Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Switching to LED

It seems like the obvious thing to do, replacing old, inefficient incandescent and even compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs with efficient, long-lasting LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. But even a year ago, it wasn't nearly so obvious. Because for all the amazing advantages we see in the diodes themselves, which have been all over our houses in our appliances and electronic devices, and even our TV screens for years, when it came to home lighting, LED bulbs had a few problems that made me stay away from them.

They were very expensive. Individual bulbs went for as much as $20. And they didn't actually save that much power or last that long compared with CFLs. So they weren't saving much energy or any money.

I started changing over a little at a time in two places in my home. I have two small can lights over my kitchen stove, in which I had been using halogen lamps. Those had two problems: they used a lot of power, and they also lost their lenses after a short time, spitting hot glass onto my vinyl floor and leaving the quartz bulb exposed to dust, which shortened its life.

So I tried LED substitutes, despite their expense, because there are no CFL bulbs that fit the small cans. They provided a very harsh, unpleasant (though bright) light. And they failed. Within weeks. The the LEDs themselves, but the power supply.

The store, Lowes, was very good about replacing the bulbs, but after the third round, I just gave up. We just did without those lights, in fact, for more than six months.

Meanwhile, I found a 7-watt replacement for the 13-watt light in the basement. I chose to replace that because everyone leaves it on all the time. Unlike the lights for the cans, though, that one has lasted very well. It was still very expensive, though.

But now things have changed, a lot. I can buy a six-pack of 60-watt-equivalent LED bulbs that cast a light much closer to the CFLs in quality for less than $10 a package, and they seem to last. No only that, but they use about half the power needed for a CFL, last quite a bit longer, and are so efficient that you can actually hold onto the lit bulb without burning your fingers. In fact, they generate very little heat at all.

So now, with very few exceptions (and those mostly because of available sizes), as my CFLs burn out, I am replacing them with LED. I even found a different brand for the can lights, and the stove area is once again brightly lit.

I can now, without reservation, recommend LED lighting in nearly all home applications. And it's about time.