Using 7 incandescent 60 watt bulbs in the new track lighting requires 420 watts of electricity. My son-in-law has been experimenting with LED bulbs and has found some he likes and I observed the bad ones he had to return too. These expensive bulbs are about $10 each from Ace Hardware and Amazon but they cut the electricity use to 12 watts instead of 65 for his bulbs.
I could use his experience to purchase LED bulbs for the track lighting. But I still spent a full day researching and trying to find the best bulb. First I had to learn a lot more about LED lighting. Even though the Cree bulbs are highly regarded in reviews, Rob prefers Feit or G7. He has also tried Triangle and does not like them as well. He also prefers a whiter light at about 3000k and I liked those too so I decided to look for a similar bulb for the track lighting. It was not that easy.
Once I started learning more about LED light, I found criteria I had not known existed. Besides the color temperature which is warm at about 2700k and cold or daylight white at 5000k, there is a color rendering index that has gotten a lot of attention, especially because fluorescent and CFL’s leave out so much of the spectrum that incandescent bulbs got us used to. LED lights were typically around 80 CRI, but newer LED’s are in the 90’s with a typical incandescent at 100. Bulbs are tested to show how much of the color spectrum they reveal. So GE Reveal bulbs are fantastic as shown by the chart below. Most bulbs just about eliminate the red tones.
The lumen rating is the brightness or the amount of light that the bulb provides and the wattage is the use of electricity to provide that light. Divide the lumens by the wattage to get lumens per watt, which is the measure of efficiency. And finally cost is an issue with these expensive bulbs. Most are around $10-$15 per bulb although you can find some brands on ebay for less and the “smart’ controllable bulbs are twice as much. In packs they can be less expensive per bulb too and I needed at least 7 for the track we installed.
After some research on CRI, I thought a 3000k bulb with one of the higher CRI ratings would be perfect. But such a creature was not to be found. I could find some 5000k bulbs with lower CRI ratings and 2700k with higher CRI but very little was available in 3000k. Many of the 5000k bulbs were reviewed as casting a “blue” light–I bought some of the earliest LED bulbs years ago and they were completely blue so I shied away from 5000k. The Feit round G25 caught my eye on Amazon because it comes in packs of 3 and was 3000k. It is rated equivalent to 40 watts but had 500 lumens at 8 watts. But the CRI was only 80. Feit has introduced an enhanced G25 that shines 495 lumens at 8 watts but is 2700k which is also in packs of three. Weighing one characteristic against another, I decided to buy the higher CRI rating.
These bulbs are dimmable too. I don’t currently have a dimmer but if they are going to last the full 20 years, (25,000 hours) it seems we might want bulbs that are dimmable during that time so I wasn’t considering any of the non-dimmable bulbs. On the other hand a CNET review of the 60 watt replacement Feit bulb showed terrible flickering on a dimmer, yet my son-in-law’s flood lights don’t flicker on his dimmer.
I considered the 65 watt BR30 flood light from Feit with the enhanced CRI rating, but the efficiency for 750 lumens @ 13 watts was 57.7 lumens per watt, which is pretty low. I could buy these flood lights on ebay for less than the $10.25 in packs of two on Amazon or about $7.50 per bulb, but these were also only 2700k in color temperature. The G25’s use only 8 watts for 495 lumens or 61.875 lumens per watt. Unfortunately these high CRI 94 bulbs are also only 2700k. So for cost reasons, I ordered three packages of the G25’s for $55 because there was a percentage off for multiple packages too. That was the least total expense for the most efficient lumens at the highest CRI that I could find.
Other bulbs that I considered were high CRI too. The GE Reveal was rated one of the 5 best for 2014 by CNET and I could get 8 on ebay for about $12 a bulb, but the watts per lumen is only 50 and the color temp is 2700k too. Also the TCP Elite has a 93 CRI and is 2700k, at 650 lumens, it is rated at 12 watts for about 54 lumens per watt.
Another cool bulb is the Insteon. For $30 a bulb, it seemed extravagant to buy a bulb that could be controlled by Zwave wireless. Turning bulbs on and off from my iphone is not something I want to pay 3 times more for–yet. But the 60 watt replacement bulb is 8 watts for 591 lumens for 73.875 watts per lumen and a color temp of only 2400 and the CRI is more typical of most LED’s at 82. (TCP Connected is a slightly less expensive programmable “smart bulb”.)
Other lower CRI bulbs that I looked at were the Great Eagle 7 watt BR20 (a smaller flood style) that had the desired 3000k color temperature but only 80 CRI for about $12 each. At 500 lumen they were 72 lumens per watt which is more efficient than the Feit bulbs. The Phillips Slimstyle had an interesting shape. The 5000k lights @ 650 lumens were on sale at Home Depot for $11. CRI is 81 and at 9.5 watts they rated at 68.4 lumens per watt.
Delivery of the bulbs is next week! We also expect the windows and doors sometime next week and it is Spring Break so we will have some time with the grandkids. Very exciting.