Swapping my lights: fantastic!

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 had considered solving my hallway power consumption problem with twisty bulbs, then I found this new LED solution.

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:

Product Description

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.

Performance Summary

• 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.

Optical System

• 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.

Electrical System

• Integral, high efficiency driver and power supply. Power factor > 0.9 Input voltage = 120V, 60Hz

• Dimmable to 20% with certain incandescent dimmers (reference 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

Installation was easy. I’ve photo documented it below. If you are interested in reading how, here is the installation manual in PDF form, and more info here.

FIRST and most importantly: turn off your a/c circuit breaker that supplies power to the lights.

The box:

The contents:

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:

Socket installed:

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:

CREE LED Light fixture

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.

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Al Gore's Holy Ghost
February 7, 2010 1:47 pm

I walk five miles to work and fives miles back in the evening. I do all my shopping on foot too.
And I don’t want my carbons counted by anyone in any position of authority unless they want me to keep an eye on their privileged offspring.

Mike Smith
February 7, 2010 1:50 pm

Great post. Very informative.

Bill Jamison
February 7, 2010 1:52 pm

LED lighting is the future and it’s great to see the new technology getting better and more affordable. I agree that regardless of your beliefs regarding AGW improving energy efficiency and conserving energy are ALWAYS a good thing.

Al Gore's Holy Ghost
February 7, 2010 1:53 pm

Bear in mind that in the future, without any intervention or cries from green activists and environmental campaigners, we’ll have better and better solutions for home, office and outdoor lighting. One of these solutions is simply wallpaper made up of pixels. Your wall will not only be an interactive display but will also use sensors to allow it to give variable lighting to a room at different times of the day. You won’t need wall or ceiling lighting in the future unless you need a spotlight. You won’t need a TV. You won’t need a computer monitor. Your walls will do the job cheaply and intelligently, using fewer parts and less energy.

February 7, 2010 1:56 pm

Very Cool…. but I’ll wait a year or so. The Sonic-mate and are of the anti-first-adapter school of technology. Let some other bloke pay the price for product development and production increase. Then when those production increases bring down the cost to general affordability, then we’ll buy.
Translation – Those are Soooo Cooool and we’d love to have them NOW. But we’re too damned poor, so it’s up to you guys to buy them first to make it cheaper for us later! 🙂

February 7, 2010 1:56 pm

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Well done Anthony!

February 7, 2010 1:58 pm

Thanks for a very useful and informative article. I’ve been looking at these in the UK.

February 7, 2010 1:58 pm

Watts on watts

B. Smith
February 7, 2010 2:00 pm

Awesome post, Anthony! We’ve been waiting for LED lighting to evolve into a form that is actually useful inside a home or office.
As you pointed out, the extremely harsh quality of the intense blue-white light of LEDs makes them great for use as security lighting, but an awful choice for in-home lighting. They are indoor lighting’s equivalent to fingernails dragging on a chalkboard.
I have long maintained that energy conservation through applied technologies like this one is the most prudent, cost-effective and certainly a market-driven solution to much of our energy needs and certainly a powerful way to immediately reduce overall pollution. There are so many ways we could reduce our consumption of fossil fuels (and their inherent pollution issues) without our losing quality of life or taxing ourselves back into cave dwelling.
OT: I’m still fuming over the Supremes affirming C02 as a pollutant. Does my ire over this increase my carbon footprint?? I certainly hope so!

February 7, 2010 2:00 pm

The A380 cabin illumination also is a nice example what one can do with LEDs. After the ban of incandescent light bulbs it has to be LEDs or gas lighting 😉

Tom in Florida
February 7, 2010 2:02 pm

It’s so great that you walk the walk unlike others we know about.

February 7, 2010 2:02 pm

What is the actual payback given the expense of the new fixture? You can assume zero cost for installation.
REPLY: see the link in the article for the payback calculator. -A

February 7, 2010 2:02 pm

Now we’re talking! I’ve had CFL’s in my house for the past 10 years and I have come to hate them for the reasons that you gave. They did reduce our energy consumption considerably but lately I’ve been replacing them with incandescents due to the color issue.
I’ve made a couple of LED lights in the day, but didn’t like the fussiness they entailed.
Antony, this is without a doubt the best site on the web, and my day’s not complete without reading Watts new! Thanks!

February 7, 2010 2:02 pm

I’m in the middle of replacing my attic insulation, and part of the job is replacing my non-IC (insulation contact) cans with IC cans. Will the lower temps of this LED solution allow me to use my original cans WITH insulation contact?

February 7, 2010 2:02 pm

Thank you for the very detailed post about this. At $98 each it seems like a long-term payback that unfortunately many people in USA won’t be able to enjoy the benefit of. Like many innovations, this will probably benefit greatly from scale and price reduction.
They look great and the light is definitely acceptable.

Van Grungy
February 7, 2010 2:04 pm

LED street lights don’t have the heat needed to melt snow…
Halifax spends more cleaning streetlights with LED lights than the savings of electricity to run them….
File under ‘Stupid green ideas’…

February 7, 2010 2:05 pm

One thing to watch with lighting is that for our health it needs to match daylighting as close as possible and full spectrum as much as possible for optimum health. That’s why a lot of fluorescent tubes are bad for your health because they have spectrum deficiencies they cause health issues.
There are reports out that people who work in fluorescent lit offices have a higher rate of cancer than those that lie on the beach.
Have solar LED’s in my cabin in the country – work great!

February 7, 2010 2:06 pm

Looks interesting. Are these them? Looks like Amazon has them for $80

Van Grungy
February 7, 2010 2:06 pm
Andy Scrase
February 7, 2010 2:07 pm

Thanks Anthony, this is great information. I am still wondering why we don’t insulate our houses in NZ and get subsidies to do it (we have extremely poor house insulation here) yet we seen destined to a stupid Emissions Trading Scheme.
Let’s hope for an era where common sense will prevail.

February 7, 2010 2:08 pm

At $98 each, only the very very rich are going to use this alternative green-ness solution!

Tim Pointer
February 7, 2010 2:10 pm

I use CREE LEDs for mountain biking in the woods at night – they are very good: powerful, long lasting batteries, good spectrum.
I had not considered them for ordinary lighting in the house.

tim c
February 7, 2010 2:10 pm

I’m impressed and as soon as you buy enough to cut the price in 1/2 I’m in. I’ve been using CFL for at least 15 years, I think I paid 12 dollars for phillips earth lights. CFLs are not great but in some locations they’re fine.

February 7, 2010 2:11 pm

May be a bit personal, but approximately how much did the five lights cost?
REPLY: the 5 pack was 20% off, so with tax about $85 each – A

February 7, 2010 2:13 pm

Are there LED bulbs in the offing that can be used in existing fixtures, as the silly CFLs are today? I’m really too lazy to start replacing ceiling fixtures (some of our are pretty high up) and I prefer floor and desk lamps for most lighting, anyway.
And can we now get our idiotic Congress to repeal the law telling us what kind of lights to buy?
/Mr Lynn

Atomic Hairdryer
February 7, 2010 2:14 pm

Colour me suprised if they get a patent for mixing light, but look far more practical than ‘compact’ flourescents. The heat sink looks rather hefty, do they really run that hot?
I still think if governments were serious about reducing energy consumption they should mandate changes to building regs/wiring codes to make lighting circuits low voltage in new builds mandatory. Would save on the transformers per fixture, unit costs and increase overall efficiency. While they’re at it, look at grey water. Initially it would benefit new builds and major refurbs, but long term seems to make greater savings.

February 7, 2010 2:14 pm

Here in Europe, EU commission simply phased out classic bulbs, forcing us to buy more expensive, worse lightning and mercury-containing “saving” bulbs. I have one in the kitchen, but its performance is rather poor. Recently I bought a heap of classic bulbs so I will survive few years until something better will be developed.

Ric Locke
February 7, 2010 2:16 pm

Cree is one of the manufacturers in the forefront of high-intensity, high-efficiency LED development, and the field in general is one where US companies are either dominant or highly competitive. Another is Lumex, whose “Sunbright” line is at or near the top of the industry. Here is a listing (courtesy IC manufacturer Maxim) of LED manufacturers.
There are several manufacturers whose white or near-white LEDs are beginning to approach 200 lumens per watt. For perspective, a high-quality incandescent gives 70 to 90 lumens per watt.
I don’t expect our walls will glow any time soon — it would simply be too expensive. Replacement fixtures like this are coming along very nicely, though. It will be longer before there are really good light bulb replacements; LEDs inherently produce directed light, and the “beehive” structures necessary to approximate omnidirectional light output are expensive to make and not very satisfactory.

February 7, 2010 2:17 pm

Are the made in America for American, NZ for New Zealanders, etc.?
Part of the hidden cost in globalization is in fuel expended shipping the kitchen sink halfway around the world to save a dime.

February 7, 2010 2:17 pm

I am interested to see how the color holds out over time. Junctions that emit different colors tend to degrade in their output at different rates. Junctions emitting blue degrade the fastest so over time the LED output “yellows”.
This can be compensated for somewhat by measuring the emitted color temperature and changing the drive to various color elements. If it has fixed drive, the color will “drift” over time. I am very interested in how they hold up after several weeks of “on” time.

DJ Meredith
February 7, 2010 2:17 pm

I’ve been getting from 1/3 to 1/10 the advertised life out of the CFLs I’ve installed in the last 3 years.
The LEDs I’ve played with, on the other hand, have never died.
Isn’t it amazing what happens when you let a free market do what it does?

February 7, 2010 2:18 pm

BTW, don’t trip over them!
(The “lights fantastic” of course.)
/Mr Lynn

February 7, 2010 2:19 pm

Only one question: How are they on producing RFI/EMI?
From 100 kHz up through at least 2 Meters (148 MHz)?
This includes LW (Longwave: 100 – 500 kHz), the AM Broadcast Band (535 – 1705 kHz), SW (Shortwave: 1.8 – 30 MHz, Low-VHF (30 – 54 MHz) into High VHF (150 MHz) frequencies …
REPLY: They are encased in a metal, grounded enclosure. EMI is pretty low as a result. – Anthony

February 7, 2010 2:20 pm

Nice write up, and with out a doubt LEDs will have a place in the future. However, right now the LED fixtures need to come down in price before it makes sense to me. WIth a ROI of a little over 12 years vs a 65 watt bulb, I will wait. *Assumed $0.10 per KWh with 4 hours usage a day.”

PaulH from Scotland
February 7, 2010 2:21 pm

@Andy Scrase
I lived in Auckland from 1995 to 2005 and I couldn’t believe how cold most houses got in the winter.
I had thought that moving from chilly Scotland to the warmer North Island of New Zealand would be a temperate blessing.
Wooden houses + minimal insulation + no central heating. Brrrrr!
Perhaps that’s the reason Ugg boots came about?

Norm Milliard
February 7, 2010 2:22 pm

We spend 7 months of the year in our trailer traveling about North America and have replaced our incandescents with LEDs, a tremendous load reduction on our solar powered battery. By the way RVing has a very low carbon footprint for us retired types, though not my goal. Norm

February 7, 2010 2:23 pm

Speaking of light bulbs… this is a very funny animation. algore.

February 7, 2010 2:24 pm

I am shocked. A liberal professor was the bestman at your wedding?
REPLY: Yup, we share an interest in science, tech, and amateur radio, but we learned not to talk politics. – A

February 7, 2010 2:26 pm

I’ve had the Cree LR6 recessed downlight for a couple years and they have been excellent. I’m glad you came to the same conclusion. Yours look shorter than mine were, though. Also mine uses the edison socket instead of the new GU24.

February 7, 2010 2:29 pm

Thanks Anthony. I live off grid (3.5Kw Solar System and 1Kw wind system) and have been drooling about using LEDs once they dropped in price. Hopefully we will see more variety in the near future.

February 7, 2010 2:30 pm

Remember that in G.B. only a qualified Electrician is authorised to carry out this work – Brussels has banned all electrical DIY.
REPLY: Well I’d hook them up just to spite them 😉

February 7, 2010 2:33 pm

There are LED fixtures for aquarium hobbyists, but prices range from 80 dollars up. Since they don’t actually reduce operating costs by much over fluorescents and cost 2 to 3 times as much, my aquaria will stay fluorescent lighted.
The heat lamp for the turtle is a twisty fluorescent, she can bask directly underneath it with no risk of overheating and dying from that.

February 7, 2010 2:34 pm

A liberal professor friend in the bay area…
Ahem…reminds me of the old line, “Why, some of my best friends are Jews [or fill in your own favorite.]
No need to show how open minded you are, we know that Anthony.
Nice post!

Dodgy Geezer
February 7, 2010 2:35 pm

I’m not so sure about the whole ‘saving energy’ concept.
Of course if you are comparing two similar products, it’s an advantage to use less energy, and that generally means that the design is better – more efficient. But this whole ‘save energy’ push is an activist argument, NOT an economic one.
For some reason that it is difficult to fathom, green activists hate energy use. Perhaps they are trying to stave off the thermodynamic heat-death of the universe? And yet as civilisation progresses, energy use per capita has continued to rise. As we invent new machines we need more energy to run them, and that means we must have an adequate energy transport and delivery system. If we do not use energy, the economic pressures for investing and improving that system will not be there.
This is why privatised energy suppliers are so supportive of saving – energy, gas, water, you name it. They make money whatever they supply – where they lose money is in forced infrastructure provision. The do not want to invest in new sub-stations and pylons or new generating plant as demand increases. Far better to get your customers to use less, and charge them more per head, giving the excuse of ‘green taxes’.
In the 1950s and 60s we looked forward to an era of cheap abundant energy. It would be a shame to buy into the activists’ peak-oil stories and charge ourselves over the odds for energy, maintaining that economic imbalance by government taxes which go to pay for state-run environmental police and fat-cats…

February 7, 2010 2:35 pm

2700k LEDs? Sign me up!

February 7, 2010 2:36 pm

If you go with LED lighting go with the SMD versions. The other versions that use a gazillion little leds mounted on printed circuit boards and then enclosed in a plastic capsule have some serious thermal problems. Granted a LED does not create a lot of heat. But the cycle on off is enough to fatigue the solder joints at the wafers and start to knock whole wafers off line. It the LEDs are open air its a different matter.
For 30W the 4 LED spotlights in the ceiling fan in my kitchen more than equal the amount of illumination I would get from about 200W of incandescent. A 7.5W LED spotlight makes an excellent reading lamp.
Put it down to my Yankee instincts. Use it up, wear it out, do without. Besides I am a cheapskate. Up front costs on a bulb are a bit high, but amortized over the life of the bulb, you save money and energy. I am not one of the global warming CO2 dim bulbs, but my objective is to get the heck of the grid all together or as a maximum have the grid as a backup.

keith in hastings UK
February 7, 2010 2:37 pm

CFL spectrum is so awful and old ones so slow to brighten up that I’ve had to go back to some incandescent ones, albeit halogen so a bit more efficient (28 W =40W; 42 W =60W). Older eyes like mine need a good white light. LED lights for ordinary UK fittings (pendant, table light, etc) aren’t easily available yet.
Energy efficiency is clearly the way to go. And simple fixes like solar panels to preheat domestic hot water.
My experience, “sceptics” are as environmentally conscious, if not more so, than AGW alarmists, who tend to be single issue (?)

February 7, 2010 2:37 pm

What a great post, Anthony.
The photo series on how to replace the old fixture is splendid.
You do walk the walk.
Damned inspirational.

February 7, 2010 2:40 pm

Those will set you back around $80-$100. They are good, but efficiency wise they are only about 10%-30% better then CFL. Until price goes down to some reasonable number this is not going to be very useful for majority of population.
Just a side note – the LR6 are the single best LED downligths that are available. Everything else is going to be about as efficient as decent CFL or less, so no energy saving for those guys at all.

February 7, 2010 2:40 pm

I installed some 7-watt bulbs in my external light fixtures, these are replacements for normal bulbs. Originally I tried tying them into a light sensors but they flickered a lot during the dawn and dusk cycles, I am not sure what that would have done to their life but it was kinda of annoying. These were not dimming bulbs which is probably the issue. I started out with some cheap ($8) 3-watt bulbs that were blue, but they did not have enough light for the porch. I switched the porch to 7 (or maybe 8, catalog said 7-watt but boxes were marked 8) watt bulbs ($30) (advertised as 40 watt equivalents). These had plenty of light but were of the yellowish variety, so my wife said get all the same same color, so the other three lights were switched to yellow 7-watt. Before I start replacing indoor lights the higher wattage bulbs are going to have to get well below the $60 to $80 that 60 watt equivalent dimming bulbs are at now. I have one more exterior light on the back porch but I need a lot more than 7-watts there, so am waiting for price reductions.

February 7, 2010 2:43 pm

I have progressively reduced the power of each of our downlighter bulbs to 20W and supplemented them with a reading light to give illumination where it is needed.
I haven’t seen those particular Led’s in the UK yet but will keep a look out.
If it’s not a rude question how much did your solar panel array cost?
Here in the UK they are being sold in the same way as double glazing and the salesman mark up makes them unaffordable and not cost effective.
A system to generate around 1600KW of energy per year cost around £12500 according to the Sunday Times today. I would like to fit them but the price is silly. I wonder what the actual cost price of the panels are?

February 7, 2010 2:43 pm

“twawki (14:05:23) :
There are reports out that people who work in fluorescent lit offices have a higher rate of cancer than those that lie on the beach. ”
That could be associated with Vitamin D deficiencies more than with harmful effects of office lighting IMHO…

February 7, 2010 2:44 pm

Sonicfrog (13:56:43) :

Translation – Those are Soooo Cooool and we’d love to have them NOW. But we’re too damned poor, so it’s up to you guys to buy them first to make it cheaper for us later! 🙂

Absolutely. This is my argument that “it’s alright to be wealthy”. The undeveloped nations of this world are not poor because we are wealthy, they are poor because they have not had the benefits in technology we have (for many reasons). They will reach our levels, and quickly if organised, like the Chinese. If we refuse to be ‘wealthy’ and chuck all the benefits away, we’ll all be poor!
A small proportion has to be wealthy in order to drive the wealth of us all, it seems. There, you see? Guilt assuaged in a paragraph. That’;; be $10….

George Turner
February 7, 2010 2:46 pm

Last year I ordered some exotic chile peppers and built LED grow lights out of LED’s from CREE and Phillips. I had to use a computer power supply and my first unit used water cooling for the LEDs. I achieved higher intensity than tropical noon sunlight and in a narrow beam that could shine down from the ceiling without much dispersion. 🙂
For my second unit I wanted to go air cooled, and heat sinks are expensive UNLESS you wander down to your local computer repair shop and ask for a bunch of used monster heat sinks.
BTW, am I the only one here who’s used whale oil for lighting?

February 7, 2010 2:47 pm

How many Watts does it take to change a light bulb?

February 7, 2010 2:50 pm

Very cool – dimmable!!!!!
Well, at least partially dimmable – very cool! LED lights also have no warm-up time which is an issue with CFLs (i.e. they’re dark at first)
But wow, at $98 a pop, that hurts. I think I’ll have to hold off until the prices come down more. LED computer screens (or, more acurately, LED backlit LCDs) are about 30% more than comparable LCDs… LED TV’s are roughly 2x. At $98’s we’re talking a 1400% premium vs. CFL.
Don’t get me wrong, lighting is a significant part of home energy use… but in terms of bang for the buck there are plenty other places where you can get a better ROI.
Just out of curiosity, did you ever consider motion sensor switches? My friend put those into his bathrooms and they turn off x-minutes after they stop detecting motion. I’ve also seen these recommended for bathroom vent fans, because not running the fan after you bathe/shower can contribute to mold growth.
REPLY: You can get them as low as $80 in a 5 pack, which is what I did – Anthony

February 7, 2010 2:54 pm

“rbateman (14:17:26) :
Are the made in America for American, NZ for New Zealanders, etc.?
Part of the hidden cost in globalization is in fuel expended shipping the kitchen sink halfway around the world to save a dime.”
I think the cost of shipping a fridge from China to Europe is about half a Euro – container ships load up to 16000 containers. It’s costing more fuel to transport the item with a truck for the remaining few hundred kilometers than shipping it around the globe. Container ship == 20000 trucks.

peter c
February 7, 2010 2:54 pm

It looks like the future of lighting will include OLED devices. Due out in 2012

Brian G Valentine
February 7, 2010 2:55 pm

I can’t wait to visit someone’s home, where they have installed CFL that look like twirls of dogsh** and explain how much they need to learn about being Eco-savvy

February 7, 2010 2:55 pm

Atomic Hairdryer (14:14:35) :
I still think if governments were serious about reducing energy consumption they should mandate changes to building regs/wiring codes to make lighting circuits low voltage in new builds mandatory. Would save on the transformers per fixture, unit costs and increase overall efficiency. While they’re at it, look at grey water. Initially it would benefit new builds and major refurbs, but long term seems to make greater savings.
A friend of mine (EE) was talking about building like this. Under the current building codes (specifically residential) is it even legal to do that?

February 7, 2010 2:55 pm

You are a bright guy … but you have always known that anyway.

Don Shaw
February 7, 2010 2:56 pm

First I want to complement you on your doing things instead of just talking like some of the Carbon Haters.
I bought a few CFL replacement bulbs but only installed a few when I realized the safety problem with Mercury. I don’t need an expensive hazmat around the house in our lamps with a playful cat and grandchildren. The safety issue really is scary and has been ignored by the zealots.
As an Engineer, another question comes to mind re the claimed economic benefits. Aren’t the benefits exaggerated for those of us that live in locations that need to heat our homes a large percentage of the year?
Doesn’t the energy “wasted” from the heat from conventional bulbs really replace the fuel we have to burn to heat the home? Of course the summer time is different when we use the AC but that is the period when we use our lighting demand is less.
I wonder if the claimed energy saving by the fools in Washington is an honest number, by ignoring the fact that we need heat anyway most of the year. I’m only asking for an honest number rather than a hyped number like the IPCC manufactures. Have GE fooled the politicians?
Anyone know the actual facts on the claimed economics? I don’t.

John F. Hultquist
February 7, 2010 2:56 pm

This is fantastic. When I started reading the price was $98 and about the time I finished it was down to $80. By Tuesday morning I can afford to retrofit the house, garage, and horse barn. (The pig tail lights in the horse barn don’t do too well in the cold unless you just leave them on all the time and that defeats the purpose.)

View from the Solent
February 7, 2010 2:56 pm

His Grace posted this about an hour ago. http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/2/7/has-jg-c-found-an-error-in-crutem.html. It’s 23:00 here in UK and I have to be up early tomorrow, so I don’t have time to dig into it. I’m sure a few readers here could answer his request for help.

February 7, 2010 3:00 pm

Amazing! So we dont have to put up with those toxic mercury filled lights any more. Fantastic!

Britannic no-see-um
February 7, 2010 3:00 pm

Very impressive, but lets hear it for the World’s longest serving light bulb at Fire Station 6, in Livermore, northern California, for old time’s sake.

February 7, 2010 3:01 pm

Too expensive. I got all my recessed lighting for around $12/total fixture, and got CFL’s thrown out at home depot at $0.50 per. They aren’t great, but they’ve been in here for a few years, keep my rooms bright, and even illuminate my outside yard like a landing strip in summer. I couldn’t afford to do that with LED (or pay for the power with incandescents). Call me when they drop to $15/total fixture and I’ll be there (the calculator on the Cree site only calculates for the lowest watt incandescent (60), so its somewhat misleading – comparing it to a 15 W CFL shoves the payback period to 15 years). But I do applaud Anthony – I have a lot of respect for first adapters. I would be one if I had a lot of money (which I regretably don’t…)

February 7, 2010 3:02 pm

Nice article.
You missed one step in the installation.
Turn off breaker to prevent kids from coming along and turning on the hall light while redoing wiring!!!
By the way, why are you reducing CO2 emissions??? Think of all the poor CO2 starved PLANTS in California!!!!!!! (especially the Politicians!!)
REPLY: breaker off – that’s in the instruction manual. Didn’t think I needed to repeat it here. -A

James P
February 7, 2010 3:03 pm

Call me a Luddite, but I have yet to see any LED (let alone CFL) with the light quality of a halogen bulb. Won’t your heating costs rise to compensate for the low wattage?

February 7, 2010 3:04 pm

Hmm not yet, at least at that price, and anyway, I can’t put one of these on a holder for a standard bulb.
It’s been years since we’ve been using CFLs. Quite a noticeable cut in power bills and an increase in longevity – the 8 years lifetime seems to be correct. We won’t go back to tungsten.
The light color (temperature) was a problem, until I decided to look further into the package. There’s the 5500 K lamps (daylight) and the 3200 K lamps (tungsten-like). Ok, I do photography.
We only use the latter, 3200 K (at most!). These have a decent yellowish soft, warm light, completely different from the 5500 K, that are very unpleasant. Unfortunately not all packages have the light temperature indicated, case in which it is safe to assume they are 5500 K and uninteresting.

February 7, 2010 3:07 pm

Eh. “It’s been years since we’ve been using CFLs” actually means it’s been years we have been using CFLs. Editorial problem.

John F. Hultquist
February 7, 2010 3:07 pm

I believe the original life expectancy of the CFLs was based on never turning them off. Thus, use in homes where you have on/off multiple times each day makes those estimates useless.
I like the “sun tubes” (& Moon) effect and plan on installing a few this spring when the roof will be replaced and I’ll add to the insulation. That will also be a good time to add a few of the LEDs. Timely post, thanks.

February 7, 2010 3:17 pm

Norm Millard,
What product do you use for lighting the RV? I assume you are running off a twelve volt system there.

February 7, 2010 3:20 pm

They seem ridiculously expensive to me. They pay back eventually, but in the meanwhile you’ve lost money. They say it takes money to make money, and this is a classic example. I simply can’t afford to invest the money up front to get the payback years into the future.

Yes, but in a couple years you won’t be able to buy incandescent floods, and that was part of my goal. I don’t ever want to ahve to replace these – A

Gary Hladik
February 7, 2010 3:20 pm

Wow, if I had these installed in my house, I wouldn’t have to follow my wife around, flipping off light switches; I could just let them go all day/night!
Oh, wait, I don’t think that’s the goal…
Seriously, we’ve replaced most of our heavily used lighting with CFLs (or larger fluorescents). They do last a lot longer than conventional bulbs (though not as long as advertised, of course) and the light they give is acceptable. Now that LEDs are becoming more prevalent, however, I’ll definitely look into them. Thanks, Anthony.

February 7, 2010 3:21 pm

I’ll pass. Purchase price of 2 of those cans is equivalent to one avg. month of my current electric bill. I have a 2200sqft all electric house on the grid plus a shop full of power tools that get used almost daily. When the tech gets to the point where I can unscrew an incandescent and screw in something else in the same fixture for the same upfront cost, I’ll consider it. But feel free to do your own thing. 🙂

February 7, 2010 3:27 pm

Might I suggest one further step in the installation instructions? Before cutting any cables, make sure the juice is turned off. I’m no expert but I think you’ll find that’s good advice.
I have always loved the idea of LEDs, if only they were not so one-directional. FatBigotTowers is a modest residence but it does have high ceilings with lovely Victorian plaster mouldings and chandeliers. Incandescent bulbs work beautifully. Nothing other than a cattle prod to the softest of soft tissue could persuade me to put twisty bulbs in my chandeliers. I am yet to find suitable LEDs, but their development seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds so I’m sure it won’t be long.
The eco-loons seem to have no realisation that we all want to save energy because: (i) it saves money and (ii) it reduces demand on a system that is at risk of becoming overstretched. Never mind grandiose nonsense about saving the planet, I’m more interested in everyone having cheap and efficient electricity so that more and more people can live in comfort.

Ron de Haan
February 7, 2010 3:28 pm

Great technology.
As this market develops, prices will go down.
Very nice article.

February 7, 2010 3:28 pm

Mercury once again in common household items. I remember when they banned those silent mercury wall switches because of mercury poising. One day they will ban the florescent mercury lights. Leds are the only way to go.

February 7, 2010 3:31 pm

I am a partner in a startup company that uses LEDs (including Philips, Cree, and Osram) to make aviation and outdoor area lighting. We are partnered with another local company that makes solar powered streetlights, and have licensed our LED module design to them.
LEDs are definitely the future for lighting. The costs are still a little higher than other solutions, but when you look at the long life (50,000 plus hours), high efficiencies (comparable to fluorescent), wide temperature operating range, immunity to power cylcing life reduction, lack of hazardous materials, recyclability, and instant-on characteristics they pretty much win on all fronts.
The complaint about not melting snow only really applies to to the stoplights, the streetlights emit light from the bottom, so snow accumulation on the top of the fixture really isn’t an issue.

February 7, 2010 3:34 pm

There are other non-mercury containing high-efficiency, good color, instant-on, non-heat-or-cold sensitive lighting solutions coming in the near future, possibly significantly lower cost than the ~$80 LED lights. One is made by VU1, http://www.vu1.com although I don’t know the price and availability yet. I do help them out occasionally and as you can tell, I am a believer…For example, they use the Edison socket and fit in existing fixtures. This should allow for lower cost as well.

Jon Jewett
February 7, 2010 3:41 pm

LED bulbs are showing up at Costco and Home Depot. Fairly small and low wattage so far. I am waiting for 100 watt equivalent at a reasonable price, about $10 or so.
In the meantime, I am using compact CFLs most everywhere, except where we read. I did it for increased efficiency of the Air Conditioning during summer. (Here in Texas, the usual seasons are “Early Summer”, “Summer”, “Late Summer”, and “January”.) During cold weather, the heat from the 100 watt bulbs help to warm the reading areas, but we can wear a sweater for that.
Of course, General Electric (who owns MSNBC) and the other Big Name companies make nothing on an incandescent light bulb (the patents have long since expired and everyone makes them). They do make a “tidy” profit on these “save the polar bear” bulbs. Hence all of the lobbying for “green regulations”. They aren’t stupid (that’s why they are rich) and they learned fromt the windfall Dupont/Dow made from refrigerant replacements.
Steamboat Jack

hotrod ( Larry L )
February 7, 2010 3:42 pm

Interesting article!
I have been using CFL bulbs for years since they first became affordable. The standard florescent bulbs do have a major color balance issue (being quite green) and I only use them in locations where I need brief lighting (such as a stairway or storage room). In the living areas, I use the natural white light CFL bulbs that approximate sunlight. They are much easier on the eyes, and are becoming much more available they are now only slightly more expensive than the conventional green color cast CFL.
I have also see short lifetimes on the CFL bulbs with several going out much sooner than expected. I recently found out that this issue may not actually be a bulb burn out. It appears some of the CFL bulbs have a thermal safety cut out switch in the base. If placed in certain fixtures that do not allow enough ventilation, they over heat if left on for extended periods of time and go dead until they cool off.
If you have a CFL bulb appear to burn out, take it out and let it rest for an hour or two then try it again. In my experience about 80% of the time the bulb works fine after it cools off. They don’t like being in shrouded shades like desk lamps that have limited air flow to cool them. If the shade is pointed down, it traps the heat in the fixture. If you turn it upwards so the spot shows to the ceiling, they last much longer, (or use a lower power level bulb whose ballast will not generate so much heat). The torchiere style floor lamp seems to work very well with the CFLs as its upward directed beam does not trap heat, and I cannot recall a single early failure in that style fixture with the CFL bulbs.
Mixed spectrum lighting is very old. In the 1960’s when many factories and office buildings first switched to florescent lighting, a percentage of the office workers complained — some due to perceived flicker (not everyone noticed it), and some due to color balance. The fix of the day was to mix fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. The incandescent bulbs supplied red which was almost totally missing in the light spectrum of the florescent. The added red improved the appearance of people (skin color was more normal) and helped with judgment of colors. Some eye doctors prescribed a pale pink eyeglass lens for office workers bothered by fluorescent lighting, to accomplish the same thing for people who were sensitive to the missing red in the color spectrum.
If you have problems with CFL bulbs and are not ready to jump to LED’s yet due to cost or availability, you might try looking for the natural white spectrum bulbs or try mixing them with other styles.
The slow starting issue is temperature related, they do not start well in cold environments like garages, patios and porches in the winter time due to the low temps. In those places, you can mix a 7 watt incandescent (refrigerator bulb) with a higher power CFL to get some instant light when the switch is thrown and higher levels of light a moment later.
I use LED lights for emergency lighting and cool summer lighting with some low cost puck lights and LED lantern lights but as mentioned they are a harsh blue white which is not pleasant to read by but works well for safety or emergency lighting.

February 7, 2010 3:45 pm

One of the drawbacks of most LED lights until now was the reduced light intensity. Most were less than 100 lumen, indeed for very low consumption (1-2 W), but not enough to replace spotlights in most cases. Until recently: I just bought a 315 lumen 3500 K, 4 W spotlight, comparable in light intensity to a 20 W halogene spotlight (GU10), for 20 euro (Makro, Belgium).
Now it begins to be affordable comparable in light to the old spotlights, without the drawbacks of CFLs.

February 7, 2010 3:46 pm

How well do they work on a dimmer-circuit?
REPLY: OK, but have a cutoff at 20% of max brightness (80% reduced from max)…they shut off below that -A

February 7, 2010 3:55 pm

I live in a 64-unit apartment building (apartments = owners and renters in Australia, not just renters) and the council of owners has already approved that the flouro strips in the parking lots (which are lit 24/7) be replaced with LED systems. I think the cost was of the order of A$6,000 and would be recouped through reduced electricity consumption in approx. 6-12 months. After that it is pure savings.
No brainer really.

February 7, 2010 3:56 pm

AlexB (13:58:56) :
Watts on watts
Nope!…Watts on miliwatts

February 7, 2010 3:59 pm

Want to watch a country called Greece implode? Run on, not banks but, countries has begun. They call those first countries to implode, the PIIGS. See here for an explanation of the run on Greece.
The Run On Greece Is Here: Investors Pull Out €10 Billion From The Troubled Country; Crisis Escalation Approaches

February 7, 2010 4:06 pm

I’ve been using incandescents this whole time because I can’t stand the horrible color and really fast flickering of CFL bulbs, but with your recommendation I think it might be worth giving LED’s a try this year.
Incidentally, I hate the fluorescent lobby the most out of all these green hucksters. Made lights with mercury and phosphors that get dimmer and flicker and are bad for your health and make everything look like nasty sickly green. That’s not efficiency.

February 7, 2010 4:07 pm

and break! i forgot that one

Mariss Freimanis
February 7, 2010 4:12 pm

The breathless article sounded interesting and I’m a EE so I thought I’d run some calculations.
The first picture in the article shows the LEDs behind the cover lens. I count 30 LEDs based on symmetry since only 15 are visible to the right of the center-line. The Cree LR6 datasheet lists 10.5W nominal input power and 650 Lumens. Division gives 350mW input power per LED and a quick visit to http://www.digikey.com with filters set to “Cree” and “white LED” yields some candidate LEDs.
Based on the size of the LEDs in the picture, I’m guessing the LEDs used are Cree’s CLN6A series devices (300mA, 4mm square lens).
Using the datasheet graphs, 350mW input power gives an LED Vf of 3.1V at just over 110mA. Luminious flux is 40% of rated at that current. Assuming it’s the 65 Lumen rated part, this works out to 780 Lumens at a 25C Tj
The LED lists a thermal resistance of 15C/W and dissipates 350mW which gives a 5C temperature rise. I estimate the fixture heatsink at 3C/W and it dissipates 10.5W giving an additional 31C rise for a total of 36C rise at the LED junction. At 25C the junction temperature is 62C. Using the datasheet Lumens vs. Tj derating of 0.85 at 62C, the calculated output is 663 Lumens. This matches the specified 650 Lumens from the fixture nicely.
A 60C ambient isn’t uncommon above the ceiling during the summer and a fixture covered with insulation. That ambient temperature would take Tj to 92C, perilously close to the 125C limit.
This is an expensive fixture because of the 30 LEDs that list at $1.54 in 5K quantity and the cost of a massive aluminum heatsink section. In fact the fixture lists at $99. Let’s see what you get for this price:
An incandescent light bulb produces 15 Lumens per Watt, requiring 325W of power and 5 65W light bulbs to produce 4875 Lumens. Cost $5.
A fluorescent light produces 110 Lumens per Watt, using 44W of power with 3 15W fluorescent fixtures to produce the same 4875 Lumens. Cost $50.
This LED produces 55 Lumens per Watt, requiring 88W of power and 7.5 LED fixtures to get 4875 Lumens. Cost $750.
Looks like fluorescent lights still win by a long shot.

February 7, 2010 4:19 pm

Thanks Anthony. I’ve been mulling LED domestic lighting over for a while now. You’ve just made my mind up for me!
Anybody know of any good wholesalers in the EU who can be approached for re-distribution?
Forget about Global Warming. LED Global Lighting is easily measured, achievable, non-controversial and, compared to governmental supported heavy metal alternatives, environmentally benign!

Layne Blanchard
February 7, 2010 4:21 pm

In my garage, I installed 3 fixtures, each capable of holding 3 incandescents of 60w ea. Over time, I realized this just wasn’t enough light for the area.
I wanted more wattage without exceeding the specs on the fixtures, but I didn’t want to run power for more fixtures.
I admit I didn’t conduct any calculations for heat from the ballasts, but I did conduct some informal heat tests with the twist style flourescents before making the switch. I now have 120w flourescents in each socket for something like 30w of draw each. Problem solved, and they use less energy.
If you have sidereal timers or electronic eyes on external lighting, the Flourescents don’t work (They’ll burn out your switch) , tho I have recently seen a few that claim they will.
Great article. This is a nice option. If you get a chance to do a show and tell on your EV’s that would be cool too.

February 7, 2010 4:22 pm

CFL give me a blinding headache and I refuse to have them in my home. I stocked up on 100 and 60 watt incandescents shortly before moving into my current apartment, which is mostly lit using halogen lighting. Annoying, but there you go.
LED lights have a few more years before they’re at a decent price. A bayonet-cap 40W equivalent LED bulb currently comes in at about £80 around here. Far too much.

PaulH from Scotland
February 7, 2010 4:22 pm

O/T, but kind of a rubicon being crossed
This weekend, ‘Have I Got News For You’, one of the BBC’s flagship comedy programmes made fun of global warming alarmism.
I’ve always thought that the real tipping point on AGW in the UK would be when mainstream comics (who tend to be very PC) found the courage.
(Apologies to those non-UK viewers who can’t view this).

February 7, 2010 4:36 pm

PaulH from Scotland (16:22:55) :
O/T, but kind of a rubicon being crossed
This weekend, ‘Have I Got News For You’, one of the BBC’s flagship comedy programmes made fun of global warming alarmism.
I’ve always thought that the real tipping point on AGW in the UK would be when mainstream comics (who tend to be very PC) found the courage.
(Apologies to those non-UK viewers who can’t view this).
Totally agree Paul. I too am in Scotland and the thought that the tide is turning I share that also.
On the same channel, “Mock the Week”, took the ur*ne as well.
Times, they sure are a’changin

Layne Blanchard
February 7, 2010 4:38 pm

For those of you in NZ and elsewhere freezing, you should look at a product like this: http://www.reflectixinc.com/
If I had known about this when I was building, I’d have put it everywhere.

Jeff Alberts
February 7, 2010 4:42 pm

I use a CREE LED flashlight at work regularly. It’s incredibly bright (about 180 lumens) and runs on two AA batteries. It will only last about 2 hours continuous on the highest brightness, but I only use it for 20 seconds or so at a time to see inside broken power wheelchairs and such.

John Cooke
February 7, 2010 4:50 pm

Thanks – Perry (13:58:13) – for the UK link to a possible supplier. Now we can’t get incandescent lamps in EU land I’ve been looking for an LED solution, since I don’t like the tone of CFL lamps, and they must be SO wasteful to produce – feel the weight, never mind anything else!
Might be a bit early yet, but we’re clearly nearly there, though to avoid the 50/60Hz flicker of CFR which gives some people headaches the LEDs should be on a DC supply.

February 7, 2010 4:54 pm

An excellent thing to know about, hopefully they’ll come out with versions that’ll fit in full sized track lighting cans too. I have numerous track lights and recessed lights that are on very high ceilings, the long life of these would be a real plus. I hate the light from CFL units, sickly, and it tends to exacerbate migraines (or cause them), and as you say previously LEDs were too blue.
Give the market time and it’ll come up with a real useful solution, rather than jamming CFLs down everyone’s throat. In the meantime, I’ll stick with incandescent and halogen bulbs.

February 7, 2010 5:00 pm

Sounds good. LED lights is something I’ve been keeping an eye on and I’m glad to know that someone has them putting out a better spectrum. I’ll still have to wait until the price drops but this is very good news.

Phil Uebes
February 7, 2010 5:00 pm

Another great sucker-punch to the wallet, just like those useless screw-in flouros and the current range of downlights. They will be expensive to buy, expensive to install, expensive to replace, unreliable, and will require an eletronics degree to change one. The marginal operations savings will take a billion years to pay back the capital investment.

February 7, 2010 5:06 pm

Was looking to do the same with the lights in my house, but might have to wait a little longer. Seems California legislators, in their ultimate wisdom, enacted a law where all new homes must have fluorescent fixtures in the kitchen. The recessed lights we have will ONLY fit a 4-pin type fluorescent bulb, not the Edison (screw-in) style. So, if I want to save money/energy by switching to LEDs, I’ve got to shell out another $500 just to swap out the recessed fixtures. Ahh, our brilliant legislators!

February 7, 2010 5:07 pm

I agree that this a superior technology to A lambs and Compact Fl. As an architect I have spent some time talking to manufacturers. The are a few things people need to keep in mind when making this change. First of all this is a young industry. Currently there is no standard for the actual color rating for the LEDs. What I understand is they are hand sorted into different colors by each maker by their own standards. This can be very problematic if you have a line of lights that you want to be color consistent. The next thing is they start to degrade as soon as you wire them up, so those color issues will be a problem if all the Leds don’t operate uniformly. Because of this degrading and the fact many new manufactures have not been around very long I would be very suspect of lifetime claims. They may last 50,000 hours, but at 20,000 they may start to be blue or orange. An important thing to prevent this a fixture with enough mass to eliminate heat. It looks like the pictures show a good heavy fixture with enough surface area to get rid of the heat, which is the main enemy to LEDs. If you get a cheap fixture without a decent heat sink, it will not last. I like some manfactures that use UV LEDs and a lens with a phosphor coating, like flourescent lamps, to get much better white light and predictability.
So, I have specified some LEDs, but before I do it regularly I am going to wait for some uniform standards and some maturing of the industry. By then OLEDs will be the next big thing.

February 7, 2010 5:12 pm

Anthony,can these be used in non IC cans?
REPLY: Think so, check the compatibility guide at the CREE website see links in the story – A

February 7, 2010 5:18 pm

Jon Jewett (15:41:35) :
Of course, General Electric (who owns MSNBC) and the other Big Name companies make nothing on an incandescent light bulb (the patents have long since expired and everyone makes them). They do make a “tidy” profit on these “save the polar bear” bulbs. Hence all of the lobbying for “green regulations”. They aren’t stupid (that’s why they are rich)

Six words: “Publicly owned and publicly traded companies”.
You, too, can have ‘part of that action’.

Layne Blanchard
February 7, 2010 5:27 pm

Another great use for these…
If you have a dimmed circuit that only handles 4X60w, you could add some fixtures.

ron from Texas
February 7, 2010 5:42 pm

I, too, appreciate efficiency in design. Not because I am worried about how much CO2 we put out, but because I am a skin-flint and like to save on energy bills. As an electrician, I have installed various lighting equipment. Including retrofits of flourescent lighting in commercial locations, changing from the old T-12 lamp and magnetic ballast to T-8 and electronic smart ballast, which senses the incoming voltage, making it simpler to install. A T-8 of lower wattage puts out as much or more usable light as an old T-12. That sounds counter-intuitive but it is not, really. The T-8, at a lower wattage, is more efficiently putting out light at a lower power comsumption and heat signature than the old T-12 and mag. ballast set-up. Likewise, I am sure, with the advances in LED lighting. I have a portable light that I can wear around my head or hardhat, like a miner’s light, that is LED and it is bright enough to dazzle your eyes in a dark room or attic.
Even though they may be a few dollars more expensive, the light lasts longer, passing savings on to the consumer over time. Whether it saves “CO2” or not is a political football. The fact that it does is a “happy” coincidence, depending on your perspective.
I believe we should drill our own oil. Just the same, I drive a car that gets 33 mpg because it’s easier on my wallet. The answer to anything is the free market.

February 7, 2010 5:42 pm

Yeah I’m all LED. It uses less energy too (so my power bill is lower) and looks cool. I hate Fluorence mercury rubbish, they should be banned. Soon the mercury will leach into the groundwater from rubbish dumps and the problem will be MASSIVE!

Pete H
February 7, 2010 5:42 pm

Oldseadog (14:30:48) :
Remember that in G.B. only a qualified Electrician is authorised to carry out this work – Brussels has banned all electrical DIY.
REPLY: Well I’d hook them up just to spite them 😉
And many of us do just that Anthony 😉
I just spent Sunday morning looking at some LED stage lighting cans. Incredible brightness, little heat, light and no more broken bulbs!

February 7, 2010 6:03 pm

Weren’t you people making fun of LED lights few weeks ago?
This sounds more like an advertisement. lol

Mike McMillan
February 7, 2010 6:06 pm

Tungsten, $0.33 apiece if you shop around.
100% efficient in the winter.

February 7, 2010 6:06 pm

What a bunch of garbage! Add in installation labor, a little annual interest, and the payout period is for-EVAH!
The California law should be repealed at the earliest opportunity.

I did the labor myself, so no cost there. And for the less electrically inclined they have an Edison base screw in version. Why would you be against LED lighting that uses 1/5th of the electricity of the bulb it replaces? – Anthony

Joe Sumrall
February 7, 2010 6:09 pm

I love this kind of article. If you ever do another on the electric cars, I’m ready to read.

February 7, 2010 6:23 pm

Invariant (13:56:55) :
“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is”
Corollary: A PhD in theory is a PhD, in theory.

February 7, 2010 6:30 pm

OT: Heads up, Guardian running with …
Detectives question climate change scientist over email leaks

Norfolk police have interviewed and taken a formal statement from Paul Dennis, 54, another climate researcher who heads an adjacent laboratory.

… and

A third blogger with whom Dennis has posted is Anthony Watts, a weatherman for a California radio station who is involved in a sometimes vituperative sceptic blog called Watts Up with That. He has had a book published by the Heartland Institute, a denialist organisation which until 2006, received funding from ExxonMobil.

REPLY: Oh, gosh. Paul Dennis posted about three comments here in October and December 2009 related to a story I did on isotope reconstruction and on that endorsement list the Met Office was pushing. That clinches it fer sure.
Gavin Schmidt has posted a comment or two here a long time ago. Maybe they should question him too. 😉
– Anthony

February 7, 2010 6:31 pm

Sorry, but I’m always skeptical of articles where the price isn’t mentioned. I see that Amazon.com has these light fixtures/bulbs for $80, so I suppose the payback period is ten years or so (just off the top of my head).
I hate the curly bulbs as well, for the reasons you mentioned AND in cold weather they take ~15 minutes to come up to full output.
Let’s go back to torches in hallways, OK?

February 7, 2010 6:40 pm

Its all about saving money. Nothing else matters.

R. Gates
February 7, 2010 6:42 pm

Very nice article. LED’s are definitely the way to go, and soon OLED’s, (Organic LED’s). The lighting world is really undergoing a huge revolution right now, and the early adopters (like Anthony) who are paying the highest prices for LED’s are making it possible for the rest of us to enjoy lower prices and even better technology tomorrow as those high prices will be put back into R&D for the next generation of lights. And no matter which side of the AGW side you fall on, if you can cut your home energy costs significantly, why would you not want to?
Thanks for the great article…

February 7, 2010 6:56 pm

I am looking for something just like this, in a very shallow fixture. I have only about 4″ of less of ceiling to work with. Looks like all of their lamps are meant for existing fixtures. Too bad!

February 7, 2010 6:58 pm

OT – anyone notice the dreadful AUDI ad during the Superbowl? AUDI sure misread the national mood, with AUDI’s car getting the nod from the Green Police. Up to the end I thought that the ad was spoofing green fanaticism, but it actually ends up with the AUDI driver getting the nod from the Green Gestapo.
Great post, Anthony! While I don’t have the money to go for solar panels, I’ve been an early adapter of compact CFLs: the first two bulbs I bought cost over $20 after taxes, and both needed to be quickly replaced due to rambunctious sons smashing them. Outrageous that there was no warning about the mercury content! A question for various experts here: is there any safe replacement for incandescent bulbs in the following applications: oven lights? appliance lights generally? (I found a CFL did not do well on the vent hood over my stove); and touch lamps? Thanks in advance for any wisdom offered.

February 7, 2010 7:01 pm

Audi just had a “Green Police” commercial in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl (wish I could post it?). It was funny, but I also believe that this talks directly to the core issue that fuels revolt even amongst the anti-AGW wave currently sweeping the globe.
While the commercial makes fun of being “green”, it points to a fundamental reaction of people who are sick and tired of having this eco crap shoved down their throat – the pinnacle of which would have been a global treaty like Copenhagen driven by IPCC.
Bad science – yes it was…
Bad politics – absolutely, and a very corrupt process…
Bad timing (worldwide economic downturn) – possibly the most important silent component…
Bad karma – “the watermelons should not have tried to take over our (normal people) lives with such arrogance because the retribution will be a @#$%^&* ! “

February 7, 2010 7:09 pm

AGW specifically may be well over sexed as a threat to mankind but that is no reason to be stupid about energy consumption. Living smart is not counter to being unconvinced about AGW. One can do both, effectively.
CFL’s are abysmal for lifetime and for introducing poisons into the household where LED’s offer efficiency, long lifetime, and are non-poisonous. No reason to not use them where they will work well. And they’re dimmer-friendly. No way I’m putting a CFL in my fridge!

Robert of Ottawa
February 7, 2010 7:21 pm

Forget the twisty bulbs. It is either incandescent or LED. LED is the way to go in the future. We will be able to buy rolls of LED lighting “paper” and stick it on the wall/ceiling/whatever. Currently it is a bluish light, but we will be able to modulate the colour in the future.
I am an electronics engineer and appreciate efficiency, for its own sake, not for pious, self-agrandizing, ethical reasons
But incandescents are cheaper and simpler.

February 7, 2010 7:24 pm

Here-here! Thank you Anthony. The green we need to focus on saving is the green in our wallet. That is free market.

Mariss Freimanis
February 7, 2010 7:30 pm

Something not mentioned is reliability and safety. Incandescent light bulbs are dirt simple, consisting of a single resistor (filament) across the mains supply. They are inherently safe because a failure results in the filament opening and removing itself from the circuit.
I mention this because my house nearly burned down due to electronic ballast failure in my garage fluorescent light fixtures (48″ or 1.2m). Silicon invariably fails “shorted” but the ballast design was such that it caused a soft failure; the current wasn’t sufficient to blow its internal fuse. This resulted in significant heat dissipation on the ballast printer circuit board. The ballast caught fire and melted through the plastic covering. The fixtures were recessed into the ceiling, there were soot marks on the ceiling and a puddle of molten plastic on the floor. The rafters and house could have caught on fire.
These were 50W fixtures and it happened on a hot summer’s day. LEDs require a regulated current so I’m guessing the electronics is a high-frequency line voltage buck regulator configured as a current source via a feedback network. That places several silicon devices across the mains inputs.
My day job? I design sub-1kW servomotor drives and amplifiers. I had all the electronic ballasted fluorescent light fixtures replaced with transformer ballasted ones at my company. At home I prefer the warmth of incandescent lighting and like knowing they won’t kill me while I sleep.:-)
REPLY:Lights don’t kill people, ballasts do. No argument there, but what to do when incandescents are outlawed? Will only outlaws have incandescent? – A

February 7, 2010 7:35 pm

Thanks for this information. I recently bought a LED light for over the kitchen sink and it only uses about 5w of power. I like it but it has a bluish tint to it. I wasn’t aware that you can get these LEDs with more realistic light color.
And as far as I’m concerned, we should skip fluorescents and go right to LEDs.

B. Smith
February 7, 2010 7:50 pm

vigilantfish (18:58:07) :
OT – anyone notice the dreadful AUDI ad during the Superbowl? AUDI sure misread the national mood, with AUDI’s car getting the nod from the Green Police. Up to the end I thought that the ad was spoofing green fanaticism, but it actually ends up with the AUDI driver getting the nod from the Green Gestapo.
I was watching with my football mate, a great friend from back east, a Connecticut Yankee and liberal, of course.
He was amused by my strong reaction to the Audi commercial, telling me to relax, they’re trying to be humorous. I informed him that it was anything but humorous, given the huge numbers of intolerant, tolerance-preaching liberals who actually “feel” we need eco police.
The crowning moment was the last shot as I saw “Bridgeport Police” painted on the side of the cop cruiser. I looked at Len and said, “I do believe Bridgeport is in Connecticut.”
He about spit up his drink; gotcha! The commercial sucked the southernmost part of a north-bound horse, btw.

February 7, 2010 7:58 pm

I wouldn’t hold your breath on the 50,000 hours with the Cree light. I work for an LED light fixture manufacturer and like most LED lighting companies Cree is making claims they probably will not be able to back up. That goes for standard lighting companies as well. Thermal management is the issue with LED’s and stuffing them up into a ceiling with this particular fixture will cause the life to diminish.
REPLY: Maybe, but in the 30 years I’ve been working with LED’s I’ve never had a single one burn out on it’s own. Even if I got 1/3 less from these, I’d still be happy with them. -A

February 7, 2010 7:58 pm

I’ve looked at different packaging of LED lights and they are presently still price prohibitive. CFC’s are harsh and annoying in some aspects but in my location where you are heating 8 months of the year it is hard to justify a 60 dollar LED light bulb. If it would keep the comfort hounds from howling for AC for the 2 months of the year it would actually come on, that would be something … however the best tool for that is the off switch on their means of reading WUWT.

February 7, 2010 8:02 pm

Anthony, did I understand you correctly to say that they have an LED Edison screw in base version that would work for lamps as well as overhead can lights? I certainly am electrically challenged and wouldn’t want to risk doing the fix you have suggested (although it’s certainly a capital idea). I don’t have any recessed lighting in my house; I have one overhead can fixed to shine in my living room. I don’t use it very often. I have LEDs installed underneath my kitchen cabinets and they work quite well, I like them a lot, as well as an LED night light. All of my other lights are either twisty or halogen bulbs, and they have lasted me for at least three or four years so far – I’ve only had to replace one since I bought them.
REPLY: check the links in the article for the screw base versions

Jeff Alberts
February 7, 2010 8:10 pm

Well, I have no problems with the CFLs. I’ve never broken one, maybe some off brands take a long time to get to brightness, but I haven’t had to change a bulb in 4 years. And we use the Daylight bulbs in some spots, nice bright lighting. When they have an LED that’s cheap and that will fit in an existing outlet, I’ll give them a try.

February 7, 2010 8:19 pm

One of the commenters posted bad numbers for lumens per watt. Rough numbers that look right to me are ~10 lumens/watt for incandescent and ~100 lumens/watt for flourescent. I’ll believe higher numbers for LEDs when I see them. It looks like they’re starting to get into the low range for flourescents.
I recently remodeled a medium-sized (< 400 sq ft) room. I put in IC cans with airtight inserts. I use incandescents mostly because of the dimmers. One benefit of running incandescents in the winter is that the lighting will maintain about a 30-degree F differential with no other heat source, and that's with a 20-foot glass wall. Yes, I used energy-efficient glass and plenty of insulation.
I haven't tried dimmable CFLs – I'm nervous about the "works with most dimmers" bit. Anybody have experience with these?

D Johnson
February 7, 2010 8:25 pm

I agree with len about the winter effect on the economics. I sit here in my office with a 900 watt electric space heater with a thermostat. It dawned on me how stupid I was for using a CFC in my lamp so I replaced it with a three-way 150 watt incandescent. The light is better, and I suspect there is no net energy increase.
Come summertime there may be a difference, but with the increased daylight, there’s a whole lot less need for artificial lighting.

Bryan H.
February 7, 2010 8:30 pm

The true gains wont be made until all new installations use LED lighting…and they stop with the MASSIVE amount of copper required for housing construction. Think about it… your entire lighting circuit for that hallway is now at least 10 times oversized.

February 7, 2010 8:35 pm

Here in Tassie you must have any electric fittings done by a handyman passed by an electrician.If improperly fitted lighting caused a fire,your insurance company would not pay out.Of course when something is done under a green agenda(why else the foil?),all regulations go out the window.
I love the lighting,and I hope you will publish any cons that may crop up.

Patrick Davis
February 7, 2010 8:45 pm

“PaulH from Scotland (14:21:44) :
I lived in Auckland from 1995 to 2005 and I couldn’t believe how cold most houses got in the winter.
I had thought that moving from chilly Scotland to the warmer North Island of New Zealand would be a temperate blessing.
Wooden houses + minimal insulation + no central heating. Brrrrr!
Perhaps that’s the reason Ugg boots came about?”
I lived in Wellington until 2005, but Wellington is much much colder (Home to the Brass Monkey Cafe) than Auckland. House contruction always struck me as odd. Most houses the walls are ~125mm thick, typically uninsulated. Inner dry wall (GIB Board) 10mm, 100mm air gap standard wood construction, plus exterior weatherboarding, ~15mm.
Fortunately my house was newer and insulated but it was rather large requiring a 26Kw log burner to heat it. The house was located in a region that had the most expensive electricity prices too. I learned to like low voltage lighting.

February 7, 2010 8:46 pm

I have my house wired with X10 light controllers, so CFL’s are a real problem for me.
I’m intriqued by L.E.D. lighting, as it seems it might be a better fit for my switches.
I’ve actually replaced most of the lights in my house with dimmable CFL’s and cold cathode bulbs – which are rediculously expensive. This was a few years ago. Dimmable CFL’s take a long time to heat up and get to full brightness, and they are not as reliable in X10 circuits as incandescent. (I used to work for X10, and they make complete crap, so sometimes you have to work with the stuff to get it to work properly – but with patience, they are capable of working fairly reliably).
I’ve heard to stay away from LED for X10 – but things may have changed since I heard that advice. I do have some CREE flashlights, and those LEDs are amazing, so I can imagine they might perform pretty well.
You have to pay close attention with the calculator on that site, because it lists incandescent bulbs at $5.40, with a life of 2000 hours. Real light bulbs are much cheaper than and last more like 5000 hours, so the calculations are not accurate. Also, without having seen one, I don’t know if a 12 watt LED is a good direct replacement for a 65 watt bulb, or a 100, or a 40, but when I put in 40 (with 0 cost for the fixture, because I already own it), it was saying it would take on the order of 8 years to pay for itself – at which time, realistically, you might expect a fairly good likelihood that some of the LED filiments, or even possibly the driver have failed (the LED’s have multiple filaments, so more likelihood of failure – and the driver circuit may also fail).
In the real world, its going to take much longer to pay for them – but I think as they become more widely used, the price will go down – and they’ll be less Mercury in cans of Albacore Tuna too…

Rob M
February 7, 2010 8:52 pm

Lighting? I use the sun….stupid.

February 7, 2010 8:52 pm

Did anybody here in the USA catch the Audi ad during the superbowl? ECO police running wild – it was pretty frightening! The worst part is I can see how we might end up like that.

February 7, 2010 8:59 pm

Keep the recipes! I have returned so many CFL because they die early. I started long ago with the GE Circlelight. First one lasted 8 years still using the second one after 7 so they work good. Sylvania are really bad. Had more of those die than all the other brands combined. Home Depot takes the burnt out ones so you don’t contaminate the land fill and eventually water with mercury.
I like the idea of LED but they have to be much cheaper before I’ll buy. I work on a basis of using what I have until it dies then replacing it with something more efficient. The best design I’ve read about so far is the liquid filled (inert) by Hydralux. Solves the heat and directional nature of LED lighting with one elegant design!

February 7, 2010 9:10 pm

Oldseadog (14:30:48) :
“Remember that in G.B. only a qualified Electrician is authorised to carry out this work – Brussels has banned all electrical DIY.”
I don’t think that’s correct, unless the regulations have become even more stringent in the last year or so. Electrical work in a kitchen or bathroom must be certified by a qualified electrician – even something as simple as changing a light switch or light fitting. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself, but if you do you need to get someone in to inspect it and issue a certificate (or you can just do it and ignore mindless petty regulations). For other parts of the house ordinary DIY electrical work is fine.

February 7, 2010 9:44 pm

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with the color temperature of CFL’s. My brother has a few “daylight” CFL’s that are supposed to produce a more “natural” color temperature, but their light seems off to me. I do recognize that it’s a matter of personal choice and know several people who don’t like CFL’s color.
I’ve been waiting patiently for LED technology to mature in the home-lighting arena. I’m waiting for E27 bulbs (the ones that use the standard base used for most incandescent/CFL fixtures) that actually have lumen output comparable to regularly used incadescent/CFL bulbs. I’ve only seen 3-4 watt LED bulbs with an output of ~400 lumen, the equivalent of a 40w incandescent. When E27 LED’s with a 800 lumen output (60w incandescent) or 1700 lumen output (100w incandescent), I will start buying them.

February 7, 2010 9:45 pm

“_Jim (14:19:18) :
Only one question: How are they on producing RFI/EMI?
From 100 kHz up through at least 2 Meters (148 MHz)?
This includes LW (Longwave: 100 – 500 kHz), the AM Broadcast Band (535 –1705 kHz), SW (Shortwave: 1.8 – 30 MHz, Low-VHF (30 – 54 MHz) into High VHF (150 MHz) frequencies …
REPLY: They are encased in a metal, grounded enclosure. EMI is pretty low as a result. – Anthony”
Sorry just had to comment 🙂
The grounding of metal enclosures is a requirement from the National Electrical Code (NEC) and/or the local adoptions from the Authority Have Jurisdiction (AHJ) in your area. It could even be a requirement from the UL 1598 “The Standard for Safety of Luminaires” which the device was evaluated to (Sorry I am not familiar with this particular standard to know for certain).
While there maybe a limited benefit when it comes to suppressing radiated energy in certain directions with this enclosure I doubt that it is doing much in the way of suppressing all the energy that could be escaping from the device. If there is RF radiation being emitted from these devices it would come from two different structures, 1) conducted energy that has coupled onto the wires that feeds the device that could then act as a source of Electrometric Interference (EMI) once that energy has exited the enclosure using those wires or 2) RF energy could exit the same end as the light. There are methods of reducing the amount of unwanted energy escaping these two structures, (filtering and shielding). A power line filter is most likely being used but I doubt there is EMI shielding on or in the lens, but without taking one apart it is just a guess on how they achieved conformance to the applicable radiated emissions standards and without testing one of the devices on how well they met those same requirements.
The best indication of the amount of unwanted RF energy that is generated by these devices is found on the second page of the data sheet, URL: http://www.creeledlighting.com/downloads/LPN000001-LR6_RevH.pdf. It is the FCC Class B warning statement for un-intentional radiators from 47 CFR Part 15B for digital devices operating in a residential environment.

Richard G.
February 7, 2010 9:51 pm

Al Gore’s Holy Ghost (13:47:38) :
I walk five miles to work and fives miles back in the evening. I do all my shopping on foot too.
“UP HILL BOTH WAYS”…Monty Python

February 7, 2010 10:04 pm

Mariss Freimanis (19:30:16) :
…. My day job? I design sub-1kW servomotor drives and amplifiers. I had all the electronic ballasted fluorescent light fixtures replaced with transformer ballasted ones at my company. At home I prefer the warmth of incandescent lighting and like knowing they won’t kill me while I sleep.:-)
REPLY:Lights don’t kill people, ballasts do. No argument there, but what to do when incandescents are outlawed? Will only outlaws have incandescent? – A

Black market – incandescents will not be eliminated. They are too simple, cheap and quite adequate for many uses. An African friend of mine used to rebuild burned out bulbs. They loosened the bases, replaced the filaments, resealed them, evacuated the bulb with cheap vac pumps and reused them in simple sockets.
Ok, a bit extreme, but true. Here in “civilization” we probably will demand top of the line rebuilds, or new. What’s with criminalizing light bulbs? It’s simply incredible that this is taking place!
Natural gas. Coal. Nuclear (fission & fusion (now > break-even), big central plants and new modulars (first to be installed in 2013). Oh yeah, windmills and solar, too. Energy shortage? What shortage? Prices are low and no shortage should be imminent, except as a result of social-engineering overdrive.
I’m about as frugal as you can get and very much appreciate and pursue efficiency of all kinds. Just don’t try to con me with CO2, or “Green” garbage. The Law is another concern and sometimes it becomes symptomatic of society gone insane. This is such a case (and GHG legislation is still in the running – did you hear the Prez at the SOTU?).
Just as Anthony suggested violating the GB law against non-union light fixture installation the masses and other innovators will also pursue their own paths.
Anthony – a very good post for a new product. New tech always needs discussion and LEDs are some of that. I’ve been using some CFLs a lot for 2-3 years and haven’t replaced any, yet. They work fine for me, and cheaper than Tom’s et al’s bulbs, but the warm-up is annoying. I didn’t/don’t like the toxins but figure I’ll just leave them on my local Ohio/U.S. Representative’s doorstep when they expire. By then the LEDs will be cheaper, or something else will come into vogue. Personally, I’m going to stock up on more incandescents, too.
Just don’t tell me I have to, or can’t use genetically modified or (non) irradiated seeds or food, or what kind of light bulbs I can/can’t use without dead certain evidence and my agreement. There are ways of dealing with tyranny. I wish the IPCC debacle would get more MSM coverage, but thanks to evolving tech and inspired souls like our own Anthony Watts the void is being filled! Here’s an early Happy Valentine’s Day wish for ya big fella! Ya know, it’s fantastic being able to get a little giddy in light of the AGW meltdown in progress. However, challenges abound, but first:
How ’bout those Saints, eh? It’s good for the Delta, and good for the repeating sand-bagging Hoosiers (Brown’s fan – remember ’07).
Just feeling good after talking with my two sons – graduating seniors in engineering & molecular physics. Both will be published w/one briefly going soon to the PR of China the other multi-published and a presenter at the last APS conference. In spite of the great and varied challenges confronting us all these days it is so important to support our youngsters ambitions to strive to expand our knowledge and accomplishments. Anthony, you, Steve, Ross, Roy, the Rogers, et al are such inspirations to us – thanks, again.

February 7, 2010 10:19 pm

I owned two houses in NZ in the Rangatikei in the early part of the decade. Yes, insulation was poor — but the cost of buying property was easily 1/10th of what I would have paid for the equivalent home in the U.S. The $140,000 or so I saved on the purchase price went a long, long, long way toward paying for any extra energy costs relating to the lack of central heating.
In fact, it may have been more energy efficient to not have central — when we retired for the night, the only room heated was the bedroom we slept in, instead of the whole house (one of those electric, oil-filled things that look like an old timey water radiator was enuf).
One of the overlooked reasons for the high cost of real estate prior to the recent big crash was the high costs required in the U.S. relating to energy efficiency when building a house. The payback on expensive energy-saving devices like solar and LEDs is very long, and many of us cannot afford the upfront costs required. When this stuff is mandated, as it is in California where I live, the cost of housing is pushed out of reach of all but the rich.
To be practical, LED cost would have to be comparable to where CFLs are now, which in our area is almost as cheap as buying incandescent were a couple years back. If LEDs costing $80.00 a pop are mandated in the future, I’m going to back to start a bee colony, harvest the beewsax and make candles!
Incidentally, have been using CFLs extensively for a couple of years now. I can’t imagine why some commenters are getting greenish light and flickering, unless they have voltage problems with their power supply. Slow brightening, yes, but not enough to bother. I like the white light much better than the old yeller incandescents, easier to read by, see by.

February 7, 2010 10:30 pm

I was surprised when I first saw a “white” LED flashing on a bicycle.
LEDs only produce one frequency of light, but the development of the blue LED enabled a phosphor coating to be applied that absorbs blue photons.
The phospor coating then re-emits photons over a range of wavelengths, aka, “white.”
Anyway, combined with an electronic transformer rather than an iron-core, they are very cool, literally. I have several 12v/3w MR16s that cost around $10 each.
You can also buy a “Remote Controlled Color Changing (Million Color) LED Bulb” for a relatively small price, if you get bored with “white.”

February 7, 2010 11:11 pm

Let Us Run Some Numbers.
The Cree at Amazon:Cree LED Lighting LR6-GU24 White 6
50,000 hours
Amazon GE CFL:GE 47478 15 Watt (65 Watt equivalent) Energy Smart Floodlight 6 Year Life R30 Light Bulb
10,000 hours
For 50,000 hours You pay $31.25 capital
In 50,000 hours you save 150,000 Wh or 150KWh. Price difference $48.75 against the LED. If your electricity costs less than 32.5¢ a KWh The CFLs are a better deal.
On new construction or when replacing a fixture the cost of the fixture enters the picture. Then figure out what it is worth in time and hassle changing bulbs more often vs installing a fixture.
My advice to cheapskates? At 10¢ a KWh wait until you can buy one for $45 or less. A couple of CFLs should see you through.
Those are the economic issues – roughly. As Anthony points out there are other considerations. And thank you Antony for being an early adopter. It will help bring the price down to one I can afford.

February 7, 2010 11:14 pm

LED’s are good….. But I’ll let the techie trailblazers with all the moola go purchase them first to work out the bugs and lower the prices…. 😉
As for outlawing incandescent light bulbs…. DON’T let you political class try and ban stuff…. don’t start letting them mess with you free enterprise…
There is no valid argument for banning light bulbs except energy use… You’re paying for the energy…. It’s your choice….
I could see an argument for banning fluro bulbs…… They contain a toxic substance, mercury…. But I still wouldn’t want them banned. Just the manufacture and disposal regulated….

February 7, 2010 11:33 pm

Thanks, but no thanks. LEDs considerably lack in their color reproduction due to having spikier spectrum than high quality fluorescent tubes. Even though the light appears white, objects illuminated by it appear discolored. For the best results, only buy products with CRI (Color Rendition Index) of 0.90 or better. Unfortunately the best LEDs are still around 0.80.
Another huge problem with LEDs is the lack of light. My one-cell pocket flashlight is specified for 900 lm and in reality it gives around 600 lm. At home, when not running on batteries, I prefer the option of having much brighter lighting. I have 4800 lm overhead lighting (dimmable) + 2400 lm above kitchen sink in this room only, and I wouldn’t trade for less.
Fluorescent tubes are also available in all color temperatures, so you can get the incandescent 2700 K if you wish, or cloudy day blue 6500 K. Or the sunny day pure white 5500 K, which is what I prefer, and which also nicely matches with the image on flat screen displays.
Power-on time also isn’t a problem with fluorescent if you use a modern instant-on controller (which does reduce tube life slightly) and I am quite happy even with those regular electronic controllers (power-on times of less than two seconds, no flicker at all and better lifetime than instant-on).
Apparently all your experience of fluorescent lighting is from the era of mechanical starters that caused flickering and slow power-on, driving the tubes directly on AC, which causes 100 or 120 Hz flickering – and half of that or worse, if a tube is near its end of life. Modern T5 tubes and their controllers use very high frequency control so that no flickering occurs. CFLs also use similar electronic controllers.

February 7, 2010 11:42 pm

Btw, motion sensors are perfect in hallways, bathrooms and other such places where you don’t spend too much time. Not only do they save electricity, they also free your hands for something more important than flicking a light switch. When I moved to this apartment, the first thing I did was installing motion sensors and new lighting.
However, be aware that some motion sensors have a nasty delay before powering on. Many are also not specified for use with fluorescent lighting.

February 7, 2010 11:42 pm

I don’t have a car. I believe that is enough said.

Daniel H
February 7, 2010 11:50 pm

I’ve been tripping the lights fantastic for a couple of years now. My main gripe is that I’ve never been able to find a cheap LED light source that has the same warm temperature “glow” as an incandescent. They are either too blue or too green or they just don’t look right. LEDs also seem dimmer than their incandescent counterparts (rated at the same number of lumens). Maybe it’s because the light source is coherent in LEDs, I dunno.
Thanks for the info on the CREE lights. I’ve also heard good things about the Philips Luxeon brand. These brands are still relatively expensive so I’ll probably wait and see if the price comes down before I buy them.
Also, aside from the cost, there are a couple of other drawbacks with LEDs that involve the embedded voltage regulator. First, LED bulbs tend to be larger than equivalent incandescent bulbs and that can be a problem in certain types of enclosures (i.e., porch lights that have glass covers). Second, the voltage regulator can also degrade the bandwidth of ethernet-over-powerline adapters when the LED bulbs are switched on. That is very annoying for people who stream HD content over their home powerlines.

Steve J
February 7, 2010 11:50 pm

Lets get to the bottom line.
1) Separate Energy from Climate.
2) Use all PASSIVE SOLAR energy saving methods – tested since the beginning of man – and they still are the most cost effective AND energy saving methods available.
3) Daylighting is the application of the sun to light your building (House).
4) In your hall, Anthony you should consider 2 Velux sun tubes from home depot – once installed – 0 energy use, and much better light.
5) I have yet to see an unsubsidised PV installation pencil out within the systems lifetime – except when the building is remote and requires diesel equiptment, fuel and maintenance.
6) The EPA is stuffing CFL’s down our throats, but they are fooling themselves once more (like MTBE), CFL’s have about a 50% power factor and require an increase in generating capacity plus the mercury thingy, and they do not dim so well.
7) LED’s have been correctly described as unstable, unproven, and expensive.
8) I have recently become aware of a new bulb – VU1corp is the website – that is similar to the incandescent in manufacture but uses much less energy, has a decent P.F., is great in color temperature and much closer in cost to the CFL’s than to LED’s, and they dim great.
9) I would be very careful in regards to using a LED or a CFL in a non-IC rated can or a can not rated for that use.
10) I am an architect in a sole practice and I have NO financial interest in ANY lighting provider.
11) I have decades of energy saving design experience and have saved my clients millions in energy costs without increasing their construction and maintenance cost by 1% – K.I.S.S..

Greg Redeker
February 8, 2010 12:14 am

For all those wondering about the heat issue, Chico has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and long hot summers. Many Chico households (including mine) spend a lot more money cooling our homes in the summer than heating them in the winter. We also have tiered electrical rates which are rather high, so comparisons which assume $0.10 per kwh are N/A. I usually hit the $0.36 per kwh rate in the summer, and the $0.24 per kwh rate in the winter. The CFLs I have, which are in every socket in the house not controlled by a dimmer, paid for themselves in three months due to the combination of high electricity rates and low bulb costs.

February 8, 2010 12:14 am

well here in the great white north we get 10-20% of our HEAT from lighting!
If you want to be Green , buy some light ” dimmers ” and install them every where
and add 20% to the wattage of the replacement bulb( care full not to exceed rating of the light fixture) now enjoy a bulb that last decades in stead of months or years.
set the dimmer for 10% and use LESS power than LEDs OR CFLs
How much GHG is released from making the LEDs?
that is it!!!

Atomic Hairdryer
February 8, 2010 12:28 am

Re: NickB (14:55:32) :
A friend of mine (EE) was talking about building like this. Under the current building codes (specifically residential) is it even legal to do that?

(UK building regs)
As I understand it, providing it complies with parts B, L and P of the building regs, then yes. Part L covers energy efficiency and lighting. As I understand it, new builds must have a reasonable amount of fittings that can only take 40 lumens/watt lighting. Seems to work by banning old style bayonet, screw and halogen fittings and mandating low voltage only lamp fixtures.
A friend fell foul of this a couple of years ago with a loft conversion. He had that designed for low voltage lighting that met the 40L/W rules but didn’t have the right fixtures, so had to run another 240V line in for a ‘Part L compliant’ fixture. Try finding lamps that fit those in your local supermarket or DIY shop. Regs are Regs though. Got the certificate and the Part L fitting is safely hidden away now.
He also had problems with insulation and shopped around for the best insulation he could find from Norway. Less bulky, better insulator. Unfortunately also not in the building regs so had to be replaced with bulkier, less efficient insulaton reducing the room volume.
Moral of the story seems to be design to the letter of the law of UK building regulations rather than the best energy efficiency.

February 8, 2010 12:59 am

I have found that my central electric heating system runs much more frequently and needs to be used more in mild weather since converting to the fluorescent bulbs. For me, the primary advantage of these bulbs has been the reduced frequency of replacement.

February 8, 2010 1:08 am

Bryan H. (20:30:34) :
The true gains wont be made until all new installations use LED lighting…and they stop with the MASSIVE amount of copper required for housing construction. Think about it… your entire lighting circuit for that hallway is now at least 10 times oversized.

There are minimum wire sizes required for mechanical reasons. Probably 16AWG. It depends also on the breaker rating for the circuit.

Tony Osborne
February 8, 2010 1:31 am

Not wishing to pour cold water on this but energy saving is not necessarily, taken overall, a great benefit. I know that this seems counterintuitive but see
for a description of the Jevons Paradox which “Willian Stanley Jevons first put forward in 1865 in his book The Coal Question”.
However, on the individual level, if the ROI is realistic, energy saving can be a case of “You know it makes sense!”.

John Bowman
February 8, 2010 2:08 am

And the cost? Did I overlook the part where you mentioned the price?

February 8, 2010 2:10 am

I once posted a comment on RC about Anthony Watts’ green home. I made the point that just because someon is sceptical about the impact of AGW on Earth did not mean they were not green or concerned about the environment.
I also pointed out that there are a number of left leaning climate dissenters and not all sceptics are rabid, right-wing, oil-funded “deniers”.
I’ve been using CFLs for over 10 years now, I make sure my appliances are running at their most efficient and avoid waste whenever possible.
Here is a video of
pedal powered LED
lighting for homes in India.

February 8, 2010 2:42 am

FWIW, bought a 12 pack of incandescent bulbs for $3 the other day at the drug store. (Walgreens). Just adding more to my ‘stash’. While I was a very early adopter of CFLs and have them just about everywhere possible, I’m not going to put one in the fridge… They also do not work worth a @#^$ on dimmers (even the ‘dimmable’ ones – range too limited and flicker increases. They also seem to die really fast).
Oh, and 2nd the notion that Sylvania has a high infant mortality rate / low lifetime. FEIT and OSRAM hold up well in my experience.
You can get decent color temperatures now. But having broken a couple of these, I’m REALLY not happy with the Mercury Mandate…
There are a whole lot of places where an IC bulb just works better. Places like the closet where you want instant full light for all of 30 seconds… Security lighting where you want it full bright pronto, even if 20 below zero. Yard flood light used 10 minutes / year. Etc. So I’m stocking up. (Yes, I know I’ll always be able to buy them from the local drug dealer as a side line 😉
LEDs look way cool, but at those kinds of prices, it would be a ‘purchase as toy’. (I’m slowly converting all my flashlights to LED as possible) I’m hoping to find some kind of Edison base LED lights in the “under $30 range” before too long. At that price I can ‘play’, but not at $90 AND a fixture change.
BTW, CFLs are rated for a very long number of hours OR certain number of on / off cycles. If you have a light that gets cycled a lot (like bathroom or motion censor light or fridge or closet or …) that CFL can die in just a couple of years. OTOH, I have a couple of GE “Circle Lights” from a couple of decades back that are just fine, thank you very much. Eventually moved them to a modest use yard lighting area. A few hours at a time, occasionally used. Ought to last about another 20 years 😉
Sidebar on Chico: Um, it can also be fogged in for weeks on end, dank, and quite cold. Were I still living up that way, I’d use IC bulbs in winter, CFL / LED in summer in the main fixtures.
Oh, and “Obligatory mention of other lights”: Don’t forget that there are all sorts of other lights used (usually commercially, though I have a low pressure sodium yard light… the egg yolk yellow things.) The HID lights are a cleaner color. And somewhere in the garage I have a Mercury Vapor yard light fixture/bulb. Garish but effective thing. Going back up when the LPSodium eventually dies. (It’s only been about 6 years now… or maybe 8..) The blue/white MV is more effective as security lighting. The LPS is technically more light, but just does not have the effect of feeling well lit…
BTW, my “fall back strategy” for the eventual day when I’ve run out of IC bulbs is to just use car lights. I can put in 12 vdc pretty easy. I have an old headlight as my workbench light. (Low beam died, but high beam was still fine, so I wired it up … works really well as a bench spot.) At my present rate of consumption, though, my ‘stash’ of 60W and 100W IC ought to last about 10 years. I’m planning a 20 year stash. Don’t know that I will last that long … (At present, other than appliances, I’ve only got 4 IC fixtures left. All on dimmers or needing ‘rapid on’ short use. So bulbs last a long time.)
I REALLY wish my government(s) would just leave me and Mr. Market alone to make the best choices for me without their injected stupidity…
WIth luck, LEDs will get cheap enough to replace the last few IC fixtures before my stash runs out… If not, well, a short vacation to Mexico will undoubtedly provide a solution…

Peter Plail
February 8, 2010 3:36 am

I have replaced all the halogen downlights in my kitchen with LED lights but initially had some problems which it may be helpful to explain here, as information on this topic was not readily available on-line (at least, it wasn’t a 2 years ago when I started.
I am referring to MR14 low voltage halogen fittings, the type with two prongs that plug into a flying socket in the fitting. These are powered by transformer units which produce approx 12V ac output and may be dimmable. I was replacing 20w, 30w and 50w halogens with 1.2W LED units and was prepared to accept the reduction in light output. They will not work on dimmable transformers but the implication was that they were OK on fixed output units.
Initially I tried a few LED units mixed with halogen s because the halogen transformers need a reasonable current draw to work). This seemed fine at first, but after some months some of the individual LEDs in the light bulb died.
To cut a long story short, although the LED lamps are pin compatible, they are not happy with the high frequency AC output from the halogen transformer. My supplier said a 12V ac transformer at mains frequency would do, but further research eventually revealed that a regulated 12v dc output gave longest life and I eventually sourced LED lighting transformers (or more strictly, PSUs) at a decent price on E-bay.
Because of the rated output of the new transformer (max 30w) I couldn’t run a mix of halogen and LED, but with the passage of time higher power LED units had become available at sensible prices so I uprated to 2W units and they have been running satisfactorily for the last year or so. Please also not that although the supply is DC, the lamps are not polarised so work either way.
I should add that there are also LED lamps that claim to be compatible with halogen transformers but I don’t see how they could meet the higher current draw requirement of these transformers without some sort of shunt to increase the current, but that would negate any power savings of using LEDs.
One downside, the bedroom above is a little cooler now that all the little heaters under the floor have been eliminated.

David Alan Evans
February 8, 2010 3:42 am

Oldseadog (14:30:48) :

Remember that in G.B. only a qualified Electrician is authorised to carry out this work – Brussels has banned all electrical DIY.
REPLY: Well I’d hook them up just to spite them 😉

Funny that. I worked on aircraft including rewires & I’m not allowed to change a light fitting.
I do a lot more than that, just don’t tell anyone. 😉
I have the same problem as some others though. I’m waiting ’til they come out with a good omni-directional version with bayonet fittings at a reasonable price.
I’m all for saving energy, I just don’t like spots.

February 8, 2010 4:52 am

all this is cool and funny but overall, on nation scale, the energy that can be saved on lighting is so low is almost irrelevant.
it only makes sense because electric energy is sold so expensive. same as gasoline. if it wasnt for the crazy taxes on it, there would be no point whatsoever in developing electric cars.
all this is the result of the enormous market distortions created by the massive scale state tampering with economy.

February 8, 2010 4:57 am

One of the major draw backs to the CFL bulbs is that they give off a very powerfull EM field, I took them out of my house becuase I have young children.

stephen richards
February 8, 2010 4:57 am

These LEDs have been available in the UK for some years now. In the early days they were mixed with the halogen type so you might, for instance, have LED, Halogen alternating along the corridor or in the kitchen. People tended to put the halogen where they needed direct and bright lighting as above a work surface. BUT great article. Complete and self explanatary.

Herve Deveaux
February 8, 2010 5:21 am

how much ?

February 8, 2010 5:22 am

As a long time hydroponics enthusiast I’ve been growing plants under lighting for many years. I’ve tried all manner of lighting sources and like most indoor gardeners, had pretty much settled on HID bulbs of the HPS and sometimes MH varieties. The useful range of wattages of these bulbs typically runs from ~150w to 1000w. At 1000w, these bulbs produce deeply penetrating light (5-6 feet) which yields excellent growing results, but they also produce an enormous amount of heat as a by-product, not to mention it’s like having a hair dryer running for 12, 18, even 24 hours of the day. The bulbs lose illumination intensity fairly quickly and depending on the application, may need replacement in a year.
About four years ago, I switched my gardening lighting to LED sources and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at my results. I’m currently using two different LED sources for a total of 207w. One is a commercially-made 120w fixture which contains LEDs in three colours. The second is an array of six roughly 6″x 5″ circuit boards, each of which holds 272 5mm LEDs which come in red and blue colours. These circuit boards were purchased as kits, and I did the soldering to assemble them. I’ve mounted the boards on a wooden frame to create a fixture which is about 20″ x 15″.
These two fixtures have replaced HID lighting which had a nominal power consumption of 1450w, or just a skosh more than 7 times the amount of power from the mains. And added bonus is that in one of my garden areas, the 1000w bulb there necessitated a special fixture which is cools the bulb by encasing it in a glass envelope and directing air flow through that envelope to carry the ‘waste’ heat away. I no longer have to run that axial fan system all the time the lights are on, which saves additional power – probably 10w-12w. Oh, and in four years, I’ve yet to need to replace as much as a single LED.
One advantage of LEDs in gardening applications is that one can make them with LEDs of precise colour/frequency, thus allowing designers to produce fixtures which have only the frequencies of light which plants use the most for their biological processes. There’s no need, for example, for a lot of green light, because most plants reflect most of the green light frequencies which strike them, which is why plants look green to our eyes. LEDs allow fixture designers to tailor fixtures to the needs of particular plants while only using frequencies which are the most beneficial to the plants. Very efficient.
In terms of garden output, I’m still getting the same amount of produce, maybe even a little more, and the quality of the produce is as high as it’s ever been. A 1000w bulb produces light which can penetrate the plant canopy down to 5-6 feet. The fixture I made with the home-brew kits definitely don’t have that kind of penetrating power. But since I use this fixture on my herbs garden, and the plants in that are only 2-3 feet high, it’s not a problem. I’m using the commercial fixture on my taller plants (tomato bushes right now) and I don’t see any difference in penetrating power. That fixture is made using high-power LED’s which run hotter than the little 5mm LEDs in the other fixture. The commercial fixture does have two muffin fans at the top of the enclosure to vent the heat the LEDs produce. The fans are throttled way back (I suspect they’ve reduced the voltage to the fans to keep them running slowly) and the 120w rated power includes the power drawn by the fans.
I couldn’t be more pleased about cutting out the old power wasters and plan to continue to seek out LED lighting for other plant applications.

February 8, 2010 5:32 am

Old Sea Dog, Atomic Hairdryer and others.
The UK regulations on electrical installations are effectively mandatory. In domestic properties you must also obey Part P of the Building Regs even for older propeties when replacing or adding electrical circuits. This means that to add or alter a circuit in a kitchen, bathroom or utility room, to change a consumer unit (fusebox), to add a new circuit or to add or alter an outside circuit you must be either an electrician registered with one of the trade organisations that are allowed to self-certificate, or you must inform the local Council’s building dept. who will then check your work. (and charge you around £200.) It is therefore still possible for the DIY-er to rewire his house, only now he must do it properly. (In my work testing electrical installations I’ve seen some unbelievable diy horror-stories.) Replacing light-fittings – without otherwise altering the wiring – as in Mr Watts’ hall, is not covered by Part P but the British DIY-er should note that recessed ceiling lights must be covered by fire and accoustic barriers (if not incorporated into the fitting) which must obey the relevant standards. (If in doubt, ask the electrical wholesaler.)

February 8, 2010 5:49 am

Oldseadog (14:30:48) :
Remember that in G.B. only a qualified Electrician is authorised to carry out this work – Brussels has banned all electrical DIY.
Actually no they haven’t, the Uk regulations are as usual ‘gold plated’ and in addition they try and pretend you can’t do anything. I think you’ll find you can do quite a bit more than you think.

February 8, 2010 5:58 am

I agree that LED’s are great, and they did have a colour problem, which has now been solved. The downside is they are very, very expensive. Here’s an example:
I was in the process of replacing a set of halogen bulbs from my ceiling mounted spotlight system, as each bulb failed within a year. On the first 2 replacements, I used the older type LED’s with the cold, blue, low lumen output. I was not impressed by the quality or quantity of light given off. By the time the 3rd halogen failed, I noticed the new LED’s in the local stores. They had a higher lumen output and a colour similar to incandescent.
Cost of one new LED: £12.
Cost to upgrade the set of 4 in my spotlight arrray: £48.
This is serious money, and frankly not worth it. I will replace the last bulb with a traditional halogen, despite the CO2 spewing attributes.

February 8, 2010 6:04 am

Tony Osborne,
If you read your wiki link on the Jevon’s paradox, you will see that according to wiki (Wili Connelly?), the Jevon’s paradox doesn’t apply to conservation measures when mandated by Government.

George M
February 8, 2010 6:31 am

The original light emitting diodes (very early 1960s) were Silicon Carbide, green, and very inefficient. The later red series overcame the efficiency problems using different materials, followed quickly by green, yellow, and other parts of the middle and long wave end of the visible spectrum. Finally, satisfying the needs of the auto industry, the right combination of materials and geometry produced blue, and as a sidelight, UV models. IR came along with red. But, what about white??? Well, if you examine white LEDs, they are UV chips with a phosphor, sort of micro versions of fluorescent design. So, the color spectrum is dependent on the phosphor choices, which continues to be an area of rapid development and lots of disappointments. CFLs have been around for a little over 20 years and are obsolescent. LED lighting has been around for 4 or 5 years, but remember, progress is exponential, so they can be expected to be replaced by something better in maybe 7 to 10 years. I’ll buy them on the end of production close-outs. In the meanwhile, Incandescent bulbs will still be around, in spite of good intentions. Otherwise, it will be pretty dark in your oven.

February 8, 2010 6:48 am

Martin Hale,
You should go into a side business making LED fixtures for amateur home indoor gardeners like myself who are electronically challenged. Reading about your experience has given me the idea that I may soon be able to afford a proper indoor herb garden, currently impossible due to lack of windows facing south and the expense of running grow-lights. I just need to find a source. On the other hand, hope dope growers are too stupid to catch on to this! Great post!

February 8, 2010 6:50 am

About three years ago at the outset of the EU’s stupid ban on incandescent lightbulbs, to be replaced with oh-so-wonderful ‘low energy’ lamps, I went on record suggesting that these were the lighting equivalent of eight-track stereos.
So it has proved to be – this ban now SO yesterday, due to the inevitable development and wider use of LEDs, which apart from consuming about one-tenth of the power of so-called low energy lamps, have an almost infinite life (c. 100000 hours). Oh – and they don’t contain mercury like the low-energy lamps, which WILL find its way into the groundwater…

February 8, 2010 6:53 am

I see that nobody made it to the bottom of my first post. Incandescent bulbs are going to be outlawed in Ontario in 2011, and my query about substitutes for incandescent bulbs in ovens, appliances, and oven hoods has not been responded to. I am not aware that exceptions will be made for these applications. Are there any non-incandescent bulbs that are safe and reliable alternatives?

February 8, 2010 6:58 am

This is slightly off-topic, but I see that you have a large attic fan. How do you keep yours from venting 8 million BTU into the attic (or vice versa) when not in use? I’m guessing that you probably did a decent job of sealing it. I’ve tried a lot of solutions at my house, but nothing really works. (Right now I have strips of R49 sitting on top of it, but I have to climb into the attic to remove/replace every time I want to use it).
REPLY: Good question, and pretty simple really. I got a large 2″ thick piece of rigid foam insualtion and put it on a hinge on one side of the wooden frame box that houses the attic fan (I had to build it up just a bit so that the motor did not protrude over the top edge.)
The foam is light enough such that when I turn the fan on, it will blow the foam piece upwards and it swings away on the hinge. I put a stop set bracket so it doesn’t go past about 75 degrees. Turn the fan off, the foam lid settles back into place and seals the box.
– Anthony

February 8, 2010 7:02 am

Thanks for a great piece, Anthony!
These would presumably be more economical in new construction than as retrofits. But do they stand alone, or have to be installed inside generic cans?
Also, how do you get the socket loose from an already installed can? Don’t you have to go above the can to unscrew the nut holding it in place?
I have 8 incandescent cans (on 3 circuits with dimmers) in my kitchen that would be good candidates for these. They leak so much cold air that just closing the opening would save a lot of heating fuel (and maybe even cooling power). Any heat generated by my incandescents probably goes more into the attic in the winter than into the house, so it’s probably lost anyway.
REPLY: They also offer a version with an Edison screw base. All the cans I’ve seen have the Edison socket either as part of a spring loaded press fit inside the can, or on an L bracket secured by a wingnut on the inside of the can. Either is easy to remove. – A

February 8, 2010 7:15 am

Since the savings over CFLs is really based on life expectancy more so than electrical use, I’d be more inclined to go this route if the company backed up the 50,000 hour claim with more than a 3 year warrenty, since even on 24 X 7 6 years is only 52,000 hours, so why won’t they step up to at least that long?
As for CFLs (and life expectancy), I only buy CFLs that don’t require returning defective bulbs even if these bulbs cost a little more (the savings from CFLs comes from thier long life and low electrical usage, so small differences in initial cost is not that much of a factor), and I write the date installed on the bulb base with a Sharpie and the 800 # to call.
If a bulb doesn’t live up to expectations, I get a refund.
As for Mercury, Home Depot and other Home improvement companies now offer drop off places for the bulbs.

February 8, 2010 7:36 am

Nice article. I have replaced nearly 30 light bulbs in my house with CFLs and will be happy to replace them with LEDs when they are inexpensive enough. It bothers me that CFLs so rarely last anything close to the lifetime claims of the manufacturer. I’ve been making trips to Home Depot’s customer service counter for their free disposal program for CFLs. They don’t advertise it to much because I’m sure it costs them some $$$. But it makes me feel better to know that the CFLs are properly disposed of. The program could use a little more exposure so these dead CFLs don’t end up in the land fill.

February 8, 2010 7:42 am

Great stuff.
LED technology is coming along in leaps and bounds. Although still quite pricey, and have some have mentioned only the ‘rich’ can afford, it’s all the more reason for government to stay out of legislation.
It could be argued that the threat of legislation, and face-palm legislation in more, erm, ‘progressive’ (I don’t think the swear filters pick up on this, yet) localities, has driven the technology, but the free market has a way of solving perceived or real problems.
Increased consumption of these devices, lowers the cost and increasing the quality. Additionally, as more ‘rich’ people buy such products to reduce their energy consumption, this relieves strain on the energy producers and does have the net effect of reducing the cost of energy allowing the ‘poor’ to better their lot in life: the key to prosperity is cheap abundant energy.
That is, a lower energy cost allows the poorer user to purchase such devices, further lowering their energy consumption. A rise in energy cost is an exponential cost since everything is directly related to the cost of energy.
Any energy legislation has the direct effect of increasing energy cost, hurting those who can least afford it, while giving those that can [afford it] a free pass to consume as they wish. Even with a stagnant technology market, those that can afford it always have methods to completely bypass any legislation imposed (richer people tend to have a greater array of ‘loop holes’ to avoid paying taxes – a direct result of progressive taxation), which further transfers the burden to those who cannot do so, and must pay the tax.
(Note, a ‘tax’ is also a fee or other additional financial burden required to meet any law or legislation, in addition to direct or indirect taxation).

February 8, 2010 7:55 am

These lights are ok but expensive. LED’s tend to shine all of the light in one direction but lights containing numerous LEDs partly solves that problem. I don’t think that LEDs are good enough or cheap enough to interest the masses just yet but they certainly will be in future.
Another point that I’d like to make is that we should have more nuclear power then who cares if we have low energy lightbulbs or long lasting conventional ones (which incidently help to warm your house too). I’m all for saving resources or curbing polution but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to live like energy paupers.

February 8, 2010 8:03 am

0.10 per kwatt, 65 to 15 watt reduction = 50 watts x 8 hours x350 days a year x 0.10 per kwatt= 14 bucks a year. payback 5.7 years if it doesn’t break down. There is a three year warranty on the product so thats a gamble. If the price goes down to 42 a unit, then it would be worth the risk. I know there is off sets on both sides of the discussion(ie, I use those toxic swirly bulbs at 28 watts instead of 65 watts bulbs, or the cost of replacement bulbs over that time period) but the price would have to come down by 50 percent. That or increase the warranty to 6 years. LEDs last for every but the transformers are the week link. So here is what I’m really asking. All you early adopters, buy buy buy and bring down the price for us cheap hawks.
Just fyi, my brother went all LED in his house up in Washington using some other brand not mentioned in this post. He had a 50% failer rate with in the first year. I hope Anthony gets better results.

February 8, 2010 8:25 am

I live in Vermont. I am guessing that my oil bill will go up if I stop using incandescent lighting. It is not like I will make it up in air conditioning in the summer either, when days are much longer and the lights are used less, and I rarely use air conditioning anyway.

February 8, 2010 8:29 am

I have LED above-cabinet lighting in my newly remodeled kitchen and love it! Often the only lights on in the kitchen during the evening are those LED lighting strips. I’d estimate I have a total of about 60 watts and they are great. However, that project cost me over $700 and I did the install mostly myself (had a helper when pulling wires through walls…) Reading this thread, now I know I can replace at least four recessed lights in the kitchen, and several more in the halls. However, three other recessed lights in the kitchen are “angled” recessed fixtures and that may pose a problem. They don’t take floods, only regular-sized bulbs. I currently have a twisty and a couple of regular incandescent bulbs in those three lights. It would be great to have a 65W equivalent in that form factor.
Also dimming can be an issue. I am using good-quality Lutron sold-state dimmers and can’t completely turn off the LED lights. You can’t see that they are still on unless the room is completely dark, and it looks like they are perhaps running at 3% power. However, that’s a feature, not a bug because it’s never completely dark in the kitchen, kind of like having fancy night-lights in there.

February 8, 2010 8:56 am

I took a slightly different approach to the impending ban on incandescent bulbs. When congress passed the legislation, I calculated my annual bulb usage, matched it against my age and life expectancy and bought a lifetime supply in case lots at wholesale while the prices were still low.
Total cost: $360! If I’m still here in 20 years I’ll consider switching. I find that the older I get, my focus is not so much on ROI as it is on thumbing my nose at the government.

John B (TX)
February 8, 2010 9:13 am

I don’t keep any of these lights on for 8 hours a day. Also, with a lower electric rate and current bulb price of $1.94, I get a payback of 20 years. I think I’ll wait for the prices to drop.
The better story was the use of LEDs in traffic lights. They aren’t warm enough to melt the snow off and were causing big problems. That law of unintended consequences will get you every time.

February 8, 2010 9:30 am

LED is a very good technology, I’ve been using some of the lights for my volunteer theater productions for a couple of years now (http://www.colorkinetics.com/). For this sort of work the 5W variety has helped tremendously both in direct energy draw and cooling costs considering that we replace several 575W lights with a 250W array.
The primary draw back on them is that they are a direct-view light. ie works great for down lighting, not so great for standard floor lamps. Progress has slowly been happening to make LEDs better for common household use including more color temperature selections, and reducing the amount of color splay.

Retired Engineer
February 8, 2010 9:32 am

One not mentioned problem – heat. Note the heatsink on the LED housing. I have used CREE LED’s in portable devices, work very well. But they get hot. A 7W 3 LED source without a heatsink can melt the soldered connections. BTDT What?!? How can that be?
Maximum efficacy for visible light sources is between 500 and 600 lumens per watt (I have seen both numbers, one on Wiki, questionable, the other in Photonics Spectra.) LED’s are around 70 lm/w, at least the ones you can buy. IC’s between 10 and 15 lm/w. So LED’s are much better.
Except that those clunky old IC’s dump the wasted energy mostly as mid and near IR into the room. LED’s do not. Very long wave IR, dumped out of the heatsink. Into the space surrounding the fixture. Depending on construction, a potential fire hazard. CFL’s are only a bit better. If you live in a colder climate, IC’s aren’t all that bad, as they do heat your house.
Not having big bucks to spend on newfangled stuff, I use CFL’s in the ceiling. Bought a couple of Sylvania 75W equivalents back in 2002, $25 ea, with a “7 year” life. Precisely on schedule, they died, within a week of each other. The replacements, from China, $7. Take forever to warm up or whatever they do to reach full brightness. Were it not for the cost, I would stay with Tom Edison’s version.
As for the EMI comment, I haven’t seen it. CFL’s and electronic ballasts run at 20-25 kHz, a simple metal enclosure keeps that, well, … enclosed.

Tim Hoffman
February 8, 2010 9:58 am

I installed ten Cree LR4 fixtures as task lights during my recent kitchen remodel, and they’re honestly the best lights I’ve ever installed. The LR4s are essentially the same as the LR6, but fit in a 5-inch can (yes, the “4” in LR4 really isn’t 4 inches.)
Believe me, I really wanted to put in halogen cans. But living in California, my hand was forced. CA Title 24 requires at least 1/2 the lighting wattage in kitchen areas to be from high efficiency luminaries.
Since I absolutely loathe every single CFL can I’ve ever seen (yes, even the current generation ones), I had to give these a shot. But at $200 *per can* (including light engine, can, and trim piece), they’re not for everyone.
The light color and quality is phenomenal. No one ever guesses they’re CFL cans, and they really look much like halogen. They’re bright, dim to a pretty low level (no, they won’t go to 1%) without any flicker, and just add a very pleasing light to the space.
If they were half this cost, I’d replace all my halogen cans in my home in a heartbeat.

Mike Monce
February 8, 2010 10:23 am

My house is almost entirely recessed IC lighting, of which except for the kitchen. are all on dimmers. That means 90% of our lighting is very rarely ever run at miximum (we like the more subdued lighting). At $98/fixture, it would cost us close to $4000 to go to those LEDs. Like Butch said, instead I have been stockpiling cases of 65W indoor floods bought for much much less cost; total right now around $200. Like him also, I figure we’ll be in this house maybe another 10 yers before retiring and moving out. I should have enough IC’s to last until then and maybe some left over for the new owners.
If one goes to the DoE energy info site, one can see that lighting is less than 5% of household energy use. Space heating is first at 50%, with appliances 2nd at 30%, and water heating 3rd at 17%. These are the places where the biggest energy conservation efforts should be aimed.

hotrod ( Larry L )
February 8, 2010 10:30 am

I have also seen most of my CFL failures with the Silvania bulbs. Their life time was so short (weeks) that I will no longer buy any of their CFL bulbs.
I went to a low light environment years ago. I have two main lights that I use most. Both have 10w (electrical) CFL bulbs in them, installed in torchiere style floor lamps. They provide low level general room illumination in the living room and the study where my computer is. In the winter time they run for perhaps 5 hours a night each on average. The bulbs themselves sell for $1.99 USD and I have not had any burn outs with these bulbs, so I have no clue how long they will last.
At 5 hours/night and 10W power consumption each, that is an electrical draw of 50 watt hours per night/lamp or about 1.5 KWH per light per month. At an average power cost of 0.12 cents per KWH they cost me about 18 cents a month each. It makes no sense for me to try to reduce my lighting power consumption lower than this level. I would burn up 10 months power cost in gasoline just driving to the store to buy a replacement bulb.
When I switched to this low level illumination, I also added some small local spot lighting for those occasions when I need/want higher local light levels for reading or some other task.
In most cases, these are using 27 w (electrical) warm white CFL bulbs with 5500K color temperature. I might turn these on for an average of 1- 2 hours a day while reading or doing some other close work. I may go several days without using them at all. At 2 hours a day (total for spot lighting), these lights would cost me 3.2 KWH of electrical power ( probably closer to half that except in the dark days of winter). Net cost for them would be 39 cents a month at most.
My kitchen in the apartment has a fixed long tube fluorescent fixture but it is only on for an hour or so each day when fixing dinner. With (2) 14W tubes that works out to about 0.8 KWH per month, making my power cost for the kitchen at 10 cents a month.
Throw in another 10 cents a month for the other room lights that get switched on for minutes a day, and my total power bill due to lighting is on the order of $0.80 USD per month — ie. totally insignificant compared to other uses.
I spend about 8 – 16 hours a day with my desk top computer on each day. It on average consumes 100W. At an average usage of 12 hours a day, that works out to 36 KWH per month or around $4.33 USD per month.
My last electrical power bill for the month of January was $32.27 and most of that was to run the blower on the furnace (average $1.16/day)
It makes no sense economically for me to try to cut my lighting power consumption below those levels. At the current cost of LED lighting, especially given I have a stash of spare CFL bulbs that will last me for many years at a minimum.
From a technological point of view it is nice to see the development of new more efficient designs, but even with today’s technology, you can reduce your lighting power requirements to completely insignificant levels with a small change in life style and a change to low level general illumination augmented with natural light and spot lighting for tasks that require good light levels.

David S
February 8, 2010 10:48 am

Butch (08:56:55) :
“I find that the older I get, my focus is not so much on ROI as it is on thumbing my nose at the government.”
I gotta love ya for that one!

George E. Smith
February 8, 2010 11:48 am

Thanks for the “How To” essay Anthony. It saves the tinkerers a lot of time and grief to know there are commercially available solutions.
Cree is certainly one of the big(gest) players in the LED Illumination Industry, so it is nice to see an actual shovel ready solution from them.
The statndard peak of the Photopic Luminosity curve is 680 Lumens per Watt, at something around 555 nm in the Grellow region.
It is known that the very highest efficiency “White” light reaches 400 Lumens per Watt for a monochromatic pair of sources at 448 nm (blue) and 568.7 nm yellow; but even though that source is visually white; it isn’t a usable white light “illuminant”, since it contains no other spectral components. It can at most be used as a flashlight.
The most common “single chip” white light LEDs use a Blue Gallium Indium Nitride LED emitting at about 460 nm. This wavelength matches a very strong absorption line in Cerium doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet; which is a somewhat broad yellow emitting phosphor. The resulting yellow emission plus the residual of the 460 blue, not absorbed, is balanced to result in a “white” overall emission. Well yes it is a rather cold white, and is noticably deficient in any read emission, so it is not a particularly good whit elight either. Some makers add a red phosphor to spike up that part of the spectrum, to make a warmer white, that gives a better color rendition for ordinary scenes, and objects.
The three color LED approach is another way to do it; and does offer some advantages; particularly tho possibility of color tuning the final light to suit your mood.
The big problem for LEDS is not so much efficiency, but the ability to make High power devices. the light is produced in a very small volume, and small surfgace area, and a lot of waste heat has to be extracted to keep the emission efficiency from degrading too much.
Another problem is that LEDs are current operated devices, with a forward Voltage that is a Logarithmic function of the current; and unfortunately a negative coefficient function of temperature.
In low power indicator light usage of LEDs, it is simple to run the LED from a current source that may be just a resistor limited voltage source. Thgat unfortunately is a great waste of power in the driver circuit, which negates the luminous efficiency of the LEDs.
So high efficiency driver circuits are a big area of technology for LED power usage, to retain the hard won luminous efficiency.
But it is coming; and it certainly is the way to go.
And like Anthony; I have always been in favor of efficient use of energy resources; or anything else. When you grow up in the middle of a World War, you don’t take waste as an acceptible way to go.
CFLs are also a huge source of RFI, that sooner or later is going to become simply unacceptible. The Mercury problem is also a big negative for CFLs
Ordinary cylindrical fluorescent tubes; just happen to have a very useful optical geometry, that can in principle be optimally shaped using non-imaging optical concentrators, to restrict ALL of the emitted light to a carefully controlled output angular beam; without the use of egg crates, and other energy wasting baffles. So far, nobody seems to be designing industrial fluorescent fixtures using the ideal CPC optical configurations.
LEDs have reached the 100 Lumen per Watt point; but they are still a long way from the theoretical 400 L/Watt maximum. I believe that those in the industry think they can eventually get to 200 Lumens per Watt. That’s pretty damn good. I can still remember back in 1965 in St Louis Mo at the Monsanto Chemical Central Research labs, looking through a microscope in a darkened room, at the dull red 640 nm glow from a primitive Gallium Arsenide Phosphide LED wafer. Nowadays; LEDs are subject to emission safety standards similar to those for laser sources; to prevent eye damage.
The Aluminum Indium Gallium Phosphide amber LEDs, are so bright, you can do real damage to your eyes if you look directly at a typical 1 Watt packaged lamp.

February 8, 2010 11:48 am

I see that Amazon.com has the following listing:
“LED 60 Watt Incandescent Replacement: Cree Super Bright LED Light Bulb- Natural White” $58.99, ships and sold by EagleLight LEDs.
This appears to be the highest replacement wattage available. Pricing seems to be about one dollar per replacement wattage. I believe they need to reduce the cost by an order of magnitude (10) before these will become popular.

keith in hastings UK
February 8, 2010 12:23 pm

Did I read somewhere that CFL alter the power factor (which I dimly recall is to do with how AC current lags or leads the AC voltage) so that the power station has to make more power than the rating on the lamp? presumably lost in transmission.
If so, the saving in CO2 is less than one might think, and the hidden costs will go onto everyone’s bills…. icandescent – lamp users cross subsidising CFL users I suppose.
Don’t know about LED’s … anyone?

February 8, 2010 1:12 pm

keith in hastings UK (12:23:26) :
Did I read somewhere that CFL alter the power factor (which I dimly recall is to do with how AC current lags or leads the AC voltage) so that the power station has to make more power than the rating on the lamp? presumably lost in transmission.

On account of a highly capacitive load they present perhaps; this should offset some of those highly inductive motor loads though, e.g. pumps, A/C compressors et al however.
There is another aspect though: with a peak-detect rectifier (series or diode bridge directly into a capacitor) the highest voltage of the applied line voltage is ‘routed’, detected or ‘peak’ rectified into said capacitor and therefore current only flows when the AC line shows above 150 or 160 V peak (120 V RMS line voltage yields 1.414*RMS = 170 V pk). These peak detect/rectified voltages then drive an electronic ballast circuit that will partially discharge the capacitor, which will then be ‘recharged’ on the peak of the next incoming 1/2 cycle of the line voltage.
For an absolute unity power factor any ‘loads’ on the AC power line should strive for utilization of the EMF over the entire cycle of the applied sinusoidal 50 or 60 Hz cycle. Think about the generator on the far end generating the electric current: the torque applied by the prime mover (be it steam turbine or water wheel) would like to see an evenly applied ‘load’ around the entire 360 degree movement of the drive shaft, not a pull or a tug just at two points 180 degrees apart. Three phase AC circuits come close to providing a uniform load to the entire 360 degrees of shaft rotation, but, there are still areas where the torque ‘drops off’ because the power factor is not ‘unity’ because the load is not uniform over the entire cycle.

February 8, 2010 1:19 pm

Retired Engineer (09:32:52) :
As for the EMI comment, I haven’t seen it. CFL’s and electronic ballasts run at 20-25 kHz, a simple metal enclosure keeps that, well, … enclosed.

Think: square wave generated by fact-switching FET switch in the electronic ballast; there is noise from some of those ‘bulbs’ into the shortwave bands … given the size of the noise maker itself, it must be present differentially on the two-conductor line cord … a really GOOD sq wave will have odd harmonics quite a ways above the fundamental ‘switching frequency’.
Also, make note that some of the smaller, more efficient switching power supplies today run at 100’s of kHz up into the MHz range (really small, light-weight magnetics can be had in the MHz range).

February 8, 2010 1:21 pm

Wait until you see how fast these burn out.

February 8, 2010 1:25 pm

vigilantfish (06:53:58) :
I see that nobody made it to the bottom of my first post. Incandescent bulbs are going to be outlawed in Ontario in 2011, and my query about substitutes for incandescent bulbs in ovens, appliances, and oven hoods has not been responded to. I am not aware that exceptions will be made for these applications. Are there any non-incandescent bulbs that are safe and reliable alternatives?

Apply that same question to industrial apps where the bulb mounts in a ceramic high-temperature base and is enclosed in a thick protective glass enclosure which is then surrounded by metal grille-work; they have NO air circulation about them and furthermore mount base-up!!

February 8, 2010 1:36 pm

Tomcat (04:57:09) :
One of the major draw backs to the CFL bulbs is that they give off a very powerfull EM field, I took them out of my house becuase I have young children.

Have you felt, seen or measured it?
Do recall there is a steady 1/2 Gauss field present at most points around on the earth due to a moving molten core as well (it is what makes a magnetic compass work) …

February 8, 2010 1:48 pm

Steve J (23:50:31) :
Lets get to the bottom line.
6) The EPA is stuffing CFL’s down our throats, but they are fooling themselves once more (like MTBE), CFL’s have about a 50% power factor and require an increase in generating capacity

This is easily measurable and so should be put to bed …
Bear in mind, IF they work out to be highly capacitive THAT sort of reactive power is already placed at various points by the powerco for the matter of correcting for the large inductive (and opposite) power factor ‘motor’ loads e.g. as A/C compressors …

Retired Engineer
February 8, 2010 1:57 pm

_Jim (13:19:17) : RFI/EMI
True, but any device that uses “digital techniques” above 15 kHz has to meet FCC Class B requirements for residential use. Which are quite strict. I have CFL’s and e-ballast T8’s in my shop, and the spectrum analyzer hasn’t thrown up yet. As others have pointed out, LED’s are current mode devices. Their power supplies must also have HF switching circuits to control and drop line voltage down to what the array needs. Similar power levels.
Most of the problems I have seen with CFL’s are in the drive circuit. Flicker (faulty switch or dimmer) kills the circuit before the bulb. Not sure why LED’s wouldn’t have the same problem. It’s not like they use JAN-TXV qualified semiconductors.

David S
February 8, 2010 2:00 pm

Those puppies are pretty expensive, so it looks like I have to wait until the price comes down or I win the lottery. Until then I’ll use the CFLs, where they work. The corkscrew CFLs produce 800 lumens and consume 13 watts so the lumen per watt ratio is the same as the LED (650 lumens and 10.5 watts).

Sean Houlihane
February 8, 2010 2:01 pm

Shame they don’t seem to have made it to the UK yet – and still very expensive. I’m looking for a replacement for a small halogen track in the middle of a room – could accommodate a 2x3ft heatsink, but everything I can find is still using standard GU10 fittings.

February 8, 2010 2:36 pm

Retired Engineer (13:57:55) :
True, but any device that uses “digital techniques” above 15 kHz has to meet FCC Class B requirements for residential use. Which are quite strict.

A “Class B” requirement is not all that strict; there is also ‘product’ out there that does not meet spec at all (think: black-market imported stuff; see Chinese-made batt charger story below this post). And the number is anything over 9 kHz BTW. What are you looking at with your HP 8595E or a Rhode FSEB series Spec An that it isn’t “throwing up”? Let’s perform a test on a level playing ground with a LISN and see what the CFL is really generating.
Some product makes to attempt to comply whatsoever, witness: RFI “Front loading washers” … The Whirlpool Duet seems to be a front-runner in this category …
Then there are the Low voltage quartz halogen lights that use so-called “electronic transformers” that have been documented to produce ‘noise’.
A few years ago I tracked a Chinese-made 12V battery charger which was tearing up (for me) 20 Meters from half a block away … NO FCC sticker/Part 15 compliance noted whatsoever … guy was also wondering why his TV was occasionally being ‘torn up’ and it turned out to be this 12V China-made batt charger …

February 8, 2010 2:37 pm

Vigilantfish Wrote:
Martin Hale,
You should go into a side business making LED fixtures for amateur home indoor gardeners like myself who are electronically challenged. Reading about your experience has given me the idea that I may soon be able to afford a proper indoor herb garden, currently impossible due to lack of windows facing south and the expense of running grow-lights. I just need to find a source. On the other hand, hope dope growers are too stupid to catch on to this! Great post!
The fellow from whom I bought my kits is no longer making them. He used to sell a package with the circuit board, the LEDs, the resistors and capacitors for $40. Half an hour with a solder gun and you had a completed unit. Too bad he’s moved on to bigger, more powerful lights.
OK – with regard to a source for LED plant lights, go to your favourite search engine and enter “LED plant light”. You’ll be rewarded with a long list of companies which sell a variety of products. There are a bunch of round fixtures which are known collectively as UFOs. They usually describe themselves as 90 watts but, owing to the way LEDs create light, they’re really only 70-ish watts. These UFO-type lights tend to cost $150 – $200. They’d be adequate for the kind of little herbs garden you mention.
The next group up are the 100-125 watt fixtures. Procyon 100 is one brand name that’s common. It’s American made and is a very decent fixture. It has 56 CREE LEDs and is maybe 15″ by 7″, give or take a bit. The downside is that it’ll set you back at least $400. Of course, it’s rated at 50,000 hours, so you’d get 5 years, 9 months continuous use out of it.
Above these lights are the 300w class. Most of these use very high power LEDs which actually need cooling. Very high-tech and futuristic looking; very expensive. Plan on dropping at least a kilobuck, if not $1300 for one.
Oh, and about the pot growers – when your hobby is hydroponics, you get used to rubbing elbows with the pot crowd – it’s just a fact of life.

February 8, 2010 2:53 pm

thecomputerguy (20:46:44) :
You have to pay close attention with the calculator on that site, because it lists incandescent bulbs at $5.40, with a life of 2000 hours. Real light bulbs are much cheaper than and last more like 5000 hours, so the calculations are not accurate.

Maybe; IFF (if and only iff) you can switch them on during the zero-crossing portion of the incoming AC voltage …
I have a hall light with an incandescent that I can’t remember when I changed it last: that bulb is controlled by a BSR X10 wall-switch (which turns on at the zero-line voltage crossing point) … by contrast the bathroom light fixtures veritably eats incandescent bulbs, no zero-crossing switching with a regular switch and the filament resistance REALLY allows a lot of current to flow if the switch makes contact WHEN the line voltage is at its peak of about 170 Volts (for a nominal 120 V RMS circuit) …

Steve Schaper
February 8, 2010 3:03 pm

I think that a Baysian pattern of red-green-green-blue should work fairly well. Nearly all camera CCDs and CMOS have that pattern of receptors.
I do wonder a little, though. These presumably put out specific frequencies of light, whereas our eyes see a whole range. Surely that is going to have some effect.
My only experience with an LED lightbulb saw it last about a month, instead of the 7-10 years it was supposed to last.
CFLs induce migraines and epileptic seizures.

George E. Smith
February 8, 2010 3:07 pm

“”” Spector (11:48:50) :
I see that Amazon.com has the following listing:
“LED 60 Watt Incandescent Replacement: Cree Super Bright LED Light Bulb- Natural White” $58.99, ships and sold by EagleLight LEDs.
This appears to be the highest replacement wattage available. Pricing seems to be about one dollar per replacement wattage. I believe they need to reduce the cost by an order of magnitude (10) before these will become popular. “””
Well that isn’t too likely to happen. Anybody who thinks that a light bulb that lasts about 700 hours max, if you are lucky, and puts out a lot less light in the process, should sell for the same price, as one that lasts tens of thousands of hours, just isn’t buying on value.
If the government was to apply the same “subsidy” concept that they apply to solar cell power sources, to cut the price of LED bulbs, they would get a lot more action.
But then I am not in favor of the taxpayers being asked to subsidze anything; including solar cell energy. If iyt is going to replace squished dinosaurs, it will have to do it on its own merits.

February 8, 2010 3:19 pm

I was recently, within the last couple of years, medically retired from the military thanks to some Chinese made mortar fragments.
What does a broken retiree do in his spare time?
He renovates his home, a little bit at a time. In regards to this post, the up front costs for installing this kind of lighting where I currently have IC housings is prohibitively expensive, in fact, ludicrously so.
For those with incomes to spare, good for you!

February 8, 2010 4:03 pm

My only question is how do they do when it’s cold?
Like below freezing to -40C cold?
I have outdoor lights and an unheated garage and if they aren’t incandescent they don’t work worth a hot damn as soon as the temperature gets colder.
The fluorescents just sit and weakly glow. I can’t use my flashlight to test because the batteries freeze and if I keep the seperately they move heat when I drop them in.
Anyone know?

February 8, 2010 4:24 pm

Martin Hale:
Thanks for the extra info. I’ll be looking into this!

February 8, 2010 4:49 pm

Don Shaw (14:56:11) wrote:
“As an Engineer, another question comes to mind re the claimed economic benefits. Aren’t the benefits exaggerated for those of us that live in locations that need to heat our homes a large percentage of the year?
“Doesn’t the energy “wasted” from the heat from conventional bulbs really replace the fuel we have to burn to heat the home? Of course the summer time is different when we use the AC but that is the period when we use our lighting demand is less.”
Good point. Politically incorrect incandescent bulbs do have a Wintertime role to play. If you live in a climate that’s too cold for an above-ground heat pump to work efficiently, and if a geothermal system is not feasible for some reason, and if you don’t have access to natural gas, you may be stuck with old-fashioned electric heating. If so, incandescent hall lights should be as energy-efficient as the old-fashioned electric heating. (Obviously they’re going to supplement the heating system, rather than supplanting it.). Most of the energy output of an incandescent light bulb is the IR (heat). The small portion that’s in the visible range is absorbed by the walls and carpeting, and then re-emitted as IR.
The upshot: Incandescent bulbs in the hall can be a dual-use technology during the Winter. In the Summer, it’d be prudent to switch over to the twisty CFLs, so that the air conditioning is not fighting with the lighting. 🙂
The living room and bedrooms are a different story. A significant fraction of the radiant energy from an incandescent bulb goes straight out the window. In terms of energy efficiency, CFLs would be better in these rooms–even during the Winter.

February 8, 2010 5:11 pm

My brother sends this link:
Looks like all sorts of LEDs, including some that fit in standard lamps and fixtures. Not cheap, but if we can keep the damned government out of it, the market should bring the prices down soon.
/Mr Lynn

George E. Smith
February 8, 2010 5:26 pm

“”” Fred2 (16:03:57) :
My only question is how do they do when it’s cold?
Like below freezing to -40C cold?
I have outdoor lights and an unheated garage and if they aren’t incandescent they don’t work worth a hot damn as soon as the temperature gets colder.
The fluorescents just sit and weakly glow. I can’t use my flashlight to test because the batteries freeze and if I keep the seperately they move heat when I drop them in.
Anyone know? “””
Well the LEDs themselves, just eat up all the cold they can muster. The efficiency of light outpur goes up as the temperature goes down. Now the driving circuitry can mess that all up of course.
One of the biggest problems of large arrays of high power LEDs is getting their self heat out of the middle of the array; in simple arrangements, the surrounding LEDs can lower the efficiency due to heating.
But when they are in relativley large assemlied devices like Anthony show here, that effect is minimised.
When we demonstrated out first vanilla red GaAsP LEDs in 1970 at the LA Wescon show, we had a set up to actually dip the lighted LED into liquid Nitrogen to show how bright they got. The amazing thing was that they didn’t just shatter due to differential thermal expansion problems. suffice it to say, that that is not the recommended operating conditions; but the LED die itself just loves low temperatures.
Forward Voltage typically drops about 2 mV per deg C at a fixed current; per junction, so sometimes it is necessary to temperature compensate driving circuits; but the lighting systems designers are all up on that.
Of course if you lower the temperature a lot, the band gap tends to increase, so the wavelength will shift to shorter wavelength.
That can be a big problem for yellow lights since the eye only recognizes about 5 nm wavelength range as yellow, as distinct from “Gold” or “Grellow”.

February 8, 2010 5:50 pm

Thanks for the link. However, they seem to be confused as to how much light a 60w incadescent bulb puts out:
Uses only 6 watts comparable to a 60 watt light bulb… up to 340 lumen output.
vs. (from Sylvania website, Halogen bulb listing)
43W – direct replacement for 60W incandescent…785 lumens
35W – direct replacement for 45W incandescent…310 lumens
vs. (from GE website, CFL bulb)
Wattage 9…Equivalent Wattage 40 W…Mean Lumens 360
Wattage 13…Equivalent Wattage 60 W…Mean Lumens 750
(I could not find technical specifications on incadescent bulbs, I guess nobody wants to admit to making them anymore!)
Obviously, their 6w LED bulb is nowhere near as bright as a 60w incandescent bulb or their “energy saver” equivilents. They are closer to the output of a 40w bulb. And in terms of lumens per watt, not even as efficient at the 9w GE CFL!

Steve J
February 8, 2010 9:06 pm

This high tech stuff is very sexy but-
The SUN is free and… you can not buy that much power anywhere.
Think of all the fun with optical tricks you can do to get that light exactly where you want it and how you want it to look.
Should keep you physics types happy for a while-
Hint- Keep it very simple –
I have found white stucco walls, white gravel, and white painted reflectors to be quite effective.
Anthony – your 2″ foam on your whole house fan does not go above R-13 – should be R-53 in Chico
Stack ventilation works better, faster, and its free! – the keys are 4:1 ratio – intake to exhaust and a height differential of 14′ plus depending upon air density (yes those pesky clouds need more punch)-
BTW – if you google (Bing?) – Stack ventilation you may find some weakly researched master thesis work that states it does not work in 8′ – duh! – does your fireplace/woodstove work without a chimney?
Have fun and you will be amazed about the results.

Derek H
February 9, 2010 4:34 am

Lots of LED bulbs that fit existing fixtures (from candelbra bases to floodlights) on Amazon, just search for “led bulb”. The problem is that you can’t see a spectrum on them so you have to take their output on faith. I’m glad you raised the color issue Anthony.
I’ll be ordering some more LED bulbs to replace the outside security lights (currently CFLs) since they’re on so much. I probably have a 10 year supply of incandescents for inside since I don’t use the lights much (computer monitor and TV provide most of the light I need at night except when I’m puttering about in the kitchen or reading a book).

February 9, 2010 7:13 am

If this has already been said, my apologies.
Personally, I would avoid using a crimp splice… Those things are known to get hot and fail for many reasons. Judging from the size of the heat sink I am guessing the fixture gets rather toasty, so a marrette (wire nut) might be a better choice if possible. Soldering is even better, but I can see the DIY problems with that. Regardless, if it were my home I would not use a crimp connection of any kind anywhere in the wiring. Too great a fire risk IMHO.
Thanks for the review! Very good read.

February 9, 2010 8:15 am

Nice light, but maybe it would be better to donate the $98 to conservative candidates who pledge to roll back crazy laws — like the ban on Edison lamps — before over regulation ruins California and the rest of the United States. You can buy a lot of Edison lamps for $98 and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re driving the wacko environmentalists crazy. Don’t go along to get along. Fight back. Screw in a light bulb today!

February 9, 2010 11:52 am

Thanks for the article Anthony as it gives me some ideas about using LED’s in my house. Living in Kamloops we do get cold weather although usually not much below -20 C. LED’s will function very well at these temperatures unlike fluorescent lamps which just give a dim glow at the ends (the long tube types) and CFLs don’t work. I have a workshop that is unheated unless I’m in it and during the winter I have to chop kindling using an LED windup flashlight for light and after an hour or so the wood stove will have warmed up the fluorescent lamps enough so that they will come on. I have motion sensitive lights all around my house and will have to ensure I have a 20 year supply of incandescent bulbs for these as only these, or LED’s will work in the winter.
The other thing that doesn’t get mentioned much about CFL’s is that they are the only consumer product that will fail in an explosive manner. I’ve had 4 CFL’s self destruct with one of them showing burn marks on the outside. Taking these units apart revealed that the failed part appeared to be an electrolytic capacitor in every case and there was considerable scorching of the PC board and adjacent components around the capacitor. These electrolytic capacitor failures are eerily reminiscent of the exploding electrolytics problems on computer motherboards in 2000-2001 and I lost 3 motherboards to this failure with one having actually caught on fire but the fire was contained within the computer tower case. I no longer use CFL’s and all of my fluorescent lighting is the long tube lights which I really like and they last for a very long time unlike CFL’s.
While I like conventional fluorescents they are electrically extremely noisy. When I worked in electrophysiology we had the lighting in the experimental room changed to IC and turned off the fluorescent lighting in adjacent parts of the lab as the interference at 60 Hz and 120 Hz was incredible even with our attempts to make the experimental room into a partial Faraday cage (there were two doors going into it and we did need AC power). We were recording signals that were <1 mV and this gives one a real appreciation of how much electrical noise surrounds us.
My only LED lighting now is some 1W bulbs that I got on sale and I have them installed at various places around my house and leave them on constantly and have wired them without switches. They are barely visible during the day but provide quite adequate illumination at night. I have an upper deck which is good for astronomical observations and I've got this lit up with a 1 W red LED which lets one see where one is walking but doesn't destroy night vision.