Just last week, on one of my better days, I took some time to visit my local supermarket – Woolworths. I haven’t visited one in over a year – so it was an opportunity to see what’s new (and get a little bit of exercise on that calf muscle).
Almost immediately, I came across a 5w and 13w Philips LED light globe. These were still in their outer carton, with no price labels on the shelf. They had literally just arrived.
I had never seen Woolworths sell LED globes before this, although they may have been selling others previously that I wasn’t aware of. The 5w one was priced at just under $10, with the 13w one priced at just under $20 (i.e. $9.99 and $19.99 respectively).
On a watts-per-dollar and lumens-per-dollar comparison, it’s quite obvious that the 13w globe is the better buy, although compared to CFLs, there seems to be few compelling benefits at first.
On first glance, you will find the “approximation factor” is about 5x (i.e. equivalent incandescent watts is about 5x the actual consumption) which is identical to CFLs. In short, you’re not going to be saving energy over CFLs which have a lower outlay cost.
The stated lifetime of 15,000 hours is only around twice of the average CFL lifetime (often claimed to be 8,000 hours) and is on par with the best quality CFLs (claimed 12,000 to 15,000 hours).
Further analysis will see that the difference is that LED lamps are less sensitive to power on and off cycles and are so much better suited to places where the lights are likely to be cycled often. They also come to full brightness immediately, so are great for short-cycle areas where waiting for warm-up forms a significant energy waste. It may also be better for the environment as there is no mercury in LEDs, although the jury is out on the energy required to produce the LED lamps (semiconductor materials involve significant energy investment). No UV and IR forms benefit where the degradation of materials is a concern (mainly when replacing downlights).
As the best lifetime with LED lamps is achieved with lower temperatures, it is not suitable for enclosed luminaries, as it will likely shorten the life of the lamps. As with many CFLs, it claims not to be usable in wet or outdoor areas – likely due to risk of condensation and water causing shorts, although it is likely with careful consideration, it may still be usable.
While it is Philips branded, I’m not sure if this exact model is available globally. It seems to state distribution in Australia and New Zealand only.
The globes themselves state to be Made in China, just like most of the electronics today.
The 13w Globe
The 13w globe is like a bulging GLS globe. It’s quite a bit bigger than the average GLS globe but will fit in many luminaires. It lights up the dome shaped diffuser quite effectively and seems a little bright for a 13w globe. It’s definitely honest with the rating.
It gets slightly warm as well under use, and doesn’t have any obvious hot-spots or colour mismatching. There is no exposed heatsink, although the globe is fairly weighty. It’s all quality when it comes to construction – the plastic parts are hard, and the diffuser seemed glued or welded on so that it won’t come off even with a significant amount of twisting force.
The ratings are clearly printed on the back of the globe – it is specified as 13W 3000K 1055lm 78mA for an input voltage of 220-240VAC at 50-60Hz. The colour temperature is very much a warm white, very similar to my Ikea CFL, although the colour tone of LEDs seems incomplete. The colour balance seems to be slightly low in the green (mostly blue and yellow-ish output), so while it appears subjectively bright, it also seems a little “hollow”.
The 5w Globe
The 5w globe is a bit smaller – around the same size as a GLS globe. Where the 13w globe won’t fit, the 5w will, although the light output seems about right for 5w – which might be a little low for many uses. The construction is every bit as sturdy as the 13w globe, and it exudes quality (especially when compared with the Kogan globes I reviewed earlier).
The colour temperature is pretty nicely matched to my CFL as well, and there are no colour mismatch complaints or hotspots. Hard plastics are used throughout, and they don’t break apart even with as much force as my hands can put on them. The rating is 5W 3000K 350lm 44mA at 220-240VAC 50-60Hz.
My experience with these Philips globes has been quite positive. The lighting output is as expected, with the 13w globe slightly surpassing my expectations. The physical build quality is superb, and the lighting colour consistency and the diffuser’s effectiveness is also up to scratch.
The fact that they’re pretty much enclosed begs the question – why don’t they allow its use in moist or wet environments? I think it’s more because of caution, as many people are already using CFLs in bathrooms (where you shouldn’t use them either). I think these may fare well in those environments as there’s no open air vents!
It’s a bit unusual to not have an exposed heatsink, and this may be one of the reasons for the lower-than-usual LED lifetime. It may just be Philips being more cautious with their ratings – on price and lifetime alone, the reasons for choosing LED over CFL aren’t there. That being said, the instant on, full brightness characteristic of LEDs, along with their mechanical rigidity and lack of sensitivity to on-off cycles may make them the lighting of choice for your applications.
Best of all, they have no RF noise problems unlike the Kogan ones I tried earlier. They cause no alteration to my reception of shortwave and HF services.
Looking at the rated mA values and the wattage, it seems that these are still low power factor (roughly 0.5-0.6), which is a little unfortunate. It would be nice to have high power factor, if anything, just to reduce distribution losses for the utilities (although residential users will see no difference to their bills either way).
In the end, you get what you pay for – paying a little bit more for a quality brand like Philips ends up providing a quality product which makes everyone happy!