Since I recently wrote about LED traffic lights, I thought some people might be interested to know that I got some EarthLED replacement light bulbs for my ambient lamp.

Here is what the lightbulb looks like:

Lumiselect PAR-30 lightbulb (on)

A dimmable PAR30 spotlight made with LEDs!

The lightbulbs had to replace the 75W PAR-16’s that came with the lamp. I chose the LumiSelect PAR30 lightbulbs in warm color. The Lumiselects have the ability to be dimmed.

If you do the math, the original light bulbs are 2″ in diameter and these are 3 3/4″, which was nearly exactly the inner width of the base of my light.

Luckily it fit:

The PAR-30 LEDs fit

I e-mailed EarthLED before I ordered in case I have a problem. Fortunately, they have a generous return policy. They did say, “If it does work, please do take photos!” I did. 😉

…and look great:

and look great

Price comparison

I wish I could show you a side-by-side of the light output, but both PAR16’s blew out before my new bulbs arrived. I believe there is a problem with the dimmer switch that came with the light. In any case here is an “off” side-by-side:

LED PAR-30 side by side with a 75W Halogen PAR-16

The first thing you notice is the massive heat sink on the LED lights. This is common, not because LEDs put a lot of heat out, but because LED lifespan is highly heat-sensitive. The more heat you can push away from the tiny LEDs, the longer the bulbs will last. And last it does: these bulbs should last an average of 50,000 hours—for reference, a CFL will last about 10,000 hours and an incadescent will last about 1000 hours. In the case of my PAR-16’s they didn’t last eight. 🙁

I’m a little worried about this particular model because the heat sinks can get hot to touch. I’ve decided to run them at just under 20 watts because the light is bright enough to act as a good replacement. That’s 20 watts for both(!)—at that point, my original bulbs would have been using 120 watts. That works out to a penny saved every hour I use these bulbs—or about $40 a year. Here’s a table:

75W PAR 16 16W PAR 30 CFL 14W PAR 30 LED
Dimmable? Yes No Yes
Cost/2 bulbs $20 $26 $180
Avg Lifespan 1000 hours 8,000 hours 50,000 hours
Watts (@75W equiv) 150W 38W 28W
Yearly cost $45 $11 $9
Yearly cost (real) $105 $21 $30

As you can see, CFL’s are still the cheapest overall, all I’d give up is the dimmability. This is completely makes sense because there is an externality costs to CFLs: proper disposal.

I’ll still use CFLs in my apartment for existing light fixtures, but I’m using LEDs for any lights that I’m keeping. Never having to change and properly dispose a lightbulb again is worth that $9 (for now) gap for me.

Side notes

A crack developed in my lamp. I think I can glue it back but since this lamp shipped from the factory and the factory is down the street, I’m not worried over much. We’ll see how Pablo customer support responds

Crack :-(

If you’re curious, Philips is offering an alternative to EarthLED.

7 thoughts on “EarthLED

  1. You can get dimmable CLFs (I have few from Philips) and they are working pretty good (once they get worm).

    $90 for a bulb? Cleaning dust from heat sink? I’m not sure. Even those guys from Greenwich, CT with their AIG bonuses might not afford them.

    LED bulbs will be very popular, but for now, the price is way to high.

  2. @Suter Thanks for the information about dimmable CFLs!

    My cost comparison takes into account the cost and MTBF in the last line. As you can see, these bulbs are much cheaper than regular ones. The CFLs you use are still cheaper than LEDs currently (assuming power stays at about $.10/KWh) and I believe that will hold true for the lifetime of the CFLs you currently have.

    As long as you dispose of them properly, I don’t see a problem with choosing CFLs over LEDs. I use CFLs in my apartment because I don’t plan on living there for 15 years. On the other hand, I plan on having this lamp for my life so LEDs seem a no-brainer.

  3. I’ve been told that the Phillips MasterLED is about 1/2 the output of the EarthLED ZetaLux 7 watt. Also that EarthLED will be introducing a 7W bulb that will be 50% brighter.

    Just pointing out you can do comparison shopping as these LED technology will get increasingly cheaper/more efficient.

  4. Here’s an interesting article about the CFL power factor. Basically what this is saying is that because CFL uses a lot of current, your utility company can actually be providing (up to) twice the amount of watts to a CFL bulb as it’s billing you for (in order to get the high current power to the lightbulb).

  5. Thanks for the link to this info, Terry. That Pablo “Cortina” lamp is nice. Considering the cost of the lamp, It’s not served well by some cheap-o par-15 lamps, that’s for certain. LEDs are great projector-type lamps and are perfect for this application.

    Thanks for the article on PF of compact flash lights. I just checked a lamp using 3 CF bulbs, 58 watts with a power factor of 0.52. My new LED bulb is 0.82. Not as bad, but we’re paying for the DC->AC conversion. I read somewhere that there’s a company right now working on a viable AC LED bulb with minimal conversion loss. Not to mention the upcoming (maybe a while off yet, but still) nano-crystal LED at 300 lumens/watt. Combine that with the recent q-dot color technology and you have a short-term boom in the LED industry.

    Now, if only someone would tackle and fix the yield waste involved with LED tech.

  6. The technology for LED bulbs are and will be improved so much more than what they are now which means they will also become cheaper. As of right now you can get a standard LED for less than 15 bucks. Worthwhile? Just weigh the energy costs. See this chart for comparisons.

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