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March 1, 2009 / Jim Fenton

LED Floodlighting

LED floodlight

A year or so ago, having tried compact fluorescent lighting for a while, I decided it was time to give LED lighting a try.

Most of the lighting in our home is in the form of R30 flood lights in recessed fixtures in the ceiling.  We have replaced some of the more frequently-used lights with R30 fluorescent fixtures, and many of you are probably familiar with the slow turn-on time and similar issues.

I ordered three TCPLR30WH27K bulbs in January of last year.  The order was delayed several times; apparently the manufacturer (TCP) was having some production problems.  They finally arrived in the early summer; we have them installed in the kitchen over the sink and adjacent counter.  Each “bulb” is actually an array of lots of individual LEDs; the outer shell is plastic and the whole thing is much lighter than other flood lights.

Here’s a run-down of the pros and cons:

Advantages:

  • Instant startup: no wait of several minutes like fluorescents
  • Extremely efficient: 6 watts is comparable to a 15W fluorescent or 65W incandescent
  • Long life: estimated at 50,000 hours MTBF, vs. 6000 hours for a fluorescent and 1000 hours for an incandescent.  50,000 hours works out to about 27 years of use at 5 hours daily.

Disadvantages:

  • Bluish light:  This light is rated at 2700 degrees Kelvin, which would be equivalent to a conventional (non-soft white) incandescent light.  It’s not as blue as many LEDs I have seen, but don’t let anyone try to tell you this is the same color.
  • Flashing:  If you’re sensitive to 60 Hz flashing from fluorescent lamps, this is worse.  Fluorescents at least have the persistence of the phosphor to mitigate the 60 Hz line frequency, but these are worse.  I sometimes see strobe effects in the water coming out of the faucet at the kitchen sink.
  • Light pattern:  Although the LR30WH27K is classified as a “flood”, I would almost call it a spot.  As with many LEDs, the individual LEDs in the bulb focus their light in one direction.  Unfortunately, all of the LEDs making up this unit are coplanar; if they had been mounted on a convex surface, the lighting would be much more uniform.
  • Cost:  LED floodlights are still quite expensive, 3-4 times as expensive as fluorescents.  Still, their long life may make this a good deal in hard-to-reach environments.
  • Dimmability:  This bulb apparently isn’t dimmable, although I understand that there are LED floodlights that are.

Another possible advantage is that we thought we were seeing some bleaching of the color of our kitchen cabinets while the fluorescent floods were installed.  I don’t have any data to support this, but we speculated that the fluorescent floods had more UV output than the incandescent floods they replaced.  I’m not sure how the LED floods compare, but the fact that their output is more focused causes them to illuminate the cabinets less.

Despite a short list of advantages and longer list of disadvantages, we’re generally happy with the TCP LED floods in this particular application.  Most of the lights in our home have dimmers and these bulbs wouldn’t be suitable unless we made them non-dimmable, but in the kitchen the slightly harsh and unconventional light from the LED floods works well.

5 Comments

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  1. Barry Leiba / Mar 2 2009 9:09 am

    The “flashing” situation would just make the whole thing a non-starter for me. Until that’s fixed, I’ll have to stick with the CFs.

  2. Ellen / Mar 3 2009 6:09 pm

    Good post. I tried a CFL flood light over the sink last year and, because of the slow start-up time, we found that we just left it on all the time, possibly using more electricity than the original standard flood, which we turned on only when at the sink. We reverted to the old style for immediate task lighting. Interesting to read about the LEDs. I’ve never had problems with fluorescent flicker, so maybe I could do this. Might wait a bit longer for the technology to straighten out a bit, though.

  3. Mathew / Mar 3 2009 7:20 pm

    Interesting. We have switched to CFL in most places in our home where we do not have dimmers; fact is that dimmed incandescent lights are still best where you need to control light output. We have considered LEDs for places where lights are on all or most of the time. 2700K is pretty cool as far as lighting goes… check your digital camera white balance!

    In the UK, incandescent lights will be banned in a few years, which seems very harsh when the alternatives are clearly not as good or as controllable.

  4. Barry Leiba / Oct 23 2009 10:58 am

    Interesting related post on BoingBoing today.

Trackbacks

  1. LED Floodlighting Revisited « Altmode

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