Background

Ok, back in November 2012 I stumbled into my local 'big-box' home improvement store with an extra $1,000 USD to burn and without any research or pre-planning I purchased 35 LED bulbs to replace my incandescent and CFL bulbs. I was way tired of continually replacing a couple CFLs time and time again and the 25,000-50,000 hours of lifetime sparked my interest and put a $1K hole in my wallet. At a burn time average of 3-hours per day that is 22-45 years of life. Ok, I am in.

With my 35 LED SSL (Solid State Lighting) bulbs and $885 UDS later, I exit the big blue home improvement store and headed the 2 miles back to my Plano, Texas home to begin changing out light bulbs. And, to later find out a few dimmers will need to be replaced as well.

You see a dimmable LED does not mean it will work on your existing incandescent light bulb and may be the cause of my premature CFL bulb failure. CFL and LED lights require a different dimmer - so, be forewarned. The conversion to SSL (solid state lighting) requires a lithe more than than screwing in a few bulbs. It also lead me to the LeGrand Adorn light switches (subject a future blog).

Outside of the dimmer issues. I had two additional issues: 1.) LED light flicker on 4 recessed can lights in the living room; and 2.)  RF Interference: Garage Door Opener.

Mostly, I purchased the Sylvania Ultra LED and a few Phillips LED bulbs. Like I said earlier. I did not pre-plan or do any online research - it's only a light bulb right?

Yes, but why do you think you are paying $25 (now six months later $15) for a LED lamp/bulb vs a $1.50 for an incandescent? Because, I have learned (post purchase), there is a whole lot going on inside the new LED A-19, 8-watt (40-watt replacement) bulb - 6, 8 10 LEDs, power driver, heat dissipation, RF shielding, etc...

Results

Post installation of my 35 LEDs I am VERY happy with my home's lighting. Combined with my other Home Energy Projects (Nest Thermostat, new windows, R30 attic Insulation, etc..) my home energy bill for my 2,000 sq ft Northeast Texas home was less than $95.00 for the month of February 2012.

I have not changed out ONE light bulb in the past 6-months. A first for me living in this home the past 3 years.

Quality of lighting: Much improved over CFL and VERY, very satisfied with my LED efforts~!

Now it is time for me to tackle the 20 or so 50w Halogen bulbs in the home - and, trust me, I have been doing a little reading before I jump into spending another $400 to replace those.

Recommendation:

With A-19 60w-replacement LED Lamps (bulbs) approaching the $10-15 USD price range - go ahead and start saving energy. With the 3-hour/day burn rate you will be looking at a less than 12-month pay back. (just do your research - the cheapest bulb my not be your best investment - Various LED A-19 bulbs)

Good Luck~!

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Comment by Dennis Heidner on March 29, 2013 at 11:52pm

Bob Blanchette,

Prior to changing over to nearly 100% LED's... I had been switching to CFL's.  Everyone in the house hated them! Slow to come on (cooler inside the house the slower they light), the color was bad, they didn't last as long as projected, dimming killed them, the power factor (power line quality) was horrible, they do contain mecury.  The only good you could say about them was they were cheaper than LED's and they used much less power than incandescents.  While they still cost less - I am seeing the price difference disappear ESPECIALLY on circuits with dimmers.  It looks like LED's will last at least three times the life of the equivalent CFL's (in my use).  That does a lot to equalize the cost comparisons.

I've tried a variety of LED's and as Dennis McCarthy suggested - the non-box ones seem to be better.  However  Sylvania (OSRAM) should have been a reasonable choice - and they are also sold at electrical only supply stores.      I've been experimenting with the Feit LED's -- in part because they are cheap.  If they hold up (two years from now)  that says a lot about the current generation.

Philips makes some pretty good bulbs and T8 LED replacements.  The biggest problems on the T8's that I've seen is it is hard to find fixtures WITHOUT ballasts.  The LED T8's do not require a ballast, so buying a new T8 fixture implies that you are going to pull and toss out a new ballast.  Even if you recycle them -- it is still a waste.

Early on in the bathrooms I had used a mixture of incandescent and CFLs looking for better light balance AND quick on time.  I don't worry about the slow response of the CFL's with LED's  and the newer LED's are much warmer and a better CRI.

I had also changed all the night lights to LED's.  Most of the early LEDs really could not produce "white" light.  Instead chip would emit UV and a layer of phosphorus would convert that to the desired color.  The UV would eventually "age" this conversion layer -- resulting in night lights with a purple tint.  That purple is really UV that is now visible because the brighter "white" is no more.  Not really efficient - new generation of LED's are more direct emitting - they experience less age drooping.

One of the best places I discovered for specialty (landscaping, boats, cars, strange applications, etc) is "superbrightleds.com".  Note - the prices may not be cheap, the bulbs may not be pretty, but they do have the wide variety for many applications AND when you are experimenting - it made a good place to go look for bulbs.    I've replaced old dome lights in cars with LED's  and they even have LED replacements for the old "Malibu" landscaping lights.  

I have indeed spent a lot of money on LED's... but then I am also into doing science projects.  I've explained to friends, school kids that my house is a science project.  :-) 

CFL mostly fail over time as the mercury  vapor in the bulb is deposited as a thin film onto the glass - thereby elminating the ability to carry the electrical current and produce UV.  The black area you see on CFLs is the deposited mercury.  Not much... mercury, but it is there.  I suspect the only reason CFLs are not banned because of the mercury - is that switching back to incandescent bulbs would increase power generation requirements - which in turn is often more coal -- which also results in mercury emissions.  The lessor of two evils...  

Comment by Tom DelConte on March 29, 2013 at 10:44am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIB2zX1CgCs world's longest light bulb is not an LED or CFL!

Comment by Dale Stephens on March 29, 2013 at 5:01am

Dennis & Dennis,

Thanks for the discussion~! My landscape lights are due to be replaced soon with LEDs...

I will look into the Sylvania recall and make my visit to the local Electrical supply house - but they are not real 'consumer' friendly. It has been my experience, unless you are not an 'electrician' and just some Joe walking in off the street, they really do not want to deal with you - but, i will make the visit.

Again, Thanks~!

Comment by Bob Blanchette on March 29, 2013 at 4:23am

Dennis were you really running those old Edison bulbs prior to switching to LED? I just don't see most of the people who are willing to drop $15 or so LED running Edison bulbs up to this time. I am intrigued by the new Cree bulbs at HD, the price per lumen is getting to the point I might try some for my outdoor fixtures. Due to high hours CFL's tend to go dim/blacken over time, maybe the LED's will fare better.

LED is great for the kids bedroom "night light" 3W 250 lumen Phillips bulb. Since a 15W Edison is considered a "specialty bulb" They cost about $1 each and only last 6 months. The cost of bulbs is more of a concern for me in that installation. The cooler operation and "unbreakability" of the LED are great safety factors for the kids rooms. There are no CFL's sold at the big box stores in the 250 lumen range which prompted me to try LED. The LED looks no different than the 15W Edison it replaced. w/o looking at the bulb itself.

Comment by Dennis Heidner on March 28, 2013 at 10:49pm

Dennis McCarthy,  good point the new 2012/2013 LED bulbs are in my opinion so far superior to the 2010/2011 bulbs, that I've been pulling them.  Amazing difference.  And the new LED's even the dimmable versions generate much less heat than a comparable CFL.  Cree has some nice stuff coming out.

I wouldn't even think of unscrewing an hot incandescent and holding it in my hand.  I've made that mistake with CFL's and will not repeat it.  But I was amazed recently that I could actually remove some of the LED lights even after they had been on for 15 or 20 minutes - and hold them in my hand.  Warm but not hot.  The new L series bulbs are vastly improved.  And even while I am not fond of Feit,  their new generation LED's are far better than any of the CFL's they made.  I was floored to see the progress in their (Feit) quality improvement within just a few years.  Oh yeah,  if I had tried removing the LED and holding it a couple of years ago -- it hurt! Been there did it.... more more careful;  the improvement in LED's  with the simple hand test is noticeable.

I also have been using (experimenting) with the LED lights for about eight years.  The early ones were VERY expensive and marginal.

About seven years ago I switched my landscaping lights to LED bulbs (12V), they are still working great - no drooping or fading.  Those landscaping lights are probably coming up close to 15,000 actual hours on them.  AND they were only marginally more expensive than the "off the shelf" 12V incandescent bulbs.  I was able to pull the plug on about three 12V outdoor transformers and switch down to a single smaller transformer. 

I am not convinced IPV6 bulbs will be the wave of the future... at least not for the bulk of the homes.  Few homeowners are able to configure even their cable/dsl modems with a lot of tech support.   

FWIW,  I saw A19  40W (480? lumen) bulbs at Costco today for under $7.  They were Feit - which as noted I disliked - but quality has improved a lot, so I might try a couple to compare with the L-bulbs.   A similar Lemnis bulb four years ago was about $59 each.  Of the three I bought then,  only one remains working.  The other two I believe failed because of problems with their power drivers.   The bulbs that failed probably had less than 5000 hours on them.  Not the 20,000 claimed in warranties.  As for trying to claim on the warranty -- I saved the receipts, boxes (I really did) and in the end --- I gave up. They were quite unresponsive --- probably too many failures to deal with :-(

signed, the other Dennis.

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on March 28, 2013 at 9:38pm

Alright a combination of guys named Dennis disseminating SSL news- yay

regarding this recall - the number was 554,000 it was primarily the Ecosmart

LSG rebadged cheaply made inferior products _I just recently posted a piece

critical of these garbage products earlier this month here- entitled I never had anything good to say

about crappy retrofits- it goes into detail about why I'm semi conflicted in my SSL

advocacy -

 

  The LED retrofits that the general public see & interact with are different than the class of SSL

that I deal with (for the most part)- things like products that were designed in 2012 and that were

 made this year using 2013 model iterations of chips or - lamps that put out 140 lumens per a watt -

most LEDs are at 60Lm/W these days (at least the ones at big boxes- ) so theres that  little difference.

So it's accurate to say I'm conflicted or that I'm ready to move past SSL thats using edison screw bases.

I do realize it comes off as elitist - but come on I've been extolling SSLs virtues since the mid ninties,

and I am recognized by colleagues as being knowledgeable - so if Not me Who should be talking

up the next generation? Believe me if you held out 18 more months till you totally retrofitted your bldgs lights -

you would be amazed at the value proposition as  stuff thats out there now is adequete-

some is pretty good gets even better - the stuff that I want - that anyone would want  but won't be available for a few more  seasons- like 200 lumen per a watt output from newer iteration lamps & 2015 model yr stuff ( commercially availble) which

will have addressability + intuitive controls built in. They won't be limited to a single SET CCT and they

won't look as bizzarre/ feel as heavy as some of the offerings that appear at big box stores

I  know I've stated how electrical supply places or lighting product distributors are where you want to buy your

LED lights from NOT A BIG BOX store . That usually isn't heeded because the big box promises lower prices

or because of geographical convienience. That kind of indiscretion will have last years early adopters heading

back to HD for a refund - I urge doing your due diligence and buying premium stuff at places where they can

educate and guide the consumer.  Places where they can tell a buyer about the products architecture or

thermal management traits. Those folks who bought LEDs predicated on the economics ( essentially the

radiometrics) but who didn't investigate other aspects of these "industry embarrasments" may very well be

going back in to get refunds on these- a better scheme do your homework select winners and accept that

unless you want to upgrade to newer more sophisticated LEDs that the stuff you do choose well should serve

your needs for 9 yrs.

Comment by Dennis Heidner on March 28, 2013 at 8:47pm

There is an active recall for certain Sylvania (and light sciences) LED's.   You may want to check the bulbs you bought.  Your package looks like the package for some that are being recalled.

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2013/LED-Light-Bulbs-Recalled-by-Lig...

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on March 28, 2013 at 8:41pm

Bob

I did indicate that the particular formula was for incandescent -

and as for your contention on use numbers they

will vary but over all CFL's commanded 19.5% of the lamp market

at their height of popularity. That number peaked 3-4 yrs back. Your

general tone is skeptical of both information that exists and the realities

of LEDs at this point. Yes there is room for improvements with both

the photometric and radiometric performance - but these two facts are

relevant- LEDs and SSL product are devoid of  neurotoxins

 A big + for my family , As we try and avoid neurotoxins around my home.

 

A using SSL to do the task of lighting is more logical - - would Spock use LEDs or CFLs ?

 

It would be an unprecedented answer if you could refute - with citations, or scientific facts

 that those two claims I just made were inaccurate.

Comment by Bob Blanchette on March 28, 2013 at 8:17pm

CFL and LED are close on lumen per watt, so no significant difference in HVAC loads. Notice LED doesn't even try to compare to CFL (their true competition)  in advertising literature. They are still comparing to 100 year old technology. Most people looking to spend $10-15 on 1 lamp already have/had CFL. The typical LED buyer moved past incandescent years ago...

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on March 28, 2013 at 7:57pm

Bob

 

 Regarding that request since the info for most any product IS available - I would fault brick and mortar

sellers for not capitalizing on their inherent advantage over  sales outlets that CAN'T quantify a lighting

products spectral attributes- CRI ought to be listed for flourescent or incandesent - but it's an inadequete

metric for defining tri color co-ordinates ( its codification and implementation very soon)

As for the price / ROI I don't know that your calculations take into account the HVAC load factor -

though the industry guideline is for every 3 watts of kWs used for lighting you need 1 watt to mitigate

the impact of incandescent- since CFL use is around 20% this formula and it's ramifications -

 

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