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## A Tale of Two Tests: Why Energy Star LED Light Bulbs Are a Rare Breed314

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other dept.
cylonlover writes "Just over a week ago Gizmag reported that Philips' 22 W LED light bulb, designed as a like-for-like replacement of a 100-W incandescent light bulb, was the first LED bulb of its type to receive the stamp of approval from Energy Star. But looking at the Energy Star requirements reported by Philips in its press release, it seemed a little strange that Philips' product is the only one to have been certified – given that products long on the market appear, at face value, to meet those requirements. Since then, Gizmag has spoken to LED light bulb makers Switch Lighting and other industry players to find out why they're apparently playing catch-up."
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## A Tale of Two Tests: Why Energy Star LED Light Bulbs Are a Rare Breed

• #### Certifications (Score:2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward

All certifications, at some level, are scams.

Every single one.

• #### Re:Certifications (Score:5, Insightful)

<firex726@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:41AM (#43431201)

Yea, fuck those ROHS, UL, and FCC certifications!

• #### Re:Certifications (Score:5, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:58AM (#43431297)

Actually, RoHS is most certainly a scam. The net effect on the environment has been horrible. Rather than the electronics manufacturers engineering in planned obsolecense, the EU did with RoHS.The environmental impact is literally an unmitigated disaster in parts of China. The cost of aerospace grade components has increased substantially (yes, we have an RoHS exemption for aerospace applications; tin whiskers are a stupid cause of death) and we've got a different set of more toxic metals accumulating in the benthic muck and getting "recycled" with 3rd world environmental standards. What a fucking win for the environment.

• #### Re: (Score:3)

Rather than the electronics manufacturers engineering in planned obsolecense

There is no reason to "engineer in" obsolecense. Mobile tech is moving so quickly that things become obsolete all by themselves. And I'd wager that the average smartphone meets it's maker in a drop or splash, not from a bad solder connection.

• #### Re: (Score:3)

worst was Lights of America

Seconding this opinion, Lights of America definitely had some lifespan problems with their CFL bulbs. I've heard claims that (at least in some models) their bulbs were using preheat-type electrodes in Instant Start mode.

On the other hands, I have had great results from Sylvania (one PAR38 fixture in the main hallway lasted ~11 years in heavy use, several hours every day); Philips has also been pretty reliable.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

I'm glad to see energy star mean something. Most of the time it means fuck-all. On an appliance or your computer or even your monitor it only means that the device has automatic power saving features.

• #### like for like replacement wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:43AM (#43431219)

I hate changing light bulbs, and frankly don't care if the LEDs cost a lot. I'd pay more just to not have to change light bulbs. I bought a bunch of the Philips 75W equivalents. While they provide the same intensity of light, the spectrum is considerably different, and very noticeable. The LED casts a cold spectrum that to my eyes is just a yellowish version of what florescent light emits. In the middle of the room, in ceiling cans, it looks fine. But one the side when it casts against walls or shelving, it really makes everything look cold.

One other odd fact, LEDs do still throw off a lot of heat, and they take much longer to cool down than incandescent lights.

• #### Philips L-Prize (Score:2)

They're harder to find than the normal "AmbientLED" ones, but the Philips L-Prize bulb has a CRI of 92 instead of the ~80 of most LED bulbs. Much more accurate colour spectrum.

• #### Radial distribution should not be a requirement (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @08:59AM (#43431301) Homepage

"Also companies fall out because they don't have the full light distribution required. For example, with an 'A lamp,' you have to have, to get the full Energy Star standard, 170 degrees of radial flux or light distribution all around the product at generally the same intensity all the way around," he added.

This is just stupid. The light distribution needed should be a matter of application. Efficient lighting also means not wasting light in directions that do not need to be illuminated. Instead of the 170 degree standard, the bulb should be quantified to what degree of lighting coverage it does achieve, and must be marketed accurately.

• #### Re:Radial distribution should not be a requirement (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:22AM (#43431481)

its supposed to replace an incandescent bulb, which does this by default without any special design. such bulds when they need directed typically put in a light ficture with a reflector of some sort. the idea is to make a simple drop in replacement that doesnt require a compelte design shift of the entire light fixture industry.

• #### Re: (Score:3)

Right. Not mention there are already different types of bulbs for other applications, such as flood and spot. Presumably those have different requirements than 'lamps'.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Intentionally replacing an incandescent bulb is still a design decision. Part of the waste of incandescent is the wide radiation pattern. That's why they do make spot light variations. And they should make LEDs like that, too. But with LEDs, it's easier to make spot lights.

• #### Re:Radial distribution should not be a requirement (Score:5, Insightful)

<wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Friday April 12, 2013 @10:30AM (#43432049) Homepage Journal

This is just stupid....

Agreed. Something here is stupid.

...The light distribution needed should be a matter of application. Efficient lighting also means not wasting light in directions that do not need to be illuminated. Instead of the 170 degree standard, the bulb should be quantified to what degree of lighting coverage it does achieve, and must be marketed accurately.

This is done already. When an application does not need the 170 degree (or greater) field of a Type A (general use) bulb, then one should consider using a Type R, Type PAR, or one of the other recognized bulb types. Choosing the wrong bulb for the application is definitely stupid.

TFA limits its discussion to Type A, which is appropriate for its purpose. It clearly says it is talking about Type A, although I can see that a speed reader might just jump right over that significant detail without noticing it. It is saying that in the Energy Star system, the omni-directional nature of Type A bulbs is now quantified (before LED bulbs there was no pressing need to do that).

Learn to read critically, people. There is more to good reading than just getting through an article in record time. Identifying significant details is also important, and in technical (versus pleasure) material, it is often critical. A good technical writer covers the subject in as few words as possible, which means every word is significant. If he says he is talking about Type A, then there is the clear implication that there are other categories that any reader with a working brain could google for if they needed to know more.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Bulb "types" are still made around what incandescent happens to be. LEDs do not fit well into these models as the technology is different. The very same shape can do a variety of radiation angles in LED that incandescent could never do.

We need to be encouraging people to use, and manufacturers to make, bulbs that are more efficiently used. Dictating a radiation angle as part of efficiency is not the right way. Saying a given LED is equivalent to a Type A incandescent bulb just gets people to do things i

• #### Re: (Score:2)

No, it's not stupid at all. The article specifically mentioned that was a requirement for "A lamps," i.e. replacements for the common household incandescent bulb. Those illuminate is a manner similar to the requirement, which is specific to "Omnidirectional Lamps."

LED replacements for non-omnidirectional bulbs, like the common PAR floodlight bulbs, have their own requirements.

The requirement only applies to "lamps intended to replace existing standard electric lamps," and it's there to make sure an LED re
• #### Re: (Score:2)

It is a matter of application. An "A" bulb is a standard lamp designed for omnidirectional illumination. For example, the everyday Edison screw-type medium base bulb that goes in your table lamp is an A19. An "R" (reflector) is a reflector for flood operations in a relatively narrow angle, like in a recessed can. A "PAR" is a parabolic reflector, with an even tighter angle and used in floor lamps and cans. If you want focused operation in your application, you don't buy an A bulb.
• #### Why light bulb form factor? (Score:5, Interesting)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:28AM (#43431521) Homepage

If you are investing in a light source that will not need replacement for a decade then why, exactly, do you care so much about it being shaped like a light bulb?

LEDs don't like heat. Packing the equivalent of a 100W incandescent in a shape that pretty much minimized surface are to volume ratio is a very bad idea for heat dissipation.

LED light panels [google.com] make much more sense.

• #### Re:Why light bulb form factor? (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:39AM (#43431605)

All my fixtures are designed for light bulbs and they will certainly outlive any bulb. That's a pretty good reason for me.

• #### Re: (Score:3)

But why does that have to remain the standard? You can get leds in much more varied and interesting shapes. Why should we stick to bulbs?

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Because standards tell you that something will work and the current standard distributes light in a way that is useful in most cases. If you want to deviate from the standard and get some LED bulbs in interesting shapes, go ahead. I'm sure it will look great but hopefully the bulbs you use are somewhat common in case you need to replace them.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Because standards tell you that something will work and the current standard distributes light in a way that is useful in most cases.

Not really. That's why there are so many fixtures that try to send the light in one particular direction (often wasting half of the light), try to shade it or modify it in some other way. Almost nobody likes a bare light bulb.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Sure, if you are doing a new build or renovation. Some of us are stuck with old houses and old fixtures.

I'm slowly renovating an older house, and I'm looking into stringing low-voltage wiring to support LED lights without needing a power converter in every fixture or unit.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Sure, if you are doing a new build or renovation. Some of us are stuck with old houses and old fixtures.

I'm slowly renovating an older house, and I'm looking into stringing low-voltage wiring to support LED lights without needing a power converter in every fixture or unit.

Yeah, next month I'm moving into a new place and each bedroom will have a fully wired junction box in the middle of the ceiling. I have to provide the fixture.

I'm looking at LED fixtures and finding any useful information online is proving to be difficult. I see a lot of no-name Chinese stuff and I have no idea if it is good or if it is junk.

I see various stuff from names I recognize, such as Philips, but then you are looking at ~$500. I can buy a standard fixture and some LED bulbs for less than$100.

• #### Re:Why light bulb form factor? (Score:5, Informative)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @10:37AM (#43432145) Journal

Because

(1) you don't have to pay an electrician to remove and reinstall a lamp, but you do a fixture
(2) you don't disrupt the flow of business and it takes a shorter time to re-lamp than replace a fixture
(3) if you find that the LED sucks, you can go back to what you know works
(4) In 10 years, when one (or more) of the 30 year life fixtures dies and they don't make that model any more, I can replace a lamp and the fixture will still look the same. If I have to replace a fixture, then I have an oddball looking spot in my ceiling. Not everything is a warehouse where aesthetics mean nothing.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

I too jumped on the bandwagon early, even before there was one to ride. I must have bought the first bulb offered from an electronics magazine. It must have lasted, all but 25 hours. The LED's were still good, but a tear down showed that the electronics failed, not a single LED. With a minor repair it was working again, for about another 15 hours. Epic Fail. It was a design issue. Cutting corners to lower the cost and maximize profit.

Overall the electronics is much more important than the lifetime of the

• #### We haven't been playing catch-up (Score:3)

<techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday April 12, 2013 @11:32AM (#43432639) Homepage Journal

And Gizmodo has those interviews all wrong, because the interviewees aren't telling the full truth.

The REAL problem is the barrier to entry caused by Energy Star certification programs and other certifications. We're not playing catch-up; we're playing save-up so we can pay the exorbitant and outrageous extortion fees these entities are charging us.

Phillips little 22w LED ain't shit.

I can take two Cree MK-R, drive them at 6w, and absolutely utterly destroy any 100w CFL (and if Philips needs 22w to do what I can do in 12, well, you see the barrier to entry? I'm a small business, Philips has tons of money.)

And in reality, a single 6w-driven Cree MK-R destroys 100w incan/26w CFL/22w Philips LED, at 7000K CCT and a CRI of 93.

Tis okay, though. Phillips wins the interior lighting race. They still sorely lose on the horticultural side, and I'm way outperforming them across the globe (in actual tests, not sales.)

• #### you're missing some factors (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @01:08PM (#43433553)

The Philips 22W bulb needs to *replace a standard bulb*. That is, the complete unit including the power supply needs to fit in the space of a regular bulb, and it needs to radiate in a certain pattern. If you're not limited by the standard bulb form factor then a bunch of different options open up.

Also, your comparison with the MK-R are misleading. According to their web page, a single Cree MK-R uses 15W to put out 1800 lumens (which is what the Phillips bulb puts out). Only the 2700K/3000K versions are available in a 90CRI version, and the higher the CRI the lower the lumens/Watt.

• #### It's all in the engineering (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @11:44AM (#43432763)

There's a consensus of sort that power supplies are often the most underengineered things out there in any electronic device. Well, guess what, in a CFL or a LED the entire electronics are the power supply, there's nothing else. When a CFL fails, it's not because the bulb has failed, it's because the power supply is dead. It's certainly possible to engineer a power supply that will last, but such know-how is rare and expensive, and engineering management often doesn't understand that it takes real effort to make a long-lasting power supply. You have to qualify every single part, pretty much -- there's no such thing as letting the purchasing loose to get the best deal. If you want to make a CFL or a LED lamp that will last as long as the life of the light-emitting element, you need to do proper design, then qualify sample parts, then do extensive testing on prototypes, then purchase a batch of parts for a production run, then re-qualify all of those parts again, then have the boards assembled, then qualify the board assemblies, and only then you ship. That's what it takes to get a quality product out. That's what it takes to get a lamp out that will be so old by the time it gets replaced that the house might have changed owners a bunch of times in the meantime. Guess how it's done in real life on consumer CFL/LED bulbs, LOL.

• #### 22W is efficient? (Score:2)

In that case the 12W Nano Light [kickstarter.com] will blow the Philips light out of the water.

• #### This is the best bulb I've found. (Score:3)

on Friday April 12, 2013 @04:08PM (#43435219)

The G7.

There are two reasons.

1: This bulb is set at 3000 kelvin.

It looks NORMAL like a regular LED bulb. I'm sorry but LED bulbs set at 2900k look either Pink or Orange to me and most the people i know. I'm sure that real incandescent bulbs are 2900 kelvin and the rest of the LED companies are trying to mimic them but it doesn't look right in LED.

2: This bulb is 900 lumens.

I know 850 lumens is supposed to replace a 60 watt bulb. But it doesn't for me. It seems dim. At 900 lumens, it seems a little brighter than a 60 watt bulb and I actually like that. I suspect 870 or 880 lumens would be the correct value for a perfect swap.

Downsides: I've never had it happen to me, but I've read that some G7's buzz.

I have approximately 12 brands of LED bulbs going in my house, including phillips. I use the phillips 75 watt in a fixture with a lamp shade. I have a 9 year old "40 watt" bulb which is really more like 20 watt on the porch-- it's always on.

I also find pretty good light (and they fit in cieling fans better) from the lights with the squashed disks. They do give light over a large area. The top is about 1/2" think and about 2" around. They also give a little more lumens than similarly rated bulbs. I have three of those.

I have some multiple fixture floor lamps that all the other random bulbs go into.

At this point, other than the "globe" fixtures in the bathroom, new bulbs going foward will all be G7's until I hear of something better.

I do also have some of the new 3500 kelvin CFL bulbs from Home Depot. I really like the light. It's "superwhite" but not "blue". But like all CFL's they seem to take 60 seconds to achieve full brightness.

I have an old random 75w CFL in my utility room.

I only have three incandescent bulbs left in the house at this point. Two globes in the bathroom and one standard 60w in the attic.

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