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February 19, 2011 / Jim Fenton

LED Floodlighting Revisited

LED flood light

New LED Flood Light

Not quite two years ago, I published a blog post on some experiences we had with LED floodlights.  In summary, the lights we tried had a few problems, and were suitable for use in some places but not all.  Technology is moving quickly in this area, so I thought I’d give it another try.

One of the motivations to try LED flood lights again is our dissatisfaction with compact fluorescent flood lights (CFLs).  This includes:

  • CFLs start up very slowly, typically taking a couple of minutes to get to full brightness when they are cold.
  • Even though CFLs are dimmable, the range of dimming is very limited.
  • We had a sense that the UV output of the CFLs was causing artwork to fade more quickly, although we don’t have any data to support that.

With our previous experience with LED floodlights in mind, I looked around for what appeared to be a good alternative.  I chose a dimmable R30 flood light bulb that featured a frosted glass front, which seemed most likely to give good dispersion of the light output.  I chose the warm white color. The two bulbs I ordered arrived quickly, a happy improvement from the months of delays I endured three years ago.

Although we haven’t lived with the new bulbs very long, my early impression is very good.  In particular:

  • The illumination pattern appears to be very similar to that of incandescent flood lights.  CFLs, by the way, seem to be a little bit broader.
  • The color appears to be quite similar to that of tungsten lights.  Unfortuantely, I don’t have any way to compare the UV output of the lights with incandescent lights or CFLs.
  • These LED floods dim well.  One difference you might expect is that while incandescent lights get yellower as they dim, LEDs stay about the same color.
  • I’m not noticing the flicker on these lights I did on the earlier-generation LED flood lights.  Perhaps the phosphors have improved.

There is one current disadvantage to LED flood lights.  They are expensive.  Unless you have deep pockets, plan to use these only in a few places, probably where you have the lights on a fair amount of the time to take maximum advantage of the energy savings.  Fortunately, they have a long life (rated for 30,000 hours, as compared with 2500 hours for a typical incandescent) so you won’t have to change them very often, if at all.

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