Saturday, March 26, 2016

2016 LED Lightbulb Review

While outfitting my house with 100% LED lighting, I have selected a few bulbs that stand out among the competition. 2016 saw some new bulbs as well as price reductions. It turns out that all the bulbs I'm recommending are Philips brand. They seem to get the color right, and in my 2 years of testing I'm happy to report a a 0% failure rate among my fleet of 51 Philips bulbs. I had at least 1 Cree bulb fail, as well as 1 Ikea bulb fail.

All of the bulbs tested have passed the spouse color review process - many bulbs had immediate rejections in this phase and had to be returned. Most stores will accept returns of an open package, so keep your receipts. If the packaging says "Daylight" anywhere on it, or the color number is above 2700K, leave it on the shelf.  The brightness is measured in Lumens. a "60W equivalent bulb" is a subjective term  may be rated anywhere between 650 and 850 lumens.

Also, all of the bulbs here are $15 each or less. I'll remind you not to be cheap about this. If you need to justify the expense, add up the total cost of ownership of an ordinary incandescent bulb (including electricity costs) and you'll find that your $10 LED bulb pays for itself within 1 year.  These LED bulbs will also last over 10 years, so add in the cost of 5 bulbs that last 2 years.  Also, if you don't like the color, you have to live with it for the 20-year life span of the bulb unless you toss it and get something better, but what a waste that would be.

A Note on Dimmable Bulbs
Any time you buy bulbs for a dimmable fixture, be sure to get LED bulbs that at least claim to be dimmable. better yet, get the Philips bulbs with the "Warm Glow" feature. This feature means that the bulb changes color to a warm red glow when dimmed all the way, mimicking the color of an incandescent bulb.

If your house is like mine, you have dozens of pot lights, which are recessed into the ceiling and require the BR30 shape bulb. The Philips WarmGlow dimmable BR30 bulb puts out plenty of light and looks great when dimmed. Many stores carry these for $10 - but at my local Home Depot, the price is about $5 since my local utility subsidizes a selection of efficient bulbs.

Home Depot $10 | Walmart $10

For sockets that are under lamp shades or otherwise hidden, the opaque white plastic bulbs are a little cheaper than the clear ones.

Dimmable A19:  Home Depot $7

If they do not need to be dimmable, you can get a 4-pack for $10 at
Home Depot

Exposed bulbs or bulbs in glass fixtures need to look have a clear dome - these look great in my ceiling fan.

Home Depot $7

Chandeliers usually require candelabra base bulbs. Philips finally came out with a candelabra base bulb that is a 60w equivalent and also has the WarmGlow feature.

Home Depot $10

3-way bulbs are for those lamps that you have to turn-click twice to turn on and off. This bulb cranks out 1620 lumens when you need it, or 470 / 840 lumens when you don't.   They are also very nearly indestructible. After a 3-year-old knocks over the lamp for the 20th time, you'll see how the bulb might outlast the lamp.

Home Depot $20