Archive for January, 2010

LED store pulls fluorescent tube replacements

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

I have a note on www.kilowatt-house.com about experiences with a 4ft fluorescent tube retrofit with LEDs.  I concluded both from my wife’s opinion and measuring the lux that the LED tubes are not equivalent to the 32W fluorescents they replace, but in the end I left the diffuser off the fixture, and we are all happy with the amount of light in the laundry room.  The instant-on is a welcome improvement too.

However, I just checked on the Website where the tubes came from (1000bulbs.com), and they have stopped selling all LED tubes.  They reference the CALIPER tests (round 9 now) done by the DoE in ‘mystery shopper’ style.  CALIPER concludes that the replacement tubes are disappointing, both for initial light intensity, degradation over time and the problems of re-wiring fixtures to remove fluorescent ballasts.  The last point, re-wiring, is not difficult to do but I understand why they would consider it a problem.  I agree with the first point, although it’s quite usable in our application, and I wait with interest to see how our new tubes age.

It’s not clear to me why LED tubes are so difficult to make:  they should have less integration, density and heat problems than other types of bulb.  I am hopeful that as the semiconductor technology gets better, they will be able to use more powerful LEDs.  Maybe without giving up efficiency, so the 15W won’t become 20W!

Of the other candidates for LEDs in our house, we have very few conventional bulbs, I might get one for my bedside reading light.  Most of our high-use bulbs are:

1. HALO recessed ceiling fixtures.  The CREE LR6 is just the job here, but I won’t be buying many at ~ $90 a shot.

2. 150W double-ended halogen which are very compact:  I doubt we will see an LED in this format for a while.

3. Chandelier/torpedo 25W bent-tips, particularly a set of 6 (the fixture takes 18 but I don’t run them all) that is in the stairwell and on several hours a day.  The LED equivalents are getting to 1.7 W now, supposedly 15W equivalent, so we should see a 3W/25W equivalent in a matter of months… (hopefully!).