The false economy of in home LED lighting

I was replacing at least one or two bulbs a week. Since switching to LEDs, I have not replaced a single bulb in over two years. With modern, quaility LED bulbs, color temp and tint is not an issue. The ones in my office and kitchen are Sylvania UltraLED 3000K, 95 CRI.

The problem with both CFLs and LEDs is that neither one will work in my daughters’ easy-bake oven! :wink:

Seriously though, I’ve always disliked CFLs and I can’t wait until LEDs come down in price. We just redid our bathroom and I installed 5 LED pot lights (HALO brand?). Couldn’t be happier other than the $.

You can also dim CFL, as well as halogen :wink:

CFL = mature technology. Is it any wonder they’re so cheap?
LED = new technology. This means higher prices and lower performance right now.

Will CFLs offer higher lumens per watt in the future? Not very likely. Will LEDs offer higher lumens per watt in the future? Absolutely!

One thing that has been touched upon: CFLs, in my experience, don’t last. They’re cheaper to buy, but, you will be replacing them about as often as replacing incandescent bulbs. I’ve never bought an LED light bulb replacement so I can’t speak to its longevity, but, I’m guessing that they will last longer per bulb than CFLs. This should offset the higher price of them.

… and open my stupid mouth and get banned:

here goes…

I accept as axiomatic that not one soul on this forum is a shill for the political parties. Therefore it’s doubly disturbing to see the customary misinformation being rolled out here. Please excuse me if I seem to single out any individual, because I only take issue with the misinformation, not the person repeating it. I believe the OP, dchomak, is onto a very good point.

I understand how people were led to be afraid of Fluorescent lighting (WAY before pigtails were out, or did you forget), but the reality of the things doesn’t warrant such shrill hype. Yes, the PCBs in the ballasts could be an environmental disaster, in huge quantities; but in the fixture in your ceiling, not so much. The government failed to keep it out of the water and off the dirt roads of America. The mercury used to create the plasma is less than the amount we used to put in our mouths (and other orifices) to measure our temperature. (It’s true, we didn’t have ‘thermocouples for the Common Man’ a few years ago!!); AND, mercury isn’t all that bad for you, in the grand scheme of things!! In decades past, painting mercury on your body was a legitimate, medical treatment! The fact that it didn’t work doesn’t change the fact that it didn’t kill anybody either. Mercury-Terror, OTOH, has led otherwise brilliant people to say some of the strangest things… Likewise for the phosphors coating the inside of the tube! No, you don’t want to eat it, but who eats light bulbs anyway???

Can’t recycle the pigtails?? Why NOT? I’m still waiting on one of mine to die, but when it does, I expect (based on commonly reported failure modes) the failure to be in the electronics. Google “Joule Thief” if you want to see what to do with the tube, after the electronics have died. Yes, you will learn how to light your pigtail with a AA battery. How is THAT for recycling? How is that hard? And if the tube fails, the electronics donate pieces for those Joule Thief tricks!!! Does anyone ever look at the facts of these allegations?? (Sorry, I was raised by lawyers so it’s difficult for me NOT to think this way) Looks to me like recycling pigtails, circlites and tubes is a lot easier than the disinterested third parties would have us believe… And logic won’t let you slide unless you also show us “recycle the incans” and “recycle the LEDs” to compare.

Startups, an Anecdote: My wife likes the 4-lamp fixture over the bathroom mirror. I like ~sunlight-colored light, meaning if incandescent, I’m burning 100W each. OTOH, I can put 4 100W-equivalent CFLs in there, and tailor the color( s ) to suit whatever whim strikes her fancy, for a lot less Real-World wattage. But nevermind one microgram of that!!! What makes all this worthwhile is this: When either of us walks into the incandescent-lighted bathroom at 02:35, the 500+Watt light-smack is a tangible, painful experience (hence “the Blinky”…). OTOH, the cool (temp, not color - they’re 5000K) CFLs take a few moments to come up to full brightness, which seems more friendly. Yes, I do ‘get’ that some people prefer instant-on. When it comes to Brake Lights or emergency lighting, I’m all for that, but not in the WC…

I would like to know how LED lights are “mostly profit”!!! When I try to design them for my own home, even at 10,000-unit Alibaba order quantities, with me building the circuits, I would starve if I got the whole Retail price myself, assuming they all sell!! (That’s extreme if you do the math, but not as hyperbolic as it sounds.) And that doesn’t pay the draymen who carry it to you, nor the store clerks who keep it safe until you buy it. I’d be happy with ‘cost coverage’!! Just to move the market forward! Maybe I’m shopping with the wrong suppliers… Pigtails, OTOH, have a few decades of manufacturing experience (and built-and-paid-for equipment) to draw upon.

Another nifty thing about fluorescents is they don’t have to have “that” shape or size!! I thought the pigtails would show everyone (who all seem to have forgotten NEON!!) that, but I’ve been proved wrong before… If I want to wash a wall with light of a specific color, and have only LED or fluorescent technology to use, my LED flashlight will be the only LED on the project! Some clever Chinese artist made a palm tree CFL out of colorful tubing & lit it. A friend owns one and I lust after it mightily. Is there any possible hope for LEDs becoming … ‘shapely’ … ??? Maybe — there’s certainly nothing stopping, say, Cree, from growing a wall-sized LED and pushing If through it, except that “pay for it” part, which is only possible in the extreme cases if some brutish thug forces a lot of us to do so.

dchomak, after reading this:

… my instant, immediate, urgent reply to you is, you NEED to write more!! Actually, WE (“the People”) need for you to write more, because this level of wisdom and insight has almost been extirpated in the general population, and We Will Miss It!!! You are equally correct about any “disinterested third party” (call it “government”, “religion”, “unions”, “guilds”, even fori like this one to some extent), and the manipulation of market reality over the bespoke issue is one proof of that.

I guess this is a long way of saying “thank you” for pointing that out!

I’m sorry to put (so soon) a proverbial cattle prod to any sacred cows, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to know better and not do something about it. I promise not to let it become a problem… I’m just here for the DIY flashlight stuff, so I’ll go back to that & mind my manners now.

Now I await the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…

The short answer is yes, LED bulb is far too expensive. After all they are based on the same principal. However ……

LED advantage is directional beam. So any time you need specific area illuminated then LED is far more efficient. My 1W LED flashlight properly positioned provides better illumination when reading than a 23W CFL. Same goes for any specific area need. Otherwise CFLs provide better general area light, such as entire room. I drive my kids crazy using flashlights when going to bed because they jiust can’t light up entire room properly. I am experimenting…

The other difference is longevity. LEDs are supposed to last my lifetime but power conversion circuit is not as roniust. I had a street lamp die after 2 years but LEDs were stil fine. An average person would simply throw away bulb hence loosing lonhgevity advantage. I recovered LEDs, added new driver and recycled 18650s and still use them now. So I will use their full potential but most would not know how or bother.

I tjhink CFLs are fine in general. I am selectively using LEDs for reading lights and other similar applications.

Mr Dimbo, Mercury’s toxicity is well documented, and there are even limited treatments for mercury poisoning.
The profit is made by the manufacturer or distributor, for example, an xm-l chip costs $5, the circuitry $5, the casing and other materials $1. This is for top of the line stuff at retail, the bulbs in stores use older generation LEDs and are made by parts bought at wholesale, not retail, as well the manufacturing is done by machine, not by hand.

I’ll say this though…I converted to nearly all LED indoor lighting in 2007 just because every darn bulb I had would last a couple weeks and burn out. I dont have that problem anymore.

Dimbo the Blinky.

I am pretty sure what you wrote was the definition of a “rant”. LOL !

You are not going to get banned. This isn’t CPF. Not only will you not get banned but I don’t think anyone here will even attack you for what you wrote. We accept all kinds here.

Back on topic, I feel a little foolish for buying a few led bulbs the other night. I am glad Lowes only had three bulbs left because I was about to deck my entire house with the $9.98 bulb that was recommended on this forum.

It does have decent color rendition but it just isnt very bright. A run of the mill CFL puts out more light and the ones I have been buying are fairly warm as well.

Led bulbs for the home are just not quit there yet. I think in just a few years, we will all be using them but for right now, CFLs are better for the money.

i use CFLs just because they are cheap and my parents buy them. I don’t really have any complaints other than that they last about as long if not less than the good ole 100w incans. 7 year life? psh. but when LED prices come down more i would get them

Oh, it gets much, much worse! :wink:

If we adopt CFLs we’re going to have to make much MORE Global Warming, or the chickens are in big trouble:

This night wasn’t even cold, and look at all that misery! The horror! 0:)

get that chicken an incan!

only thing i like about the cfls in my house, when you shut it off, it glows green for a few seconds. dont like the soft start, dont like replacing them every few months, dont like how all the color is washed out. yes that last one may the tint of the bulb, but all the ones i have ever had were washed out compared to incan. now i have a few leds around the house… makes me hate them all over again. i have 2 on the vanity light in my bathroom, the emitters are mounted on a pyramid with 3 on each side, so its not so much directional. then on the ceiling is a cfl. the color is much more vivid around my sink, and the rest of the bathroom looks like a pale pastel.

You are just not buying the proper LED bulbs. Every LED bulb that I have puts out more and better light than their halogen equivalents. All are actual measurements done in my sphere (and those LED numbers matched the manufacturers published specs within a couple of percent, no Chinese lumens here)

PAR16: halogen 50w 420 lumens / LED 8 watt: 530 lumens (uses 4xXML)
PAR20: halogen 50w 450 lumens / LED 10 watt: 550 lumens (95 CRI)
MR16: halogen 50w 400 lumens / LED 10 watt: 490 lumens
G4: halogen 10w 90 lumens / LED 1 watt: 100 lumens
PAR30/PAR38: <10 lumens/watt / LED 50-60 lumens/watt (15w/18w/24w)

Here in South Africa, the electricity company introduced an initiative to replace all bulbs in households to energy saving equivalents.
I had already replaced all the standard bulbs with CFL’s. Most of the house has mains voltage downlighters though. The LED replacements are just so expensive, I couldn’t justify it.
Needless to say, Eskom replaced them all with 3w LED’s for free.
They are excellent and are brighter than a 30w downlighter and maybe, just a touch, dimmer than a 50w. The clean white light is much better than the yellow tinted halogens too.
When the price comes down, everyone will use these.

The good old incandescent bulbs were purely resistive and the (pure watts) real power used was metered correctly on the electricity meter for billing purposes.

Non-Incandescent bulbs are not purely resistive so they are either capacitive or inductive … The older electricity meters do not record the reactive power (Vars) at the moment and once the majority of people are using non-Incandescent bulbs , the Electricity Supply companies will fit new meters to all domestic supply points … It is possible that newer meters now fitted to consumers premises are already capable of measuring both types of power.

This means that we will eventually be paying more for our electricity … This is going to happen in the UK in the future and it is us (the consumers) that will have to foot the bill as usual.

I use an assortment of types of bulbs at the moment , but at my age I won’t need to worry about the new metering system that will also charge for reactive power … If your devices have an input transformer to step the voltage up or down , then that is an inductor.

Hopefully one day the bulb manufacturers will be able to make their products purely resistive with a zero phase-angle supply requirement.

There's less than 2 watts difference between those bulbs for a given light output. So let's go crazy and say those 2 watts are just wasted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and costs my maximum rate of 25.4 cents per kilowatt/hour. That's $4.45.

That's for 8760 hours. From the reviews I've seen here and vendor sites, LED light bulbs just don't seem to last anywhere that long. Probably due to cost cutting, resulting in over driven and under cooled lights. Granted, CFL's won't last that long either. Even so, on a cost basis, I'd take the unsubsidized CFL over the subsidized LED almost every time. The exceptions are for lights more likely to be physically abused. Like that bulb in my patio over my weights that I occasionally shatter, or in that lamp that occasionally gets knocked over. For those I'd like to switch to an LED light bulb. For the rest, I'm already using CFL's and plan to keep doing so until LED's become a much better value. Actually, if the LED light bulbs would actually last an honest 50,000 hours, then I would be much more inclined to use them.

I still haven’t been able to find LED’s cheap in the UK. A CFL for £1 vs an LED for £10 makes it a very hard choice to go for LED. I have moved to fast start CFL’s and I’m happy with them for now. When LEDs drop to ~£5 a bulb for a decent output I might move over to them. For now though they are too expensive for me to justify.

LEDs have about a 25000 to 50000 hour lifetime which is actually fairly likely to be accurate as they don’t poop out like Incans do. They are also pretty much indestructable and even when one of the LEDs goes out there is an array of many of them, so even really bad luck is mitigated.

CFLs have much shorter lifetime and are way more likely to break. You will likely buy many CFLs for the lifetime equivalent of 1 LED. This is where the ‘green’ part comes in.

LEDs have other advantages too.

  • CFLs are terrible in dimmers. Even with their specialty ones, they dont work all that good. LEDs work great with dimmers. No problems at all. They work better than incans actually and aren’t unduly stressed by lower light levels like Incans are.
  • CFL ballast sucks. They have to warm up and sometimes have flickering issues. Even today its hard to find CFLs that are good and immediately give full brightness. I have some and they exist, but they are hard to find and theres NO WAY TO KNOW when buying them. You just hope for the best.

For the most part you are right… I do mostly CFLs. They have new types of CFLs with no mercury. However, for any dimmer switches you may have, or if you have areas where you really want immediate brightness, LEDs are quite good.

Interesting comments regrading CFLs on this thread. I have not had to change CFLs yet and they go for years now, nor any of them flicker.


I don't have much issue with the CFL's I have in use. We moved into our current house 2 years ago and the previous owner left CFL's installed everywhere. I have had a couple oddballs that died and I replaced, but for the most part have been very happy with them. They look like they have been installed for years before we moved in (evidenced by how dirty they are). They are not instant-on, but aren't that dim on first turn-on.