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Thursday, September 25, 2014

In Search Of...

My new house finally had one of the recessed lights go out. Since the bulb lasted more than a year, I'm happy with that. I expected it to go out before this. But it left me with a problem. What bulb do I buy to replace it?

Clearly, some parameters were known. Flood light that has the ability to be dimmed. Beyond that, though, was a mystery.

Choosing bulbs in the old world was easy. I need this wattage and done. But now it's like an ordeal. Pick the wrong LED or CFL bulb and I'd be stuck with that harsh light that I hate for years to come. Clearly, some research was needed and (oh, boy) is there ever a lot online to wade through. Gah!

First off, I discovered that wattage is not brightness in bulbs, it's energy usage. The new bulbs are measured in kelvins. To replicate the color of an incandescent bulb, I want 2700 to 3000 kelvins.

Got it. That's good. The higher numbers (like 5000) are where you get that harsh, cold light that I hate.

My next decision was fairly easy as well. I went for the LED light over CFL. I had several reasons. One is that the bulb will last about 22 years in LED versus about 7 years for CFL. Since these bulbs are high up in the ceiling and require a ladder, the longer I can go without replacing the bulb the better. Plus, I have my lights on longer than the 3 hours per day on which they base the life limit, so again, lasting longer is better.

Also, the LED is supposed to be instant on whereas the CFL bulbs I have brighten as they stay on. I have the latest and greatest CFL bulbs in my bathroom, and while they do start out brighter than the old ones did, I still find they're not at full intensity until they've been on a while.

Now I had to figure out brightness. What is a 60 watt light equivalent in LED? I'm still shaky on this, but  this is measured in lumens now. So apparently 1600 lumens will be equivalent to 100 watts. I ended up getting whatever lumens equals 65 watts. 750 lumens maybe? I can't remember to be honest, but by then, this had been quite an odyssey.

To make the purchase decision for this one light bulb took 45 minutes. Seriously. This would be okay if I only had to do it once, but I know I won't remember all this when the next bulb goes out and I'll have to go through this all again.

You would think that to make things easier for people, the light bulb manufacturers would just label the new LED and CFL lights with the old wattage designation and maybe a graphic saying this bulb is the warm light of incandescent and this light is the harsher whiter light. Then it would take like 2 minutes. I want 65 watts with a warm tone. Done. But no, let's make it as difficult as possible.

For heaven's sake light bulb makers, at least give a chart I can glance at and make a decision without wasting a lot of time.