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Old 06-16-2013, 08:51 PM   #1
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Tungsten? What's that? CFLs? On the way out! LED is the new king!!!

I just moved into my new home last week, and of course one of the first things you do is have to fix a lot of little broken things. First problem, MBR ceiling lamp not working. Fault isolation: no bulb! Second problem, wardrobe ceiling lamp not working. Fault isolation: no bulbs! What a cheap [censored]!!! What kind of person sells a house and takes the light bulbs with them?

So it got me on the topic of getting new bulbs. I had a bunch of CFLs in my storage unit, but location unknown. (I found them today.) So I was at Costco and bought a few 4-packs of CFLs, but was intrigued by the new LEDs and I noticed they'd dropped in price since the last time I looked (a few years ago). My new home has about a dozen can lamps (spot lamps recessed into the ceiling) so I bought a few CFL spots, brought them home and tried them. They were great!!!

Before I get to the meat, here's some background. Tungsten lamps have been around since Thomas Edison. There's a bit of quibbling among historians about who/what/when, but Edison patented a light bulb essentially as we know it today in 1878. But there was a basic problem with incandescent light bulbs. They put out more heat than light. They waste huge amounts of energy by turning it into heat, not light. Good in the winter, not good in the summer.

So many decades later fluorescent lamps were invented, much less heat, much more light. More time passes then CFLs are invented, a thin fluorescent tube curled up to resemble the common screw in tungsten light bulb. Much better! Now we have light bulb that are not primarily heaters but instead produce mostly light. Not only do they use less energy (by not making heat) but they last longer too. They're more expensive but the TCO (total cost of ownership) is cheaper. If you replaced every light bulb in your house with CFLs you'd save money and have to switch them less frequently.

But still there were problems with CFLs. They weren't dimmable and they've got that nasty toxic mercury in them, bad for the environment, bad for us when we break one. Later on the manufacturers made some of them dimmable...

LEDs were invented decades ago--remember the first calculators? I bought my first calculator in the late '60s, basic functions and over $50! LED light bulbs has been a holy grail to the lighting industry since then. After much inspiration and perspiration LED light bulb replacements were developed about a decade ago but holy [censored]!!! they were EXPENSIVE!!! And not dimmable either.

Fast forward to present day, LED light bulbs are now both affordable (although somewhat expensive, but considering TCO it's a great deal) and many of them are dimmable. The age of affordable LED lighting has arrived. In fact it's cheaper for new construction to use LED lighting than fluorescent since fluorescent recessed lamps require ballasts (technical term, google is your friend) and I presume contractors are being pressured to not build new houses to use tungsten lamps.


Part 2: my experiences replacing a whole house with LED. I'm saving this post in case the forum gremlin comes along and erases my entire post. (That sometimes happens on all forums.)

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Old 06-16-2013, 09:06 PM   #2
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Good info Greg. You've been doing some research.

Much of our lighting in LR and BRs is with three-way table and floor lamps. As a result, no CFLs for us.

LEDs put out an impressive amount of light. Those little flashlights are amazing. I can imagine the possibilities in the home.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:24 PM   #3
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Part 2: my experiences doing a whole house in LCD

I started out replacing my can lamps with Feit Electric BR30 dimmable floods, 65 watt tungsten equivalent uses only 13 watts and has a lifetime of 22.8 years: $19.98 at Lowe's, $15.89 at Costco. I did the whole house can lamps in BR30 but all was not yet right in Greg's kingdom.

Color temperature: AKA, soft white, bright white, daylight, etc. Measured in degrees Kelvin the number refers to black body radiation (google that) the color light emitted by anything heated bright enough to produce visible light. They range from 2700K for soft white, 3000K for bright white, and 3000K-5500K for daylight (the latter by the way PERFECT for studio photography!). My table lamp LED bulbs came in 3000K (bright white) but the ceiling lamps were 2700K (soft white).

What's 300K between friends, right? But they clashed! And another flaw, the screw in LED replacements for incandescent floods still have a unsightly gap because the trim around the lamp has to leave enough room for your fingers to unscrew them for replacement.

The final solution: I took everything back today and got a refund. I bought Sylvania "Ultra" 6 inch (diameter of cans) recessed kit. You unscrew the old tungsten (or fluorescent) flood, drop the trim ring / reflector and disconnect the lamp socket from the reflector. You screw a dongle into the remaining lamp socket, clip in the combined LED assembly / trim ring, attach the dongle plug to the LED assembly pig tail, push the socket up into the top area and push the LED/trim up until flush with the ceiling. (Hint: Windex the ceiling at some stage.) This is literally as easy as replacing a light bulb. It took me about 20-25 minutes to replace the 4 lamps in my kitchen with these Sylvania recessed kits. The color temperature of these lamps are 3000K, bright white, same as all my table lamps. No more clash!

Good news, bad news: first the bad. $43 each at Lowe's. I got about a dozen and I'm sure you can multiply. But there's good news: the trim rings look great whether the lamps are on or off, there's no dust/spider gap between bulb and can, and TCO is still far, far better than tungsten. And they say I won't have to replace them for an estimated lifetime of 22.8 years.

I've done almost my entire house in LED now, a steep investment (I did all the table lamps too) but estimated lifetime is 22.8 years so I probably won't have to replace any of them until about 2036! (I'll be lucky to be alive then.) And TCO is still cheaper than tungsten. I've made the initial capital investment and I'll pay lower lighting costs for the next couple decades, and won't need to touch them again for a couple of decades.

Today I have only the globe incandescents over the bathroom vanity sinks and a lighted house number sign on my garage to show my address at night. Oh and a very ugly dining room chandelier that is going to be history soon. I already threw the family room ugly chandelier with an unlighted ceiling fan. (Family rooms are better lighted with table lamps.)

I'm going to tackle the address lights soon, and replace the (did I say ugly?) chandelier in the dining room soon, so after that my entire house will be LED except for the garage which uses the common 4 fluorescent tube fixture: too much trouble to replace and it's still not tungsten.

So welcome to the future, and the future is LED. Within 1-2 decades most of us will have switched to LEDs. (Or maybe I'm overly optimistic since I presume CFLs will be available for a few more decades.) California has already outlawed 100W tungsten lamps, and the 75W tungstens are scheduled to be outlawed soon, and then etc. eventually tungstens will not be available in California.

So now my house is happily lighted by over 90% 3000K LED, and the place looks great!
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Good info Greg. You've been doing some research.

Much of our lighting in LR and BRs is with three-way table and floor lamps. As a result, no CFLs for us.

LEDs put out an impressive amount of light. Those little flashlights are amazing. I can imagine the possibilities in the home.
Thanks Andy! Just replace those three-ways and floor lamps with LEDs and dimmers. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and baseball cap, and it totally works for me. Most of my table lamps have a nearby dimmer to adjust the output instead of just low-med-high.

That reminds me, I have a flock of wall switch dimmers here, various types and manufacturers from Lowe's and Home Depot, and haven't had time to install them yet. (They ARE expensive!)

Taking the kitchen as an example, used to be lighted by 4 x 65 watt incandescent floods for a total of 260 watts. Now that same ceiling is lighted by 4 x 11 watt LED floods for a total of 44 watts, and the damned thing is too bright in daytime!!! They're supposed to be equivalent to 65 watt floods, but either they're wrong or my eyes are lying to me. In my opinion I'm getting as much light from these four LED floods as 400 watts of incandescent floods, and using less than 50 watts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah they cost $43 each, but totally worth it!!! And I haven't even hit Lowe's with price matching. If I can find a lower matchable price I can save even more. (I'll look into that and update the topic when I get Lowe's to match a competitor's lower price.)

I have seen the future and the future is LED!!! (Or maybe it's plastic... I forgot.)
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:12 PM   #5
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My best friend just built a house and was disappointed at how bad the lighting was in her kitchen. She replaced the recessed can bulbs with nice bright leds, it made all the difference in the world. She's also happy that she won't have to get the ladder to change bulbs any time soon.

I agree with you on family room lighting, I prefer lamps instead of overhead lighting. I replaced an old lighted ceiling fan with a non lit one.
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:04 AM   #6
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Part 3: how to replace an incandescent/fluorescent can lamp with an LED can lamp

Yeah, the FR doesn't need overhead lighting. About the only reason I can think of is cleaning it at night... I'm not so sure why that doesn't apply to the MBR but I purchased a fan with lighting for my MBR. Maybe sometimes I just make decisions based on feel and intuition, and so far it's totally working for me!!! Who needs a brain if you have good intuition?

In the interim from my last post I cooked and ate dinner, then changed out 10 screw bulb fixtures to LED fixtures in about two hours. (I'll explain the difference below.) It turns out that cleaning and repositioning the ladder takes a significant time compared to the actual work.

Okay, first, if you're going from screw in incandescent or fluorescent spots to LED screw in spots (or for that matter, screw in incandescent or CFL lamps in a table lamp), it's as simple as screwing in a light bulb. (1) Unscrew the old bulb. (2) Screw in the LED replacement. Done!

As I said earlier, if you want a better result with can lamps (recessed ceiling lighting) it's a bit more complicated, but almost the same.

(1) Unscrew the old bulb. Figure out what to do with it. So far I haven't a clue...

(2) Pull down the trim ring, then release the clips on either side. These are a pair of wires on each side that engage to prongs in the can. Pull the trim ring all the way down, then push it back up about 1/2 inch (or otherwise hooks will interfere), then pinch them on one side to release the reflector, repeat on the other side. Locate the squeeze clamps that clip the screw assembly to the reflector, pinch them to release the reflector, discard the reflector/trim assembly.

(3) Open the LED replacement kit box (you knew this step was coming, right?). If you want to read the directions get a teen or tween to read it to you. Otherwise just discard the directions and box. (Keep the box for a week or two in case you're unhappy and want to reverse the transaction.) Remove the lamp/trim assembly and dongle. (Dongle = screw base on one end, plug that mates with LED plug on other.)

(4) Use Windex or other cleaning product to clean the ceiling around the can opening. The trim ring may not match the old trim exactly so this cleans off any dust or scruff.

(5) Screw the dongle into the old screw base. When you are done with step you'll have wires hanging down with a plug that mates with the new LED plug.

(6) Pinch the clip wires of the new assembly on one side and engage them with the housing prongs.

(7) Mate the plug from the dongle with the plug from the LED assembly. (This is one of the most exciting steps of the whole process, mating the plugs. Actually the whole process is rather boring.)

(8) Engage the clips from the other side of the LED assembly with the can prongs. Shove the old socket on top and cram the whole thing back into the ceiling. You're done!!!

Repeat steps 1-8 as often as needed until all your can lamps (recessed ceiling lighting) are converted to LEDs. Take a step back, then reflect on the fact that while you spent $43 for each can replacement, you won't have to mess with it for 22.8 years, and each year you'll continue to save energy costs.

How old will you be in almost 23 years? I don't know about you but I plan on still living in my present home for that long assuming I can continue to breathe for same amount of time. If you're planning to move in the next few years then that may influence your TCO decisions. Just between you and I, I'm not so sure that full LED lighting will influence the resale value of your home, although it may motivate potential buyers a bit...

In part 4 of my discussion I'll address the problem of what to do with those damned square socket fluorescent lamps, and curse the company that invented these abominations. The problems here are (1) they don't have a screw base, so there's nothing to screw your LED to, and (2) there is a ballast assembly behind the can (think transformer) which is required to run the old fluorescents (the kind before they invented screw in CFLs) and the ballast will muck up your LED.

I haven't done it yet but I have it sussed out. You reach up and dissemble the can and push it up into the ceiling to expose the wires and Romex (or other) primary wiring. Then untwist the screw nuts to disconnect the ballast. Forget it, it won't do any harm to leave it there. I haven't worked it out completely yet, but I think you cut the socket off the dongle and use the wire nuts to connect the dongle wires to the Romex, then reassemble the can until you have it back in the ceiling with the LED plug hanging down, then proceed as per above to install the LED/trim assembly to complete the job.

Currently my new home is almost 90% 3000K LED lighting, and I'm very pleased and thrilled with the result. And better, now that my capital expense is invested I'll continue to save lighting costs for the next two decades, and I won't need my ladder for anything except painting!
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:43 AM   #7
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I forgot to add, I searched the Internet and Lowe's has the best price, $43 each. Home Depot's website was too FUBAR to figure out what they cost there, so I'll drop in and check the price in person. I've seen 'em at both stores, and both stores will match the other's prices.

So the perfect solution (recessed can LED with no gap between screw lamp and trim ring) is going to cost you $43 per lamp. You can get a similar result with screw in LED replacement bulbs at about $20 at Lowe's or $16 at Costco, for the 2700K bulbs. Just unscrew the old bulbs and screw in the new ones and you're done, except they don't look as nice because of the gap between bulb and reflector. If you want 3000K (to match your LED table lamps) one solution is to get the PAR30 LED lamps (3000K color temperature) but they have a focused spot, not a wide dispersion, which I didn't like. ($28 at Lowe's).

I have one spot where I may sub a PAR30 screw in LED replacement instead of replacing the can insides, because it's about 18 feet off the ground above my entry door (cathedral ceiling) and I'm not particularly excited about doing all this disassembly and reassembly at 18 feet elevation. My long ladder won't even reach that high and allow me a safe few steps above to work safely at 18 feet so at bare minimum I'll have to borrow a bigger ladder.

My buddy Rick has a telescoping bulb replacer you can operate from the ground, which he used to replace my tungsten with a BR30, so unless I can find a wide beam 3000K LED spot perhaps I'll just pop in a PAR30 with Rick on the boom. The focused beam might even be okay from 18 feet above... Kind of an accent to the house's entry way.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:07 PM   #8
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For a regular LED bulb, this looks like a great price, check it out!

Newegg.com - Shell Shocker Deal. Exclusive Jaw Dropping Savings on PC Components and Electronics.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:03 PM   #9
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Greg as an engineering secretary I once worked for an energy audit company. If your electricity is as expensive as it is here, you should have a short payback period. And I can't see it not being a big selling point for a house sale. I would think one of the questions a serious potential home buyer would ask is about the yearly cost of the utilities. I realize it depends on the size of a family. But when you consider the cost of running the AC due to the heat from the tungsten bulbs it can add up very quickly.

I love the fact that California along with other states (Mass included) are fazing out the tungsten bulbs by a certain date. I have the squirrly (my own professional name) bulbs in all my fixtures and lamps. Maintenance recently cleaned my bathroom ceiling light and fan and we both were very happy that it took a squirrly bulb. I have them on hand. Spike brought me a half case of daylight ones. And I love the light they give off. What did I do with the old tungsten ones? Even though they were still good, I broke them all and tossed them in the trash. My little bit for the environment. My two ceiling lights are both florescent. And the hanging fixture where the table is supposed to be, I have put a squirrly bulb in. Unfortunately there is no glass globe to hide it. But I don't care. I get nice bright white daylight from it. And in the end, that is all that matters for me. The apartments never had globes for these fixtures.

I do have to laugh. Some of the tenants call maintenance to change the light bulbs in their lamps. That is not a job for maintenance. They are only responsible for the ceiling lights. But as a courtesy and a cost effective means for them, they put in the squirrly ones. Most of the old timers hate them, don't trust them, don't think they are real bulbs and simply don't want them. But maintenance tells them that once they remove the old bulb (tungsten) they are not allowed to put it back in and it has to be destroyed. That the bulbs are illegal. ( a lie) What maintenance has been told by management is to try to encourage the tenants to switch to the squirrly ones.

My present squirrly bulbs are 60 watt equivalent. Now I don't know what that comes out to in daylight, but it is certainly a lot brighter than 60 watt tungsten. And I am very happy with them. No matter how ugly they look.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:19 PM   #10
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We use squirrly bulbs here and love how long they last. The local electric utility subsidized bulbs at Home Depot, so a 5 pack was like a $1.19 so we stocked up. By the time that we are done with these, LEDs should be at a very reasonable price, they are already on their way there.
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