Product Review:Lights of America LED Light Bulb
Or, are you ready to replace your incandescent light bulbs with energy saving LED technology?
Is this posting from the “We wasted our money on this – so you don’t have to” or the “New Technology you should know about department”? You decide.
About a year ago LED light bulbs were priced at about $35 and above. You can look at the C.Crane VIVID light bulb here – http://www.ccrane.com/lights/led-light-bulbs/cc-vivid-led-light-bulb.aspx. These are priced at $19.95 at the time of this writing. And there are other versions here – http://www.ccrane.com/lights/led-light-bulbs/cc-vivid/
Your mileage may vary, but for me, its all about the quality of the light – I don’t care how much it cost (within reason) I want good quality light. My house is nearly exclusively General Electric Reveal bulbs ( http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/products/reveal_main.htm ) and Halogen. No substitutes, please.
Ac/costed at Sam’s Club
While walking down the aisles of Sam’s Club I was accosted by a package of LED light bulbs priced at $14 for a set of three. That’s $5 each. Now that’s a price drop. What’s the real deal?
Taking a closer look at the package:
- The brand name is Lights of America
- 40 Watts equivalent light to incandescent
- Uses 1.5 Watts
- Standard Edison base
- Annual Energy Cost $0.16 based on specific use
- 30,000 hrs estimated life
Sounds good. Lets take a look at the fine print
- 40 Watts but the packages does not quote Lumens
- Annual energy cost is based on 3 hrs per day use. That seems low.
- Does not work with a dimmer.
- Cold weather – OK
At about $5 each in a package of three – $14 for the set, how could ( famous last words) I lose?
Putting the LED Light bulb to the test
Author bias warning: GE Reveal Light Bulbs
What Makes GE Reveal® Bulbs Different?
GE Reveal bulbs make colors “pop” in a way they don’t with standard incandescent bulbs.
Why? The rare earth element neodymium that’s in the glass. (It’s what gives these bulbs their distinctive blue color when unlit.) When these bulbs are lit, the neodymium provides a pure, clean light by filtering out much of the dulling yellow cast common from ordinary light bulbs.
A picture is worth a thousands words. Take a look. See if you can guess which lamp has the LED light bulb. Here are some more words, if a thousand is not enough:
- The LED bulb is not frosted so the light is not diffused. The light is directional – up.
- Since the light is not diffused, you will find a dark ring around around the bottom of the shade. This is caused by the directed light upward and there is very little light that shines below the base.
- Based on my subjective observation – take a look for yourself – this LED bulb, claimed to be 40 Watt incandescent light equivalent on the package, falls short on light output. Again, the package does not cite a Lumen rating
- Finally, its the quality of the light. No way I would use these LED light bulbs in a lamp.
To be fair, the packaging, which says this is 40 watt incandescent light equivalent, also says it is best for accent lighting. The LED bulb is directed light so maybe this is the best use.
I tried the Lights of America LED bulb in a light illuminating books in a book case and compared this with an incandescent 40 watt GE Reveal bulb. Again, the lack of light output and the color of the light that is at issue.
What would you use these for?
The package promotes these bulbs for accent lighting. Having messed with these LED Bulbs in a number of different living room lamps, desk lamps, bookshelf lighting, etc. I can say that accent lighting is what they would be best at – if you can tolerate the quality of the light.
A positive comment about the light is that it is made up of a total of 20 individual LED’s arranged in 3 tiered layers. In a crystal glass bulb this has the affect of many points of light that looks three dimensional. This affect is much different than a filament in an incandescent light.
The bulb may look OK a chandelier of in outdoor coach lights. At $5 each it would be cost prohibitive for a chandelier. For outdoor coach lighting, maybe this LED light bulb would be OK.
Doing the math
The claimed benefit of these LED light bulbs is that is saves money. For example, the claimed life of the Lights of America LED bulb is 30,000 hrs. The claimed life of the GE Reveal incandescent bulb is 1,000 hrs.
How many years is 30,000 hrs? If you use a light 8 hrs a day that is (8×365=) 2,920 hrs per year. At that rate of use, 30,000 hrs is (20,000/2,920=) 10 years.
Cost of equipment
One would have to purchase 30 GE Reveal bulbs to match the life of the single Lights of America LED light bulb.
GE Reveal light bulbs are about $6 for a package of 4. So to match the one LED bulb in life that is 8 packages of GE bulbs ( 8x$6=) $48. Allocated over 10 years that is $4.80 per year.
Allocating the cost of the single Lights of America LED bulb over 10 years that is about $0.50 per year.
For GE Reveal – $4.80 per year; Lights of America LED – $0.50 per year
The incandescent 40 watt bulbs running 30,000 hrs will use 1,200 Kilowatts. At an energy rate of $0.10 per KW-hr the total energy cost is $120. So that is $12 in energy each year.
The Lights of America bulb uses 1.5 Watts. That is (1.5/40=) 3.75% of the cost of the incandescent bulb. The energy cost is (3.75% of $12=) $0.45 each year.
Putting this all together
Lights of America 40 watt equivalent LED bulb
$0.50 in equipment cost and $0.45 in energy cost per year = $0.95 cost per year to use.
The GE Reveal 40 watt incandescent light bulb
$4.80 in equipment cost and $12 in energy cost per year = $16.80 cost per year to use.
The bottom line
The general case of just about any product selection / decision process comes down to the list of criteria and the weighting (importance) of each of the criteria against the products.
For me, as for many other people, the most important issue is the quality of the light. Would you pay a $16 per year price premium to get quality light in a specific use? The answer for me is, yes! Until GE can come out with a CFL or LED Reveal light bulb which is identical in light quality, output, and diffusion to the current incandescent bulb I will pay the premium of $16 per year per bulb and and enjoy great light.
Packaging – click to enlarge