LED’s in your livingroom?

In some countries, there is some talk on banishing the classic (incandescant) lightbulb. I think this whole discussion is needless. The only reason why it exists, is that the fluorescent bulbs are often of mediocre quality, and certain people are here to enforce their bad tastes upon us “for a greater purpose”.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like trees and birds around my house, and I would be more than happy to install energy-efficient appliances in my home, even if they cost me slightly more. But especially if I’m paying more, I expect to get a certain level of quality.

Because of the inefficiency of incandescent bulbs, and the number of bulbs in my household, I decided to look around for energy efficient solutions. Particulary LED lighting caught my interest, because it is not only energy efficient, it’s also dimmable with normal (cheap) floor dimmers. They even stay cold enough so that children touching them do not burn their fingers.

The Search
I went online, and looked around for LED bulbs which would fit in a normal E14 (small) socket. It was a long and hard search, because information on LED lighting is sparse, as if manufacturers don’t want to sell them. I found this “Parlat” lamp at ledgloeilamp.nl which promised to be “Warm White”, with a color temperature of 3000 Kelvin. Some Googling learned that a 2 Watt LED lamp is considered to be roughly equal to 30 Watts of incandescent light.

The Test Results
LED lighting, side-by-side comparisonIn the picture on the right, you can see the result. The topmost bulb is a normal Phillips 25Watt “Warm White” lamp, which produces the expected “Incandescent” lighting. The wall behind is yellow by the way.

The bottom bulb is a 25Watt “Terracotta” lamp, also from Phillips. This is the warmest color you can buy, and it’s even slightly to yellow for my taste, but better than the normal white bulb.

The middle bulb is the Parlat “Warm White” 2Watt LED lamp. As you can see it is nowhere near “warm”. It produces an ugly green-blue-ish color which has a colder color temperature than the incandescent “Warm White”. The 2 Watts is not nearly enough to even maka the wall behind it light up in the photo. Because of the plastic LED housing in the bottom of the bulb, it is unable to produce an even light pattern, and results in ugly shades in my lamp cover.

Additional Field Work
LED lighting on displayLast weekend I got a tip from my dad, a local shop had some LED bulbs on display. To rule out the possibility of having bought a faulty lamp, I drove to the shop to take a look for myself. The result: I didn’t even buy a lamp, I snapped a picture with my iPhone instead. The dark banding is caused by interference between the camera and the light.

On the left are fluorescent bulbs, which look quite ok. On the right: LED lighting, again in the ugliest of all colors, even more blue than the one I ordered online. The lamps in the middle are also LED lights, but have more LED’s in them and produce more light, and are slightly less “blue/gray”.

How to Improve
I think the lighting industry needs someone with authority who can think, has authority, and some taste. LED lighting would be(come) a lot better if it did:

Laboritory employee, proudly showing LED lamp: “Look boss, we made this beautiful lamp. Here, let me turn it on for you”

-plink-

Boss: “Ehm. right. What kind of color did you say this was?”

Employee, looks at the lamp and tries to lie at his boss the same way he is planning to lie to the customers: “Warm white ofcourse. We measured it at 3000K”.

Boss: “It’s not “Warm”, it’s not “White”, it’s not “3000K” and it’s not beautiful. Do you know what this is?”

Employee, feeling like he has been caught: “No, what boss?”

Boss: “The reason you are fired.”

 

Final Thoughts
I think LED lighting is the future, and I really hope that it becomes a lot better. But until then, you have been warned. Don’t buy LED (or any other) bulbs “unseen”. Don’t go by the temperature or “equivalent watts” crap. Use your eyes and your brain.

For now, I’m holding on to my beautiful incandescent lamps, and I will buy boatloads of them if the Dutch governement is stupid enough to think about banishing incandescent lamps without accurate, usable, affordable alternatives.

7 Responses to LED’s in your livingroom?

  1. rolfje says:

    Oh and please keep in mind that “Blue is Bad”. For your eyes, that is:
    http://texyt.com/bright+blue+leds+annoyance+health+risks

  2. Bas says:

    Hey Rolf,

    Helemaal mee eens. Wij hebben zelf een Pharox lamp gekregen en we vonden hem niet mooi genoeg voor in de woonkamer. Wij hebben hem in de gang hangen en ik moet zeggen dat je er wel aan went. Ik zou hem vooral aanraden voor plaatsen buiten de woonkamer. Voor bv buitenverlichting zijn ze ideaal.

    Groeten,
    Bas

  3. Arjan says:

    Just read an alarming article in a Dutch newspaper: some LED lights actually seem to use far more power than the manufacturer claims. The 5 Watt lamps actually consume an additional 20 Watts of “reactive power”, which is not measured by your home meters, but does put a load on the electricity plant and thus to the environment…

    http://www.duurzaamnieuws.nl/bericht.rxml?id=42322

  4. Sybren says:

    I bought an external harddisk, which turned out to have a very, very bright blue led on the front. I taped it with a small patch of gaffer tape just to keep it from hurting my eyes!

  5. Chris says:

    Hey Rolf,

    Great site. A friend of mine in the film industry said they use 5600K mercury-halides to simulate noon daylight. Do you know any place to get 5600K continuous spectrum (non-fluorescent, non-LED) bulbs for home use?

  6. rolfje says:

    Thanks. Mercury-Halides lamps are probably not allowed for home use, because of the toxic nature of Mercury. I’ve searched for Halide lamps and found interesting stuff, but none indicating practical home use. They’re usually too bright and too expensive for practical home use.

    Searching for “5600K lamp” gives me some webshops where warm indandescent lamps are sold, but they mostly have non-standard fittings and are very expensive (in excess of $200 for just the bulb).

    http://www.google.com/search?q=5600K+lamp

    If you do find a tip for warm continous spectrum bulbs for home use, please let me know, so others can find your tip, too.

    My own tip: Buy a high power halogen lamp, and dim it using a proper dimmer. Usually that results in sort-of warm, continuous spectrum light. The standing halogen lamps which shine light against the ceiling are great, find a big one and run it at half power.

  7. rolfje says:

    Well, it happened. I spent about 200 euro’s on spare incandescent bulbs to make sure I can have proper lighting for the years to come. Particularly for people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), LED and fluorescent lighting are NOT an option.

    Also read http://www.rolfje.com/2008/01/26/philips-wake-up-light-review/ for information about light colors and what it does to your brain.

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