LED Paradise

IMG_6108Every so many years we have upgraded the lighting in our house. The first time was soon after we moved in. We swapped all of our incandescent lamp bulbs for CFLs because the prices had finally come down enough to justify them. They used less than a third of the power of the equivalent incandescent and lasted longer. We went through the entire house swapping out all of the bulbs we could but we couldn’t swap out the 65 watt flood lights in the dining room and entire second floor. At that time, CFL flood lights were over $10 a piece and it wasn’t worth it. We ran into our fair share of issues with CFLs along the way – it was difficult to find a color temperature that matched incandescents, they are too big to fit in some light fixtures, and they take a few minutes to warm up to come to full brightness. The outlawing of incandescent bulbs a few years ago has helped CFL technology come along and has addressed many of those issues. Overall it was worth the switch for the power savings.

In the last few years LED lights have become all the rage due to their higher light output and even lower power requirements. We’ve been watching them for a while but so far they have been extremely expensive, still costing over $10 a bulb if you want to use them with a dimmer. We dipped our toe into LEDs a few months ago when I found a deal online that brought the cost down to under $5 a bulb. We put them in our bathroom and hallway and they were nice, other than about a 1-second delay before illuminating. Other bulbs were still expensive so we decided to wait. Well we finally found our deal and it is glorious!

First came the Phillips 60W equivalent lamp bulbs. They just came on the market in May and are sold in 2-packs for $5 at Home Depot. They are amazing – instant on, incandescent color temperature, small size – and only 8.5 watts. They feel brighter than the CFL’s too. We bought 8 boxes of them to replace our bulbs. The power savings over CFLs isn’t huge (8.5 watts versus 13 or 14) but they were worth it for the better color and brighter feel. If you are interested in LED’s I suggest grabbing them now – the $5 price is only a promotion through July or August; after that they go up to $10 (which still isn’t bad). After these bulbs we thought we were good, until we found something else at an unlikely source.

Let me talk about the bulbs first. As I mentioned, we avoided CFL floodlights because they were expensive, forcing us to stick with 3-6 65 watt incandescent lights in our entire second floor and dining room. LED floodlights are even worse than CFLs in terms of price, costing anywhere from $10 – $30 for a single dimmable bulb. Last week we replaced all of our flood lights with Sylvania 65 watt equivalent BR30 bulbs and it has been amazing. They put out 650 lumens (more than our 65 watt incandescents) and only use 9 watts of electricity. Again they are instant-on and they are bright. Our upstairs hallway looks like daytime. It’s amazing! All six bulbs in our dining room use less power than one of the incandescents it replaced. They use 86% less power and put out more light. They are amazing, and we scored them for four dollars each… at Market Basket!

Yup, Market Basket – the last place I thought I’d ever buy a light bulb. They were on an end cap when we went shopping last week so I picked a few up to try at home. After putting one bulb in I went back to the store and bought 15 more, which was pretty much all of them. I searched all over the internet and I still can’t find an exact match for them, but they are by far the least expensive bulbs I’ve found. They’re still on sale now, but bumped up to $7 per bulb. Overall a fantastic purchase.

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