Now that the dust has settled over the light bulb wars, it’s time for some fun. Global lighting innovator Philips just sent us a couple of its next-generation low-cost LEDs, so we decided to see how they behaved next to the last few conventional light bulbs left in our house.
And the verdict is… much more fun than we even anticipated! Check this out — the image below is the Philips “Warm Glow” dimmable 6.5W LED, which replaced one of our old 40W conventional bulbs in a white (as in, bright snowy white) frosted glass fixture. Here’s what happened when we turned the dimmer down:
That’s right, with the dimmer turned down, the conventional bulbs shut off completely, but the LED continued to churn out light in a nice… how shall we put this?… oh right, a nice, warm glow.
To ice the cake, that fixture is more than a dozen years old, and the dimmer switch is from the same vintage. Nevertheless, this cutting-edge new lighting technology fit right into the same old socket, and it dimmed up and down using the same old switch without a trace of humming or flickering.
And that was just part of the fun. Let’s pause for breath while we recap what brought us to the dawn of a household lighting revolution.
The Light Bulb Wars: A Brief History
If the whole light bulb wars thing is news to you, the conflagration was touched off during the Bush Administration, when Congress established new efficiency standards for manufacturing light bulbs in the US. It was part of a worldwide movement to eradicate the scourge of incandescent light bulbs from the Earth.
As for why pounce on the lowly light bulb, that’s because conventional incandescent bulbs waste 90% of their energy in the form of heat. For nations with an interest in improving their energy profile, conventional bulbs are the low-hanging fruit of choice.
Congress has been establishing new efficiency standards for all kinds of consumer goods for, like, ever, so the new standards didn’t get much attention until the Obama Administration, which according to the new law was tasked with phasing in the standards.
Despite howls of outrage from the usual suspects (jack-booted thugs are stealing our freedumz!), light bulb manufacturers eagerly took up the challenge of turning out innovative new products. Early attempts were somewhat spotty, but now that next-generation products are on the market, there is far more variety, the quality is top notch, and prices have gone way, way down.
The Philips Low-Cost LED
We did mention that there was more fun, right? Well, one of the old complaints about non-incandescent bulbs was that the light didn’t have the same warm feeling, and Philips lays that to rest.
That’s not just because the new LED glows warmly with the dimmer down. With the dimmer switch up at full strength, we couldn’t tell the difference between the Philips bulb and the incandescents (the Philips is the one in the foreground):
Here’s another interesting thing. As we noted with the first image, with the dimmer switch down, the LED starts to give off a warmer glow and the conventional bulbs shut off completely.
But, with the dimmer at about halfway, the LED still retains its original coloration compared to the conventional bulbs (a conventional bulb is in the foreground, and the LED is the white one in the background to the left, and another conventional bulb is in the background to the right):
What this means is, for those of you who are really finicky about your lighting, you can play around with your lighting levels over a greater range, without having your bulb distort the hue of your fixture… and you can still get that warmer glow (or perhaps some other kind of interesting effect, depending on the fixture) when you go to a lower dim. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too, right?
For the record, Philips also gave us a 60W-replacement Warm Glow and we put it in our favorite reading lamp, where we expect it to stay for the next 22 years (see specs below).
Philips cites these other specs for its new low-cost LED, including some favorable comparisons to an earlier version of its 60-watt equivalent A19:
9.5 watts of power putting out 800 lumens
Uses 10 percent less energy than its predecessor
Translucent heat sink weighs less than its predecessor
A more rounded shape
Exceeds voluntary ENERGY STAR industry standards
Lasts over 22 years
Reduces energy consumption by 85 percent
Saves an estimated $138 in electricity costs during its lifespan (compared to conventional 60-watt bulb)
With utility rebates, retails as low as $5
Two color temperatures available: Soft White and Daylight
Purchasers who register can extend the 5-year limited warranty to 10 years.
Photos by Tina Casey (all three).
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