Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Energy Savers Review

Examples of energy saving lamps I've bought to see how they look in a home environment. They all looked good enough in the shop, but it's always hard to tell in the bright and predominantly fluorescent light-mix of a shop. Brief descriptions + my personal, subjective impressions of how they look in my home environment. (Note: lamp pictures do not reflect actual size, and prices are converted from SEK to Euro, include 20% VAT and may vary between countries.)

* 28W Osram E27 clear Halogen Energy Saver A-lamp

Info: CRI 100 (= full colour rendering). Costs about twice as much than its incandescent equivalent, uses about 20% less energy (though advertised as 30% less) and lasts twice as long.

Impression: Looks exactly like the 40W incandescent equivalent it's supposed to replace, though slightly brighter and with a rather glaring light point so best for luminaires with a shade.

* 28W Osram Spot R50 E14 Halogen Energy Saver reflector lamp

Info: CRI 100. Costs only slightly more than its incandescent equivalent, uses 20-30% less energy and lasts twice as long. Price only slightly slightly higher than incandescent reflector lamps.

Impression: Looks exactly like the 40W incandescent it's supposed to replace. And when I say "exactly", that means exactly and not "more or less similar", since halogen is an incandescent light, only concentrated into a smaller inner bulb.

* 30W Philips Master Classic E27 frosted Halogen Energy Saver A-bulb with infra-red coating and integrated transformer

Info: A low-voltage retrofit lamp that can be used in a standard mains-voltage luminaire. CRI 100. Costs over 10 times as much (€13) due to the built-in electronics, but then it lasts 3000 hours, so divide that by 3 and then deduct the 50% electricity savings and it's not so bad.

Impression: This one too gave a nice warm-white incandescent light that looked bright enough to replace a 60W bulb, as it promised. I could not tell it apart from a standard 60W frosted bulb.

* 7W Osram Duluxstar 'warm-white' E14 frosted CFL mini globe

Info: Appearance-wise, one of the most incandescent-like CFLs on the market, with a correlated colour temperature (CCT) at 2700K. CRI around 80 = standard (mediocre) colour rendering capacity. Price: about €10, but if you want a decent-looking (and decent-performing) CFL, be prepared to pay for it.

Impression: Visually, the light looked very soft and incandescent-like in the shop, but at home it still has a touch of that pink shade typical of flourescent light, though less markedly so than its early predecessors, more warm-pink than cool-pink, and admittedly an improvement compared with older CFLs and all the cheap budget lamps on the market.

As for colour rendering capacity, my do-it-yourself-spectral analysis with the back of a DVD shows the spectrum cut up into distinct bands with all the wavelenghts inbetween missing, as is normal for standard-quality FL light.

It does look bright enough to replace the promised 40W bulb (now in the beginning, will fade with age) though it took several minutes to reach full output. And the light was actually nicest before it did. Now it has turned a little more pink-white and makes the room look uniform and sterile. Many may not notice that much of a difference from an incandescent, or care if they did. But as I have a very well-developed sensitivty to such nuances, I could not relax in such a light and would never use it in my home.

* 1.2W Anslut 'warm-white' GU10 20-point LED reflector lamp

Info: 20-diode spotlight. Price was decent for an LED, just over 6€.

Impression: Don't quite know what to make of this one. On the one hand it's impressive to get so much light - at least in one direction - out of what is only 1.2W!

I picked this particular lamp because the light looked more white than the markedly green-white or blue-white I'd seen previously. It seems to have decent colour rendering too, both to the naked eye and in my DVD-test where I could see the full spectrum reflected without any large visible gaps (though no magenta).

Colour: Still slightly green-yellow-white (which is not surprising as 'warm-white' LEDs usually consist of blue diodes with yellow filters). Some may like this slightly cooler light (around 3000K, but gets a little warmer over time) but for my personal taste it still looks too much like FL light and gives my kitchen an industrial feel which dos not complement the warm colours and traditional design in a good way.

I have to say I was disappointed as I prefer mercury-free LED before CFL and would love to find a good enough LED to recommend instead. For commercial purposes fine, but not for home lighting unless that industrial feel is what you prefer. I'll keep looking.

(If you're a producer or retailer and have one you think is good enough, feel free to mail me and send me a sample.)

New (5 Aug):

* 1.8W Kjell & Co 'warm-white' frosted LED E27 mini globe

Info: Price around 12€.

Impression: This lamp is a joke. It's not even remotely warm-white, it's cool-white like a moon-beam, and about as dim. It gives only 65 lumen, less than a 10W incandescent, which is good for absolutely nothing. You certainly can't read in it and it's not warm enough to be used as mood-lighting (except at a Halloween party perahps). And this was the brightest LED globe light I could find in Stockholm retail stores!

Looking at the small print on the back of the package it says this lamp type is recommended "for decoration" or "for dark spaces like the cellar stairs, the attic passage-way, the garage or storage area". But it is not decorative, just dim and generally gloomy, now why would anyone want to put such a light in their cellar stairs and risk breaking their neck, or in spaces that are usually already creepy enough without adding a dim ghost light to it?

The only reasonable application would be as night light, but as this bulb requires a real luminaire with a full E27-socket, which makes it useless as night light too. (Instead, see my Coloured LED Review for a really great LED plug-in nightlight that costs only slightly more.)

New (9 Oct): Now I've sent for some higher watt LEDs from an online store that are supposed to be better quality.

* 4W clear 'warm-white' SMD LED E27 mini globe

Info: Price around 19€. Rated life 50 000 hours. 350 lumen or "about as much light as a 40W incandescent but using 1/10th the energy". Will not get warm, light up 100% in half a second. 

Impression: Yes, like all LEDs it lights up instantly and is luke-warm enough to touch even after being on for a while.

Colour: Warm-pink-white that looks similar to 'warm-white' fluorescent light rather than to golden-white incandescent light.

Brightness: Nowhere near that of a 40W incandescent. The 350 lm may be correct but a 40W incandescent gives 410-505 lumen and visual comparison between an incandescent 40W lamp seems to confirm it, so this seems to be another case of consumer fraud.

At the same time it is too glaring to the naked eye and must be used in a lamp with a thick shade so that the glaring little dots don't shine through. Which reduces its brightness even more as it is designed to throw light to the sides rather than downwards. Tried it in different luminaires. In modern table- & floor luminaires it doesn't work very well: what little light that finds its way out of the shade is very dim and gloomy indeed, and of no use whatsoever. A classic architect luminaire seems to be the only one it works with. The wide shade spreads the light much better than the very directional GU10 spotlight. In this luminaire it reading works if you can ignore the faint light dots reflected on the page.

Light quality: Like the other LEDs, the spectrum of this one is continuous in the warm end of the spectrum but spiky in the blue end, with no magenta. Colour in the room look sort of dampend, as if seen through a grey filter. Whatever room I try it in, it turns all gloomy and depressing. No life.

* 3W Cree 'warm-white' frosted LED E14 mini globe

Info: Price around 24€. 120 lumen or equivalent of a 25W incandescent. 50 000 hr life. Ceramic foot and chromed aluminium house.  

Impression: The frosted glass makes this one easier on the eyes and works well enough to read in. The socket limits its usefulness as its long heat sink makes it stick out too far in all the various E14 reflector luminaires I have. Putting it in a luminaire with a shade will reduce light output too much. The best fit would probably be in a vanity light for those who want a non-glaring white.

Colour: Cool-pink-white. More like fluorescent light and even less incandescent-like than the Osram CFL tested above.  

Brightness: Again erroneous equivalence info. An 25W incandescent lamp gives 215-235 lm so a 120 lm should not be enough to replace it. However, this one actually seems even brighter than a 25W incandescent, though the light itself has a duller quality.

Light quality: Continuous spectrum but with green, violet and magenta missing. Colours in the room tend to look a bit grey and faded and white surfaces look distinctly cool-pink, even though the bulb itself looks more neutral-white.  


More lamp descriptions can be found on this site: http://lightbulbmarket.blogspot.com/


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  3. "Real RGB LED lamp with remote control...be able to create any shade imaginable."

    Great idea..maybe the ban won't be horrible then, just bad!

    To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart / Casablanca "We'll always have Norway" ?

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  6. Re Removed spam
    I am glad I survived :-)

    Makes one wonder about site visit stats too...
    perhaps some ceolas.net visitors aren't as enthusiastically in agreement with me as I thought ;-)

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  10. Thanks for sharing this review. Right now I'm using Led lights in our house to conserve energy and because it's last longer than ordinary bulb. Your post is very nice, Thanks for sharing it.

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