Home Lighting: Keep An Eye on LEDs

I’m going to be honest, I hate my CFLs.  After blowing all sorts of cash on these things, I’ve yet to find one that performs the way I’d like it to.  Plus, since lighting accounts for some 11% of residential energy use on average, it’s an area that deserves attention.  In doing so, I’ve been playing with various options and think LEDs may just be the ticket.

In the old days, I loved those GE Reveal incandescent lights with “clean, beautiful light.”  In an attempt to get something like Reveal, I purchased some Smurf-like CFLs and quickly learned to go after the warmer versions (this lighting facts label is helpful, if you want to understand bulb details).

These days, I’m using mostly IKEA-brand CFLs.  They’re adequate, but my eyes feel so grainy and strained sometimes.  It’s hard to explain, but I don’t feel like I’m getting enough light.  Plus, there’s the delay – I feel like it’s taking longer and longer for these lights to warm up.

So, I decided I was tired of waiting for the lights to turn in the entry area of my house.* I gave $80 to Home Depot in exchange for a couple of Philips Ambient LED 12.5-watt bulbs and my entry never felt better.

When I flip the switch, these LEDs turn on.  It’s hard to tell in the photos, but the light is great.  I feel like I can see the colors in my rug and in people and their clothing.  It’s just different.  These will last something like 25,000 hours, so I’m not so concerned about the up-front cost.

Long story short, if you’re on the fence with energy-efficient lighting, or if you had a bad experience with it in the past, keep your eye on the LED options.  If you get a good bulb that provides adequate lumens and light color, I don’t think you’ll regret it one bit.

*You may be surprised to know that last year I purchased a 1958, split-level home.  After months of searching, I turned down a solar-powered modern home in a bad location for this existing one in a great location.  Over time, I expect to modernize the place, but forgive the old-person ceiling fixture.

PS – I understand these LEDs are not made for enclosed fixtures, so I pulled the LEDs from here.  They’re still awesome lights.

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  • Anonymous

    Look at this light intensity spectrum/color temperature.

    White light at 6000K has more visible light intensity than a 3000K yellowish light source. The philips led bulb you bought is at 2700K temperature. You should try the while light leds.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      But to clarify what I’m saying: I like the 2700k LED that I installed right now. It’s working out just right.

  • gerrr!

    I too, have noticed that CFLs do take longer to warm up over time. That’s why I popped an LED bulb into the bathroom, so that I could get instant light instead of having to wait for the CFLs to warm up.

    I can tell when the CFL is about to die: they are a purplish dim color at start up, and it takes them a full minute to really get going. Within a few months, they’re dead. As I run through my supply of CFLs, I’m going to be moving to LEDs on my other fixtures.

  • http://www.placearchitects.com Heather

    Hey Preston, great job. I too hate my CFLs and have been testing LEDs off and on for years. It’s good to hear your experience. Kudos on recycling a midcentury house, too. Those ’50’s ranchers update beautifully – I love working on them.

    Best of luck to you!

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      Wow, Heather, you do have some fantastic examples on your site of updated existing homes. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ecozebra Andrew Stone

    Great example Preston! I have also been testing out different versions of LED lighting. I use a solar LED’s for all my backyard outdoor fixtures and light my chicken coop with Solar LED shop lighting. I haven’t moved indoors yet, but I too hate the warm-up time of my CFL’s. Especially since I keep my house at 62 degrees at night. The bathroom lights take forever in the morning.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      Andrew, 62 degrees?! That’s tough …

  • Matt

    Preston, will you be sharing your updates to your split? I purchased a 1960 split last year, have all sorts of ideas, and would love to hear yours. The bones on homes of that era are outstanding.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      Most definitely, but this will be a slow process. Unfortunately, school loans is eating up whatever I’d use to renovate but I’ll be doing some things over time. Maybe I’ll cook up some options to showcase sponsor products, etc. But it’ll all go here. I’d definitely like to hear/see what you did with your place. Feel free to email any ideas to jetsongreen at yahoo dot com.

  • http://twitter.com/EcoHomeStore Eco Home Store

    I’ve been reading about ESLs. Has anyone tried these? I am concerned about the mercury in the CFLs so I am looking to replace them. I wasn’t aware of the mercury (actually I forgot) issue and the need to be careful about disposing of them. I’m just wondering if I want to go with ESLs over LEDs.

  • Joe

    schizo, you seem unaware of the fact that LEDs are not black body emitters.

  • http://www.portlandtradesmen.com Jesse Pender

    Yes LED’s are so much better. I’m guessing price will come down as production increases. I did a basement remodel where we used all LED’s aside from 3 halogens. My electrician figured out that the 3 halogens used more energy than the rest of the well lite basement.

  • http://www.litecraftlightbulbs.co.uk Litecraft Lightbulbs

    I think that both types of light have their upsides and downsides. Hopefully the price of LED bulbs will continue to fall in line with CFLs so in that in the future we will have more choice with less expense.

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