Efficient LED Light Bulbs For The Home

C. Crane Geobulb 3 LED Light Bulb

C. Crane Geobulb 3 LED Home Light Bulb

LED light bulbs have some huge advantages over incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. But they perform differently, so here’s your guide to understanding LED bulbs so you can enjoy their benefits and play to their strengths.

LED bulb designs are constantly evolving, and they keep getting cheaper and more user-friendly. They’re energy-efficient, durable, and they contain no hazardous materials like mercury. But if you walked through your home today and replaced every single incandescent or fluorescent bulb with an LED, you might be disappointed with some of them. Consider the following factors to make sure you’re getting the most out of your LED light bulb upgrades.

Point The Light Where You Need It
Even when an array of light emitting diodes is packed into a “bulb” shaped casing, they still create a somewhat directional light source. This usually means that an LED light bulb will cast more light from the top end of the bulb than from the sides.

Comparison Of LED, Incandescent, And Fluorescent Lighting (image: EvoLux)

Comparison Of LED, Incandescent, And Fluorescent Lighting (image: EvoLux)

Manufacturers often refer to an LED bulb’s equivalent wattage (compared to an incandescent bulb) based on overall lumen output. Incandescent bulbs usually cast an evenly distributed glow, so a “60-watt replacement” LED bulb may not seem to pull its weight in a shaded table lamp. But in a recessed ceiling fixture, an LED bulb may actually cast even more light than its incandescent counterpart.

Energy Efficiency And Durability
One of the biggest advantages of an LED light bulb is its energy efficiency. Today’s best LED bulbs use roughly one seventh of the electricity consumed by an incandescent bulb, or half the power of a fluorescent. One of our favorites, the C. Crane GeoBulb 3 (which retails for $69.95), is a 7-watt replacement for a 50-watt incandescent bulb or a 13-watt fluorescent.

Despite a relatively expensive initial purchase price, LED bulbs will pay for themselves over time by cutting your power bills. But only when they’re actually turned on – so they are especially well-suited for lights that are constantly in use. For example, a ceiling light that’s on all day long will take advantage of an LED’s efficiency better than an occasionally-used reading light.

LED bulbs last for a long time too – typically up to 50,000 hours (which translates to 12 hours a day, every day, for over a decade). This means fewer burned-out bulbs ending up in landfills, and added convenience too – you’ll rarely have to get your ladder out to change a bulb in a hard-to-reach fixture.

Beat The Heat
LED bulbs run cool, which is a double bonus for energy savings: electricity is being converted into usable light instead of wasted heat, and lighting isn’t competing with a building’s air conditioning system. But if the diodes within the “bulb” do become overheated, their efficiency plummets and they become unreliable. LED bulbs shouldn’t be used in unusually hot settings, and many manufacturers specify that their bulbs must only be used in unsealed, open-air fixtures.

HydraLux Liquid-Cooled LED Light Bulb

HydraLux Liquid-Cooled LED Home Light Bulb

Ever wonder about those metal “fins” around the base of an LED bulb? It’s a thermally conductive heat sink, designed to keep the internal diodes cool. An alternative design is active heat management, where liquid coolant or a tiny cooling fan does the job.

Evolux S Fan-Cooled LED Light Bulb

Evolux S Fan-Cooled LED Home Light Bulb

A liquid-cooled LED bulb that was previously featured on MetaEfficient is the Hydralux from EtarnaLEDs ($35). For a fan-cooled bulb, a good choice is the EarthLED Evolux, which retails for $77.99. Note that the sound of a cooling fan can sometimes be heard in a quiet environment – which could be a drawback in a quiet space like a bedroom, but might not matter at all in a living room or workshop

Is It Dimmable?

 

Pharox III Dimmable LED Light Bulb

Pharox III Dimmable LED Home Light Bulb

Some LED light bulbs feature circuitry that lets them perform just fine on a dimmer, whereas others can be damaged by the variations in power supply. Be sure to check the specs on an LED bulb before replacing a bulb in a dimmable fixture. One solid performer that is rated for use with a dimmer is the Pharox III LED light bulb ($52.98), a 6-watt warm white bulb from Dutch lighting company Lemnis.

Quality Of Light & Color Temperature
In a living space, light quality is just as important as the amount of light output. “Color temperature” is a common measure of light quality (described in degrees Kelvin), and it provides a handy reference for finding appropriate lighting in household applications. To put it simply, a lower color temperature indicates a warmer light with more red and yellow, like candlelight or a sunrise. Higher numbers mean a starker, bluish light.

There is no “ideal” color temperature for an LED bulb – it’s primarily a matter of personal preference. For the sake of comparison, the color temperature of a candle might be 1,800K, while a standard incandescent light bulb could be around 3,000K, and a computer monitor might measure over 9,000K. Compare different models to find the LED bulb that best matches your needs and taste.

Of course, light quality is really only an issue for “white” light. LED bulbs can be a great choice for accent lights or signs that require colored bulbs, where color temperature is a moot point and bulbs may be illuminated for long stretches of time. Sylvania/Osram makes a range of LED accent bulbs, available in red, green, blue, or yellow.

LED bulbs are a great choice for many applications around the house, and they’re certain to become even cheaper and more popular as they continue to evolve. Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve made the switch to LED lighting in your home.

Comments

  1. says

    Thats a nice comparison, 13w is quite an extreme drive for an LED lamp but its certainly a nice bit of kit. According to the image the beam angle looks pretty wide too which is something people overlook when purchasing LED units.

  2. Anonymous says

    I am so looking forward to the day that I can begin to purchase these LED bulbs. Are there any available that could be used as flood lights for out side of my house?

    • Anonymous says

      I have tried several LED varieties, but they have always come up short; too complicated, too expensive, to much to think about. All I want is a method of lighting areas, big, medium and small.

      I just do not want to think about color temperature, fans or liquid cooling (sealing them in a fixture may cause damage, c’mon). I do not want a lamp where more light comes from the top than from the sides, rediculous (I want a spot or flood). C’mon, these things must be dimmable without changing the color temperature, etc.

      LED has a long way to go as far as I am concerned, not ready for prime-time; not by a long-shot!

      But when an LED can be purchased for a reasonable price, that gives me good plain eye pleasing light, I would be the first in line to get mine.

  3. Chuck says

    I’m looking forward to being able to use LEDs for at least some of our home lighting as well. I worry about the flicker, though. The LED Christmas lights I’ve seen pretty much drive me insane. Do these more expensive light bulbs cycle at a higher frequency, hopefully?

  4. says

    Wow! I think it could help a lot of people if they use that LED light bulb. It is affordable and you can save money. Plus it is not hazardous. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to have that LED bulb.

  5. says

    There’s really not a lot of negatives when it comes to LED lights with the exception that they don’t do well on shaded lights, I found that out in my rather large family room.

    However they are great outside. We’ve been using them as indirect light on our patio and they add such a nice ambiance.

  6. smarter says

    incandescent is better than any of these. sure they get hot but they are cheap and easily made and disposed of. these things waste tons of resouces (fans and liquid!!) imagine the factories that make these things, spewing out waste. (similar to a prius factory) incandescent factories are already up and running efficiently and the process has been perfected years ago. this technology is for tree huggers. when the price comes down and the technology is perfected they will be okay for the masses. the reward is not worth the cost, unless you think you’re saving the planet, which you’re not.

  7. Felix says

    I’d like to know if there is the one that replaces the 100 watt incandescent bulb. I also want to know the price because I want to buy at least 15 or 20.

  8. Anonymous says

    I bought 2 leds off of ebay a few yrs ago they worked for a couple of months and burnt out but i think both of them were enclosed and i didn’t know any better i have 3 more coming for my dimmable fan that currently have incandescent bulbs. Ive had an led in my fridge for about a yr now though with out any problems. I guess the oven dryver or the microwave wouldn’t be a good place for led bulbs. So the temp problem eliminates LED and i would assume OLED down the road as an end all solution. Meaning factories cant gear up for one solution which will make getting prices lower, more difficult. I think until the factories really gear up they will remain at least some what expensive and they will remain unused. If we could get the price down to ever 20 to 30 a bulb we might actually be getting somewhere. But like everything else it will take time and require peeps to make some changes and to be more educated.

  9. Ron B says

    Prices and availability are getting better, now yuo can buy some at home depot and walmart, i have been useing some small ones for over 2 years now , as I use solar power I need all the energy saving I can get. since I dont have a large array.

  10. says

    LED lights will be the best choice for you if you want to buy ligts.
    Why I do so,now let me give you a example why I would personally go for 240 watts over 1000.If I use led for a 24 hour diner with a sign burning 24 hours a day.The 100 watt bulb would use 2400 watts of electricity a day,but the 24 watt LED bulb would only use 480 watts and gives a much brighter glow. So it can help you save many money.

  11. Win says

    I am looking for an LED light which is like the “daylight” type of CFL used for reading. (not the desklamp type of LED but the one you put on the ceiling) It is for the study room which has white color paint all around about 15 x 15 x 15 feet in dimension.
    I would like to inquire what type of LED lighting I can use for reading?

    Win

  12. Anonymous says

    According to this site
    http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/cri_explained.htm

    The “Ideal” Reading light is that of daylight.
    To match daylight it should have color temperature of 5000-6000Kelvin AND Color Rendering Index (CRI) as close to 100 as possible.
    Here are examples of Color Temperature and CRI…
    Incandescent: 2700k 100 CRI
    Cool White: 4200k 62 CRI
    Natural Sunlight: 5000-6000k 100 CRI
    Daylight Bulb: 6400k 80 CRI

    Are there LED lights which have 5000-6000K and CRI close to 100?

  13. Win says

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/news/4215199

    I hope you can do testing for LED lights similar to this to show brightness, watts, color temp, color, perceived brightness, faces, reading as parameters.

    As for reading light…
    according to this
    http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/cri_explained.htm
    http://www.economicallysound.com/lighting_basics_for_your_basic_bulb_purchase.html

    The “Ideal” reading light has color temp of 5000-6000Kelvin and CRI close to 100 as much as possible with 1700-2800 lumens.
    Here are example of Color temp and CRI…
    Incandescent: 2700k 100 CRI
    Tungsten Halogen: 3200k 95 CRI
    Cool White: 4200k 62 CRI
    Natural Sunlight: 5000-6000k 100 CR
    Daylight Bulb: 6400k 80 CRI

    Are there LED which has a color temp of 5000-6000Kelvin and CRI close to 100 with 1700-2800 lumens?

  14. Exatorp says

    Replaced all the lights in my home with either 4w spots or 7w ‘golf balls’, or 2w decorative ‘candles’spots cost £9-14 and the golf balls £18. House now used 160w compared to the 1500ish it used previously.

    Spots aren’t quite as bright with 360 lumen ouput, but the golf balls with 480 are just fine. Not expecting to change a bulb for another 10+ years now and they will have paid for themselves inside 9 months.

    http://www.ledwaves.com/led-calc/

  15. RAMACHANDRARARO says

    I’m planning to take dealership of home led bulbs. I request you to send full details about the products what all you have including the price details immediately… contact no-+919036728599, +919036110099.

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