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April 4, 2014 / paulio10

LED 60W Light Bulbs – A Test Comparison

TLDR:  skip to Final Results below.

I recently tested three widely available LED light bulbs that roughly look like standard light-bulbs, and emit the equivalent of 60 watts of power from the “old” incandescent light-bulbs we grew up with all of our lives.

These LED bulbs use way less electricity and last much longer than the old bulbs – that would save me a lot of money over time. And the prices have come down dramatically since they were originally introduced; they’re between $10 and $20 each now, which means they’re “worth it” now, considering their extended life-span.

The Bulbs

1. Philips 424382 – 11W A19 soft white $19.97 at Amazon.com

2. Cree 9.5W 800 lumens soft 2700k, $9.97 at Lowe’s

3. SunSun – 9.5W 800 lumens A19 warm/soft 2700K, $11.99 at Amazon.com

I chose only LED bulbs that claimed to be “dimmable” – some that aren’t dimmable are cheaper, but I didn’t want to try those. I chose only bulbs that claimed to be “soft” or “warm” white, between 2700K and 3000K coloring.

I compared them to the Reveal 630LM old-skool incandescent 60W lightbulb.

Philips, Cree, Sunsun LED light bulbs

Philips, Cree, Sunsun LED light bulbs

 

The Tests

1. is the color roughly similar to a real light bulb?

2. do they shine as brightly as a real light bulb?

3. is there a delay before the light comes on, when I flip the switch on?

4. will they work with the dimmable touch-lamps I have?

5. do the bulbs feel like a regular light bulb to the touch?

6. will they work in reading lamps, do they shine enough light downwards?

7. will I be bothered by flicker from these LED bulbs?

Test Equipment

I do not need fancy equipment to make measurements – I only need my eyes to see if things are right.  After all, the goal here is to buy a whole bunch of LED bulbs and live with them in my house. My eyes are what will be experiencing the light, that’s all that matters – if slight differences aren’t really noticeable, then it’s not a problem.

Test #1: Color

The color was fine in all 3 LED bulbs, overall. The LED bulbs were a tiny bit yellower (less red) when I held my arm right up to the light, in side-by-side comparison to the incandescent bulb.  But looking around the room I couldn’t tell the difference.  My plan is to replace all my incandescent bulbs anyway, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Test #2: Brightness

I didn’t think the LED bulbs would be as bright as a real 60W bulb, but I was wrong. Two of the three bulbs were the exact same brightness as the incandescent; the Cree was slightly dimmer than the other two, but not by very much.  I wasn’t very happy seeing that it was dimmer, but it’s not really an issue to me overall.

Test #3: Quick Turn-On

Two of the three bulbs were instantly on as soon as the light switch was turned on – the SunSun failed this test. The SunSun bulb not only had a delay before turning on, but the delay was variable – not consistent, not something you could ever get used to. It appeared to be about one-fifth of a second delay – extremely noticeable to me, and to my wife, once I pointed it out. Sometimes the start-time was less than that amount, but other times it was more. Very annoying to me. The other two bulbs were perfect in this area.

Test #4: Dimmable

All three bulbs claimed to be dimmable, however only two of them passed this test. The Philips bulb failed the test, which surprised me a lot! My dimmer-lamp has 3 brightness levels plus “off”. The Philips bulb would only do 2 of the dimmer-phases, with the highest-brightness setting failing – it would come on momentarily, then turn off.  Touching the lamp to flip through the 4 phases should have worked like this: low, medium, bright, off.  But with the Philips bulb it basically did: low, medium, off, off.  It just didn’t feel right.  Doubting myself I tried all the bulbs again in a different kind of dimmer-lamp I have in another room – but I got the exact same results.

Test #5: Texture

The Cree bulb has a strange rubbery coating on the “glass bulb” part of it (which is probably plastic, not glass). It feels weird when you hold it in your hand! I thought it would catch dust and not be very cleanable; but I have to admit, the rubberyness makes it easier than any other bulb to screw in and out of sockets. Kind of like a rubber case for your cell phone, you don’t feel like you’re going to drop it anymore. The other two bulbs felt like some kind of plastic, normal and smooth like you would expect.

Though you can see the different materials connected together for each bulb (plastic, metal, etc.), two of the bulbs felt solid – nothing felt wiggly about any of them. Only the Cree felt like the bulb-part was kind of separating from the base-part, which I didn’t like very much.

The Philips bulb was slightly heavier than the other bulbs, but not by a lot, and that didn’t matter to me.

Test #6: Reading Lamp

This test was about how much light was cast “below” the bulb, i.e. if it’s in a lamp, the circle of light below the lamp-shade – how much light was coming out down there. Because older people often need this part of the light for reading – and, as you may have noticed, a lot of these bulbs have a wide neck around the base, which could possibly block some of the light shining downwards. I was worried about that for reading lamps.

Two of the bulbs were the same as the incandescent in this test – only the SunSun was noticeably dimmer in this under-light area. I felt that this bulb would interfere with reading, if it were used in a reading lamp. You can see how the plastic base is the cause of the problem – the company needs to redesign this part so more light shines downwards.

Test #7: Flicker

This last test is kind of important to me; as an asthmatic I always see lighting-flicker more than anybody else I’ve ever met. Most people get headaches easily from misconfigured computer screens, even when they can’t consciously see the flicker – I was always the unofficial computer monitor adjuster at the companies I worked for. It was a chronic problem with the old CRT TV screens and computer monitors from the past. The flicker problem is largely solved now with modern flat screen TVs and computer monitors, thank goodness.

As I was testing these bulbs, I didn’t see any flicker whatsoever on any of them. I even tried the trick of scanning my eyes from side to side quickly, to see if it caused a jittery lighting appearance – but it didn’t. As far as I can tell, all three companies have solved the old flickering-LED problem on all of these bulbs.

 IMG_20140220_212946

Final Results

There was no single winner from these tests.

I have decided to buy the Philips bulb for general house use, but not for dimmer lamps; and to buy the Cree for our 3 dimmer lamps that we have around the house.

Every few months new, better, cheaper LED bulbs come out. If you’re reading this much after April 2014, chances are the bulbs in the stores are better than I have described here.

I feel ready to make the leap to all-LED bulbs in our house, right now.  I think you should consider it too. I believe you will save a lot of money over time with lower electric bills each month. If you can’t spend $200+ on a big pile of new lightbulbs, then just buy them as replacements once in a while, when your current bulbs burn out. I feel that LED lighting is really the wave of the future. It’s the next step of the digital age.

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