questionsare led bulbs worth the hype/price?


LED bulbs are definitely better than CFLs in terms of reducing widespread environmental damage (the average 60W replacement CFL contains enough mercury to poison 6000 gallons of water; how many people even know that they need to be treated as toxic waste?) The only real advantages to CFLs are reduced energy useage (compared to incandescent) and reduced cost (as compared to LEDs).

While many LED bulbs still leave much to be desired in terms of omni-directional light output, they are improving rapidly. Almost all of the existing directional lighting LED bulbs (eg. flood and spot lamps) work extremely well.

The issue is that both incandescent and CFL technologies generate light that radiates in all directions (directional lamps of these types are directional due to reflectors or shades), while LED bulbs tend to radiate (mostly) in one direction or hemisphere. Good for task lighting but not as good to light an entire room.


BJ's Warehouse Club (membership or 5% surcharge required, though trial memberships are easy to find) has instant rebates through 12/31/2011 on a number of LED bulbs that make the prices quite good (eg. I picked up a couple of 40W replacements that use 7W for $6 + tax each and would have gotten a half dozen more but they were out when I went back).

Note however that these bulbs really only radiate light for about 120deg (1/3 of a circle, looking at the bulb from the side) while a standard incandescent bulb radiates light for about 11/12 of a circle and a CFL for about 9/10 of a circle). Thus the light is much more directional.

In my bedroom, the overhead round fixture holds three bulbs, basically in a flat triangle. Using LED bulbs works because they each contribute about a third of the circle's light. In my halls, the fixtures hold a single bulb and using an LED provides uneven lighting, though I twisted the fixtures to lessen this effect.


Years ago I spent a fortune on LED's, only to be disappointed when their single direction lighting only made them useful for spotlights. But not that long ago, I bought the LED bulbs that supported Boston Robotics (which are sold out right now), and I can't tell the difference between them and other bulbs. They light up everywhere, the color is really nice, and they don't hum or change color like CFL's do.
Also, regular bulbs and especially CFL's attract mosquitoes, making LED's really good for outdoor lights, at least where I am.


I love LEDs, but for a different reason...I use them in pinball machines. ;)

Haven't had a chance to use them as normal they have flicker issues like CFL? This is a huge issue with people using them in pinball machines, believe it or can see it when the ball goes by a LED light quickly, like a strobing effect almost. It gives a lot of people headaches. Was wondering if the effect is the same with housing bulb-type lights?


Cheap LED's can have a "flicker"


They will be, but aren't yet. Some that aren't rectified have a noticeable 60Hz flicker. That is, they flash between on/off 60 times a second. Some of the newer LED's are in good bulb casings that make them look like traditional bulbs with a nice warm yellow glow.

I'd give it another year or two before bothering, but the energy savings are huge - and the risks of a tree fire definitely go down too.


I don't see a good rate of return on them yet. The cost of the bulbs versus the energy savings over a CFL makes the payoff way too long IMHO. When they're down to the $3 price point, then perhaps it'd make better sense.

BTW, I'm factoring "normal" prices, not my personal low price. A while back, I bought 2 dozen CFL bulbs (new in box) from the Salvation Army for 8/$1.