No more twisty bulbs for me! I’ve installed a new LED lighting system for my home that beats twisty bulbs in every way. It has been awhile since I discussed technology here, so this will be an interesting diversion for many readers.
I’ve always been a fan of alternate energy and improved energy efficiency, and I don’t just write about it like some people we know, I do things about it. I try out new things, I do the work. Longtime readers of my blog know that I’ve done two solar power projects, drive an electric car for my local short distance jaunts (I have two now, a really sharp new model, but that’s another story). I’ve put a 10KW solar array on my home, plus a 125 KW solar array on one of our local schools when I was a school trustee. I’ve retrofitted my home with CFL’s in some places, as well as installed timer switches on many of our most commonly used lights. I live in an an Energy Star rated home. However, I’ve not been all that pleased with the lighting that came with the house. Now I’ve changed the largest wattage draw of lighting in my house from incandescent to LED lighting.
No matter what you think about the veracity of global warming claims, there’s really not much of an argument anyone can make against improved energy efficiency as a way of reducing all emissions, not just CO2. Literally, CO2 sucks all the oxygen out of the energy efficiency issue. The goals of full spectrum pollutant reduction can also be accomplished via improved energy efficiency, and with much less rancor, in my opinion.
I’ve never liked the twisty fluorescent bulbs, even when practically given away. They are slow to illuminate, don’t live up to manufacturer’s lifetime claims, and contain toxic mercury making them a disposal hazard. Watts to like?
Up until now, I hadn’t liked the color temperature of the light that LED bulbs had put out. They were mostly a harsh blue-white. Now, that’s been solved.
So that was my weekend project, improving my energy efficiency. It was painless, fast, and the result was fantastic.
The problem: 5 recessed incandescent lighting fixtures each with a 65 watt bulb for a total draw of 325 watts. My kids leave the hallway lights on constantly as it is the most trafficked area of the house.
The solution: swap in LED recessed lighting fixtures at 12 watts each for a total draw of 60 watts
A liberal professor friend in the bay area (who also happened to be best man at my wedding) turned me on to these new recessed incandescent fixture replacements from a company called CREE Lighting. I was impressed the first moment I saw the light they produced. It was warm, not harsh, and even better, it worked on a dimmer control.
The neatest trick with these lights is that they combine yellow and white LED’s in a matrix to get a color temperature that is 2700K or 3500K (your choice) which makes them give similar light to incandescents. Here’s what they look like inside:
Besides making less heat through lower power consumption, They also seal against the ceiling better than incandescent recessed lighting fixtures which are essentially open to the attic.
Here is what it looks like outside:
I bought one for my office immediately, to put directly over my desk, replacing a 75 watt flood in a recessed fixture. It worked out great, so I decided to do my entire house hallway of 5 fixtures.
Here’s the details on this new technology:
The LR6 is a downlight module for new construction and retrofit that installs easily in most standard six inch recessed IC or non-IC housings. The LR6 generates white light with LED’s in a new way that enables an unprecedented combination of light output, high efficacy, beautiful color, and affordability. U.S. Patent # 7,213,940 issued. Numerous patents pending.
• Utilizes Cree TrueWhite™ technology
• Nominal delivered light output = 650 lumens
• Nominal input power = 10.5 Watts
• CRI = 90
• CCT = 2700K or 3500K
• Dimmable to 20%
• Three Year Warranty
Cree TrueWhite™ Technology
• A better way to generate white light that utilizes a patented mixture of unsaturated yellow and saturated red LEDs.
• Tuned to optimal color point before shipment.
• Color management system maintains color consistency over time and temperature.
• Designed to last 50,000 hours and maintain at least 70%
of initial lumen output.
• Durable die-cast aluminum upper housing, lower housing, and upper cover.
• Integrated thermal management system conducts heat away from LED’s and transfers it to the surrounding environment. LED junction temperatures stay below specified maximums even when installed in attic insulation with temperatures exceeding 60 degrees Celsius.
• Proprietary optical system utilizes a unique combination of reflective and refractive optical components to achieve a uniform, comfortable appearance. Pixelation and direct view of unshielded LED’s is eliminated.
• White Lower Reflector balances brightness of refractor with the ceiling to create comfortable high-angle appearance. Works with refractor to deliver an optimized distribution that illuminates walls and vertical surfaces increasing the perception of spaciousness.
• Integral, high efficiency driver and power supply. Power factor > 0.9 Input voltage = 120V, 60Hz
• Dimmable to 20% with certain incandescent dimmers (reference http://www.CreeLEDLighting.com for recommended dimmers)
Regulatory and Voluntary Qualifications
• Tested and certified to UL standards. Suitable for damp locations.
• Utilize GU-24 base for new construction projects in California or other areas where high efficacy line voltage sockets are required.
• Exceeds California Title-24 high efficacy luminaire requirements.
• ENERGY STAR® qualified Solid-State Lighting Luminaire.
Full Spec sheet here
The company has a savings calculator here
FIRST and most importantly: turn off your a/c circuit breaker that supplies power to the lights.
The top with special socket:
One of the five incandescent flood lights to be replaced:
Beginning disassembly, take out the bulb, pull down the trim ring:
Squeeze the spring clips and pop them off:
Cut the wires off the existing socket:
Install the wire splice block:
Add the new socket and crimp the splice block:
Final step, all it takes is two twists. I couldn’t hold the camera and do this so I’m relying on diagrams. Twist the socket onto the fixture, push the fixture into the hole and twist until it locks into place:
New LED fixture installed:
Can you tell which ones are the incandescent floods and which one is the LED light?
The one in the foreground is the LED lighting. It puts out more light than the floods it replaced, and uses 1/5th the energy.
All done, three in the main hall, one in each side hallway are not shown:
Want one? Get them here from a company that operates in my town, called Lighting Direct:
UPDATE: I got called away before I could finish this post, so here’s a few more points on why I’ve done this swap.
1) I’m usually an early adopter of technology, this is something I’ve been looking forward to. But it is not for everybody yet.
2) I bought a 5 pack, so I got 20% off. You can call the company at the link listed above and ask for similar discounts. There’s also other sources online: here, here. Some commenters have asked about screw in LED models, here’s one also based on CREE’s patented LED illumination engine.
3) In California, I won’t be able to buy incandescent bulbs soon. This was my way of beating the state mandate on my own terms.
4) These have an advertised life of 50,000 hours. I figure if they log 8 hours per day, I’ll get 17 years out of them. They’ll pay back long before that.
5) CFL floods aren’t that cheap either, and from experience I only get 2 years out of them. For example I can buy a CFL flood at my local ACE Hardware for $14.99 plus tax. If I have to replace it every 2 years, I’m into some significant cash and significant disposal issues in a few years. Even with the higher cost of the LED units, I see myself as still being ahead in the long run and I’m not generating mercury toxic waste.
6) These lights are sealed, so there’s no air leakage to/from the attic. This should help on heating/cooling issues since when the wind blew above 15mph I could feel air being blown into the old recessed lighting fixtures. Not anymore. It will keep dust and attic insulation fibers out of the house also.