you’d perceive the colors.

Looking at the color spectrum, I found what would be expected, the light from the LED bulb consists of three distinct peaks – red, green and blue, whereas the incandescent is a smooth spectrum. In theory, you should be able to come up with a close color match using the three primaries, but contrary to popular opinion, you will not be able to perfectly match the color produced by a continuous spectrum source.

Perceptually, these images are a fairly close match to what I was seeing. Pretty good colors but not exactly what I’m used to. Your mileage may vary!

Here’s a striking comparison between the LED and the CFL using my desk lamp. Again, I kept the white balance on the camera set to “incandescent”, meaning a pure white would match an incandescent (which really isn’t white, but it’s what we perceive as white in our ordinary indoor experience).

Using the same camera settings, the LED is much closer to an incandescent

Using the same camera settings, the LED is much closer to an incandescent

Keep in mind that perception changes our reality. The CFL doesn’t really look that yellow, because our brain tries to color balance things. However, the camera is good at showing things without this bias. The main take-home message is that the LED bulb is a vastly better match for what we normally think of as household lighting.

As you try out different bulbs, let us know what you think. The CREE, at only around $10 has broken new ground for quality and efficiency.  It’s well worth a try.

High Efficiency Outdoor and Landscape Lighting

I’m personally not a big fan of landscape lighting, because 99% of the time you don’t need it at all. As they say in the business: “the most efficient light is the light that you don’t use.” But for many, landscape lighting is a necessity. In this post, I’ll cover several ways you can reduce the energy used for your outdoor lighting. How does a 98% saving sound? Unbelievable? Read on! Continue reading

LED Christmas Lights

As you shop this holiday season, you’re probably seeing a lot more LED Christmas lights. Their colors are more vibrant and they’re vastly more energy efficient than conventional incandescent Christmas lights. But do they pay off?

Let me ask you something – when you buy a string of lights for decorating, are you thinking “what is the cost-benefit ratio of these lights?” Or, are you thinking “will these look good in my house?” Me personally? I’m thinking that I hope they last for more than one season and I don’t spend next Christmas searching all day for that one burned out bulb! Few things put me in a foul mood faster during the holiday season than having to waste time. I’ve purchased a variety of LED light sets. Some are fantastic, while others are too faint. But all have been reliable and none have burned out. This alone make’s it worth the $10-$20 per string.

What about energy savings?

Continue reading