My adventures in LED home lighting

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texaspyro
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I’ve had a chance to play with those Sylvania PAR16 bulbs. Installed in the celing fixtures they run at up 87 degrees C (just about what they run open air). They use 4 Cree XMLs. They put out a LOT more light than the halogens or Chinese bulbs with a whole lot less beam artifacts. I tried putting one of those Chinese bulbs on a bulb extender so that it was not recessed in the fixture and still got the beam artifacts. Looks like I will probably be buying 30 more of the PAR16 bulbs.

I also bought 10 more of the Philips MR16 bulbs ($30 ea), but this time got the commercial grade Endura version (Home Depot sells the AmbientLED version for $25). Enduras puts out 20 more lumens and are supposed to be more better gooder.

They are REALLy nice bulbs. Very clean, even beam, more apparent light than the 50W/900 lumen halogens. They will dim to 0 (about half of them flicker at that setting). I tried hooking one up to a lab supply. I lights up with around 2 volts on it! Looks like I will be buying 20 more.

They are rated for 25,000 hour life, but the warranty is only a pro-rated 15,000 hour warranty. I wonder how they tell how long they ran? I suspect that the circuitry/microprocessor in the driver may have an hour counter stored in EEPROM?

I did mount the MR16 bulbs in my existing gimbal fixtures a bit differently than normal. The bulbs normally shine down on artwork at an angle like the PAR16 bulbs. Instead of clipping the bulbs into the back of the gimbal ring like a normal bulb, I mounted them to the front of the gimbal ring using a couple of pieces of magnet wire. This gets the front of the bulb out another inch or so and raises the top of the beam up a bit (the artwork in the kitchen is only six inches or so from the ceiling). The beam no longer strikes the trim in the fixture which caused some ripples in the beam. It also makes sure that the air vents around the edge of the bulbs are not blocked by the gimbal ring.

texaspyro
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I have some candelabra style LED bulbs mounted in some wall sconces that have been running 24/7 for over two years (say 20,000 hours) (yeah, I’m guilty. I’m saving so much electricity with the LED bulbs that I do keep a few on 24/7 as night lights… using a timer would actually draw more power than leaving them on and switching them off defeats the purpose of having some night lights)

These were built out of 30 or so 5mm warm white LEDs mounted at all angles in a candle flame shaped bulb and are dimmable. Normally this type of bulb construction (like the infamous “shower head” style bulb) is known for very poor lifetime (like a few hundred hours).

I also have a different version of candelabra bulb mounted by some gates at the front porch of my house. These have a frosted envelope and a metal heatsink at the bottom. You can’t tell what’s inside the bulb. They are on a photocell circuit and run maybe 10-12 hours a day so say 10,000 hours on these.

For both types of bulbs, I bought a few spares. I paid around $8-$10 each for the LED bulbs. All the bulbs are still working just fine. I decided to see how much the light degraded after this extended period of use, so I compared the light output of the old bulbs with an unused one. In both cases the light output of the used bulbs was around 15-17% less than the new ones.

The lifetime of mainstream lighting LED bulbs are typically spec’d as how long until the bulb hits 70% of its original output and good ones are rated at 25,000-50,000 hours (you often see the 25,000 hour number because the requirements of the EPA Energy Star rating, they can’t spec a number less than that and get an Energy Star rating, or over that without valid long-term test data).

The candelabra style bulbs are usually rated at around 10,000 hours. So far mine have greatly exceeded this. Hopefully, all the other bulbs will too.

gearjunkie
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What brand/model or candelabra style LED bulbs do you recommend? I am planning to get a few to replace my dining room lights but I don’t know which ones to get. My preference here is a 3000K tint. Thanks.

texaspyro
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gearjunkie wrote:
What brand/model or candelabra style LED bulbs do you recommend?

I am using these in the indoor fixtures:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/E12-30-Dimmable-LED-Candelabra-Candle-Warm-WHITE-120v-crystal-chandelier-light-/190690504508?pt=US_Light_Bulbs&hash=item2c660a2f3c

The ones that I got have a clear bulb, not slightly frosty like the one in the photo. I have them in some wall sconces (single bulb) and a couple of chandeliers. They work well there since the multiple point sources of light play well with the crystals.

I have two more chandeliers that could use them, but I seldom turn those on and they have a lot of bulbs and are not the easiest to get to. I’ll probably do them in a while.

I have bought a lot of stuff from iggybabie without any problems. Their lumen specs are actually reasonable/believable. They supplied the Chinese PAR16 and PAR20 bulbs that I first used. They are OK bulbs, but no match for the Sylvanias which cost me 2-3 times as much. (Just noticed that their price has come down 5 bucks) I had one fail, which they replaced.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PAR20-WARM-WHITE-CREE-LED-X-RE-470LM-BULBS-E27-DIMMABLE-45-degrees-Edison-Base-/160823222330?pt=US_Light_Bulbs&hash=item2571cfa03a#ht_3198wt_802

They no longer list the PAR16 model that I bought…

gearjunkie
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In your opinion, is it worth looking at the more expensive Sylvania’s from Lowe’s instead of the non-branded ones from ebay? I do like easy exchanges if they fail in the near future but I am not sure how long they will honor the exchanges though.

texaspyro
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gearjunkie wrote:
In your opinion, is it worth looking at the more expensive Sylvania’s from Lowe’s instead of the non-branded ones from ebay? I do like easy exchanges if they fail in the near future but I am not sure how long they will honor the exchanges though.

Most definitely. I had perfectly OK Chinese bulbs installed, but replaced them with $40 Sylvanias. There is just no comparison. The Sylvaina PAR20’s are 550 (real) lumens with a 95 CRI. Their heatsinks are heavy castings and the Chinese ones are light weight stampings. Plus, I really like the idea of having an accountable company to go after if things go wrong.

The best bulbs that I have seen are made by Sylvania (closely related to Lighting Science Group and Ecosmart) and Philips. Avoid Lights of America like the plague. I was rather unimpressed by Feit.

Over the last year, I have had two bulbs outright fail. One Sylvaina PAR38 popped an internal fuse and one of the Chinese bulbs died. An internal wire unsoldered itself. It looked like they nicked/pinched a wire when they built the bulb… that caused a short after a year of use. When I took apart the bulb, I was not impressed with how it was built (driver wrapped in tape, poor quality solder joints to the wires). The Sylvania drivers are potted in silicone.

Before LEDs, I was replacing at least one incandescent bulb a week and several dimmers every year. I’d say keep your receipts and the bar code panel from the box. I also mark my bulbs with the installation date. My Philips MR16 bulbs are rated for 25,000 hours but the warranty is pro-rated 15,000 hours (boo, hiss). You need your receipt and proof-of-purchase symbol from the box. The Sylvainas have a straight three year warranty.

gearjunkie
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I’ll be going over to visit the Lowes and Home Depots in my area to see what I can find. Sylvanias seems to have the better warranty here so I will check them out first. Then I will mark the bulbs with the installation dates as you suggested and see how long they last. Thanks for your advice.

texaspyro
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gearjunkie wrote:
Sylvanias seems to have the better warranty

Sylvania straight three year warranty is easy to keep track of. The bulbs are spec’d at 25,000 hours… which is damn near 3 years running 24/7.

The Philips MR16 bulbs are warranted (pro rated over 15,000 hours) on hours of usage. How can one tell how long the bulb has run? My bet is it has a digital hour counter built into the driver firmware.

For bulbs that are used a lot, the Sylvania warranty is best. For bulbs that are used a little, the Philips probably wins.

Vieplis
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texaspyro wrote:

My bet is it has a digital hour counter built into

I would be very surprised if it had.
Tovy Wong
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1. Die-casting aluminum alloy, the thermal conductivity 60-80 W/ (M.K)
2. Cramer Pal aluminum, the thermal conductivity 100-120 W/ (M.K)
3. Lathe aluminium, the thermal conductivity 180-200 W/ (M.K)
4. Cold Forging aluminum, the thermal conductivity 200-230 W/ (M.K)

I got this from an engineer, also i know some led lights of Sylvania and Philips, they do OEM ijn one of my friend’s factory.

Keyland LED

raccoon city
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Welcome to the family, Tovy Wong!

Best0270

texaspyro
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Well, I took the plunge and got 36 more of those Sylvania PAR16 bulbs and 20 more of the Philips MR16’s… $2000… yikes! In the couple of weeks between when I got the first batch of Philips bulbs and the latest batch, they obsoleted the old ones and replaced them with a newer one that is supposed to have a 40,000+ hour life (still spec’d at 25,000 hours, and with the same crappy 15,000 hour pro-rated warranty).

I have the PAR16’s all installed and some of the MR16’s. All working very well. Two of the PAR16’s seem to have a slightly pinkish tint… I moved them to their own alcove, they were in a line of 6 blubs where the tint difference was noticeable. Maybe, someday, CREE will learn to build an LED that does not need to be tint-binned.

Now I need to put those old PAR16 and PAR20 bulbs up on Ebay and get some money back…

texaspyro
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I finally got all of the Phillips 10W MR16 bulbs mounted. Although they are rated at less than 500 lumens, my meter shows more light at the center of the living room (15 bulbs around the edge of the room) than with the (supposedly) 900 lumen 50W halogens. They also have a much better beam profile than the halogens.

I also found that one of my recessed cans had a broken wire on the MR16 socket. Because UL rules require there to be at least 6” of high temp wire on the connectors, they don’t sell just the socket. You have to buy them with wires attached. Easy to splice onto the old wire. I soldered the connections and used teflon heat-shink instead of wire nuts.

Now my only remaining incandescent bulbs are in the microwaves, fridges, and oven. Plus two chandeliers… I have bulbs for those on order ($265, ouch!).

texaspyro
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I got in the chandelier bulbs and installed 21 of them in one of the chandeliers (I thought that it used 18 bulbs). It’s WAY brighter than the old 5W incandescents. I’d say that dimmed down 1/4 output, it is still brighter. Each LED bulb has 30 5mm 2900K LEDs in it, so 630 LEDs total.

Getting to the other chandelier is going to be a royal PITA. It is under a 6 foot diameter round dining room table that is currently covered in crap. It is a bitch to move, so I will probably just climb on the table and pray that it does not topple… I can’t tell for sure how many bulbs are in it. I miscounted on the other one by 3 bulbs… I hope that I have enough…

One potential bad thing about LED bulbs in chandeliers is that the color does not shift as you dim them. That effect can be useful for mood lighting.

Chicago X
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How is the dimming function on the LED bulbs, in practice?

Is it linear? The compact fluorescents were NOT.

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

War Dogs, Making it Home - Rescue Dogs for Returning Vets

texaspyro
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Chicago X wrote:
How is the dimming function on the LED bulbs, in practice?

Is it linear? The compact fluorescents were NOT.

Yes, all the decent LED bulbs tend to be nice and linear. All my light switches are Lutron Diva’s rocker switches with the little side dimmer slide. The 120V bulbs typically dim over a 10:1 range (checked with a lux meter). I thought that the range was less, but the lux-o-meter don’t lie.

Those candelabra bulbs dim over a 30:1 range. In the powder room with 8 bulbs, it is kind of strange. Full dim setting is around 25%, below that they get a little brighter. Does not happen on the 21 bulb chandelier.

Those Philips 12V MR16 bulbs are in Halo fixtures (transformer on each fixture?). They dim down to about 0. On a circuit with 6 bulbs, some are on but flickering at minimum and others are off or on very dim. Increase the level a smidge and they are all on nice and steady. If you turn on the lights while they are dimmed way down, the give a couple of short, bright flashes before stabilizing.

One thing to be aware of is a lot of cheap dimmers don’t like to be lightly loaded and may have issues working when there are just a few LED bulbs on a circuit. I suspect that is why a lot get returned to stores (and why New Life Electronics has a steady supply of “used” bulbs to sell). The Lutron Diva seems to be the gold standard for LED compatibility. I have some with only a single 8W bulb on them and they work great. Almost all the LED bulb makers list them in their compatibility lists. They do make a LED specific dimmer, but the incandescent one works great for me.

ezarc
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I opened this to look at pictures but there isnt any here Sad

sintro
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My dad works for a guy who owns a strip mall. And for the all night outside lighting, they use those sodium err whatever bulbs. And they are $20 each, and they need to be replaced twice a year! It’s rediculous…

Only problem is that he can’t put in regular cfl’s or incandescents because they need to be like candle stick thickness. It’s just overhead lighting too, so omni directional is not needed. Anyone got any suggestions for led ones?

We were just thinking that because the bulbs are already $40 a year in IDK, maybe 4 dozen lights, he might as well buy an led equivalent for the same price, but only have to replace every 3 or 4 years.

mattthemuppet
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lots of interesting articles here, especially this one The modules are pretty expensive, but pay off time is usually in the 3-4yr range taking into account reductions in energy expenditure and maintenance.

Some of the biggest savings come from smart controllers that dim the light at preset times but can come up to full brightness instantly when triggered by a motion sensor.

joe1512
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sintro wrote:
My dad works for a guy who owns a strip mall. And for the all night outside lighting, they use those sodium err whatever bulbs. And they are $20 each, and they need to be replaced twice a year! It’s rediculous…

Only problem is that he can’t put in regular cfl’s or incandescents because they need to be like candle stick thickness. It’s just overhead lighting too, so omni directional is not needed. Anyone got any suggestions for led ones?

We were just thinking that because the bulbs are already $40 a year in IDK, maybe 4 dozen lights, he might as well buy an led equivalent for the same price, but only have to replace every 3 or 4 years.

I am afraid you are SOL. All the LEDs Ive seen that have decent output have substantial heat sinkage with fins. Do they have regular sockets, or the funky 2 pin looking ones? You might try out 1000bulbs.com which seems to have a large browsable selection. You might find something there that could work.

texaspyro
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I finally got around to replacing the under-counter G4 halogen lights in the kitchen with LEDs… all the gruesome details here: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/16245

johnmeyer
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I am taking a rather cautious, slow approach to replacing and upgrading my lighting. I did the same thing with CFL bulbs, and as a result found out for myself how quickly they fail when installed “upside down” in recessed cans and track lights, and how frequent on/off cycles kills them. This is now well documented, of course, but several years ago, when we were all being told to scrap our incandescent bulbs, most people seemed oblivious to these problems.

My first step was to attack my kitchen track lighting which probably accounts for almost half the lighting usage in my house. I have fourteen PAR20 halogens in track fixtures, plus three traditional 75W BR30 bulbs in cans. Close to 1,000 watts, and these are on at least three hours a day. Most lighting in my house is controlled with a central computer, triggered by motion sensors, so the lights are turned on and off as people enter and leave the room. Thus, the lights cycle on & off a LOT, and instant on is mandatory.

My search for the “perfect” 50W halogen PAR20 replacement led me to the Sylvania 78748 bulb. You can read about it here, and also read my review (it is under the same user name as my name in this forum):

Sylvania PAR20 LED

As I note in my review at that site, this bulb is actually brighter than the halogen bulbs, but it is quite a bit cooler in color temperature than its 3000K rating would suggest. I actually did a color measurement (you can measure color temperature by taking a photo of a white card in RAW mode, and then correcting the color in the Photoshop RAW import dialog: Photoshop reads out the color temperature in that dialog) and found these results: the Halogens measure at 2900K; the Sylvania measures at 3150K and the TCP bulb that I purchased later measures 2850K.

The TCP bulb:

TCP LED9E2692027KFL LED 9 Watt PAR20 40 Degree Flood Light

has more even illumination, and is almost the exact brightness as the halogens, but the CRI is lower. This gives the light a slightly “less pleasing” quality. Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100, meaning they put out equal amounts of every color in the visible spectrum. By contrast, LED bulbs only emit discrete color bands within the visible spectrum. Those bands still combine together to produce white light, but the missing colors make you interpret what you see in slightly different ways.

The best way to describe CRI is that the average of the numbers 1, 5, & 9 is 5; the average of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9 is also 5. If the two sets of numbers each represented the discrete colors in the spectrum of a light source, the second set would have a higher CRI. The “missing” colors in any LED bulb’s “white” light is why you may have had the feeling that you are not quite perceiving or seeing things as clearly when something is lit by an LED bulb.

So, for me, I have not quite made up my mind between these two bulbs. The Sylvania is more expensive ($38) compared to the TCP ($26); the Sylvania is brighter than the halogen; the TCP is the same brightness; the Sylvania hass more pleasing color than the TCP, but is bluer than the halogen; the TCP has more even illumination, and the beam spread is much closer to the narrow flood spread in my halogen bulbs.

I am not quite yet ready to replace all my halogen bulbs, but these two bulbs are very close to being the right choice.

texaspyro
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I used the same Sylvania bulbs in my kitchen and office (20 total). I have the ability to measure color temperature and light output. These measure right at 3000K-3050K and 550 lumens… dead on to what Sylvania says. I have not seen any shift in output or color temp over time.

With halogens I was replacing at least one bulb a week and when a bulb blew in the kitchen it would often take out a couple of others and the $35 dimmer. None of the LED bulbs has failed. Highly recommended.

texaspyro
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I just had one of the Sylvania 10W PAR20 bulbs die. I was browsing BLF in my home office and the LED suddenly turned into a DED (dark emitting diode). That bulb was installed the week of 24 Feb 2012… pretty much exactly one year ago. It will be interesting to see how Sylvania handles warranty claims.

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Some states allow 120v +/- 5% at your house, others allow +/- 10%.
If your house voltage is above the high side for your state its public utility commission might be interested in hearing about it.

texaspyro
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I have high voltage… even 130V bulbs didn’t last. And obscenely high water pressure.

I’m assuming that LED bulb failure was just a random thing. We’ll see. In the year it was working, at least 4 or 5 halogen bulbs would have died in the office.

bose301s
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If they don’t make you return it open it up and post it’s guts on here, interested to see who’s LED it is using etc.

texaspyro
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bose301s wrote:
If they don’t make you return it open it up and post it’s guts on here, interested to see who’s LED it is using etc.

Well, since it’s from Sylvania/Osram, I’d assume it’s Osrams.

But then their PAR16 bulbs have four XML’s. I did take apart one of their 15 watt PAR38 bulbs. It had a array chip on it… looked like it may have been from Citizen. That bulb died because it blew an internal picofuse.

DimBulb
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texaspyro wrote:
I have high voltage… even 130V bulbs didn’t last. And obscenely high water pressure.

I’m assuming that LED bulb failure was just a random thing. We’ll see. In the year it was working, at least 4 or 5 halogen bulbs would have died in the office.

You may be able to use a buck-boost transformer in the buck mode to reduce your house voltage and a pressure regulator to put your water PSI at between 20 and 80, commonly 40 to 60.

texaspyro
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texaspyro wrote:
I just had one of the Sylvania 10W PAR20 bulbs die. I was browsing BLF in my home office and the LED suddenly turned into a DED (dark emitting diode). That bulb was installed the week of 24 Feb 2012… pretty much exactly one year ago. It will be interesting to see how Sylvania handles warranty claims.

I took my DED light bulb back to whence it came. They plucked a new one off the shelf and gave it to me (they kept the old one). I asked the guy how many LED bulbs (out of the thousands that they have sold) have they had to replace… a grand total of 4 bulbs (2 Philips PAR38 bulbs, my Sylvania PAR20, and a Sylvania MR16)

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