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My Move to LED Lighting

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For the past few months, DTE Energy (the local power company) had been sending me love letters telling me I was literally the “least efficient” consumer of electricity among my neighbors.  This was disappointing, since over the past year or so I had spent ridiculous amounts of time and money building a home automation system that was supposed to help minimize my energy expenses.  I’d changed out nearly every switch and outlet in my house with a smart and controllable equivalent.

But not the light bulbs.

It’s not like I forgot about the light bulbs.  I installed those awful CFL bulbs wherever I could stand their dull, slow light.  I even tried the CFL bulbs in my recessed lighting but found them too dim and slow to brighten.  I also could not switch to CFLs where I had dimmer switches.  The only way I could reduce my lighting costs more would be to install LED lights.  LED lights, after all, are supposed to be brighter and more efficient than CFLs — and they are dimmable — but they cost an arm and a leg.

After switching out every BR-30 incandescent flood light (about 30) and a dozen or so standard bulbs, I’m no longer the “least efficient”; I climbed 27 ranks to number 73 of 100.  Yay.

In the process, however, I learned a bit about the different brands of LED lights out there.  My favorite are the Philips brand — bright, a color and warmth very close to incandescent, dim-able, and *quiet*.  The other brand I liked was the brand I bought on clearance at Lowe’s: Feit.  These are cheap, bright, and a nice color, and they dim nicely.  So many other brands would buzz when dimmed, and some wouldn’t dim right at all.

The Cree brand, for example, would only dim maybe 20% down from full brightness, and they had some funky rubbery coating on it, ostensibly to prevent shattering but with the side effect of being a dust magnet.  These were the “cheap” LED lights sold at Home Depot.

I also tried the Sylvania bulbs sold at Lowe’s as their high-end LED. The Sylvania bulbs were nice except that they turned a deep orange color when dimmed — almost like the sodium lights that light up some Interstates at night.  They called this the “sunset effect”, probably as a way to market these off-color bulbs.  They’re fine if you don’t need to dim them, though.

If you decide to move to LED lighting, make sure you buy bulbs from 3 or 4 different brands to test them out.  LED lights are getting cheaper, but no matter what the cost, you don’t want to be stuck with lights you don’t like.

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One comment on “My Move to LED Lighting

  1. serpicojam (@serpicojam)
    June 27, 2014

    Don’t forget about gauging those bulbs for the effect they might have on the colors of your walls and furniture (browns can turn green, for example).

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This entry was posted on June 26, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .

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Anything Matt Hovey publishes online is his own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of his employers.
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