Before I start, our member debro produced an excellent guide on LED light bulbs, which is well worth reading.
As I now have most of my house converted over to LED, I figure it’s time to share my experience.
In our house, we have a variety of fixtures with various bases - E27 (standard screw-in), B22 (standard push-in), E14 (candle-shape screw-in) and GU10 (small spot-light.) All bulbs inside and outside our house are mains voltage - 230v here in Ireland. When I compare against filament bulbs, it worth noting 110v and halogen bulbs are a fair bit brighter for the same wattage. Clear bulbs are also about 10% brighter than frosted bulbs.
Various unbranded GU10 LED Bulbs - Purchased between 2011 and early 2012.
The first bulbs we replaced were 12 GU10 bulbs that light up two rooms upstairs. Initially, they were 50W halogen, but blew regularly (usually 2 a month), ate electricity and made the rooms uncomfortably warm during the summer. I then replaced them with 12 GU10 CFLs, but ran into another problem. The CFLs were very slow to light up and lost their â€œwarm-whiteâ€ colour after about 30 minutes of use. Another problem was that they were expensive to replace, with one bulb blowing roughly every three months.
Around 2011, I started trying out LED GU10s. With branded bulbs costing over â‚¬20 a bulb, I turned to eBay. I started with 6 unbranded 3W from what I recall. The actual bulb has 5 LEDs and light with slightly pink tinted white light and seemed roughly as bright as 35W GU10s. What I thought was a bargain didnâ€™t last long â€“ After about two months, one bulb went, followed by another a month later. I then tried getting two unbranded bulbs off Amazon (cheapest at the time.) While these two still work to this day, their colour rendering is awful â€“ greenish yellow light and more a floodlight than a spotlight. Finally I turned back to eBay and took a chance with another 10 bulbs that I thought were similar to the first bulbs I bought. Despite physically looking identical, the lighting colour was different â€“ warm white that gave a noticeable green hue on skin and wood. As the upstairs is now mainly used for storage and as a home gym, I decided to put up with the lighting. To date, three of the first 6 bulbs failed and the others are still working, with a few still left as spare.
B22 / E27 base LED bulbs - Purchased starting in 2013
Early 2013, standard B22 type LED bulbs finally fell below Â£20. By this stage I read various articles about LED lighting and by mid-2003 seen tear-down videos on YouTube explaining why people should not buy unbranded LED bulbs (after I bought one unbranded bulb below). Besides the colour rendering issues and high failure rates of some bulbs, many have very serious safety hazards, such as live input voltage coming into extremely close contact with the metal heat sink/casing and potential fire hazards. So from this point onwards, Iâ€™ll talk about my experience with the bulbs I purchased.
Lighting Ever 6W & 10W warm white (GLS shape 400lm & 810lm) â€“ Purchased 6th March 2013
I purchased two 10W bulbs (B22) and two 6W bulbs (E27 & B22.) Upon unboxing the bulbs, I found that the 6W E27 bulb was shattered and had returned it for a refund. I then tried the 6W B22 bulb. It only lasted about two minutes before it developed an internal short and blew the lighting circuit fuse (weâ€™ve an old consumer unit). However, for the time it did light, I remember learning something new about most GLS-shaped bulbs â€“ They throw very little light towards the base of the bulb, which on a ceiling light means harsh shadows. Any experienced photographer will understand, as the lighting is almost like the difference between a bounce flash (filament bulb) and a head-on flash (this LED bulb.) From what I recall, the light colour was very good as it produced warm light much like a filament bulb. I also returned that failed bulb for a refund.
As for the two 10W bulbs, their light was just like the 6W, only brighter, i.e. decent colour rendering, but same harsh shadow issue also. From what I recall, the brightness was similar to a 75W, but I didn’t have a light meter at the time. I originally bought these for the two outdoor fixtures, so in they went. When night came, they really made a huge difference over the original CFLs â€“ They lit up the front of the house without waiting several minutes to warm up. Just over a month later, one bulb fused and despite trying several methods to contact the manufacturer, I got no response. Amazonâ€™s 30-day return period was over, so couldnâ€™t use that method either. Several weeks later, the other bulb fused and we were back to the original two CFLs.
LEDDirect 7W corn LED warm white (GLS shape 600lm) â€“ Purchased 13th March 2013
We have a frosted fixture in our hallway, so figured it was worth getting a clear LED bulb for this. Unlike the Lighting Ever bulb, this bulb had a broad beam and seemed to throw just as much light up as down. However, the lighting colour was the worst Iâ€™ve experienced with LED bulbs giving a rather green-yellow colourcast. The wooden doors in the area had a greenish colour cast off them. Another noticeable issue was strobing with moving objects. For example, if I waved a pen, I would see the impression of multiple pens, like waving something in front of a CRT TV.
Based on reviews I later saw of various corn-shaped bulbs on YouTube, they recommend staying clear of these. Most of these bulbs just have the bare minimum amount of electronics to light the LEDs and are made as cheap as possible. These are also the most common type of LED bulbs now sold on eBay and are close the pricing of CFL bulbs of around Â£3 a bulb. Even still, I would strongly recommend staying away from these type and I have since removed this LED bulb, especially after reading a user review.
LT Lighting 11W cool white (GLS shape 1163lm) â€“ Purchased 22nd November 2013
Based on frustration with my earlier GLS-replacement LED bulbs, I decided against any further purchases until November when I started seeing them advertised in various stores and some LED bulbs getting large numbers of user reviews. By this stage, most LED bulbs have sharply fallen in price. With not a single review mentioning about a failure, I decided to get two of these for outdoor fixtures. Cool white tends to light up better outdoors and cool white LEDs are usually more efficient also, i.e. more lumen per watt.
I tried one in an indoor fixture just to see what the lighting quality was like and it certainly was an improvement over my earlier experience. The light distribution was better than what I recall with the Lighting Ever bulbs, although shadows were still harsher than with GLS bulbs. As I recently purchased a light meter, I decided to compare the intensity to a standard frosted 100W filament bulb that I still have lying around. With the meter placed on a bed directly below the ceiling light, a 100W bulb gave a reading of 102 lux. From what I recall, this LED bulb gave a reading of 104 lux. There was no sign of any strobing from the light either. For a cool white, the lighting colour seemed pretty good with no sign of that ugly green tint on items. On the other hand, the cool white lighting did not look quite right indoors, at least not in the rooms I tried it.
When I tried placing it outside, I could not get it to fit either front light fixture. It was too wide for the opening of one fixture and too long for the other! However, we have another two fixtures behind the house. It fit fine in one fixture, but we had to make a small modification in the other fixture for the bulb to fit. The light output on the other hand is very impressive and actually appears brighter than the original 100W filament bulbs.
Ideally I would have liked to get another two for the front of our house, but it would mean having to replace the two light fixtures. While LT Lighting have warm white versions, I have decided against them for now for indoor use as I would much prefer a broader beam.
MiniSun 4W warm white (clear candle shape, 330lm) â€“ Purchased 5th December 2013
Our kitchen ceiling fan has a three tulip shades and originally had 3 x 12W spiral CFLs. When one failed, I had a problem of fitting a replacement. As CFLs get dimmer over time, a replacement 12W CFL looks far brighter than the rest, so I had a look for 3 reasonably priced LED alternatives. Based on various positive reviews I read about MiniSun bulbs, I decided to purchase a 3 pack.
Upon fitting, the first thing that was a surprise was just how close they look like to filament bulbs. From a distance, the LED strips look like filaments, giving roughly the same type of light, just slightly whiter. The colour rendering looks very good, like what I would expect from filament bulbs. I donâ€™t have a 40W filament to compare with, but judging by the brightness, they appear to be as bright as I would expect from a 40W clear candle bulb.
The bulbs have a fairly broad beam angle, lighting up the shades like I would expect from filament bulbs. On the other hand, as no LEDs are visible directly opposite to its base, I would imagine that if a single bulb is in use, it would give a poor head-on beam and something which a few users commented on in Amazonâ€™s user reviews. This may be an issue in a chandelier; they would throw less light to the ceiling than many other types of bulbs.
One main issue I noticed is a strobing effect. While I donâ€™t notice any flickering in my vision when nothing is moving, the strobing effect is noticeable when anything quickly moves, such as when pouring liquids such as tea, setting the table and so on. Personally it doesn’t bother me, but one of my brothers didn’t like this effect.
Philips CorePro 8W warm white (GLS shape, 600lm) â€“ Purchased 14th December 2013
I have long been put off Philips bulbs due to the high pricing, but when a 2 for Â£10 offer turned up on these, I bought 8 of them, 6 with an E27 base and 2 with a B22 base. Our living room has a 5-light brass fixture that takes E27 bulbs, so that alone gave a 20W saving over the original near end-of-life 12W CFLs as well as lit up the room better. I put the remaining E27 bulb in the hallway where I originally had that fairly risky unbranded LED bulb. The remaining two B22 bulbs went in our main hallway, replacing two 14W CFLs.
To my surprise, these Philips LED bulbs are a lot brighter than I expected. They claim to be a 48W equivalent, but are more like a 75W equivalent. With my light meter placed on a bed directly below a ceiling light, a 60W frosted filament bulb gave a reading of 42 lux. These Philips LED bulbs gave a reading of 70 lux. The lighting colour is a fair bit whiter than a tungsten bulb, but certainly not cool white and wooden doors are lit up without any green colourcast. This also helps make the light look brighter also. Like I expect from Philips, there is no sign of any strobing or flicker.
Like the LT Lighting LED bulb, these bulbs donâ€™t throw much light upwards, so they produce harsher shadows than a regular filament bulb would. On the other hand, this lighting is fine for our hallway. Our living room fixture has the bulbs facing outwards, with each bulb inside a frosted covered fixture, so the lighting beam was not an issue in the living room.
Integral 4W warm white (Candle Shape, 250lm) â€“ Purchased 10th January 2014
My parentsâ€™ bedroom has light fixture that takes three E14 bulbs. When the fixture was put in a few months ago, they put in three 9W candle shaped CFL bulbs, but ran into a problem â€“ They start off so dim that it takes 2 to 3 minutes before there is usable light in the room. With my light meter on their bed, the meter gave a reading of 2 lux when switched on! Once they warmed up, the light meter at the same spot gave a reading of about 60 lux, giving an idea of just how dark these start off.
When I fitted the three Integral LED bulbs, there was a surprising difference â€“ The room now lights up instantly. The lighting colour and brightness seems to be what I would expect from 40W frosted filament candle bulbs and there is no sign of strobing or flicker from the light. As the light fixture has the three bulbs facing different directions and I have no other fixture to test the bulbs in, I would expect a single bulb on its own to give a similar beam angle to a candle shaped CFL bulb. Based on this three lamp fixture, the room is evenly lit up with soft shadows.
In comparison with the CFL candle bulbs, the LED candle bulbs are a lot of smaller, probably the equivalent size to regular candle filament bulbs. The actual style of the bulbs looks about the same, with the base taking up about 1/3 of the bulb.
Integral 4.6W warm white (GlS shape 470lm) â€“ Purchased 10th January 2014
This bulb claimed to have a very wide beam angle just like a GLS filament bulb, so I purchased one to try out figuring it would be good for our recreation room. Up until now, the only LED bulbs I came across claiming a wide beam angle were well outside my price range (over Â£20.) While Lighting Ever claims to have a 7W wide beam GLS style bulb, I was not going to try another one of their bulbs based on my experience above.
To my eyes, this Integral bulb is about as close as it gets to a standard 60W frosted filament bulb. The bulb throws out just as much light up as down, lighting up the room just like a GLS filament bulb would. As with the Integral candle shape bulbs, this bulb also produces a nice warm white light, again, maybe a little whiter than a filament bulb would give off. With the bulb fitted, it is also easy to mistaken the bulb for frosted GLS bulb as it looks the same and is the same size.
As for brightness, I repeated my light meter test on a bed directly below the light fixture just like the other bulbs. A 60W frosted filament bulb gave a reading of 42 lux and this LED bulb gives a reading of 36 lux. I also tested a 14W CFL I had handy which gave a reading of 38 lux after 5 minutes of warming up. Based on these comparisons, itâ€™s hard to believe that a 4.6W bulb can give off the light of a much higher wattage CFL, let alone a 60W regular frosted bulb.
Hopefully it will not be long before Integral (or other manufacturers) to come out with a 75W or even a 100W equivalent of this bulb, as this bulb is so far the best incandescent replacement I have come across to date, at least for a low wattage bulb.
As with the Integral candle bulb, there is no sign of any strobe effect or flicker with this bulb either.
Purchasing LED bulbs is a lot more tricky than CFLs. The vast majority GLS shape higher wattage LED bulbs have such large heat sinks that they have just a small globe on top for the light, producing harsh shadows.
The lighting colour has improved a lot over the past year, with Integral, LT Lighting, Lighting Ever and Philips all producing decent colour rendering.
Unlike CFLs which tend to exaggerate their equivalent filament wattage ratings, LED bulbs tend to underrate theirs. CFL bulbs also dim considerably over time. For example, most 12W CFLs claim to have a 60W equivalent rating, but actually produce less light and fall to roughly the brightness of a 40W near the end of their life. The Integral 4.6W bulb I bought is actually about as bright as a 60W frosted incandescent based on my light meter, yet only claims to be as bright as a 40W bulb.
Like when CFL bulbs first came out, there are many LED bulbs on the market that have a noticeable strobe effect with fast moving objects. Most unbranded LED bulbs seem to suffer from this issue as they lack the extra electronics branded products have to smooth out the AC ripple.
Unbranded LEDs are a no-no, especially corn-shape bulbs or where the LEDs are clearly visible. Most have terrible colour-rendering, produce strobing or noticeable flicker and are a safety hazard.
As for branding, it seems like many optical disc brands now have their own LED bulbs out. Even Verbatim have their own range of LED bulbs.