Will LED Lightbulbs Outshine CFLs?

There’s been much talk of CFLs replacing traditional incandescent bulbs, but it may be LED lightbulbs that take the spotlight.

Manufacturers say the lightbulbs containing the light-emitting diodes found in the ON lights for electronic devices can last up to 50,000 hours. Compare that to 10,000 for CFL and 1,000 for incandescents.

The Department of Energy says lighting uses 22% of the nation’s electricity. Mass LED lightbulb use could halve that demand. One such light produces produces lighting equivalent to 25 watts of light, but only consumes 5.8. Another only uses 11 watts and produces produces lighting equivalent to 40 watts of light.

Right now price is still high for Dick and Jane, $15-$85 per bulb, but one white-light diode maker says, “By the middle of next year, they’ll be priced for consumers.” — BEN POPKEN

Light bulb may be on its way out [Seattle P-I]


Edit Your Comment

  1. hop says:

    things don’t give out much heat either…….

  2. EastBayAnt says:

    What are the options for LED bulbs (warm, cool, full-spectrum, etc…?)

  3. comedian says:

    I know this is but a quibble, but the engineer in me has to write it.

    Alternate lighting technology produces lighting equivalent to the light output of higher wattage incandescent bulbs, it does not “produces 25 watts of light, but only consumes 5.8.”

    If you devise a light bulb that could produce more energy than it consumes you would have created the holy grail of crackpots everywhere — The Perpetual Motion Machine.

  4. Triteon says:

    @hop: ….and they achieve full brightness right away, unlike many CFLs.

  5. DeeJayQueue says:

    the thing about LED lighting, and maybe i’m the only one who’s noticed this and maybe i’m crazy, is that they don’t give off any ambient light. If you look at them they’re bright, and whatever they’re aimed at is lit up pretty well, but they don’t cast much light around them like an incandescent bulb does. Check out those LED garden lights. They look neat in someone’s yard but they don’t light up the sidewalk at all. Now look at a yard with regular garden lights, you can see the whole yard with just a few 5w bulbs.

    It seems to me that using these LED bulbs is like trying to light up your house with a laser.

  6. sporesdeezeez says:

    True dat, hop. The whole not-so-much-heat issue is, IIRC, the lynchpin in this whole efficient lighting shebang. All the heat generated by incandescent bulbs comes from the power grid, so you’re payin’ for it. Outside of Scandanavia, most people don’t take advantage of that heat for their homes. CFs still can get pretty hot, I notice, so from that perspective I think LEDs will be quite promising.

    Some interesting reading on the ol’ Wik.

    I’m not clear on the flicker-iness of potential LED bulbs from reading that, though. Maybe some alpha geek on here can tell us something about that? We know incandescents don’t flicker because of thermal inertia; CFs flicker like their full-size cousins, but at a very high frequency so it’s not likely to cause a problem. It sounds like LEDs will either flicker at about 50-60Hz or will have to ship with rectifiers to make DC, which will decrease efficiency, dump heat, etc. Or can the CF feat of upping the flicker frequency be done with LEDs?

  7. sporesdeezeez says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Interesting point. I wonder if designing diffusers for LEDs is trickier somehow. But garden lights might be a bad sample, you know? Premiums in that design, I would guess, are weather-proofing and damage tolerance. Interior lighting would probably see more time and manufacturing effort spent on diffusers, don’t you think? Where are our engineers/geeks?

  8. John Stracke says:

    @sporesdeezeez: Another approach to reducing flicker would be to pair up the LEDs, so that half of them light when the voltage is positive and half when it’s negative. You’d still have some flicker as the voltage passes through zero, but you’d be eliminating half of the dark period, anyway.

  9. SOhp101 says:

    DJQ is right, that’s why if you notice on many new cars that have LED taillights have one that shine on the side of the car, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see the rear end of the car.

    Comedian is right also… the article actually states it correct but Consumerist paraphrased it incorrectly.

  10. Antediluvian says:

    In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

  11. mantari says:

    Believe it. I have some LED lights in my home. (Purchased from Action Lighting at a good price.) Cost is still a bit high. But the light put out isn’t all that bright. That particular one isn’t dimmable, because they use a tiny switching transformer to produce a flickerless light (from 60hz AC). These things are still niche players.

    Ben’s wrote, “…but one white-light diode maker says…”. My understanding is that the white-light diode is still elusive. What they use are UV diodes, and have that fluoresce.

    UPDATE: I checked Wikipedia. It turns out, they do make white light LEDs, but they are very rare. The vast majority seem to be blue or ultraviolet LEDs that are converted into white.

  12. Mojosan says:

    As an aside, I spent about $450.00 3 months ago replacing 90% of my homes lighting with CFL’s.

    My energy use did not go down. Feb/Mar/Apr of 2007 (with the new bulbs) were even in Kw’s to 2006.


  13. Antediluvian says:

    Wow, so much misinformation about LED’s in one place, where to start.

    LED’s don’t emit in a focused beam like a laster. Everyone’s seen those little single-LED push-button flashlights for keychains, right? That’s how LED’s usually shine — it’s nearly omnidirectional, much like a floodlight. However, each LED is not very bright, so you can’t use them to light up an object unless you can direct more of their light — like a spotlight. That’s how those slightly better LED flashlights work — little “focus tubes” to concentrate the light.

    And all those LED garden lights? Understand that the limitations there are NOT the LED’s but the power supply. LED garden lights that are wired can cast lots of light, but the ones that are widely used are SOLAR. They are limited by their battery capacity and their solar collector capacity. If you had a larger battery and a better collector, you could have brighter light.

    You absolutely can use current LED’s to light up a room, a house, or an airport. You’re just going to pay for them up front in purchase costs. If you’re not trying to recoup that money in energy savings, great. You might also want to run them on DC so they won’t flicker, but the flickering exactly the same as w/ fluorescent bulbs.

    I love LED’s — they’re fun, interesting, and have some amazing potential. Stay tuned everyone!

  14. mantari says:

    @sporesdeezeez: Oh. *NOW* I see your comment! The most simple (cheapest) design would be to run LEDs at 30hz (on each side of a sine wave). Unfortunately, the flicker would drive you crazy. (Try lighting a room with a cheap set of LED Christmas lights, and you’ll see.)

    The next step up is a full wave recifier which would allow your LEDs to refresh at 60hz. This is adequate enough to create ‘flickerless’ Christmas lights, which can even be dimmed. More expensive and _very_ modern LED christmas lights will do this.

    Beyond that are more complex options which increase size, cost, and potentially efficiency or heat. Yes, similar to CFLs, but without the high voltages. Then again, you should see the power factor of my LEDs which I believe to use a switching transformer. They’ve got a very ugly power factor which would pollute the electrical mains if deployed in some quantity.

  15. zentec says:

    Another problem is the light produced by LEDs and some compact florescent lighting isn’t truly broad spectrum. There’s many bands of missing wavelengths and that’ll produce interesting effects with some digital video and photography cameras.

    “We can’t figure out why grandma looks so blue in this photo, we know she was alive when we took this picture”. It’s not grandma, it’s the CFLs or LED lights in the lamp sitting next to her.

  16. Antediluvian says:

    Clarification re: flickering:
    Run on AC the flickering is exactly the same as fluorescent bulbs. With transformers in the line somewhere (at the socket or somewhere before the power hits the diode), you can have flickerless LED light. Sometimes this is important, sometimes it’s not.

  17. NeonCat says:


    What you want to do in that case, if your digital camera allows it, is to set the white balance manually or if it has some white balance modes but not a manual selection, choose the one that makes the picture look most correct.

  18. foghat81 says:

    @Antediluvian: awesome :)

    I’ve never found a way to use that line in everyday conversation. Kudos!

  19. Pasketti says:

    @Mojosan: I spent $90 a year or so replacing ALL incandescents in the house with CFs.

    It paid for itself in 6 months.

  20. categorically says:

    I still don’t think I’ll jump. CF has a weird glow to it and takes some time to “warm up”. While LED will solve some of this, I’m not sold on the feeling it gives off. Of course I only have LED nightlights to go off of.

    I’ll probably stick to incandescents for years to come.

  21. Daemon_of_Waffle says:

    I’ve see people complaining about the ‘warm-up’ period of CFLs. Why is that such an issue? The CFLs take, at most, a minute reach maximum. By the time you’ve flicked the switch, taken your shoes off, and collapsed on the couch, the lights are bright. I have CFLs in my bathroom and they aren’t bright right off, but by the time my shower water is warm, the lights are warm. Not such an issue that I can see.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    @Mojosan: you get an actual read or are you on estimated?

    this will definitely take off soon. the led flashlights alone have gotten 20x brighter in just the past year or so. LED has undergone some real interesting changes over the past few years that have enabled some pretty cool advancements. look for LEDs in (non-dlp) hdtv sets soon too!

  23. categorically says:

    @Daemon_of_Waffle: I don’t know about you, but when I turn on a light, I usually start reading right away. I guess my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but I still need a nice bright light to read. Plus as I said the color makes the pages of the book look weird.

  24. comedian says:

    The warm up time of CFLs is usually only important in applications where you don’t really need a CFL.

    In a closet, or other rarely-occupied location, you often need light only for a short period of time, but when you need the light you want it to power up quickly, get the job done, then turn the light back off.

    If a bulb needs to be run for longer than needed, so that it warms up to the point that it provides adequate illumination for the task at hand, its lower power consumption won’t really save you that much energy.** Given infrequent use, says minutes per month, it is hard to justify the cost of a CFL for seldom used light fixtures.


    ** Reduced power consumption saves energy over time, as shown by the quick unit analysis:

    Energy = Power * Time

    For example:

    1 KWh = 1000 (Watts * hours)

    Conversely, if you install a bunch of CFLs to save energy, but wind up leaving the bulbs on longer than you used to you’ll quickly chew up the savings of the bulb.

  25. velocipenguin says:


    Can’t the power factor be adjusted closer to 1 by adding appropriately selected reactive elements to the load? This is pretty basic stuff – it may not be present in cheap LED light strings, but I’d be shocked if an $85 LED light bulb didn’t have power factor correction circuitry.

  26. Triteon says:

    OK, I’m really getting confused by all the physics here. Maybe I’ll just take up chandlering.

  27. Antediluvian says:

    @Daemon_of_Waffle: There’s also a problem w/ CFL’s in colder environments — such as outdoor entry lights. They remain dim if they’re very cold, or remain dim longer until they warm up. For us it’s not a problem because we don’t expect them to cast tons of light, just enough to see the step onto the porch.

    When you’re using them, as others have said, for short-term or instant purposes, the warm-up time is problematic. In many circumstances you can wait, but sometimes you can’t.

  28. Right now price is still high for Dick and Jane, $15-$85 per bulb, but one white-light diode maker says, “By the middle of next year, they’ll be priced for consumers.”

    Sucks for all us people who just outfitted their homes with CFLs. Aren’t they supposed to last for, like, seven years? In six years, will my environmentally-conscious friends chastise me for using outdated CFLs?

  29. brokenboy says:

    @mantari: A 60Hz AC sine wave has 60 positive and 60 negative sides per second. A single LED hooked to the power line would be on half the time, off half the time, and would “flicker” at 60Hz, not 30Hz.

    I don’t understand all this talk of transformers reducing flicker. Transformers change voltage, not frequency. You still get a 60Hz AC wave out. What you need to reduce flicker is an inductor or capacitor, both of which can be used to store energy for use during the low voltage points of the wave.

  30. Pasketti says:

    @cageyjames: Some brands have different warmup times. I was fortunate in that most of ones I got turn on immediately, and at full brightness. The ones that didn’t got put into closets. The only ones we have that need a little warmup time are the small ones over the vanity in the bathroom.

    Another thing to check is the color temperature. It’s a measure of how “white” the light is, and is measured in degrees K. 5000K to 6500K are considered full-spectrum or daylight. I put 6500K fluorescents (the 48 inch tubes) in our kitchen. Nice bright white light.

  31. RubyKhan says:

    I just converted several of my rooms from a combination of CFL’s to LED’s. The light is very different, and I think, much nicer at night.

    The main reason I switched was for the lower heat emission. I live in Arizona and in the summer, even the heat emitted from CFL’s can make a big difference. If you live in a warm state, I would definitely recommend LED’s. It makes the house much more liveable in the evening.

    I’ve been buying mine from donsgreenstore.com and he has been great to work with. The prices are not that bad either $8.75 – $15.95 per light.

  32. derobert says:

    Something doesn’t sound right about the wattages given for the LED lights in the post. A 40-watt equivalent CFL runs around 10W (I own some rated at 9W), so the LEDs are actually being given as less efficient.

    The 50,000 hour lifespan and instant on are nice, but my 9W CFLs were <$4 each.

  33. MagicOfLight says:

    Consumer beware, the market is about to be flooded with crappy LED products that won’t work as advertised. White LED products are not ready for prime time. They are expensive, the color is a bit weird, the light output relatively weak and they won’t last as long as advertised. But they are fun and work great in flashlights, toys, cars, stop lights and cell phone chargers.

    Most important to know is LED’s are sensitive to heat and work best in a fixture designed specifically for LEDs. In other words this is a terrible retro-fit product (unlike compact florescents). LED manufactures are notorious for quoting 50,000 hours — which may be accurate for a raw LED in the lab, but does take into account the entire fixture package stuffed into a hot environment. The color is so weird, the industry is struggling for new and more accurate methods for describing what visible light is.

    For now CFL’s provide the best quality light and the most energy savings. Metal Halide (MH) is also a lightbulb worth considering. Sylvania just released a PAR38 MH lamp that is a true retrofit product and has the ballast built in. GE makes a 20 watt lamp that produces 90 watts worth of light. The color is a bit weird, but hey — it’s sustainable.

    For example, the following information was gleaned from this months “Lighting Design and Application.” A 15 watt LED will put out 300 lumens (and bad color rendering), a 15 watt Cfl reflector lamp will put out 675 luments (with good color rendering) and a 65 watt reflector lamp will produce 680 watts of light (and good color rendering)

  34. FLConsumer says:

    Has anyone seen amber LED strip-lights? I’d be interested in getting some to put on my patio for night-time “bug lighting” with a bit of a high-tech flair and practicality to it.

  35. sporesdeezeez says:

    @brokenboy: You’re right, but I think this blog is not the place to hold people to their EE terminology, you know? That’s more like Slashdot. I’ve heard of people calling wall warts “transformers” although technically they’re rectifiers. A proper rectifier includes a reservior capacitor, as you suggest, coupled with a diode to regulate the direction of the electrical flow.

    John Stracke had a good point, though I would hope that the suggestion of putting some LEDs on one polarity and the rest on another would be exactly how they do it today. Otherwise, it won’t just flicker – it will be off half the time!

    I’m pretty convinced that if the application requires flickerless light – which I think Antediluvian correctly noted is sometimes important, and sometimes not – you’d have to employ a rectifier. Either that or whatever it is that automagically makes CFs flicker at very high rates.

  36. Antediluvian says:

    @brokenboy: Sorry if I misused “transformer” — my EE knowledge comes from some experience but mostly through via the hubby, since he actually has the letters after his name to prove he’s smart. I have soldered PCB’s, but only for fun and not profit.

    By “transformer” I intended a device to convert from AC to DC. LED’s run on DC won’t flicker; the DC converter on my desk here is labeled “Class 2 Transformer” so I borrowed from that.

    Converter, rectifier, transformer, etc.

    A “device” — how ’bout that? :-)

  37. joedirt says:

    You’re right, but I think this blog is not the place to hold people to their EE terminology, you know? That’s more like Slashdot. I’ve heard of people calling wall warts “transformers” although technically they’re rectifiers. A proper rectifier includes a reservior capacitor, as you suggest, coupled with a diode to regulate the direction of the electrical flow.

    Wow. this whole group of comments hurts my brain badly. I just checked every wall wart in this room. Not only are they “transforming” the voltage, they are in fact voltage regulators. I can’t find one that is a simple rectifier.

    Also, a proper rectifier includes two or more diodes, not one and a cap. Typically more. Power factor and reactance has nothing to do with how much energy you are using, only how much the power company bills you for. Think of an inductor as an AC-only resistor… So, like a resistor uses power, at AC voltages, you can consider an inductor more or less as akin to a resistor. Someone has to generate the electricity that is lost the to EM fields.

    Finally all $80 LED lights have some advance power transistors on board which take care of all the “flicker” and AC nonsense people seem obsessed with. You don’t just plug LEDs into a light socket. LEDs are less efficient than CF, but that may change as technology advances, but from a lifetime cost and less maintainence, for both workers and landfills, it is a benefit.

  38. swalve says:

    I wonder what the startup power of CFLs is? IE, if the CFL is in a hallway or some other place where it’s being turned on and off all the time, it’s probably using more power than a regular lightbulb. Also, never buy a CFL without seeing it running in the store. I’ve been very happy with mine, now that I’ve figured these things out.

  39. justinwstephens says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what hasn’t been mentioned here is that CFL’s are not appropriate for enclosed lighting fixtures, damp/moist areas (bathrooms) or outside applications. Also, CFL’s that produce a decent amount of light are often much larger than their incandescent counterparts which makes them useless for fixtures with limited space.

  40. Arachnivore says:

    OK, where to start…

    @Joedirt Your wall warts all contain transformers to step down the voltage from the socket which is necessary in most DC applications especially LEDs. Also, energy loss due to reactance is still energy lost. The energy companies don’t just make up numbers off the top of their heads and bill you for it. I know all those imaginary numbers involved in analyzing AC circuits might be confusing but it doesn’t mean that the results are imaginary.

    Where I live CFLs are about $1 each and consume only 9W while putting out an equivalent of 60W of incandescent light. This means they are more efficient and COOLER than LEDs. That being said, I don’t know what kinds of toxic chemicals go into LED lights but CFLs have been getting some bad press for the mercury in them.

  41. Nerys says:

    Ok LED – First they DO produce heat 80% of the power going into them comes out as heat (though this is a LOT better than both CFL and Incandescent) thats why that bulb in the picture has the nice big heatsink on the base. that heatsink WILL get “almost” hot enough to burn you at least hot enough to make you want to let go.

    Second LED’s do produce pretty directional light. its like a POINT source of light (it actually is) this is enhanced by the epoxy shell around it. Good fixtures use a differently shaped epoxy shell to spread the light out a bit.

    I purchased these 4ft long 300LED tubes off ebay for $30 a pop. they are insanely bright easily 90-100watts eq light with 12watts consumption. BUT they burned out pretty darned fast (3 weeks) well not burn out the phosphor that makes them pure white burned away and they dimmed.

    They also ran way to hot 112′F in the winter 150′+ in the summer !! So I got a variac and turned the voltage down to 80volts. Perfect. (the manufacturer was not all that familiar with how led’s worked and was overdriving them trendously) at 80volts they produce about 60% of the light they made at full power. BUT now they run 6-10′F above ambient and in 2 months they have not lost there white color or dimmed any further. I am VERY VERY happy. I use 5 of these to light my room and its BRIGHTER and more evenly lit than 2 300watt floor lamps (halogen) I put one on each wall up at the ceiling and aimed “inward” this spread the light out and eliminates the “shadowing” that a point source causes.

    They consume a TOTAL of 21watts of power !!! this is so little power that I run them through a UPS a can light my room for days without power (normal usage not 24 hours a day) about 10-14 hours straight on a 300watt UPS)

    I use one 198led tube in each bathroom. Since they are on for such a short time I let them run at 120v so far no problem and will probably be ok as long as no one leaves the lights on. Later on I will put 2 tubes ($19 a pop in bulk) in each bathroom and drop them to 80v so I won’t have to worry about it)

    I also got this 5watt (actually only consumes 4 watts) bulb from another ebayer. Its like the bulb above but uses SMT led’s instead of the CREE watters and its quite nice. It produces around 30watts of light perfect for the fixture above the sink and my night table lamp. That cost me $21

    I also got these cute little bulbs that have 18 normal white led’s in them. I have had one running for 2 weeks now no dimming color change and no discernable heat. These are WAY to dim for primary lighting but they are pretty impressive when you consider that with THREE of them plugged in I still can not get my Kill-a-watt to even read 1 watt :-) hehe they will be good as ambient lighting or adding some light to a slightly dark corner.

    I also got these neat “normal” shaped bulbs. $20 for the 30 led and $30 for the 66led (have not gotten a 66 yet no money right now) so far its perfect. I would say its about eq to a 20watt incandescent but more blue (but still white) Together with many of its kind will be great in bathroom fixtures especially if he can make a WARM variety. this one also has had no problems with color or output shift. Once I can afford it I plan to buy 4 more to use in my pop’s bathroom. They consume 2.4 watts each. the 66led consume 4.2watts.

    Search ebay for 198led and you will probably find the tubes JUST REMEMBER buy yourself a VARIAC to go with it and drop the voltage to 80v (use a meter the dials on the variacs are not even close) to confirm stick a thermometer in the end of the tube after 30 minute it should not be more than 10 or so ‘F above whatever the temp in your room is. You want to try to keep them as close to or below 90′F as higher than this is harmful to most LED’s

    They are WONDERFUL but YOU NEED the variac for these !!! as they are improperly designed (the resistor permits way to much current) 4-6 of these will easily light ANY average sized room if you disperse them at the tops of the ceilings (I put a hole in the ceiling at each point ran the wires in the attic to my closet where they come to a power strip the variac and my UPS) I then use a wireless remote switch to turn them on and off (the switch goes AFTER the UPS :-) hehe) its wonderful clean refreshing pure light I LOVE THEM. I hope by this time next year to have largely switched over to LED in all my lighting. In a business its a no brainer. Once I convert my dad’s place to LED’s It will pay for itself in less than 12 months and save around $300 a month on the electric bill !! Its easy to get the savings in a business environment since they are run 18 hours a day. at home the savings are there but MUCH MUCH smaller. How many hours a day do you burn each room ? the only “bulb” that gets huge run time is the kitchen or whatever your PRIMARY room is and even that is probably under 8 hours a day. ITs also the hardest to replace (usually a set of 4ft Flouro’s) since its usually a large room and a LOT of light is desired. It can be done but costs more since you need more lights.

    LED is the future !! no question about it. these 198led tubes on the variac should in a home environment last longer than you will and give your kids a run for there money. put out 50-60watts of well dispersed light at a consumption of around 4-5 watts of power!

    ITs a good thing!
    The power draw is so low its suddenly withing the grasp of normal people to COMPLETELY remove there lighting from the grid. its almost affordable to buy a modest solar panel and battery to run ALL the lights in your house if you can goto LED. I figure I can light my house for around 400-500watts in total power (100% of lights ON) if I could switch completely to LED.

    so I figure 1500watts of battery power will take me through a WEEK if I am careful 4 days if I am sloppy so I just need enough solar capacity to charge this battery from flat to full in 1 full day of sunlight. with that configuration you should be able to keep the sun ahead of your draw and never have to plug into the grid at all (at least for lighting) thats a start. I figure once you have the lights you could do the battery and solar for around $1200. not too bad still a bit pricey for normal average joe but not out of the question either.

  42. Nerys says:

    CFL’s ok some rules I ONLY buy 2 brands of CFL’s from now on. Sylvania and GE – so far these are the only ones who WARRANTY there bulbs. I have NEVER had a CFL last more than a year maybe 1.5 years (I now DATA mark all my CFL as this REALLY annoys me) I get 10,000 plus hours out of my Incandescents I expected the damned CFL’s to at least approach that!! (I only buy heavy duty Incandescents that are rated at 15,000 hours in 75 and 100watt varieties) 4 bulbs $2.30

    Anyway both sylvania and GE provideo a 5 year warranty. I date marked the bulbs and scanned the reciepts and packaging into the computer. I will hold them to there claimed run times :-)

    the 23watt sylvania’s are a bit bigger than a normal bulbs but there output is literally indistinguishable from a 60watt soft incandescent in brightness and color !! (they are a TINY bit brighter than a 60watt incandescent and a tiny bit dimmer than a 75watt incandescent)

    Don’t believe me ?


    Find the CFL’s and the Incandescent’s ?
    Here is one of the LED fixtures (renovating the bathroom don’t mind the mess :-)


    As you can see the LED is much whiter and just a tiny bit blue (does not really look blue just seems to be a “cold” light versus a warm light.

    as you can see this ONE led tube “illuminates” this half of the bathroom ALMOST as well as those 4 bulbs on the other side do and it consumes a hell of a lot less power (12watts versus over 100 watts)

    This will not apply in ALL situations. the LED fixture is producing a LOT less light than the other 4 bulbs but the light it DOES produce is being USED a lot more effeciently

    Notice if virtually dark (relatively speaking) behind the tube. all the light is going OUT into the bathroom. that means it can produce HALF the light and illuminate the bathroom almost as much. (that wasted light going back and reflecting into the room from the normal fixture IS what helps to remove shadowing and create that ambient “glow” that you lose with LED’s thats why you need multiple fixtures at different intersecting points in the room but you still end up using FAR less power than EVEN CFL’s would use and they last a hell of a lot longer and are a LOT cheaper. a good CFL is $4-$5 this LED tube cost me $19 but will last SOOO much longer. at my house I did some math on my power bill and we pay a penny for every 99.28watts of power we use. a 60watt incandescent costs about 37cents a month to run (2 hours a day for a bathroom is a good figure)

    The 23watt CFL costs 14cents a month and the Dual LED tubes at there proper 80volts consume 8watts of power so costing just under 5 cents a month

    So I am saving 33 cents compared to the Incandescent and and 18cents a month to the CFL.

    NOW keep in mind the way I am using this LED tube I am replacing FOUR normal bulbs !! so if we use the CFL and say we use the 13watt cfl since we are using 4 of them thats 32cents a month savings of 28cents over the CFL’s in electricity.

    Well you say why bother ? wel first its cumulative. its good for nature and in the LONG RUN its good for your pocket book or bank account. Lets look at 10 years down the road. lets assume you get LUCKY and manage to get these CFL’s to last 2 years each. they are $4 each thats $16 every 2 years so $80 plus 10 years of power so $38.40 and we are not even counting your cost in gasoline to go get them etc..

    the LED bulb will cost you $50 (I got it for $19 because I bought 20 of them) it will consume $5.76 of power in 10 years. for a todal of $30.76

    Grand Total for LED is $55.76 CFL is $118.50 You actually start to SAVE over the CFL’s after 5 years !!!

    And these are REAL numbers measured by me not some crap shoot idealistic numbers from a manufacturer.

    NOW consider this. That LED tube will probably STILL last another 70-80 years !!!

    Incandescents are a bit different. Lets assume 2 100watt bulbs since 4 of even the 75watt bulbs would be way more light than we need)

    lets assume 4 years on each bulb (remember I buy the nice heavy duty bulbs) $1.21 a month in E

    so in ten years $145.20 in electricity !!! the bulbs will cost you about $4 (4 years each so 4 bulbs to life limit and 2 more to half there limit so roughly $4 (its small enough not to matter)

    EVEN the cheap $2.30 a pack long life Incandescents are passed up by the LED’s in less than 3.5 years !!!

    We should not have to add gasoline and time to the Incandescents since they are cheap enough that you can buy 10 years worth and store them.

    the CFL’s however are too expensive for most people to buy 10 years worth (and stupid as you waste the warranty time and they will get cheaper in time or better etc..) so you also have to factor that into it.

    ALSO remember the LED is not only cheaper after only 3.5 to 5 years but its also maintenance free for LIFE! sure some will fail its inevitable but overall for the average person they should be effectively everlasting.

    I got this clamp on lamp for my dad. Insanely bright easily the equal of a 60-65watt bulb!! (uses 120 white led’s) Cost me $26 and uses 4.5 watts of power. this light probably gets usage of 8-10 hours a day (he ALWAYS leaves the damned thing on at night. compared to the 60watt bulb he used before lets do the math and assume to be generous 8 hours a day.

    Incandescent 60watts 2 years. $1 bulb
    LED 4.5watts 2 years (everlasting) $26 ENTIRE fixture bulb and lamp but lets assume we had a freeby lamp for the 60watt bulb $1.45 a month in E so 2 years is $34.80 in E plus the bulb so $35.80

    The LED fixture was $26 and costs $0.10 cents a month and $2.61 in 2 years.

    ALREADY cheaper than the Incandescent and it will last another 18 years easily probably a lot longer and you never have to buy or replace the bulb.

    Then you have the SAFETY side. 4.5 watts of E versus 23-60 watts (CFL or Incandescent) lower power means lower load less chance of short or fire or BURN injuries etc..

    No more step stools of ladders to change bulbs etc.. etc.. No more trips to the store to buy bulbs etc.. etc.. its just all around a good thing.

    For a home user the savings against CFL’s come from cost of replacing those bulbs for incandescents if trips to the store and electricity. and in only a few years !!! after that its pure savings !

  43. Nerys says:

    Sorry for posting so many comments but I forgot to mention the enclosed fixture issue. YES this is correct for CFL’s but it has to do with HEAT. ie in an enclosed fixture or a ceiling recessed fixture the HEAT has no place to go except UP which is “contained” this VERY rapidly kills the bulb (as in MONTHS) so you need to properly VENT the fixture so the heat has an easy path OUT and away from the bulb itself. for Glass Enclosures this is hard but for Hat Lights its not so hard. Remove the fixture drill a few LARGE 1/4″ or larger holes (4-6 should do it) and make sure nothing is COVERING those holes on the other side (insulation etc..) check it with a thermometer after running for an hour. if you can get rid of the heat you will be ok.

  44. Nerys says:

    @Nerys: THIS ALSO applies to higher power LED fixture (anything over 1watt) you also need to “get rid” of the heat. so the same issue apply though a glass enclosure will be less of a problem for an LED bulb the HAT fixture is an issue IE vent it to rid the heat.

  45. MagicOfLight says:

    I wanted to check back to see if folks are still posting on this topic. Wow! My main comment is that it will take a few years (3-10) before LED fixtures are ready for the mass market. As the posting describe there are still issues that need to be worked out with reliability, color, and thermal management. As it should be the tech heads are on the Avant Garde for the rest of us.

    The most amazing fixture I have seen comes from Renaissance Lighting. Check them out at http://www.renaissancelighting.com. Most lighting solutions aren’t rocket science. This is! From there website–>

    “Inspired by research associated with an US Air Force laser guided weapon countermeasures program, a talented group of scientists and engineers (some of whom are founders of Renaissance Lighting) conceived of a fundamentally new approach to distributing and collecting electromagnetic energy. They achieved this by combining certain components, including a “mask” and a “cavity,” into an optical system that controls the distribution of light. The scientists, noting the rather incredible characteristics of the highly specialized emitter, investigated the possibilities of using the technology to create customized lighting distributions. The results of these experiments gave birth to the highly uniform, tailorable light distributions now known as Intelli Blendâ„¢.

    In its most basic form, Intelli Blendâ„¢ is a proprietary geometry of diffuse optical surfaces where the surface component dimensions and the relative ratios of those dimensions are manipulated to achieve a precise lighting distribution. In function, this geometry works much like the facets of a specular reflector to redirect light to the desired location; only in the case of Intelli Blendâ„¢, diffuse materials are used instead of specular surfaces.”

  46. MagicOfLight says:

    @MagicOfLight: oh– all that technical gobligook about “Intelli” Blend” means the LED, Metal Halide or Incandescent source is aimed at a specially shaped white disk. The typical reflector bounces attempts to bounce the light as few times as possible because each bounce absorbs light. With this specially shaped verrry white disk (completely lambertian) the light bounces around as many times as possible before exiting the fixtures.

    The unit uses multible color LED’s so with the turn of a single knob you can get different colors of white (various Kelvin temps), different colors (red, blue, green, ect.) plus control the intensity of any color chosen. Totally neato.