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  • LED Bulbs

    Like most everyone else I have tried to switch all my non-decorative bulbs over to LED. Some LED's are now showing up that would be good in exposed decorative uses. Right now I am ready to go back to incandescent bulbs. LED's are supposed to last longer but I haven't found that to be the case. If anything, they burn out faster. I've tried different brands and none of them seem to be any better than the others. Even though the cost is coming down they are still more expensive and at the rate I have to replace them there is no way the energy savings offset the cost.
    Don, aka Pappy,

    Wise men talk because they have something to say,
    Fools because they have to say something.

  • #2
    I've had good and bad luck with LED screw in units. Our front porch light is a can fixture and incandescent floods lasted less than 3 months. After the first 9 months, I switched to an LED flood and it's been in there for the last 2 years and 3 months. I'd call that good. We had an LED fixture in the laundry room that lasted two years before one of the four segments went bonkers. Replaced the fixture with one that took three screw in bulbs and put some inexpensive LED bulbs in. One bulb lasted two weeks. Replaced it with another one from the four pack and things have been fine for the last year. The rest of the covered fixtures in the house (14) all had the incandescent bulbs replaced with LEDs when they burned out. This was over the span of about 6 months. I replaced them all with GE Bright Sticks (now out of production) and I haven't replaced a single LED bulb (roughly 20 LED bulbs) for the last 24 months. I was getting 60 watt equivalent (780 lumens) Bright Sticks for $1.66 each. I have also lit my workshop with 17 of these Bright Sticks and none of them have failed in the last two years. This is all probably too soon to declare that LEDs have more longevity, but so far, they are lasting longer than the incandescent bulbs. We have a recessed can fixture over the kitchen sink that is on for many hours a day and the incandescent floods last about 2 months. Because SWMBO wants a bright light over the sink, I'm using 1,100 lumen Halogen floods there. They last about 15,000 hours. We have two multi-bulb fixtures over bath vanities and we still use incandescent bulbs in those, but I'm constantly replacing a bulb every couple of months. SWMBO doesn't like LEDs. Thinks they are overpriced for what you get. But I like the wattage savings with LEDs. I think LED quality is somewhat random. A bulb will either be good for a long time, or it will fail quickly. I will never buy an LED fixture that can't have the LED portion replaced. The one we bought for the laundry room and an identical one for the walk in closet were supposed to last many years. One has failed in two years and the the other one is acting up after three years.
    Jim Frye
    The Nut in the Cellar.


    • #3
      Our biggest problem is the color of LED's. Locally, they appear to stock yellow and blue, that is I mean, either a very warm 2600 K or the overly blue-white 5500 K. The former being too dull to read by and the latter being too harsh and glaring. I've checked Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Target, and three of the local hardware stores and they all carry just the two extremes.

      Old incandescents were closer to 2800 to 3000 K and the 'cool white' in the range of 4000-plus with a daylight closer to 4500, or a specialty 'natural light' being at 5000 K. A range that was much more pleasing to the eye, and the latter 5000 K being decent for art and photographic viewing.

      While I think that going to the longer-life (supposedly) and much more energy efficient LED bulbs is a great technological idea, I simply don't get the reasoning why the big box stores feel are stocking the opposite extremes of which are too warm or too white. I talked to a manager at Lowes and was told that is all the suppliers give them and anything else I would have to order elsewhere. I pointed to the display which shows three lighting colors and was told that was going to change. Home Depot, well at least mine, there's nobody who knows anything, so waste of time to even ask.

      I did find some 100 watt, 4000 K bulbs on Amazon, received them a couple of weeks ago and they seem much better and I'm now thinking of looking for some 2800 K bulbs for general lamp replacement.

      One of the problems I see here, living in the city, is that super white LED bulbs are being installed everywhere. Over the last two years, my once nicely lighted street and neighborhood is now almost totally light polluted with 5500 K lighting. Porch and street lights are just so glaring that you honestly can't see the snow falling. Like last night I noticed from the upstairs library that the snow was coming down pretty heavy, but going downstairs to where you look across the toward the street light, you don't see the snow at all. Ridiculous shift lighting, and I don't like it at all.

      Think it Through Before You Do!


      • #4
        One of the reasons I went with the Bright Sticks was the color temps. 2850 & 5000 K. I use the daylight bulbs in my shop and SWMBO claims the it looks like Main St. Las Vegas. I gave up on the big chain stores and go to a nearby lighting shop for good quality bulbs.
        Jim Frye
        The Nut in the Cellar.


        • #5
          My experience with screw-in replacements for incandescent bulbs has been bad to say the least. Somewhere around a decade ago I switched two bulbs to the then-current screw-in fluorescent style from the Borg. One of those went out in just a few months... when I unscrewed it the "base" area was highly discolored indicating excessive heat and a portion had actually melted away leaving a hole to the electronic guts. Both bulbs were removed and disposed of - I considered them fire hazards. I tried one LED bulb in the same manner... watching it's temps over a few weeks. I actually measured it a few times using one of those laser-spot temperature reading guns and its base was also much hotter than I liked. So I haven't converted anything to LEDs permanently yet.

          That test fixture was not on a dimmer or any other gizmo... just a plain 120 volt lamp circuit in my prior house. My current house has a lot of dimmer controls in the lighting which makes LED conversion tougher... gotta match up "dimmable LEDs" with more modern dimmers. As with some other posters on this thread, color temp is a big issue too. I want something like the old "warm" incandescent bulbs and not the eye-burning higher color temps most LEDs naturally produce. A friend of mine suffers from epilepsy and many LED fixtures increase the seizure risk. Some poor quality florescent bulbs too - basically high frequency flickering is badness. Computer monitors that use high-frequency on-off-on-off flickering backlighting to adjust brightness (rather than having adjustable intensity lighting) are a big no-no for that person. Combine all of that and the result is a) a whole lotta cost for bulbs & dimmers to convert, b) potential temperature risks/worry, and c) will the LEDs last anywhere near the claimed lifetime to even begin to pay back the costs? Plus the seizure risks? NGH - Not Gonna Happen for a while in my house. I may convert the workshop to LED fixtures though as the 4 foot and 8 foot florescent fixtures already out there suck. One flickers for about a half hour before finally turning on fully when it's "California cold" out... and it buzzes continually when ON. Annoying. I've been watching for LED fixtures that can mount directly to ceilings or joists and don't require an air gap for heat reasons - most of the fixtures that use chains need this cooling air gap. Plus I want a high CRI (Color Rating Index - i.e. how even the color spectrum produced by the lamp really is) along with 2700 to 3000K temps. And lots of lumens so I don't need to buy a dozen fixtures! I.e. I want it all.



          • #6
            I guess I have been overly lucky. Back in 2005, I switched about 24 incandescent bulbs in our Toyota City house to the lightbulb shaped fluorescent bulbs in June and by the end fo July our electric bill was half the cost. The incandescents put out so much heat that the air condition has to cool. The cost of cooling the heat was equal to the cost of electricity that the incandescent bulbs use.

            When We got home (USA) in July of 2005, I did the same for our USA house. My daughter was living here at the time.She said our August bill was much less than her June-July bills.

            Until 2015, I think I replaced maybe 10 of the fluorescent bulbs over 10 years. Between 2015 & 2106, we changed to LEDs. We like the 4000ks and have them. In the last 4 years, we have had to replace 4 of 30. Out in my shop, I use 5000K. I did ruin 2 more LEDs by sticking them in an outside light that had auto-light on off sensors for day night use. I didn't realize that those sensors did not work with LEDs.

            Add in/edit: Our house is 90 years old; I think the main wiring was replaced in the late '50s or early 60's, so it is not exactly an "everything is up to TODAY's code" installation. It is what good electricians did in those days. One thing that bothered me before we replaced all of the bulbs - was that we had two lightbulb fixtures that caused trouble. One four bulb fixture had at least one (incandescent) bulb blow out every 6 weeks to three months year round, every year. I replaced the bulbs first with the fluorescent bulbs (2005) and stopped that. We were using 4 - 60 watt bulbs. After Changing to the fluorescent, it stopped; then in 2011, we changed the light fixture to a ceiling fan with 4 lights. With fluorescent or LEDs, no problems. The other fixture that gave us trouble: One of the Kitchen's two double tube ringed (circular) fluorescent bulbs. Changing the fluorescent circular bulbs every one to two years going back as long as I could remember. My mom said that every 4 to 5 years, the ballast had to be changed. In 2015, we changed both fixtures out to 3 bulb kitchen fixtures and put in 100w equivalent LED (5000K) bulbs in each socket for a total of 600 watt equivalent. Those are dome covered and we have not had a single bulb needed to be changed since.

            My question or thoughts seem to be this: we had problems with certain light fixtures. I checked the wiring in the ceiling, and even though it was old copper wiring, it was in good shape. My contention is that on both of the troubled light fixtures above, the twist wire connections from the wire to the fixture did not have great connections. These wires were twisted with pliers and taped with electrical tape. (in fact all old junction boxes were like this) The others were too, but wires twisted by pliers and taped with electrical tape is an inexact science as opposed to junction boxes with special clips or wire nuts.

            Strongly related: In my pen turning experience, I (and many well experienced pen makers) have come to realize what "out gassing" does. I read about this recently in new cars and the inside of windshields - the new interior "outgasses" and film forms more readily on newer vehicles, some more than other depending on the material. In pens, the finish can be cured and hard, but put it in a container and weeks later a hard cloudy film is on it. This is called Outgassing - from plastic or cured organic material such as leather as it ages from its new state.

            Now back to wiring in the house> I have not had problems in electrical outlet boxes where wire nuts are used, but I have had problems in some with electrical tape. My visual inspection of junction boxes is that some wires appear as NOT bright copper. They have "oxidized" or maybe a dull patina of sorts is there. Under wire nuts, there is usually clean connections; but under tape there is usually that dull and darkened wires. THIS obviously points to - "not the best of connections". While it might be good enough for lighting to some degree, and there is no evidence of arcing, but obviously something is restricting the unrelenting flow of electricity. It is my contention that "taped wire" in junction boxes is causing irregularity in the lighting system. Since I have not seen this in wire nut connections, but do see this in old taped wiring that was plier twisted, there seems to be evidence of oxidation/outgassing that restricts the flow over time. Since cleaning the wires, adding wire nuts to the new fixtures, no problem.

            I am not a engineer, but this is my observation and logical deduction based on the facts that I have experienced and know.

            What gets me is that Don had NO problem with incandescents, but he did with LEDs. Is it possible that incandescents draw enough current that it passes through the oxidizing wire, but not enough to pass on LEDs? (Just a flunky's thoughts and guesses.)

            BTW, most of my bulbs were purchased on eBay. I like the 100W equivalent with 4000/4500K.
            Last edited by leehljp; 03-01-2019, 01:20 PM.
            Hank Lee

            Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


            • #7
              Maybe we need to track the brand of LEDs, florescent bulbs, and fixtures that work and don't work? Similar to the old Harbor Freight "Gems or Junk" list that was on this site years ago?



              • #8
                My house is nearly all LED now. I've had a very strict purchasing program for brands--whatever is cheapest. We've got at least half a dozen brands, but probably more. I've had two failures, and one was because I put an indoor-only lamp in an outdoor fixture. The the glass on it got broken, and the LED got rained on. Ok, you're allowed to fail. The other is an Ikea candelabra bulb that has a random flash when cold. The big energy usage savings is easy to measure, especially in summer when the older lights also add to the heat load. I don't have dimmers, just smart switches with wifi in many places. But they are just on/off. I played with a dimmer in a couple places and realized that just putting in the right brightness of bulb was better for us. The house is only 13 years old, wiring is good, and our electric company provides clean, reliable power at 121.5V nearly constantly.

                Lee, on your old wiring question, you have a good theory. It's also possible that arcing is causing the AC to have two frequencies which the incandescents don't care about, but LEDs would. I can certainly see where voltage issues and older wiring/bad power could be a problem for LEDs.

                The only lamp with incandescents is this one, because the LED "Edison filament" lamps look good, but not nearly this awesome.


                • #9
                  I started the changeover in 2013 and replaced every failed incadescent or CFL bulb with LED. I've had very good luck with the Sylvania brand bulbs from Menards, and had only one failure with ecco smart brand from Home Depot. The final batch I bought for the house and installed over the past month were from Amazon and a mix of Sylvania and "Rysa Light" The Rysa lights had two out of the box failures out of 30, and two more that squeal unless the dimmer is all the way up. There are 154 light fixtures in the house, shop, and barn.

                  I can't say how much energy is saved in total but just the girls' bathroom had 9 75 watt vanity lights that were on 24/7. When they were switched to 12 watts each, I could finally walk by their bathroom without having an aneurysm. I recycled 84 CFLs at Batteries plus yesterday and I'm happy to say that it was the last of them.
                  An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
                  A moral man does it.


                  • #10
                    I'm an electrical engineer and I can tell you there are a lot of differences between LED (and CFL) and Incandescent

                    Incandescent is the model of simplicity. A piece of resistive wire strung across the power line. It gets hotter than the blazes and glows white hot and as a result makes black body radiation all across the spectrum. Most of the energy as we know goes off as infrared - wasted because its out of the human vision range. It's 95% or more heat and a few percent light.

                    LED and CFL are complex electronic systems.Most of the technology did not exist 40 years ago.There's a lot more stuff to go wrong.
                    First of all it is a system with three main blocks - a AC-DC switch-mode power supply. A LED driver and a LED itself with one or mere elements. Usually they are complex LED broad emitters or use phosphors excited by limited spectrum LEDs to emit broad spectrum light. Each block has several elements and the reliability of the system is no better than the reliability of the weakest part!!!
                    System reliability is exceedingly difficult to compute. I'm not in the industry but I haven't seen a protocol for establishing the reliability of the system, I don't honestly know that the number of hours or years quoted is based on a system value based on tests or on calculations or even if its just the LED component itself. I do know the "years" figure is always inflated by small print saying years based on 3 hours a day. Which means the actual operating life is inflated by 8X. Incandescents are always based on operating hours.
                    Furthermore there are a lot of other factors in question. Usually the life numbers are based on room temperature of about 20 C.
                    In real life the life is halved for every 10C increase in operating temperature 1000 hours at 20 C is 500 hours at 30 C, 250 hours at 40 C, 125 hours at 50 C, 65 hours at 60 C.

                    So electronic bulbs (LED and CFL) can take heat maybe up to 80 C or so, but cannot take near the heat of incandescents.

                    If you have an old incandescent fixture, incandescents didn't really care about heat, they operated at 3000-5000 K which is about 2700-4700 C. Heating up 30 or 60 degrees was nothing. Mostly people put Watt limits on fixtures to prevent fires. So they didn't do anything to cool bulbs.

                    If you put an LED in there with limited air circulation then it could heat up 30-40 degrees which will shorten its room temperature life by 1/4.
                    It also makes a difference if the base is up or down. Since heat rises, base up results in the electronics in the base being 10 degrees warmer than with the base down. Reducing bulb life by 1/2. This is often stated on the bulb fine print along with light output being less for base up.

                    So just remember bulb life is reduced exponentially by linear temperature rise. Older, closed fixtures are really bad for this.

                    And we need some really good industry standards on how they measure and calculate bulb life claims.

                    P.S. I forgot to mention CRI.
                    THe spectrum of LEDs is much harder to control Unlike incandescents which all have the color of black body emissions, LEDs and CFLs have spectrums that go all over the place and are all over the map by model and how they are whitened. I honestly don't have enough experience messing around with CRI but it probably is the reason why people don't like the colors of certain bulbs, it certainly makes them different from each other, much more so than incandescents.

                    They're very different animals Incandescnets are so simple and electronic bulbs are so complex. We should stick to simplicity except that they are so ****ed inefficient.
                    Last edited by LCHIEN; 03-02-2019, 02:31 AM.
                    Loring in Katy, TX USA
                    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                    BT3 FAQ -


                    • #11
                      Exactly what I was thinking!!

                      (Joking of course.. my thinking is more limited to "what color are those?"

                      Thanks Loring, as always you come through with splendid explanations of things, in ways that we all can understand.


                      Think it Through Before You Do!


                      • #12
                        Recessed ceiling light fixtures (cans) will probably be the worst possible application for LED bulbs. For incandescence bulbs they are built with several separated layers of sheet metal to help dissipate heat to keep from burning the house down, and in ceilings they are usually buried by feet of insulation. 2 years ago we changed 14 ceiling can fixtures from incandescent or halogen to LED flood light bulbs with no failures so far. Time will tell.


                        • #13
                          The kitchen/family room cans in our house are the most-used lights. The home automation turns them on at sunset and they are on until we tell the system it's bedtime. All LEDs, all fine.


                          • #14
                            Hank - regarding your twisted wire experience vs. proper wire nuts:
                            Twisting wires together makes a decent (low resistance) connection at first but it's not a "tight" connection that can keep out impurities. So the copper will oxidize over time - exposed to air even with electrical tape sealing 99% of the joint - and that oxidation creates resistance. Wire nuts squeeze the wires tighter so where they DO make contact is more protected from air molecules so those points of contact stay oxidation-free for much longer time. Soldering twisted wires is one way to make a virtually-permanent low resistance connection (assuming the solder job itself is done correctly) for "pliers twisted" wires. Long ago, big mainframe computers were often hand-assembled and the "back plane" made via "wire wrapping." This involved using thin 30 gauge single-strand wires wrapped tightly and neatly (with a simple hand-held tool) around square posts. The tool plus square posts resulted in that 30 gauge wire being pinched tightly against the square corners which kept oxidation-inducing air at bay. Wire nuts do something similar: they force the wire-to-wire contact points to be under pressure. Don't forget too that copper reacts by expanding/contracting with temperature changes... so wiring (especially in attics with extreme temperature changes) gets a lot of "flexing" in the twisted joints. Pliers-twisted joints can loosen quite a bit - electrical tape does nothing to "fortify" the joint strength. Solder would help there too. Wire nuts keep the twisted pair from expanding in diameter, keeping the contact points from loosening as much. The copper wire's thermal growth/shrinkage is confined into mostly length changes.

                            Another esoteric issue with house wiring is the fact that homes have two phases of AC power coming from the mains... but each outlet has only one phase.

                            ----bulb 1-------------switch---------------o^o--------AC mains phase 1 hot wire
                            +---------------x-bad connection resistance-x-------------Neutral/return main
                            ----bulb 2-------------switch---------------o^o--------AC mains phase 2 hot wire

                            Hopefully that sketch of a two home circuits stays formatted. Basically there are two phases sharing a neutral return wire from the power company mains. Each "hot" wire passes through circuit breakers (the "o^o" in my scribble) and then to a light switch and then to a light bulb or other load. Each circuit returns through the neutral wire. No big deal. Now imagine there is some excessive resistance from a poor connection or whatever where I've added "x-bad connection resistance-x" text... that resistance could be anywhere on the return wire, even close to the circuit loads (the light bulbs). When current is flowing in the upper "Hot phase 1 main" and the bulb 1 is lit, that electrical current will create a small voltage drop in the neutral wire across the bad connection resistance point. With an AC voltmeter/multimeter connected at the two "x" spots on the wire for example you'd read something a few volts higher than 0.0 volts. On a proper wire you'd like/expect near 0.0 volts...

                            Because the two AC phases coming from the power company are out-of-phase (which is how/why you can get 240 volts for big appliances via using the two hot wires directly) any voltage created at the resistance point actually has polarity/sign that will ADD voltage to the other circuit! So bulb 2 sees a little more than 120volts! Now if bulb 1 is something bigger than a measly light bulb - say a refrigerator motor - it will draw quite a bit of current (many amps) leading to even more voltage developed across the neutral wire's resistance point. (volts = current in amps multiplied by resistance in ohms) Houses with old/poor wiring, especially with poor connections in shared neutral/return wiring, thus subject some light bulbs (or whatever is plugged in) to excessive voltages when the other circuit is powering high-amperage loads. Instead of seeing a light bulb dim for a second or two when the refrigerator kicks in (as you might expect) bulb 2 will actually get brighter!

                            Loring: your description of heat effects on the LED (or florescent) electronics portion makes perfect sense - and is a bit of a "duh, I should'a known that" for me. With my electronics/electric background, and computer background, I'm well aware that heat is the lifetime enemy of electronic components. It'd be nice to think LED screw-in bulb manufacturers took heat accumulation in ceiling style cans into account when designing the screw-in bulbs... what fantasy land am I living in? Whatever is "just good enough" is what many (most?) manufacturers will design/build to as that's the cheapest... until regulatory requirements force them to do better. Here's where you probably could get what you pay for when buying higher-priced LED assemblies.


                            edit: my sketch didn't work at all... re-worked it. Okay this time? close enough.
                            Last edited by mpc; 03-02-2019, 03:24 AM.


                            • #15
                              Pappy.... good to see ya !

                              Hey, just so you know, I got dis friend with cousins in Budapest.

                              Now on I ainít suggesting anything other than the fact that Iíve got a friend.........

                              if if youíre tired of expensive commie made stuff, we can get you something a little more ďsocialĒ if you catch my drift.

                              renember..... all Iím saying is that I gotta friend.