More light bulbs? Yep, more light bulbs

The Internet is a strange and wonderful place. A couple of months ago, I posted a Friday night topic on light bulbs that incited a fair amount of discussion. Not long after that, I kid you not, I started receiving press releases and phone calls from the world’s light-bulb brands, as if it made perfect sense for a website with the tagline "PC hardware explored" to be writing about LEDs versus CFLs.

This is a dangerous development.

As you may have gathered from my FNT post, I’m more than happy to geek out about lighting technologies. Quite a few of you are, too, apparently. Heck, I can even tie in my off-hours semi-obsession with my day job.

Watch and learn, kids.

After all, 2014 is already shaping up as the Year of the Display in PC hardware, with technologies like 4K and adaptive refresh rates hitting the market for the first time. There’s huge overlap between lighting tech and displays. Backlight quality helps determine the temperature and color gamut of an LCD monitor. Beyond that, we’re gonna need some serious candlepower (and efficiency) to make high-dynamic-range displays a reality. And one of the most promising display technologies, OLED, may also be the most promising lighting technology on the horizon. The fates of lighting technology and visual computing are deeply intertwined.

Hence, I’ve spent a silly amount of my free time lately screwing in various sorts of light bulbs for comparison, and here I am in the middle of a work day writing a blog post about it. It’s educational, career-development type stuff.

I’m not sure any sane boss would buy that line, which is why it’s great to be your own boss.

Anyhow, I’ve made a few new discoveries in my light bulb vision quest since last time out. Let me bring you up to date.

The Cree TW Series odyssey

First, I think it was one of you people, out there on the Internet, who posted in my Friday night topic and first made me aware of Cree’s TW Series bulbs, a follow-up to the excellent LED lights selling across the U.S. at The Home Depot. Whoever you are, you cost me a fair chunk of change on light bulbs.

I was already a big fan of the Crees, which are superb in fixtures and other sorts of indirect lighting, but the stock Cree 60W replacements aren’t quite up to replacing incandescents in every case. Above our kitchen table, for instance, in a triple-socket fixture with exposed bulbs, the regular Cree LEDs produce bright but somewhat harsh light. Under that light, the wood in our table and chairs looks kind of yellowy-green, more so than it does in daylight or with incandescents.

Cree cooked up the TW (or True White) Series in an attempt to rectify that shortcoming. The TW Series bulbs are rated for a Color Rendering Index of 93, substantially higher than the CRI rating of 80 for the regular Cree bulb. I’m not quite sure what all voodoo Cree put into the TW Series in order to achieve this improvement, but one component is a neodymium coating on the glass (similar to GE’s Reveal bulbs) that filters out a portion of the light spectrum. I believe there may be a different mix of LED colors inside, as well.

There is a tradeoff involved: the TW Series 60W equivalent uses 13.5W to produce 800 lumens of illumination, while the regular Cree bulb requires only 9.5W to do the same. The TW Series bulb also has a somewhat larger base, so it may not fit into certain fixtures as easily as the stock Cree.

Anyhow, I ordered up some TW Series bulbs with a silly amount of anticipation, and I have to say: I was not disappointed.

Although the TW Series has the same 2700K color temperature rating as the regular Cree bulb, the light produced by the TW Series is much better balanced. When I installed the TWs in our kitchen fixture, the wood in our kitchen table regained its deep red and brown tones. No longer did it look sickly and yellow-green.

Under a lampshade, especially, the TW Series is virtually indistinguishable from an incandescent bulb. I look at it periodically and shake my head. Although there’s surely more room for improvement, I think LED lighting technology has hit an important high-water mark here. I don’t think most folks could tell the difference between this thing and a 60W incandescent in a casual, side-by-side "taste test."

The only downside of note is that the TW Series bulb doesn’t appear to be quite as bright as the stock Cree 60W-equivalent, in spite of the matching lumen ratings. The TW Series illuminates as well as a 60W incandescent, but the stock Cree goes above and beyond that. Depending on the situation, you may find that you prefer the brighter but somewhat less balanced light from the regular bulb. For example, I wound up mixing two TW bulbs with one regular one in our kitchen fixture in order to get the right mix of brightness and quality.

I ordered my TW Series bulbs online, since they weren’t available in stores locally, but that’s since changed, as I learned from, ahem, an official Cree press release mailing. The TW Series is now available at The Home Depot stores across the U.S. The 60W-equivalent TW Series bulb goes for $15.97 a pop—four bucks more than the standard Cree offering. Since you’re potentially looking at owning this thing for 10 years or more, I’d say the premium is worth paying.

My order of a six-pack of bulbs left me armed with a mix of regular and TW Series 60W equivalents. I thought I’d maybe use them to replace some of the remaining incandescents in my house, in places where CFLs just wouldn’t cut it. Here’s what happened instead: I found myself wandering through the house, swapping out a bunch of the CFLs for LEDs. Turns out, at the end of the day, my affinity for light quality trumps any pretensions of being green. For me, the advent of high-quality LED lighting means the death of CFLs, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Rosewill gets into the LED game

We’ve reviewed several of Rosewill’s keyboards, so when I mentioned light bulbs in that Friday night topic, a keen-eyed PR person from Rosewill insisted on sending me some of their new LED bulbs. You can "see if you like ours better than Cree’s!" she suggested perkily via email.

Upon reading that statement, I actually sat back in my chair, inhaled, and said to myself, "That is a bold statement."

But hey, the folks at Rosewill have done a nice job with their mechanical keyboards, so who knows?

These LED bulbs are apparently brand-new products that have just become available at Newegg. Rosewill sent me two different models of LED lights to try out, the warm-white 6.5W bulb rated for 560 lumens and the warm-white 8.2W bulb rated for 660 lumens. The firm doesn’t provide an incandescent wattage equivalent for these things. Both of them fall somewhere in between the usual output of 40W and 60W incandescents.

My first impression of the Rosewill LEDs was quite positive. As you can see in the picture above, these bulbs have a compact ceramic base that’s less bulky than the Cree’s, and they’re somewhat shorter in terms of total height, too—very much the size and shape of a traditional incandescent light bulb.

Rosewill rates its soft-white products at a color temperature of 3000K, slightly cooler than the 2700K rating for most soft-white bulbs. In theory, at least, I like the idea of a slightly cooler everyday bulb. So many of the 2700K CFLs I’ve been using for years at 2700K are too yellowy and seem "off." (There’s also a 5000K "cool white" version of each bulb, but I told them not to bother sending those. Ugh. I don’t need a grow lamp.)

After screwing the Rosewill 8.2W LED into a lamp and firing it up, I decided maybe 3000K wasn’t a great idea. Perhaps this is emitted spectrum instead of just color temperature, but my first thought was that the Rosewill soft-white bulbs emit light that’s just a little too Walmart-esque for my tastes. Too much blue to the hue, in my view.

Sorry about that.

I will say Rosewill has one-upped Cree on another front, though. The light produced by this bulb is distributed evenly in a broad, nearly spherical area limited only by the presence of that ceramic base. There aren’t any obvious hotspots or dark areas. The Cree’s LED tower is more compact and more closely resembles an incandescent filament, but it doesn’t emit as much light straight up.

I was torn on whether the Rosewill lights really produced better illumination quality than a CFL when I first tested them in several shaded lamps. The bluish light seemed pretty similar overall. Any doubts on that front were squelched when I subbed in the Rosewill 8.2W bulbs for 13W CFLs in a couple of those three-light open fixtures. The Rosewills performed surprisingly well in direct lighting situations, producing brighter and subjectively higher-quality light than the CFLs they replaced. I also found that the 6.5W bulbs were a nice upgrade in lumen output from a 40W incandescent.

Still, the light quality doesn’t really come close to Cree’s regular offerings, let alone the TW Series.

The biggest drawback to the Rosewill LEDs, though, is probably the delay on start-up. Like most LEDs, these bulbs reach peak brightness pretty much as soon as they ignite. Trouble is, there’s a pretty pronounced delay of a half-second or so (it seems to vary) between flipping the switch and ignition. Seriously, that is a long time. Even CFLs, which take several minutes to reach peak brightness, start producing some light almost instantly. The Crees LEDs are nearly instant-on, too. You can decide how annoying you find this quirk, but personally, I want a faster response when I flip the light switch.

Add in the fact that the Rosewill LEDs aren’t compatible with dimmers and only come with a two-year warranty (versus Cree’s decade-long pledge,) and it’s clear this isn’t quite the same caliber of product. That means the Rosewill bulb needs to be cheaper than the Cree, and right now, the 8.2W version is selling for $12.45 at Newegg. This thing needs to cost less, not more, than the market leader.

I suspect Rosewill knows that, and I suspect they’ll run discounts and promotions that effectively drop the price of these bulbs over time. At a bit of a discount, these Rosewill bulbs could be a nice value, particularly for use in fixtures where their compact bases, conventional height, and well-distributed illumination would be appreciated.

A new contender emerges

LEDs are getting to be mighty good, but they’re not the only lighting technology vying for a spot in sockets after the incandescent ban. The folks at a new start-up company have refined and miniaturized a form of induction lighting in order to create the Finally Bulb, whose story was told at length in this New York Times write-up.

Induction lighting has been used in commercial settings for ages, apparently, but was too large to be practical elsewhere. Finally calls its version of induction tech "Acandescent" lighting, which isn’t bad as marketing names go.

The Finally Bulb is set for release this summer, and it looks to be almost exactly the same size as a 60W incandescent. The rest of the specs look pretty decent, too. It requires 14.5W and produces 800 lumens, and the company claims the bulb turns on instantly, with a rated life of 15,000 hours and a warranty spanning 10 years.

Two things could possibly set this bulb apart. One is light quality. The 2700K bulb has a CRI rating of 83, which is higher than the standard Cree LED’s rating. The Finally marketing materials focus quite a bit on light quality, claiming this is "the first bulb to truly replicate the look, reassuring warmth and omnidirectional light of the incandescent bulbs you love."

That’s a strong claim for a bulb with an 83 CRI. Still, CRI is an imperfect measure, so I’m eager to have a look at one of these things in operation as soon as possible.

The other big deal with the Finally Bulb is its projected price of about $8. That’s cheap. If this bulb produces truly appealing light, meets its specs, and undercuts quality LEDs by a few bucks per bucks per socket, it might become yet another a viable alternative option.

Comments closed
    • slate0
    • 5 years ago

    I plugged a 60TW Cree in next to a 100W Cree and I couldn’t tell the difference πŸ™

    • truerock
    • 6 years ago

    I have tested various light bulbs in my study for about 20 years. I’m currently using CFLs… but, plan to switch to LEDs or something even better in the future when the prices come down. A couple of things I have gradually come to prefer:

    1. I like lighting that comes on slowly. I no longer like the jarring effect of walking into a dark room and having instant full-power lighting.

    2. I prefer white light. Yellow, blue, red and green lighting just seems weirdly unrealistic.

    3. I prefer bright light. I guess lighting that is more outdoor-like has some kind of psychological effect on me. 1,000 lumens is the absolute least amount of light that does not produce a kind of depressing atmosphere. I have about 3,000 lumens at our kitchen table and it feels very nice.

    I get it… people have difficulty adjusting to change. Incandescent bulb lighting seems incredibly inferior to me after almost a decade of using better lighting. My suggestion is to go outside and feel the effect the sunlight has on you. That is the kind of light you want.

    By the way… as a warning… avoid people who don’t like sunlight πŸ™‚

    • vvas
    • 6 years ago

    For those living in California, the nice thing about the Cree TW bulbs is that they are state-subsidized, so they only cost $10 apiece when bought in-store at Home Depot. More information here:

    [url<]http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-led-lightbulb/[/url<] (The page has a lot more useful information about LED light bulbs in general.)

    • house
    • 6 years ago

    Rambus (remember RD-RAM) is in the LED bulb market as well.

    [url<]http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/160532-how-rambus-turned-its-patents-into-an-led-lighting-business[/url<] Their "Envirobulb" line uses the same microlense sheet diffusers found in LCD backlights.

      • ferdinandh
      • 6 years ago

      I remember RD-RAM and their stupid lawsuits. I remember them killing the first generation of Pentium4. Fuck them.

    • Freon
    • 6 years ago

    Neat stuff, unfortunately I’m not a fan of 2700k warm color bulbs so the conclusions are a bit lost on me.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 6 years ago

    You need to check out the DBZ model…its CRI is over 9000.

    • Audacity
    • 6 years ago

    While everyone is talking about light bulbs, I thought I’d recommend a guy who does the best light bulb reviews that I’ve seen, bar none. He has a YouTube channel. Here is the review on the 9.5 watt Cree bulb that Scott likes:

    [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6DDFRBrSas[/url<]

    • crabjokeman
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]My wife gets annoyed when I ask her about light quality.[/quote<] I'm with her on that topic.

    • fantastic
    • 6 years ago

    This needs measurements. Spectral plots, EMI measurements, light intensity from all different angles, warm up times, etc.

    I bought an LED bulb at Walmart to put in my porch light fixture. I was planning on leaving it on all night to keep “things” away. It’s way too bright and it’s only about 7 Watts. I guess I need a 3 Watt LED bulb.

    There’s a wide range or quality to crap out there in CFL bulbs too. I see to find about 50% of each.

    • hasseb64
    • 6 years ago

    Buy Philips, yellow type, end.

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Have you thought about playing around with some high efficiency incandescents? AFAIK only certain inefficient ones are banned.

      • d2brothe
      • 6 years ago

      High efficiency incandescent are generally halogen bulbs. They’re only 20% more efficient than regular incandescent bulbs, as opposed to the 200-400% more efficient LED/CFL bulbs run. I”m still disappointed with the efficiency we’re hitting here, there are LED bulbs out there, I think from phillips which can do > 100 lumens per watt. Even older technology street lights will hit >100 lumens per watt. Yet in pure theoretical terms, this is still relatively low.

        • ferdinandh
        • 6 years ago

        [q]as opposed to the 200-400% more efficient LED/CFL bulbs run.[/q]
        incandescent: 40 watt, halogen 20% more efficient: 32 watt, CFL 200% more efficient: -40 watt, LED 400% more efficient: -120 watt
        They generate electricity?

          • d2brothe
          • 6 years ago

          Obviously they don’t generate electricity, but you’re either terrible at math, or intentionally misunderstanding. My wording was not entirely clear, but to assume that meaning is silly. My meaning is of course an incandescent bulb uses 20% more energy than a halogen, while it uses 200-400% more than a CFL or LED bulb.

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 6 years ago

          you are not so good at the maths are you?

    • willmore
    • 6 years ago

    I just bought a case of Philips Octron 8000K T8 48″ bulbs. 2700K? Pffffffffff….

    • Wirko
    • 6 years ago

    How to make a simple, half-elegant dimmer for LED lamps

    You need to use a dual light switch for a single lamp. One switch connects the lamp to the mains directly. The other switch connects it to the mains in series with a capacitor. A suitable capacitor limits the current through the lamp and the light output is reduced because of that.
    I did some testing with a 5 W no name LED lamp. Connected in series with a 33 nF film capacitor, its power consumption is just 0.1 W. (230 volts, 50 Hz here; I’d try 100 nF at 117 V, 60 Hz.) Something like that could never be achieved with a CFL, let alone a tungsten lamp. I tried to go even lower (smaller capacitor) but the lamp would only start after a couple of seconds or not at all. On the other hand, a larger capacitor can always be used to increase power and light output. Just use one with the right voltage rating, which is the same or greater than the mains voltage, AC. Like [url=http://www.newark.com/panasonic/ecq-u2a104ml/capacitor-poly-film-0-1uf-250/dp/01M7582<]this one[/url<]. And the lowly 0.1 W is not useless. It's enough to make some ambient light when watching TV, or the light can be left on at all times in hallways, bathrooms and cellars.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 6 years ago

    Allow me to make a request –could you test the Switch Infinia alongside these?

    [url<]http://www.switchlightingco.com/infinia/[/url<] Switch makes a claim almost no-one does with LED blubs --due to the bulbs being cooled with liquid silicone, they can be put in enclosed fixtures. They're also about the same size as incandescents, so unlike CFLs, they actually fit in those enclosed fixtures. I only wish Lowes carried them --we got a decent-sized gift card with a washer/dryer purchase this year. And of course, Home Despots have them and Lowe's doesn't.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Seems a bit strange to me how LED lighting is getting lots of attention lately. Normally people don’t care too much regarding their light bulbs.

    Also, all these companies jumping in on the LED lighting bandwagon could saturate the market and lead to a bubble burst especially since LED bulbs have a life span of a few million years (an exaggeration, obviously). With everyone’s LED bulbs taking forever to burn out, all these players will find out nobody needs to buy new bulbs before long.

      • DPete27
      • 6 years ago

      You underestimate the abilities of modern product manufacturers. They’ll likely figure out (have figured out) a way to make one of the other internal components die in a timely manner to maintain product turnover.

        • Ringofett
        • 6 years ago

        Most people aren’t aware of this, but historically increases in lighting efficiency never lead to the energy-efficient utopia greens yearn for. As lighting becomes more efficient and affordable, humans have simply ramped up how much of it they use. As far as I’m aware, we’ve yet to break that trend in recent years.

        So with history on their side, in the West bulb manufacturers have absolutely nothing to fear. And even if something unprecedented happens in the West and demand does fall, guess what? There’s billions of people becoming richer every year that use a fraction of the lighting the West does, but they’d love to join the party, and they *will* join the party. Every day, another wave of developing country residents joins the global middle class.

        Anyway, no need for anti-corporate paranoia. The real world is rosy enough for them.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 6 years ago

      On the plus side, LED’s are becoming exceedingly efficient, even if expensive. The bubble will burst, but prices of the bulbs will go down, as enough competitors will still remain to keep the industry interesting.

      Imagine if something like this happened with a more important industry? Where the performance / efficiency went up 200% in 10 years or less *and* was widely available to consumers?

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      Then they’ll invent a reason to replace your bulbs before they blow.

      I’m sure it’ll be some combination of politicized nonsense, wattage, temperature arguments, and other “magical” things people can suddenly see that they really can’t see.

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 6 years ago

    How many hippies does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    Ha! Trick question; hippies screw in tents.

    Seriously, though…how do these work in cold temps? I installed a CFL in an outside light fixture and it was horrible this winter. The cold kept the CFL dim for about 30 minutes.

    I installed LEDs in my stove vent hood, replacing the halogens that came with it. I did side by side comparisons and felt it was better to have more of a white light instead of yellowish. I project these LEDs will start saving me money next year, purchasing and installing the lights two years ago.

      • mattthemuppet
      • 6 years ago

      LEDs work better the colder they are, as long as it’s not below the temperature at which electronics generally don’t work (is there such a temp? I dunno). Conversely, if they get too hot, they put out less light

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 6 years ago

    Personally I haven’t found CRI to track well with my personal preference for the “quality” of illumination from a given light, so I don’t go out of my way looking for high CRI lights that necessarily make other compromises. That said, I’m also a bit of an outlier in that I don’t consider incandescent lighting to be the gold standard… I honestly think that’s more of “what people are used to” than something objectively better and in a few decades that bias will disappear.

    After trying out a lot of different lights, I still think these are the best overall ones that I’ve seen:
    [url<]http://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-60W-Equivalent-Soft-White-2700K-A19-Dimmable-LED-Light-Bulb-E-424382/203553310[/url<] I ended up getting them on sale/rebate and replacing most of the bulbs in our house with them and have no regrets. They have a really good combination of quality and directionality of light, shape and they aren't too heavy (and thus working when horizontally mounted ceiling fixtures). I use the Phillips 100W ones for some of the outdoor lights and while they are good as well there are fewer alternatives and I could definitely see more improvements being possible there. Anyways this is necessarily going to be very personal, but I do urge you to give some of the Phillips bulbs a try. They're definitely a big player in the area.

    • mattthemuppet
    • 6 years ago

    all LEDs have a trade off between efficiency (lm/W) and CRI. As someone noted above, almost all LEDs are blue emitters with a phosphor layer that converts those photons to red and green wavelengths. The thinner the phosphor, the more blue that gets through, the less red that’s produced, and the more light overall per watt, all at a cost of colour reproduction. To get higher CRI, you need thicker phosphor to produce more red light, which cuts down on the total light harming efficiency.

    Lower colour temperatures (2700K vs. 6000K) also require thicker phosphor, which puts them several “bins” lower in efficiency, but the colour reproduction is usually better. I’ve built a lot of LED lights (bike, head, car, garage/work etc) and my personal favourite are LEDs around 4000K and 90+CRI, although I go up to 5000K and 75CRI for bike lights as the contrast is still good enough.

    Still have CFLs in the house though, bletch. When I get the time, I’ll start converting all our bedside lights to LED, as they’re alot easier to do than omnidirectional lighting.

    • Generic
    • 6 years ago

    Thank you for this follow up.

    It’s a relevant subject for all of us, and offers a nice change of pace relative to the site’s staple of PC news.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      I heard TR plans to review staplers next.

        • Longsdivision
        • 6 years ago

        If that is the case, I would like a performance and review of red staplers with all the possible statistical break downs and demographics.

          • Wirko
          • 6 years ago

          But no stapler review is complete without a staple review. I’ve always wanted to know which staples are better perfor[s<]at[/s<]ming, silver coloured, gold coloured, or dark grey.

        • pandemonium
        • 6 years ago

        I hope they have a surprise guest reviewer named a certain Milton doing it.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 6 years ago

    Scott, I’m glad you wrote this. In most cases, it can be computer related, as having a light on while programming is a must for me, especially at night. I have a LED for my lamp – a Phillips 1100 lumens, 2700K dimmable one. Only thing is the damn thing is heavy and I really have to tighten the screw on the adjustable lamp stand as well as a hammer wire to the bottom to keep it from tipping over. Have had it for a while and love it. Color is good and soft.

    Keep up this great posts. If nothing else, taking about PCs all the time can be tiring and off-topic write ups are nice to have.

    • Communism
    • 6 years ago

    [url<]http://www.amazon.com/ALZO-Digital-Full-Spectrum-Light/dp/B00198U6U6/[/url<] [url<]http://www.amazon.com/Full-Spectrum-Light-Bulb-5500K/dp/B0019HVHMS/[/url<] Until LEDs can match these bulbs in both luminosity as well as visible spectrum, I'm stuck with these CFLs.

      • xyvyx
      • 6 years ago

      I’ll have to check those out, along with the Cree TW bulbs! I just put in some 5000K Philips T8s in my kitchen (on top of cabinets, bouncing light off ceiling) and they’re some of the best lights I’ve ever used.
      They’re the F32T8/TL950 and have a CRI of 98… I’ve got some sylvania 24″ tubes w/ a 92CRI under my cabinets and they’re nearly as good. Seems all the 900-series phosphors don’t have the best lumen/watt ratio, but the color quality is worth it IMO.

      [url<]http://www.1000bulbs.com/product/4722/F-32T8TL950P.html[/url<] Now I just need to find some good 5000K R40 bulbs to fit in some recessed fixtures to match...

    • hbarnwheeler
    • 6 years ago

    Given my less than satisfactory experience with CFLs (they don’t seem to last all that much longer than incandescents, despite claims to the contrary), I’ve been reluctant to try LED lighting. It’s expensive, and while CREE offers a 10-year warranty, one has to pay to ship the bulb to them in order to take advantage of it. Can anyone comment on longevity?

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 6 years ago

      CFL’s last super long assuming you don’t turn them on and off at all. That is what kills them. I found that for lights that are regularly turned on and off CFL’s actually have shorter lives than incandescent bulbs.

        • Buzzard44
        • 6 years ago

        [url=http://www.robaid.com/gadgets/longevity-of-light-bulbs-and-how-to-make-them-last-longer.htm<]This is a pretty good and relevant article on bulb longevity.[/url<] Synopsis of things that hurt CFL longevity: Voltage too high, heat on the base (usually from enclosed fixture or inverted mounting), and lots of cycling (as chameleon noted). Anecdotal evidence, I've had some pretty cheap CFLs from Lowe's, and 6 years later of a claimed 5 year life span, ~85% of them are still going strong. My parents, on the other hand, got lifespans that were about the same as an incandescent bulb doing the same thing. I suspect it's due to the variance of environment between my apartment and their house.

          • Wirko
          • 6 years ago

          Here’s my anecdotal evidence. I’ve dismantled every CFL that has ever died on me. Maybe 30 of them, most operating in poorly ventilated fixtures, half of them mounted with electronics at top. Yet in 80% of lamps, it was cathodes that burned out. So I tend to disagree about electronics being the weakest part, even at too high temperatures.

          Also, if I ever buy a CFL again, it will be an Osram, and an expensive one – 10 year, 500,000 cycle. I don’t know about US/Canada but Osram is a big name here in EU, for good reasons.

            • insulin_junkie72
            • 6 years ago

            [quote<]I don't know about US/Canada but Osram is a big name here in EU[/quote<] In the US, Osram products are common, but under the "Sylvania" brand name.

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      I had some early LED light “bulbs” that died way too early, but I’m pretty sure it was the embedded LED control circuitry instead of the LEDs themselves.

      The newer ones seem much better. The ones I’ve bought in the last two years are still going strong.

      • odizzido
      • 6 years ago

      I have a number of LED lights that I have purchased over the years and all of them are still working.

      • d2brothe
      • 6 years ago

      I can comment on the likelihood of you having a bias which is leading you to believe things which aren’t true but that probably wouldn’t help. All I can tell you is I have outfitted my home with CFLs for more than 7 years and I have yet to throw one away. LED bulbs are even more reliable.

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]All I can tell you is I have outfitted my home with CFLs for more than 7 years and I have yet to throw one away. LED bulbs are even more reliable.[/quote<] I've thrown large numbers of CFLs away over the years. In my experience, they blow more often than incandescents did. I may have power spikes in the crappy electrical wiring of my house, but still..

        • ludi
        • 6 years ago

        Oh, so when somebody has a different experience than you, it’s because you have facts, and they have bias. Huh.

        My experience with CFLs has been comparable to what the majority here are saying: long life when mounted upright or in an open fixture, preferable when rarely power cycled, short life otherwise. It’s the nature of any electrode-driven fluorescent tube when combined with a cheap electronic driver in a package that is poor for dispersing heat.

        • Sabresiberian
        • 6 years ago

        Possibly the quality of the wiring in the house is the difference; our house is a 50+ year old Fox and Jacobs with aluminum wiring, so take that into consideration, but, yeah, our experience is they burn out as fast as incandescent bulbs. The LED lights we’ve used last far longer. We’ve been using those for over a year now without replacing any of them. Yet.

      • davidbowser
      • 6 years ago

      I cannot comment on the warranty shipping with Cree/Home Depot, but I have returned duds (quick burn outs) of Utilitech/Lowes while I was testing different lights (like Scott did). I never ran into a problem while they were under warranty, but I am a habitual receipt scanner (taxes and business habit) so I always have a digital copy of my receipt. They usually just give me credit back on my card.

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    This is a pretty cool emerging technology for lighting:

    [url<]http://www.pacificlighttech.com/quantum-dots-in-ssl/[/url<]

    • rpjkw11
    • 6 years ago

    My problem with LEDs (and CFLs, too) is they do not produce enough light, lumens I guess, for my 63 year old eyeballs. I read a lot and I’ve found 75 watt incandescent bulbs are perfect while 60 watt is not quite bright enough. I refuse to buy, or even consider CFLs, as their lighting quality, to me sucks big time. They do, however, work nicely for outdoor lights on a photo-cell timer. So, they do have their place, but quality lighting ain’t it. LEDs, IMO, are the best prospect for good, QUALITY light (at least for the next 10 years). I’ve laid in a huge supply of incandescent bulbs from 40 to 100 watt, mostly 60 and 75, but I would gladly trash them all for good, quality LED bulbs. I realize lighting quality is subjective, but lighting that is comfortable, WARM, and reduces/prevents eye strain is far more important to me than saving a few dollars a year on my electric bill.

    So, can anyone steer me in the direction of good LED bulbs, fairly warm, and with the average lumens of, say, a standard 75 watt bulb?

      • rgbc
      • 6 years ago

      Phillips makes a few 75w+ equivalent bulbs:

      Philips 422220 17-Watt (75-Watt) – I’ve got one of these in a floor lamp and two 60w models in bedside lamps, the bulb is a bit longer than the newer models and some may not like the looks of the bulb but the light is warm and quite nice.

      Philips 423525 22 watt (100 Watt)

      Newer models:

      Philips 432161 15-Watt (75-Watt)
      Philips 432195 19-watt (100-Watt)

        • Aliasundercover
        • 6 years ago

        These are good. I have several of the Philips 1600 lumen bulbs.

        • rpjkw11
        • 6 years ago

        I’m going to definitely check those out! Sounds like what I want.

    • willg
    • 6 years ago

    I started making the move to LED lighting in my house earlier this year and I’m pretty much hooked too.

    Each time I turn on a CFL light I’m almost disappointed it hasn’t blown, robbing me of an excuse to replace it with an LED.

    • Alex-M
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve been playing around with a couple of RoboSmart LED bulbs that I picked up at Micro Center a couple of weeks ago for about $39. These are new smart bulbs that I can control with an app on my iPhone using Bluetooth (works with Android too). The specs for the 60W equivalent LED are 850 lumens, 12.7W, 2700K, CRI of 85. I find the light is evenly distributed in all directions and there is no hole at the top like CREE. Using the iPhone app I can turn the bulbs on/off and dim them from about 80 feet away.The bulbs can also be programmed like a security timer to switch on and off when I’m away. I put one bulb in the light fixture near my front door which acts like an iBeacon to automatically turn on when I arrive or off when I leave. It helps to have a little extra light by the front door to find the lock at night.

      • LaChupacabra
      • 6 years ago

      This is slightly off-topic, but you should be wary of bluetooth enabled devices and their associated phone apps. [url=http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/3/4584980/inax-satis-bluetooth-toilet-android-app-vulnerability<]This[/url<] story tells the tale of an "attack" on a Japanese toilet, bluetooth enabled, where neighbors were constantly flushing the toilets of their bluetooth enabled enemies. Costing the owners additional money in water bills or generally creeping them out with the attackers intimate knowledge of their neighbors bowel movements.

        • Alex-M
        • 6 years ago

        I think the manufacturer has already thought of this. The Robosmart bulbs have a security passkey that I can select when pairing with my phone to prevent neighbors from controlling them.

          • willmore
          • 6 years ago

          How long will that take to brute force? πŸ™‚

    • Omniman
    • 6 years ago

    After my recent house purchase I’ve been buying up the Cree 2700K 60W rating bulbs like no tomorrow. Even though the house had a good amount of CFL’s the mixed color warmths in light fixtures looked terrible. The previous owner had 2700K’s mixed with 5000K’s. I’ve been getting lucky and buying the bulbs on ebay in cases of 6 for around $30-$40 which is certainly a steal over what Homedepot wants for them.

      • willmore
      • 6 years ago

      If you happen to live in a state where the power utility subsidizes CFL and LED bulbs, you might be able to pick them up for a lot less. My NJ friends were getting the 60W bulbs for $5.

    • DarkUltra
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]That's a strong claim for a bulb with an 83 CRI. Still, CRI is an imperfect measure, so I'm eager to have a look at one of these things in operation as soon as possible.[/quote<] Yes! Please test the bulbs with a spectromteter. CRI is a poor representation of how a bulb performs and I still haven't found a proper test of bulbs online yet. [i<]A value of 100 means that the color rendition of an observed light bulb is the same as that of a reference illuminant, and that for the 8 reference color. A report done by ASSIST shows a comparison result where people expressed their preference for color rendition of sources emitting light with low CRI value. Even the light of an incandescent light bulb with a CRI of 100 was not preferred.[/i<] [url<]http://www.olino.org/us/articles/2009/11/30/a-close-look-at-the-color-rendering-index-cri-or-ra[/url<]

      • Wirko
      • 6 years ago

      This. Especially considering how easy it is to make a [url=https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~zhuxj/astro/html/spectrometer.html<]$0 spectrometer[/url<], or a [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/Diffraction-Grating-Slide-Holographic-Linear-1000-lines-mm-Lamp-Laser-Spectrum-/270818868831<]$0.99 pro spectrometer[/url<].

    • christos_thski
    • 6 years ago

    Cree is surprisingly us-centric considering the fact there is more (and higher quality) competition in the led bulb market in the United States. It’s a tough market to crack, though they have demonstrably done that successfully. In Europe, we’re stuck with the likes of Toshiba and Samsung, who while large companies, produce nothing close to the warm color accurate led lighting that Cree has made a name for. Way too harsh, almost CFL-like light. The only comparable quality led bulbs available in Europe are the “Master Led” series from Philips, but they’re insanely priced (40 dollars for a 12w bulb when an equivalent Cree bulb sells for 15 bucks in the states)…..

      • aceuk
      • 6 years ago

      Although not as cheap as in the US, you don’t have to spend a lot to get decent LED bulbs in Europe. The following two are my current favourites…

      * LumiLife 9.5w ([url=http://www.ledhut.co.uk/led-bulbs/b22-led-bulbs/10-watt-b22-high-output-standard-shape-led-bulb.html<]Β£11.99[/url<]) * Philips 9.5w ([url=http://www.johnlewis.com/philips-9-5w-bc-energy-saving-led-classic-bulb-frosted/p449244<]Β£14.95[/url<]) Both are pretty similar in terms of light output and switch on instantly.

    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    The only non-LED bulbs in my home now are the ones that run off dimmers, because I’ve yet to find a combination of LED and dimmer switch that doesn’t exhibit mild flicker.

      • UltimateImperative
      • 6 years ago

      I think the best hope is for a smart LED bulb and a signalling dimmer. Dimming LEDs is super easy to do in the driving circuitry, but the same circuitry doesn’t like being plugged into a dimmer that just turns the AC on and off really quickly.

    • 6GTX9
    • 6 years ago

    All I need are rough service light bulbs. anything else this wretched government can think of to milk us dry is nonsense.

      • dmjifn
      • 6 years ago

      For some reason, I keep reading this as:

      All I need is rough service, light bulbs, and anything else this wretched government can think of.

        • 6GTX9
        • 6 years ago

        Wouldn’t be interested in anything else they can pull out of their backsides and try to sell to us. We have enough BS laws on the books as it is.

    • FireGryphon
    • 6 years ago

    I read up on induction lighting, and I don’t see how it’s any different than regular CFL lighting. In both CFLs and induction lights, light is produced by exciting mercury vapor to emit UV, which then hits phosphors. Induction uses magnetic energy instead of electrical energy to do the initial exciting, but the light source is the same past that.

    Tesla was a genius, but someone please explain how induction light is in any way better than fluorescent light.

      • Firestarter
      • 6 years ago

      From what I’ve gleaned from the Wikipedia page, the difference is mainly the lack of electrodes. Apparently the electrodes in a CFL are the parts that wear and fail, where-as an induction coil won’t. Additionally, induction lamps can apparently be more efficient because there’s more flexibility in what gasses/phosphors you use in the lamp because you won’t have to deal with how they might affect the electrodes.

      • Zizy
      • 6 years ago

      Light itself is mostly the same shit. But lamps are somewhat better – more efficient and durable. Neither is vital for consumer market.

      • willmore
      • 6 years ago

      Cathode fall. Sometimes called Cathode droop.

    • uksnapper
    • 6 years ago

    If I were building or indeed rewiring a house I would convert the lighting system to 12 volts,use car LED lights and run the system from a vehicle battery which would be charged by a solar panel.
    I have 6400k spiral wound Pro-lite bulbs in some parts of my house and really like the natural daylight colour,for me so much better than incandescent bulbs.

      • mcnabney
      • 6 years ago

      Running DC in a house is seriously asking for trouble.

        • UltimateImperative
        • 6 years ago

        12 V is a little low perhaps, but people have been running DC successfully for years (in off-grid houses, for instance); it’s perfectly safe as long as you do it properly (following the NEC, etc.)

        • zenlessyank
        • 6 years ago

        Guess all those travel trailer and motorhome companies have been asking for trouble for about 100 years now!!!!

        coal subscriber.

        • Crackhead Johny
        • 6 years ago

        You have to be kidding, AC is the killer, have you seen what it can do to an elephant?!

    • Wirko
    • 6 years ago

    This blog post looks like a serious review but … where are the scatter plots?

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Hmm… we’re having a new house built so this is somewhat sort of an interest for me these days, not that I care much abuot light bulbs. All I really care about are poewr consumption and longevity. As long as I can have both then I’m good to go.

    Btw, any word on the comparison between Switch and UGetLight? Honestly, UGetLight bolsters my perception that China only knows how to manufacture stuff (using machinery bought from European, Japanese or American companies) copied from European, Japanese or American companies, or make stuff according to the specifications of companies from other countries. In terms of engineering, no, it’s at the same level of the quality of their home brands. Sorry guys, no offense, but I really think their products and engineering are subpar.

      • nanoflower
      • 6 years ago

      I’m not so sure that they can’t do it. It’s just that they have no need to do it since they have a huge local market and little to no regulation. So they can build things that barely work under one brand name and sell a lot. When sales drop because of the poor word of mouth they can already be selling the same product under a new brand or even company name.

        • ronch
        • 6 years ago

        I know money is the prime motivator for most companies, but building quality products gives your company prestige and brand value. Right now, I honestly don’t know of any Chinese company that has quality, prestige and legendary brand recognition, and not just selling and gaining market share because they’re cheap.

        Edit – I remember seeing a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolate ripoffs somewhere in the house not long ago. Ripoff from China. I tried some, I regretted it. Oh well, I hope whoever bought them bought them real cheap.

          • EndlessWaves
          • 6 years ago

          Even if you’re discounting Taiwan and Hong Kong you’ve got companies like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE and in a couple of years you might be able to add some car companies to that list, SAIC have recently had success in re-launching the MG brand they bought after the collapse of MG Rover and Qoros is looking pretty serious, their Qoros 3 got a 5 star EuroNCAP rating.

    • Goofus Maximus
    • 6 years ago

    I find this line of inquiry to be illuminating. It is probably a bright idea to shed some light on the full spectrum of developments in this incandescently hot area of shining innovation!

    My problem with these new technologies is the form factor. I’m using the (anything but instant on) CFL bulbs for our dining room light, because it needs the smaller size decorative bulbs. Sticking a full size bulb in the dining room light makes it look ridiculous, like a hippo in a miniskirt. These deco CFLs though take a LONG time to warm up to full brightness. In point of fact, I’ve turned the light back off several times, under the impression that I hadn’t yet turned it ON!.

      • fredsnotdead
      • 6 years ago

      The decorative/candelabra CFLs do take a long time to warm up. I have a couple decorative LEDs in my dining room fixture that have the 1-second delay Scott hates but then produce a lot of light while the 3 CFLs come up to temp.

    • fredsnotdead
    • 6 years ago

    “I believe there may be a different mix of LED colors inside, as well.”

    “White” LEDs are typically blue LEDs with phosphors that absorb some blue light and emit other colors. Presumably, the TW series uses a different mix of phosphors. I’d guess the additional/different phosphors are less efficient but produce colors that fill in the gaps in the spectrum.

      • Thrashdog
      • 6 years ago

      I know that CREE does actually add some green LEDs (edit: apparently it’s a mix of red and yellow), and Xicato (who unfortunately do not make screw-in bulbs) uses some red LEDs under the phosphor to balance out the light mix in some of the their fixtures. The tradeoff is that blue LEDs are most efficient, so while you get higher CRI that way — Xicato’s modules can do better than a 95 CRI — you use more energy to get the same lumens, sometimes even twice as much as an 80-85 CRI fixture.

        • fredsnotdead
        • 6 years ago

        I didn’t know that, thanks for the info.

      • Alex-M
      • 6 years ago

      The TW have a neodymium coating on the glass covers, which gives the bulbs their blue tinge and filters out some of the yellow wavelengths while letting all the red ones through. They use 13.5 W compared to the normal Cree’s 9.5 W though in order to pump out enough lumens through the filter. They were made to qualify for California utility subsidies with a CRI of 93, but I think they are only useful in rooms or situations where you want to emphasize the color of red objects. For the rest of the house, regular LEDs will work just fine and save more energy.

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        Might have been smarter to do like Philips and put a few red LED die in there.

      • FranzVonPapen
      • 6 years ago

      The Cree TW series uses only white LEDs. I took one apart so I’d know.

      No additional LED emitters e.g. the red used by the Philips L-Prize bulb. The magic is all in the blue-tinted glass which absorbs some of the yellow emission of the phosphor.

    • lycium
    • 6 years ago

    Slightly too prophetic there with 2104 πŸ˜‰

    *continues reading*

      • James296
      • 6 years ago

      indeed…..

      P.S. Scott, what did we tell you about doing 88 mph in a Delorean πŸ˜‰

    • just brew it!
    • 6 years ago

    My main beefs with the Crees are the “hole” in the light emission pattern at the top of the bulb, and the fact that they are not recommended for enclosed fixtures. They’ve done a lot right though. LED bulbs are the future, IMO.

    I will not be buying any more CFLs. Reliability sucks compared to what they advertise, and once you factor in the extra effort for disposal when they inevitably die an early death, they just aren’t worth it.

      • Pete
      • 6 years ago

      I thought the Cree only warns against using them alongside _other_ light bulb technologies in an enclosed fixture? I don’t see anything on the packaging about not using them in an enclosed fixture, period. That said, given the rate CFLs burn out in my enclosed (with timer, so two no-nos) outdoor fixtures, I’m not about to chance a $5-15 LED where a $1 CFL (subsidies!) will do.

        • captainhurt
        • 5 years ago

        You can use ANY LED in ANY fixture, especially the CREE which has no warnings of fixture enclosed or not.
        There is, as Pete says, a very specific disclaimer for the scenario of putting SUPERHEATED old fashioned bulbs mixed with the CREE in an enclosure. the concern is that the superheated old bulb might reduce the cree lifespan from 3 decades to maybe 1 or 2 decades.

      • captainhurt
      • 5 years ago

      use cree bulbs in ANY fixture.
      “hole” in light emission? thats just silly, since every bulb has holes all over the place from the fixture, its of no significance.

        • slate0
        • 5 years ago

        No, there is a dark spot the size of a quarter at the pole of the bulb. Luckily most lighting solutions rely heavily on indirect lighting, but if you’ve got a bulb hanging there in a socket, it’s gonna look weird.

    • Stickem
    • 6 years ago

    That NY Times article was interesting.

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