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Let There Be LED Light

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A year ago I railed against the terrible evil of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs suck, and I went on about it at some length:

I have tried nearly every kind of light bulb out there. I was a very early adopter of compact fluorescent bulbs. Pay a bit more now for a bulb that lasts longer and uses less energy, thus saving a lot of money in the long run? What’s not to like?

Nearly everything, as it turns out. First, the bulbs were a lot more expensive than the plain old incandescent light bulbs. I spent a pretty decent amount of money to change everything out in my house. Second, after literally changing every single bulb in my house… the energy savings was far too small for me to pick it out of the noise in my month-to-month energy bills. I probably really was saving energy, but it was such a small amount that I couldn’t even prove it to myself. Hardly worth the time and effort. Third, there’s a bit of an annoyance factor with them because they take a bit to “warm up” and really come up to full light. Fourth, there’s a new environmental factor: disposing of them without leaving mercury traces everywhere.

But worst of all – by far – is that the light quality absolutely sucks. Now, most people don’t notice this – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t bothered by it. Light quality has a huge subconscious effect on us. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real phenomenon, and the primary driver of it is light. A decent portion of that is physical – a lack of true sunlight causes vitamin D deficiencies. But some of it is purely mental. The visual quality of the light has a direct effect on our subconscious minds. This effect is also present in other forms of depression, not just SAD.

led-light-bulb-1The one kind of bulb that I hadn’t tried much at that point? LED bulbs. And really, it’s only recently gotten to the point where they make sense as replacements for general purpose light bulbs.

One year after writing that post, two things have changed. First, I’m in a new house – and it no longer chews through light bulbs. The light bulbs here lass more or less the time they’re supposed to. That made it worth experimenting with long lasting bulbs again – so the first time we did have a bulb go out here, I tried out some LED bulbs.

Six months later, about 70% of the bulbs in our house have been changed over – and I’m loving it. LED bulbs are better than compact fluorescents in every way except one.

  • The light doesn’t have spectral gaps like fluorescents do
  • They are available in “daylight” color (5000k)
  • They are more energy efficient
  • They last even longer – in theory, up to 20 years (I’ll get back to you in a few years on whether this holds up or not)
  • They are dimmable
  • They don’t have mercury in them
  • They come on instantly – no warming up

The only downside? They’re a bit more expensive than compact fluorscents. But for full spectrum daylight colored bulbs? I’ll pay it.

They are also super bright. I’m fairly certain that these things are putting out significantly more lumens than the bulbs they are intended to replace. That 60 watt replacement bulb? It’s a lot brighter than a 60 watt incandescent.

I can’t give a real world number on before and after electrical usage because I don’t have enough utility bill history in this house. But in every other way, I can seriously recommend these bulbs.