LED Bulbs

Almost all of my home lighting is with LED bulbs that take so little electricity that my habit of turning off lights as I leave a room is no longer necessary.  This has been a true revolution, a major turn in the entire history of mankind.  Watch Victoria on PBS and you will be reminded how expensive lighting once was.  Now, if my wife nudges me in bed to tell me I left the kitchen light on, I tell her I will turn it off in the morning.

My problem was that I started changing over too soon.  When the old incandescent bulbs were phased out, I switched to the curlicued CRL florescent bulbs.  They took about a minute to come to full brightness, and, at my age, I don’t have a minute to spare.  It seems trivial, but it was a constant annoyance.

Then I switched to LED bulbs that saved even more electricity.  Plus, they lasted so long I would never again have to climb on a chair to change a bulb.  But the first ones were expensive and only put out a cold white light that made my house look like Saturday night at K-Mart.

All of those initial problems now seem to be solved.

LED bulbs have become much cheaper and almost all work with dimmer switches.

They are also available in different “whiteness.”  The old crude categories, such as Cool White, Natural, and Warm, are now expressed by a more accurate temperature designation.  Usually both are specified on the packages. I look for something about 3,000 degrees that falls in the “Warm” category.

Initially, LED bulbs were sold in the familiar wattage category of incandescent bulbs, such as “60-watt replacement,” but the more accurate lumens rating is becoming common.  Both are often on the package, saying something like “750 lumens, 6o-watt replacement.”  Eventually, I expect the incandescent replacement rating will disappear as more customers will have never seen an incandescent bulb.

The early LED flashlights were often designated by their number of LEDs, and I would see something like “3 super-bright LEDs!” that meant nothing. (Are super-duper bright LEDs even better?) The actual number of lumens (often disappointing) was hidden in the fine print, but now it is displayed as the most prominent number.

Bottom line, lumens and color temperature are the two major measurements to consider in LED bulbs.  If you need something dimmable or for outdoors, look for that on the package.  If it does not say, you can assume it is not dimmable and can only be used indoors.

The only problem that remains is that LEDs are warranted for something like 20,000 hours.  Who’s going to keep the receipt for that long? And who will know if they only get 15,000 hours?

I only keep receipts for about a year.  After that, I’ll absorb the loss.  Most people seem to do the same.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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