Sometimes you need to solve your own problems around the house, and the best place to visit is a hardware store. Just last week, I took a trip to Bunnings, and I couldn’t resist surveying their array of LED light globes. While consumers are still at a cross-roads when it comes to the CFL versus LED debate, LED technology and prices have continued to improve.
Since I purchased my first set of Philips LED globes from Woolworths, it seems that Philips’ product line-up has improved. The 13W globe offered 1055 lumens, resulting in an efficacy of 81 lumens per watt, the new 14W LEDbulb offers 1400 lumens for an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt.Of course, these numbers continue to improve with each generation, as the efficiency of LEDs continue to improve. This is great news for those looking for a little more light than the original LED globes could offer.
Of course, Bunnings has other LED globes on offer as well, many of them in smaller power ratings. The other LEDs are mainly from Osram which top out at 10.5W. As someone who is looking for higher powered globes, this wasn’t of much interest.
I purchased two samples of the bayonet cap (B22) mount globes, at AU$18.99 a piece, in order to cover the rest of the house as we have a mixture of fixtures. This is a bit pricey compared to CFLs, but still not out of the reach of individuals.
As seems to be common with LED globes, the choice of colour temperature is limited. Bunnings only stocks Warm White 3000K globes at 14W in both BC and ES, but also stocks a Cool Daylight 6500K 14W globe in ES only.
The claims made on the packaging haven’t changed much, with an 80% claimed energy saving and up to 15 year lifetime. It also claims light “equivalency” to about 90w.
The packaging has only suffered subtle changes, with the globe having a claimed lifetime of 15,000 hours, which is a little bit on the low side when it comes to LEDs. This may be due to the lack of external-facing heatsink, which is enclosed within a plastic shell, and due to their conservatism. The Warm White 3000K is slightly less warm compared to the 2800K offered by the IKEA globes. There is a change which claims you should use in >4″ diameter downlight, as opposed to 3″ previously. The globe remains non-dimmable, and is Made in China.
From the outside, the globe appears the same as the 13w version, with an elongated enlarged shape resembling that of an old GLS globe. Due to the larger size, it may not fit in all fittings. When picked up, the globe feels a little on the lighter side compared to the IKEA 13w globes, which may indicate a slightly smaller metal content, implying a smaller heatsink.
As expected, the branding and specifications are printed around the neck in grey. It is claimed to operate on a 220-240v range at 50/60Hz, drawing 80mA. Due to the shape of the globe, it seems that the globe is best used on light fixtures where the globe is mounted with the base up, so the diffuser points right at the ground.
As our dwelling uses a vast array of oyster alabaster fixtures, I had to forego the alabaster cover altogether because the globe would not physically fit otherwise. As it turns out, because of the sideways mounting, the lighting in one half of the room was much more than the other half. As a result, I handmade a right-angle adapter based around a short piece of flex, a suspension bayonet cap holder and a bayonet cap adapter, like a very short suspension kit.
This allowed for a much better light utilization, although with a little glare due to the directness of the light despite the integrated diffusing dome. The light output was relatively impressive – I didn’t note any issues with flicker or brightness, and the colour temperature was as expected. However, the colour rendering index was not stated, and I didn’t have the equipment to measure it, but a difference in colour rendering was noted which made the light appear a little stark and colder, so I’d probably guess a CRI of >82.
The performance of the previous 13w globe was relatively middle-of-the-road, showing a loose regulation where the power consumption is strongly dependent on input voltage. The power factor was about 0.8, which is higher than a poor quality CFL, but hardly as good as it could be.
The new globe improves upon this performance somewhat, with a higher power factor of about 0.9 across a broad voltage range. The regulation is still relatively lax, with the power consumption still strongly related to the input voltage. The claimed 14W is a bit of an under-rating with the consumption about 14.1W at 220v, 14.4W at 230v and 14.8W at 240v. As a result, it’s probably more of a 15W globe.
From the voltage range being “shrunk”, it seems likely this globe consists of more LEDs connected in a series string, rather than less LEDs connected in a series-parallel arrangement. It also seems likely that the current driver design has changed.
As I don’t have the equipment to measure absolute light output, CRI and colour temperature, these parameters cannot be determined.
While LED globes at retail are being sold at high prices that make their prices difficult to justify based on their claimed lifetimes, it’s always nice to see that they are being offered as an alternative. LEDs reach full brightness instantly, and suffer very little from power on-off cycles which can be very desirable, and the lack of mercury is a positive for the environment.
It seems that Philips has improved upon their former design with a higher power factor current driver, and a much improved efficacy (+23%) at a similar price-point. The current driver does a lax job of regulating power consumption over different line voltage conditions, but doesn’t seem to have any flicker issues. The short claimed lifetime may be down to conservative estimates, or the use of an “enclosed” heatsink with low metal mass, which makes purchasing LEDs for their longer lifetime an unclear proposition.