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There's potentially a problem with LED lighting that I wasn't aware of until a friend sent me an article on the subject. It's something you probably should be aware of if thinking of switching to LEDs now that incandescents are largely out of production.

I haven't paid a lot of attention to LED lighting. Until recently it's been expensive, more useful for narrowly focused applications like task lighting, and not that much more energy efficient than the CFLs we use almost everywhere inside and outside the house (there are a few incandescents in the carport that have been there about 15 years and counting - not used much). Additionally, all LEDs are made with either the element gallium (Ga) or indium (In), and both of those are not very abundant on this planet. That leads to questions about sustainability for something produced in 100s of millions of units, like light bulbs.

The article -  That 60W-equivalent LED: What you don’t know, and what no one will tell you… - is from EDN (Electronic Design News), which is a largely apolitical magazine written by and for engineers. If anything, their bias would be to get you to buy more of their advertiser's products, like LEDs.

You should read the entire article (it's non-technical), but here's the money quote:

Within an LED bulb the internal generation and distribution of heat is such that it “desperately” needs access to cool surrounding air.  The fact that it has that metallic housing is irrelevant in restricted air.

That 60 watt Wal-Mart bulb, when operating base down in open air and not even using a shade, has its internal LED case at 85°C, the absolute upper end of what is considered “safe” for full life expectancy. The same deal is true for competitive bulbs. Put a shade around it... and it’s a little warmer. Put it into any kind of base-up socket and it gets a lot hotter and all life expectancy numbers are off the table. Put it into any kind of porch or post light fixture, and it can fry, with its internal power supply components at the cliff edge of failure. Put the lamp in a ceiling-mounted fully enclosed fixture and set the timer for when failure will occur.

In other words,  totally unlike incandescent and substantially unlike a CFL, reliability and life expectancy go down hill sharply as soon as you install  it anywhere that air is restricted. Guess what? A large percentage of places for LED best value is in those place where access is difficult and air is restricted. LEDs do not target a “table-lamp-only” marketplace.

Some related information: 85C (185F) is the maximum operating temperature for most electronic components designed for industrial use. Consumer products usually top out at 70C, military and aerospace at 125C. Per the article, full life expectancy is quoted for operation at 85C, so that's not the problem. The problem is that in an open application, like a table lamp, the LED bulb is already at 85C. When you enclose it in something, like a globe or ceiling fixture, it will get hotter - a lot hotter.

There's a rule of thumb reliability engineers use that comes from Arrhenius (the same guy who outlined the greenhouse effect around the end of the 19th century). Arrhenius said that chemical reaction rates double for every 10C rise in temperature. For estimating reliability, you turn that around and estimate that product life gets cut in half for every 10C rise in temperature. A lot of faliure mechanisms are, or act like, chemical reactions. That's the point the author of the article is actually making.

Also note that this has little to do with the actual wattage or power consumption of LEDs vs. incandescents. LEDs do use less energy, but if they don't cool as efficiently as light bulbs in an enclosed fixture, they can still get hotter. That seems to be the case here, and for all manufacturers - not just Wal-Mart suppliers. This isn't probably a safety issue - houses won't burn down - because  a lot of light fixtures have built in thermal cutouts that will shut off electricity if they get too hot, or the electronics that operates the LED (LEDs operate at around 1.8 volts) will fail.

The other important factor is the backlash that this kind of situation can create. People buying LEDs bulbs are expecting lower electric bills and bulbs that last a long time. They can end up very disappointed when the hype about lifetime turns out not to be true in some applications. That can damage the credibility of people who advocated the solution. As a corollary to that, it's important to understand what Germans might call the Gestalt, others the whole enchilada, or 60s refugees the holistic nature of solutions to environmental problems. Just because something solves one problem - like reducing energy use - doesn't mean it satisfies all the other constraints it needs to, like lifetime. Completely understanding a technology is a good idea if you want to avoid unintended consequences.

As I mentioned at the outset, outside of a couple of LED flashlights - which I like a lot - I don't have any direct experience using LED light bulbs. I do have a fair amount of experience in electrical engineering, particularly reliability and temperature problems, and the guy who sent me the article link has a lot more experience. The engineering basis of the article seems correct to me.

It seems like something worth being aware of.

Originally posted to badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 03:57 PM PST.

Also republished by Saturday Morning Home Repair and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Put a candle in the window ... (145+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MTmofo, Santa Susanna Kid, Mr Robert, ladasue, Betty Pinson, Thinking Fella, JeffW, disinterested spectator, weck, trumpeter, Lorikeet, crose, MsGrin, Another Grizzle, drainflake77, wa ma, Calamity Jean, Mary Mike, Ekaterin, mzinformed, belinda ridgewood, eagleray, bronte17, eeff, No one gets out alive, Nowhere Man, paradise50, broths, ban nock, BobBlueMass, alice kleeman, PeterHug, geekydee, 207wickedgood, mrmango, FishOutofWater, this just in, basquebob, CJB, VirginiaJeff, MA Liberal, foresterbob, Bluefin, buckstop, Marko the Werelynx, Simplify, ladybug53, zukesgirl64, northerntier, sawgrass727, wu ming, Buckeye Nut Schell, marleycat, Bluesee, radical simplicity, chantedor, high uintas, linkage, greycat, Liberal Thinking, RiveroftheWest, Jollie Ollie Orange, blackjackal, The Jester, riverlover, ozsea1, Tailspinterry, Involuntary Exile, outragedinSF, Aaa T Tudeattack, 2thanks, techno, certainot, VTCC73, hungrycoyote, wader, DerAmi, Skyye, Egalitare, WearyIdealist, radarlady, kurt, Ageing Hippie, political mutt, oqwitcherwoofn, celdd, nswalls, Bob Duck, Ahianne, genethefiend, Wino, bill warnick, JVolvo, bumbi, Lencialoo, Friend of the court, illegal smile, blue91, Kokomo for Obama, Librarianmom, shaharazade, elsaf, sallyfallschurch, ichibon, HeyMikey, bfitzinAR, bunsk, greengemini, aunt blabby, Lily O Lady, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, chira2, greatferm, Things Come Undone, melo, wmspringer, Woody, cosette, dotdash2u, Bernie68, Robynhood too, slowbutsure, pvasileff, flowerfarmer, fgentile, Ian S, Youffraita, Lujane, 3goldens, GreyHawk, johanus, SingerInTheChoir, StrayCat, lineatus, gerrilea, NearlyNormal, NYmom, 4Freedom, TomFromNJ, verdeo, SuWho, hwy70scientist, BlueMississippi, CodeTalker, MJ via Chicago

    No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

    by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 03:57:44 PM PST

  •  The general rule of thumb is anywhere you had (13+ / 0-)

    an incandescent bulb the LED will be cooler and safer. Yes, 185°F is hot but it's way cooler than the 260°F that an incandescent 60W bulb can get.

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:06:39 PM PST

    •  No (53+ / 0-)

      The incandescent bulb does not care that it is at 260.  The working part  is at several thousand degrees.  The working parts of an LED care a great deal if they are too warm, though the ones I installed in ceiling recessed holders have been doing fine so far.

      Restore the Fourth! Save America!

      by phillies on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:12:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The 85C is in an unshaded table lamp (27+ / 0-)

      not  "anywhere", and the real answer is in the physics (which can be tested empirically) rather than an unattributed rule of thumb.

      One of the things I learned in the lab is that reality trumps marketing, ideology or expectations every time. Never found an exception to that, no matter how hard I tried.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:37:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Retired EE with reliability testing experience... (28+ / 0-)

        with a major automotive electronics manufacturer, badger knows what he is talking about.  Had a custom IC explode (as in, plastic package ruptured, burnt circuitry on the chip) after being exposed to a large (25kV) ESD event on it's inputs and outputs; design engineers about had heart attacks, said it couldn't possibly have happened, but I was running the test, and gave them the part.  They never identified how that could happen.

        It's all about the temperature.  I haven't torn any LED lights apart, but I would bet the reliable ones are probably well designed and have very good heat sinking (metal to conduct the heat away from the electronics - microprocessors generate lots of heat, an aluminum, finned heat sink physially touching the IC's package pulls away enough heat to prevent massive reliability problems).

        "Detective, if ignorance was a drug, you'd be high all the time." Sam Tyler, 'Life on Mars'

        by Kokomo for Obama on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:25:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  25 kV My god man what were you doing? That is (0+ / 0-)

          a load of joules.

          •  ESD = Electrostatic Discharge (0+ / 0-)

            25kV is at the very high end (unless you're talking lightning), but you can achieve 4kV easily just walking across a rug in dry weather; I've measured parts sliding around in a cardboard box at 10kV with no static discharge protection, and a lot of them were damaged. It may be he was testing to some standard with 25kV. One place I worked that made industrial controls used discharge from a neon sign transformer to test products, and probably got up that high in voltage.

            I didn't do that, but I did a lot of ESD testing of ICs - early CMOS - in the 70s. You could induce part failure between 1kV and 4kV depending on the manufacturer and the protection they had on the inputs. I never blew up a part with ESD directly, but I've seen parts smoke when ESD had already blown a hole through the input oxide layer.

            No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

            by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 04:40:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  But the physic tells you there just isn't the same (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C, Bmeis

        amount of heat being created. Even if 100% of the energy going into an LED bulb was converted to heat it couldn't come close to the heat generated by an incandescent lamp. That 260°F I gave is the average heat of a 60W in operation. Depending on several factors it could get quite a bit warmer than that. Something like 90% of the energy from the old-style bulbs went into heat, given they draw 3-4X the power the physics tell you they'll be creating at least 3X as much heat, probably quite a bit more. So unless there are some special rules of physics for LEDs that I haven't seen anywhere they just can't produce the same heat. It is rather interesting that bad design can drive the heat as high as it does, hell, maybe Kenner will buy those bulbs for their E-Z-Bake Ovens but I can't see why I'd be worried about heat aside from the fact it'll make the bulb life shorter.

        There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

        by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:05:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're not factoring in dissipation. (11+ / 0-)

          Total heat inside = energy in - dissipation out.

          Yes LEDs have lower energy in. But they also have lower dissipation out.

          The question is whether LED bulbs have balanced in vs out appropriately.

          "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

          by nosleep4u on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:24:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Outside the lamp the thermal gradient is whatever (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bmeis

            it is in the room. That's going to be the determining factor. They're both effectively point source heat generators. Yes, the incandescent lamp is bigger on the outside but after a few centimeters it's all going to be about air movement around the lamp. If you put any 15W LED in the same fixture as a 60W incandescent I can't see what math or physics would make the LED generate more heat.

            There are lies, damn lies, and statistics but they all pale in comparison to conservative talking points.

            by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:32:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  LEDs don't get hotter than incandescents (17+ / 0-)

              They just can't handle high temperatures, whereas incandescents are designed to operate at high temperatures...that's how they generate light in the first place, by getting hot.

              •  heat is exactly why some of us use incandescent (16+ / 0-)

                bulbs in the first place.....

                I have about 6 packs of each 100 and 60 watt regular bulbs stashed for use when incubating eggs or raising various chicks...mainly chicks as a larger heater is ok for the eggs...and I have an excellent incubator, auto turn, thermostatic, humidity controlled etc.....

                I don't need light for them, I need heat and there are no small ceramic heaters, the smallest I've found is 250 watt and that will cook my chicks...even 100 can be a bit much when warm....that's why I grabbed the 60's a couple weeks back.....

                Hopefully someone starts making small heaters or there will be a bunch of unhappy small scale chicken producers out there .....and it's even more important for the keets and tiels, at least baby chickens have down and are self feeding from birth....the rest are naked cold and hungry....

                Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                Emiliano Zapata

                by buddabelly on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:31:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You've just described (7+ / 0-)

                  what should be a good money opportunity for some manufacturer, I'm sure you aren't the only one who uses them that way.

                  btw, I remember the same thing back when I was a child living w/grandparents. It's not like it's an unknown thing.

                  And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

                  by high uintas on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:44:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yup, I switched to cfl for lighting years ago and (7+ / 0-)

                    saved a ton of dough since.....however there is still a place for incandescent bulbs which is why I wish they hadn't banned manufacture or import...people were changing anyway since the bulbs have gotten so cheap.

                    A CFL floodlamp is cheaper than an incandescent at the Home Despot......I cut my outside lighting from over 5oo watts to under 200 and doubled my lamps...it cut the bill so much I've got into the bad habit of forgetting to turn them off so often the go 24-7 for weeks at a time...have only had to change 3-4 in about 4 years or so and a couple of those were physically broken...and nope, I didn't call hazmat...snort....I called the dustpan and broom and got on with life.

                    Hell we used to play with mercury in school, now break a thermometer and the school is locked down and decontaminated....a tich of overkill if you ask me.....

                    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                    Emiliano Zapata

                    by buddabelly on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:54:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mercury (6+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      buddabelly, ER Doc, kyril, badger, 6412093, cosette

                      We used to play with it, too. I'm sure I did in some damage, but then I took a bunch of other risks back then, too. Glad I'm here.

                      And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

                      by high uintas on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 10:18:52 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I will sound right wing here but there is many (8+ / 0-)

                      situations where incandescents are still useful...
                      that low gentle heat being one. (Hey, what do they use in easy bake ovens?)

                      Have to say it even more now reading about LED bulb issues.

                      They aren't the only light bulb that can't handle enclosed spaces well
                      Here

                      Do not use standard CFLs in recessed cans and air-tight enclosed fixtures.
                      CFLs are more sensitive to heat than ordinary bulbs.Unless your CFL is specifically rated for use in air-tight enclosed fixtures and recessed cans, the heat build-up will harm the electronic ballast and can dramatically shorten its life
                      .
                      They also are tremendously shortened by vibration (like fans), being on for a shorter time than about 20 minutes, very low or high temp environment, don't work with dimmers
                      (
                      Even if you leave the dimmer switch up all the way, it will still shorten the life of an ordinary CFL
                      .
                      (For some of these things like dimmers, temps... there are some specially marked, harder to find, more expensive.)
                      Oh.. and old wiring. That is mentioned on linked page too.
                      I have yet to find a 3 way cfl that isn't huge and or horrid btw

                      Some things aren't mentioned... like
                      Ultraviolet Leaks from CFLs
                      (In about all bulbs tested, tiny flaws in coating. Only tiny UV amount,strongest suggestion was maybe not close to skinfor long period like bedside reading.

                      Then the link between CFL and migraines. Link doesn't prove anything, I am just looking for some not insane mention of things I am bringing up. The reason I even looked into it was because of the experience of many migraine sufferers. (It shocks me how many people get migraines, but that is another story)
                      One told me about removing CFLs per doctors suggestion to see if it reduced incidence, mentioned subtle flickering that isn't really visible but can trigger those sensitive. Made a huge difference... and those she told and those I told...
                      These aren't right wingers... these are those trying to go green who didn't tie the change to CFL with increased headaches...
                      I don't get migraines but I sure do not dismiss this.

                      Then there is having to recycle them. They aren't picked up curbside or at many convenient locations. For those without a car, the lederly or disabled... its a big deal.

                      Then there is this...
                      I know we figure savings by how long these expensive bulbs last.
                      Which would be true if they did... I mentioned at some gathering mine weren't lasting and there was loud agreement. Now I am sure it is for many of the reasons listed above... For me I didn't have enclosed lights but until I extended the ceiling light shades to give them a couple more inches of space they sometimes didn't last a month. They still do not last a year. And what about the places where you need light for a couple minutes at a time? And I do have old wiring and no spare money...

                      I am all for going green but I am shocked at the lack of improvement on these issues even after all these years and now incandescents that dO best in some cases will be fading out
                      I really thought there would be better options by now. Maybe there are and I don't know?
                      I buy an LED now and then when they are well reviewed and there is a sale.

                      But when it comes to CFL I sound like a right winger even though I am not making shit up.

                      •  I am not sold on CFLs though I use them (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        badger, buddabelly, joynow

                        liberally in certain environments around my home and outbuildings.  I do not use them in small enclosed spaces with high reflectivity or bounce because the flickering does trigger migraines for me.  

                        I also don't like the light temperature (light color) of either the CFLs or the LEDs.  I have a backstock of incandescent bulbs and have purchased halogens but look forward to some new technology that does not flicker like the tungsten burners and produces more efficient light with less heat at a pleasing color temperature.  

                        Thanks for your comment.

                        "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

                        by Uncle Moji on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:50:15 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  This diary is much ado about nothing. (0+ / 0-)
                    •  Mercury in toys (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      buddabelly

                      I had a little handheld plastic maze toy when I was a kid, with a transparent plastic top.  What you rolled around in the maze was a blob of mercury.  That was probably in the 1958 or 1959.  I don't know why I'm not dead already.

                      Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

                      by BenFranklin99 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:13:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Specialized infrared LEDs for such purposes? n/t (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger, buddabelly

                  The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

                  by lotlizard on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:24:11 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it would work for me, as long as it doesn't cook (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger

                    the chicks, I'm fine with it.....

                    In my brooder, a 60 watt bulb and a computer type fan do the job wonderfully.....

                    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                    Emiliano Zapata

                    by buddabelly on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:04:00 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Heat is trivial to generate. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  badger

                  And specialty bulbs, such as incandescent heat lamps, were never on the 'banned' list anyways.

                  •  you missed the point, they are all too large and (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    badger

                    hot for the job at hand....

                    And if they are a trivial exercise to build, why does no one build them?

                    I get that a resistance heater isn't the bleeding edge of tech advance...that really doesn't matter to those of us who need it.......esp when a simple 60 watt bulb works so well.

                    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                    Emiliano Zapata

                    by buddabelly on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:01:56 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                      •  yes the second would work fine, the last time I (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        badger

                        looked for a heat element the smallest available was 250 watts but I haven't had chicks in 2 years, it appears someone has stepped up to the plate which is great.

                        As I said, I don't really care what the source is, I just need the heat and the right amount of it.   Now as long as they don't get hot enough to melt the brooder, life would be good...no way to tell without trying that I can see....I need to keep 99-101 consistently with no drops or they die, either from lack of heat itself or inability to digest and empty the crop....

                        Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                        I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                        Emiliano Zapata

                        by buddabelly on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:21:26 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  The wattage should tell you everything you need. (0+ / 0-)

                          If you used a 60W incandescent bulb before, then a 60W ceramic IR bulb should give you the same heat.

                          •  actually that appears to be wrong, however the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            badger

                            ceramic emitter in link 2 seems even better suited for spot basking while not as well suited at whole brooder heating which is what I need for the non chicken type naked babies.... I use a spot fan to blow on the bulb circulating the air with the heat, a 60 watt clear with the fan in my polycarbonate, insulated brooder, holds needed temp constantly, if very cold I go with a hundred and keep the babies from getting right up to the bulb.....once they grow feathers it isn't as big a problem....I have 3 pairs of Tiels very mad at me right now as with our warm weather, they want to lay but I won't give them a box yet as there will be more cold and I will lose them all just like last year when I let them do what they wanted...this year we do it my way..... They will like their new aviary though, going from about 4'x4' to at least 8'x8'x16' with a couple popouts for nestboxes and such...really nice digs with tons of room to fly and prosper......nice sometimes having property measured in acres not 40' frontages....

                            The chicks get around well and self regulate by moving in and out of the heat zone...baby keets and tiels can barely crawl for the first few weeks.

                            Here's a link showing actual temp measurements with a laser thermometer on various different types of heat from plain incandescent clears to UV ic to halogen spots to.....

                            Very different results a lot based on bulb and reflector design....  

                             http://www.reptileuvinfo.com/...

                            just for 60 watt, the heat produced at the basking point varied from 95 to 169......at the shortest time interval tested....this needs to run 24/7 for about 2 months minimum..... It appears that someone was making small units, I don't know why I couldn't find them as I looked so I could avoid the light and not screw with their circadian clocks....

                            Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                            I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                            Emiliano Zapata

                            by buddabelly on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 01:29:09 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  People I know, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buddabelly

                  who need incandescents in Europe,used to buy them off ebay as 'heat balls'.

                  "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

                  by northsylvania on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 02:05:28 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Read recently (0+ / 0-)

                  that incandescents for special applications are exempt from the manufacturing/sales ban. Might take a little while for that news to get through. They still make vacuum tubes don't they?

                •  Couldn't you use (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buddabelly, RiveroftheWest

                  a hair dryer rigged some sort of a temperature control that would turn the hair dryer on and off.

                  Then all the watts would go for heat and for air circulation and you would not need to depend on the convection of an incandescent bulb.  You could give your chicks forced air heating.

                  •  now this is a truly interesting idea I have never (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RiveroftheWest, KenBee

                    thought of.....

                    Shouldn't be that hard to make either as long as the thermostat didn't allow "flicker" it should work like a champ.

                    Need to talk to a couple buddies who are more electrically minded than I...I fix internal combustion engines and do it quite well, electricity, I understand, just never have had a lot of exp....besides swapping plugs or switches, that sort of stuff....

                    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                    Emiliano Zapata

                    by buddabelly on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:02:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Nope (14+ / 0-)

          For one thing, you're confusing heat with temperature - temperature is related to heat flow. Ever build a snow fort like an igloo? You can heat it with a candle, because the snow is a good insulator - the temperature inside the snow fort will rise. Take the candle out into the air, and its effect on temperature will be zero. The heat of the candle is the same, but the heat flow outside is much greater than the heat flow in the fort, so the temperature outside is unaffected, while inside it goes up. Or take a 1500W heater that will heat your bathroom up to 30F and put it on your porch on a cold day and tell me how much the outside temperature 100 ft away goes up when its operating. It puts out 1500W either way. If you have a kill-o-watt, you could measure that.

          Second, the light bulb can stand to be 125C (about 260F). Glass has another 1000C to go before it melts, the tungsten filament is already at 1900C to 3000C.

          But at 85C, the LED is at its design limit. It will probably work some distance above that, but the melting point of GaAsP or whatever compound the LED is made up of is well below the melting point of glass. In addition, you get other effects inside an LED, some chemical, some mechanical (like expansion, or fatigue from thermal cycling). Even a substance like glass will flow or devitrify (sort of a change in crystal structure) well below its melting point.

          And the whole point is the fact that heat'll make the LED life shorter, perhaps very short in the extreme. One of the selling points is long life for the price.

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:55:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well, the issue with semiconductors (27+ / 0-)

      is that they're subject to thermal runaway -- they draw more current and heat up more the hotter they get.   It's up to the control circuitry to throttle the light to protect it in an overheating scenario, one of the reasons good LED bulbs are so expensive.

      PAR format LED spotlight bulbs usually come with massive heatsinks.  This, in combination with good circuitry, makes high quality PAR LED bulbs a good replacement for reflector-type incandescents where there is plenty of space around the heat sink.  

      Replacing an A form factor bulb is a lot tougher. Throwing light in all directions leaves no place for a massive heat sink, so the LED in an A series bulb runs hotter than ideal.  So you don't want to use an A series LED in an enclosed fixture designed to redirect light from an old mushroom type incandescent in one direction -- that undoes all that clever engineering and leaves you with a needlessly overheating bulb.  But an A21 LED is fine in a table lamp with a generous lampshade.

      You just have to be slightly more thoughtful about choosing  a light bulb for a particular fixture.   Rule of thumb: use an A21 LED for applications where you want to throw light in all directions and there's plenty of air space around. If you want to throw light in just one direction choose a PAR format LED bulb if you can find one that throws a broad enough beam without looking crowded in the fixture.  For enclosed fixtures like ceiling cans, or if you can't find a suitable PAR bulb, choose a CFL or a halogen.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:53:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks - great explanation (5+ / 0-)

        No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

        by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:57:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What I'd really like to find... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        is a high output PAR30 for ceiling-mount track lights (very old tracklights, so I can't find new cans for them).  The biggest LED I can find is something like 700 or 800 lumens, if I recall; I have 75w halogens (5 of 'em) that are rated 980 lumens a pop.  And we'd still like more light than that, ideally about 1500 lumens each.  They're a real pain to get at, about 13' off the ground.

        I can find bigger PAR38's, but they would be just about touching the cans, so there would be no airflow at all (and they'd be even harder to replace).

  •  So one should install LED-specific lighting... (9+ / 0-)

    ...fixtures where a bulb-substitute would end up being enclosed? Like a globe or recessed fisture, assuming the fixture has a cooling capability for the LED(s) and the rectification circuitry.

    I picked up two LED bulbs to replace a couple of CFL's in the upstairs stairway. These are open shade sconces with the base up. Yhink they'll get too hot?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:11:25 PM PST

    •  I don't know (12+ / 0-)

      If I were acting as the engineer I formerly was, all I'd say is test it - that's how you resolve these kinds of things. And that appears to be what you're doing.

      If the article is accurate, then the indication is the LEDs won't last their rated life, but of course there are a lot of other factors, like how long they're on (duty cycle), ambient temperature (it's probably 3C-5C warmer at the ceiling than table height), vibration, etc.

      In the long run, the solution is for manufacturers of both LEDs and light fixtures to design around temperature problems.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:32:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The only other edison-based LED light we have... (4+ / 0-)

        ...is a spot unit that appears to be meant for an open socket lighting unit, maybe a track light type setup. I have it in a Luxo arm-lamp, whuch has a metal shade that sports vent slots around the lamp socket. The back end of the light is essentially an aluminum heat sink, just ahead of the base, behind the LED array.

        Calamity Jean has been looking at LED-specific lighting units for our new house, such as some of the chandeliers that IKEA sells. I suppose they don't have this problem, since the support circuitry doesn't appear to be close to the LED bulbs.

        CFL's seem a lot warmer than that spot I have, though.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:49:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm going to jump in here. I program light bulbs (40+ / 0-)

          by that, I mean LED light engines.  These are small devices that are designed to go into a fixture that includes a heat sink for the LED.  These light engines do generate a lot of heat, but also produce a lot of light.  The lumens/watt is significantly greater with LED lighting than with incandescent or CFLs.  The problem is the screw in incandescent replacement bulbs that are "after-market" upgrades sold in hardware stores and big box stores.  All the ones I've seen have a large heat transducer to remove the heat from the LEDs and the power electronics needed to run them.  I can't say for certain, but the ones that I have tried do get very warm and might get rather hot if placed inside an enclosure that doesn't allow air to be exchanged to remove the heat.  Glass is not a great heat transfer material, but plastic generally is much worse.  So if the enclosure has plastic in all the wrong places, the situation is not good.  But if the bulb can be placed in a metal can that can allow some transfer of heat, I'd think it would work ok.  You can bet these companies that make the after-market LED bulbs have had them UL tested.  During that testing process, they put the unit to test in the worse condition they expect it to live.  They want to see what happens when it gets hot.  That is part of the testing process for UL.  So if you worry about the LEDs starting a fire or just dying from over heating, look to see if the bulb has a UL rating.  If not, I'd put it back on the shelf and run quickly away from that store.  The store should not be selling any LED bulbs that are not UL approved.  

          The real answer to this problem is to look into getting LED lighting fixtures to replace your old fixtures.  They are specifically designed to draw all the heat from the LED light engine and will provide safe, long life.  Don't look for the bulbs to be a final solution.  You could use them for a stop gap until you can get LED fixtures in place that can make use of the proper heating technologies that these new devices need to run well.  As someone said, a incandescent bulb will run hotter.  Girls will remember their "Easy Bake Oven" that used an incandescent light bulb as the heating source.  There are a million warnings on the new ones.  They will get hot, hot enough to make a cake.  I seriously doubt a LED bulb would be able to match that feat, but the LED lights I play will blind you if you are not careful.  

          The previous statement was paid for by my boss.  He's a nice guy but would be happier if everyone here bought lots of LEDs lighting fixtures.  So my comment is not without commercial self interest, but I tell it like it is.  You can use my experience or ignore it.  I have no problem either way.  But I did want to make sure I made clear that I'm not an innocent bystander.  I like programming light fixtures.  Very challenging and I need the job.  Keep me working so I don't need to get unemployment.

          "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

          by dangoch on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:13:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Something I learned from a garage door opener.. (13+ / 0-)

        manufacturer, when the bulbs in a new opener failed after less than 20 uses of the opener - UNPLUG, then use a small screwdriver (or, hook if you have one) and pull the center terminal in the socket out about 1/8"; solved the early bulb failures.  There was intermittent contact between the terminal and bulb during the vibration of the opener when running, the large transient voltages generated when contact was lost killed the filament in the bulb.  

        I now do this with any new lamp and every time I replace a bulb.  I get excellent bulb life.

        I agree with badger, the proper kind of independant reliability testing is the only way to compare bulb designs, something the IEEE should spearhead.  Would be a good marketing tool for the LED manufacturers, like IIHS crash test ratings for auto manufacturers.

        "Detective, if ignorance was a drug, you'd be high all the time." Sam Tyler, 'Life on Mars'

        by Kokomo for Obama on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:35:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  freedom of air to circulate is the key (9+ / 0-)

      If air can get in at the bottom and out at the top you should be ok.  If the top  is enclosed not so good.

  •  Interesting article (14+ / 0-)

    I found a bunch of on sale LED lights online so I've already gone ahead and replaced almost the entire house full of curlies. The curlies have been great for my power bill, but with the merc in them, they are bad news too.

    I guess I'll find out soon enough about LEDs since I have them in a wide variety of fixtures now.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

    by pajoly on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:28:29 PM PST

  •  Efficiency sucks (8+ / 0-)

    I’m sure glad I bought a 30-year supply of incandescent bulbs.  Unfortunately, I was unable to prevent the landlord from replacing my toilet with a low-flush model, so I haven’t been completely successful in warding off the curse of efficiency.

    •  If you really want to be cynical (5+ / 0-)

      you should reference Jevons' Paradox, which says that an increase in a resource's efficiency leads to an increase of that resource's consumption. More efficient light bulbs will eventually raise your electric bill.

      (And no, I don't really believe that would happen in this case)

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 04:53:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  interesting analysis by jevon (9+ / 0-)

        and, as usual, misinterpreted and misapplied in today's discourse.  Jevons remarked that the more efficient that steam engines were, the more available that technology became and the consumption of coal increased.

        That is a far, far cry from a home performing a dynamic remodel with heat pump water heat, HVAC, high R-value insulation, efficient appliances and lighting, and then have that home buy a new, bigger flatscreen t.v. that uses more energy.

        The two are simply not directly related.  The ability for utility companies to reduce overall consumption with effective demand side management programs is proven and legislated in many states.

        •  Yeah, it doesn't apply everywhere, but (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, ban nock, kyril

          if fuel economy of cars were increased substantially, as one example, it's quite possible that miles driven would increase enough increase total gasoline consumption, or even total energy consumption if cars were all electric. The perception now for a lot of people is that gas is expensive, so you drive less. When the cost (say, cost per mile) is perceived as cheaper, people could be willing to drive a lot more miles than justified by the change in cost.

          That in turn would lead to increased fuel efficiency increasing CO2 emissions. It's not guaranteed that would happen by any stretch, but it's a contingency that good planning would take into account and deal with if necessary.

          Not everything that seems like a good idea turns out to be a good idea in reality, as with increasing steam engine efficiency increasing the mining and burning of coal instead of reducing it, as climate change demonstrates.

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:38:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, wu ming, ozsea1, ybruti, Kevskos

            The new car fleet got about 24.8 mpg in 2013, up 20% from 2007, yet people are driving fewer miles so total US gas consumption (including old and new cars) has declined about 20% over the same interval.

          •  I'm skeptical (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, Kevskos

            New cars in a household are generally driven more than older cars. The implications made by several studies is that this means the newer car is leading to more overall miles for that household. But the study data do not necessarily support that conclusion. For example, the total household mileage may be the same as the prior mileage, they're just using the more efficient car instead of one of the less efficient cars when they have the choice.

            This is certainly the way our household makes driving decisions. If more than one driver is going to the same place, we go in one car, and we almost always choose the more efficient car, unless there is some compelling reason to take the less efficient car (for example, if we need the trunk space).

            So it could be that the lower average annual miles on the older cars in the household are due to the choice to be more efficient as often as possible, by choosing the more efficient car.

            More studies need to be done to look at exactly that.

            I do know that there is nothing on this earth that could get me to voluntarily get in a car any more often than I already do, and my mileage hasn't increased since we bought the Prius, even though it's more efficient than the Civic hybrid it replaced. I have saved a couple car payments worth of gas, though.

      •  One can never have too much light (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger
      •  I never thought of that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, badger

        Until now, I have only thought of the nuisance of having to get out the plumber’s helper about four times a week, instead of about once every two years, as was the case with the old toilet.  But now that you mention it, I probably end up flushing the toilet a lot more than I did in the past, on account of all times I have to unstop it.

    •  low-flush toilets... (11+ / 0-)

      Last year we replaced our home's original 1933 toilet, which had a tank that probably held several hundred gallons. (I'm kidding)   I was not looking forward to replacing it with a low-flush model.  I have to say, the new one works at least as well as the old one did. There's some good engineering in those things.

    •  Sell them on ebay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, badger

      I ended up with few 100W bulbs after the ban, bought a couple dozen on ebay, probably doubled in price by now from a year ago.

      "Detective, if ignorance was a drug, you'd be high all the time." Sam Tyler, 'Life on Mars'

      by Kokomo for Obama on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:38:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I haven't true LED bulbs but I replaced all the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, RiveroftheWest, wa ma, badger

      incandescent light bulbs in my house with CFL's several years ago. I have forgotten the power savings and I am too lazy to calculate right now, but it is significant.  

      I have three low water use toilets in the house. The downstairs one is a pressure assist model. It has no water in the tank, instead it has plastic tank that has an internal membrane similar to a well water tank. A water line is plumbed fro one side and theater fill that half of the tank pushing the rubber membrane so that it compress the air in other half. Water does fill the bowl portion. When the lever is depressed to flush a connecting arm depresses a plunger on top of the tank that opens a valve that allows the compress air to be released resulting in an impressive flush. The other two are just low water use gravity feed types. They all work well and use 1.3 or 1.5 gallons rather the the 3.5 gallons of the older fixtures. I have a well and a septic system and making this change is a no brainer

  •  I found this most interesting (14+ / 0-)
    All A-19 (60 W equivalent) LED manufacturers could solve the problem immediately with a 25 cent fix—a simple “cookbook” thermistor circuit that automatically dims the light to a safe  thermal equilibrium level as things are getting too hot—and protects the unknowing consumer against himself. LED luminaire makers have been doing this for some time because they concluded it would be foolhardy not to do it.
    •  When I worked in high volume manufacturing (7+ / 0-)

      (automotive), suggesting a 25 cent increase in cost would not make you a popular individual. Nickels mattered a lot.

      That's not to say there isn't some way to get around the problem eventually for little or no extra cost.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:10:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if they can charge $2 more for it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, mrkvica, badger

        - by claiming some kind of superiority for the switch, then it might be worth the extra cost.

        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

        by catwho on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:01:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is that (0+ / 0-)

          Wal-Mart dictates the price paid to the manufacturer who has to figure out how to pay for the extra 25 cents (maybe move production to China), and then Wal-Mart collects the extra $2.

          Selling to automakers is about the same except (at least when I was working in that industry) automakers care a little more about both quality and having you stay in business - a little more, not necessarily a lot.

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:21:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  If a company is guaranteeing the LED bulb (0+ / 0-)

        for 10 years, it may pay to add the thermistor fix.  But I have a suspicious feeling that very few failures will be presented for warranty replacement and that very few bulbs will be replaced under warranty.  How could the warranty time be validated? A manufacturing date code on the bulb could tell how long it had been from manufacture--but not the period of use.  A receipt could show the date of purchase, but it is not tied to the actual bulb with something like a serial number.  One could date the bulb with the installation date, but who knows if that would be determined as accurate?

        The warranties are nice, but probably would need to be tied to manufacturing date, which is not necessarily the best date for the consumer, considering that one normally buys a few bulbs that sit on the shelf awaiting use as replacements.

  •  I have a dozen of the cree bulbs from home depot (10+ / 0-)

    in restricted air flow ceiling fixtures, I have experienced no failures so far.  The diffusers are barely warm to the touch.

    •  I think (and have pointed out) that testing (7+ / 0-)

      is the best way to resolve this, but just for the hell of it I'll play devil's advocate here.

      The problem described in the article as I read it (and it maybe isn't perfectly clear in the article) is the temperature of the LED itself. In an electronic design, you don't care what the temperature is inside the case so much as inside the components themselves - they respond to how hot they are themselves, not how hot something else is.

      So cool diffusers could be an indication that the LED itself is not transferring heat efficiently to its surroundings and thereby keeping itself cool. That's one of the ways - thermal transfer - that an LED could heat up more than a light bulb in the same fixture even though the LED uses less power. (As an aside, a conventional light bulb has a large surface area for radiating heat, and LEDs don't) Hot diffusers might actually be a Good Thing.

      But I don't really know - "something to watch" being the title, not "LEDs are a scam!!!" (which they aren't). You'll know in 5 years or less what the answer is (assuming the lights are on a fair number of hours every day).

      This would be fairly simple for someone like Consumer's Union to test, and there are generally accepted ways to accelerate life-cycle tests so that you don't have to wait 5 years for an answer (and if the article is right, a closed fixture would produce negative results pretty quickly).

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:06:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  this has been the overwhelming (6+ / 0-)

      response.  I have not seen the issue related by this article for over 5 years.  Perhaps the heat sink technology has increased sufficiently.  The industry is now producing 100 and 150 watt replacements lamps though these are still cost prohibitive.  (though they last 20 years so in some applications with very high ceilings it is worth it in replacement labor costs)

  •  thanks for the alert, we'll be on the watch (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, mrkvica

    Very interesting info. We knew nothing about the LEDs except that they didn't have the mercury. Thanks

    •  but they have lead and arsenic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, Another Grizzle

      at least according to this study       

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

      It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

      by Radiowalla on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:09:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So do PC's... n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, kyril

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:18:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The study is from 2010 and has problems (6+ / 0-)

        The source of the SciAm article is here:
        http://pubs.acs.org/...

        The critique can be found here:
        http://www.ledsmagazine.com/...

        A recently-published journal paper suggests that many LEDs should be classified as hazardous waste, but the sample size is very small and some of the conclusions drawn could easily be described as scaremongering.
        [...]
        Look closer at the journal paper and you’ll see only one LED (low-intensity red) had Pb content that was vastly in excess of the relevant limits, while all the other LEDs had miniscule Pb content. This result points to a high-Pb-content solder in the low-intensity red LED. Maybe the LED industry should shift to using Pb-free solders? Perhaps more than one low-intensity red LED should have been tested?

        We’re not trying to trivialize the importance of reducing or eliminating any possible hazardous risks from LED lighting, throughout the entire lifecycle. We understand the need to study whether hazardous materials could leach into groundwater if LEDs end up in landfill. But surely it’s not appropriate to recommend that a broken Christmas LED light has to be cleaned up using gloves, a mask and a special broom?

        emphasis mine

        I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

        by Just Bob on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:53:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's outdated (7+ / 0-)

          Outside of the military and a few applications of very large fixed equipment, nobody uses lead-based solder any more for any purpose, and electronic components for any purpose with the same exceptions above don't contain lead per EU Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations, which have been adopted by manufacturers (if not governments) globally.

          It's unlikely something manufactured around 2010 still contained lead - don't remember the exact implementation date, but it's earlier than that IIRC. LEDs have never needed lead except to make the leads (pronounced "leeds", the wires connecting to them) solderable. It's not related to anything operational.

          Arsenic, which can be found in many kinds of semiconductors and many LEDs, is tightly bound in a chemical compound or crystal lattice (the latter at very low concentration) and further encapsulated in clear plastic or Epoxy B, and is unlikely to leach into the environment AFAIK.

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:28:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Do LEDS Put Out (0+ / 0-)

      Ultra violet rays?  UVA and/or UVB?   I'm massively photosensitive (Lupus side effect) and don't want to wear sunscreen relaxing at home.

      -approaching Curmudgeonry with pleasure

      by Calfacon on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:40:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shows you how damn efficient those things are! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, badger

    Wasting all that wattage in heat and they're still producing all that light more efficiently than incandescents.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:22:09 PM PST

  •  If I was building a new house today... (6+ / 0-)

    ...I would run wiring for low voltage DC alongside the 120v AC lines.  We don't even know what kind of outlets it would use, but I think it's inevitable, so why not lay the wires?  Powering LED lights with low voltage DC would not only be less expensive per fixture, but you'd have much less heat dissipation. Not to mention all of those computer gadgets and chargers that use "wall warts" would run just as well, and more efficiently,  on DC.

    •  12 volt DC uses a socket... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, badger

      ...exactly like the lighter socket in a vehicle. Dunno what other voltages use.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:37:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Except take a look at your collection (6+ / 0-)

      of wall warts. If you have 2 that are the same voltage (not all are even DC) I'd be surprised. Converting one DC voltage level to a different DC voltage level isn't as simple as for AC, where all you need is a transformer (that's why AC dominates in the first place).

      Also, wiring size is determined by current, not voltage, and the lower DC voltages lead to higher currents. Look at the battery cables on your car for example. They're about the same size as your range, but the range can draw upwards of 5000 watts, while the starter on your car (the biggest power draw) probably doesn't reach over 500W.

      Personally, I'd wait to wire low voltage DC until I needed it, since the code requirements for that kind of wiring are much simpler and cheaper than 120/240 volt AC, and you can hide the wiring more easily than behind the sheetrock like AC wiring is done.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:47:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not thinking right away... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, kyril

        ...more of where we'll end up.  I think we'll be needing 120v AC for major appliances, but we may end up powering our lighting and small appliances from a centrally located low voltage DC supply. And once we decide that the standard will be, for instance, 24vdc with such and such a connector, then all your USB hubs, cel phone chargers and what not will be happy to dispense with the wall warts.

        •  When this does happen (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, Bill W, Judgment at Nuremberg

          I think the resulting connector/wiring is more likely to be a descendant of USB than a simple DC plug. Most of the small electronics that would benefit from DC wiring would benefit even more if they could share data over the same network from which they draw power.

          There's already been some progress in creating a USB Power Delivery standard. The current maximum is 100W at 20V on a standard connector and 60W at 20V on a micro connector.

          I don't think anyone's ready to start wiring buildings yet, but that's the technology I'd be looking at if I really wanted to get ahead of the curve.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:39:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why not power everything with DC? Most (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, Calamity Jean

      rectifiers can handle straight DC and for those that can't you can always bypass the rectifier and make your own DC stepdown circuit.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:49:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have never burned my hand on an LED. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, BrowniesAreGood

    This diary is horse shit.

  •  I bought two CFLs from major manufacturers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, kyril

    Neither one lasted over a month. LEDs have to be better.

    Some people have short memories

    by lenzy1000 on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:54:28 PM PST

  •  I had a LED bulb fail last week. It was in an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, badger, mrkvica

    outdoor fixture by the door to our deck and it was probably less than two years old and had been turned on very infrequently. I googled around a little to try to figure out what went wrong and didn't come up with anything.

    I have no idea about what could cause it to fail but it is on the north/wetter side of the house and we had several days of freezing temps. Is it possible it could fail because of a moisture and freeze/thaw situation? I replaced it with an incandescent that's working so I know it's not the fixture.

    It's not a hardship for us to spend more on light bulbs than we have in the past, so I'm not worried about it in that way, but I worry about expensive LED bulbs failing because there are a lot of people who would have a hard time replacing expensive bulbs frequently.

    We have several other LED bulbs that are doing fine, including others in outdoor fixtures. I did have a problem with most of the outdoor LED Christmas lights I bought in 2012 failing before the end of the 2012 season so I took them all back. We bought 3 LED strings this year and we still have them up and they're doing fine.

    •  I bought what looked like a replacement... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wa ma, badger

      ...for a conventional bulb a couple of years ago. I used it in the Luxo lamp (this was before I put the spot in). The light output was nothing to write home about, and it didn't last long. I wasn't surprised to see that the hardware store that I bought it from stopped carrying them. I bought the spot at Home Despot not long after that.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:08:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I'm not sure where we got the failed bulb. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, badger, Calamity Jean

        I'll have to ask my husband and see if he remembers. I did get a free bulb on Black Friday 2012 for being one of the first (100?) shoppers in line at one of the stores I went to. Maybe it was that one. If that's the case, I guess it's the classic "you get what you pay for" situation.

        •  I did better than that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          with a multi-led desk light. I got it at a store where at the time they offered a double rebate if they made a mistake on the price ticket on the shelves. It ended up with me taking the quite expensive light and a big waste bin for the kitchen and still being given money!

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:40:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  CFLs are more moisture sensitive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, wa ma

      and LEDs probably are too. It's the electronics - different for each one - needed to operate the tube or LED that probably fails.

      The CFL about 3 feet from out tub/shower fails more often than any other CFL in the house. The next closest are the CFLs in track lighting near the peak of the cathedral ceiling (heat failures). Our outdoor CFLs have been working for 3 or 4 years, but some outdoor incandescents have been going for around 15 years - they aren't on much.

      LEDs will probably handle vibration a lot better than incandescents, where the filament can break.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:46:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was It Rated for Outdoor Use? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wa ma, Joe Bob, badger

      When you get the replacement, I suggest looking at the packaging to see what it says about outdoor use. Some bulbs simply aren't designed for the moisture and temperature changes you'd have outdoors.

      Recent ones I looked at specified they could be used outdoors as long as they were protected from moisture.

      I have probably a dozen LEDs, which I've put in over the last couple of years, and none have failed.

    •  I guess I spoke too soon about this year's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, badger

      Christmas lights because one of the three strings has now stopped working. Ugh.

  •  Fears of LED's getting hot are over rated (6+ / 0-)

    Find one, leave it on  for a few hours and touch it. You'll be fine.

    You cant say the same for incandescents  , CFL's are in the middle.

    I tried to come up statement quantifying all the" if ands or buts" but it took to long. The short of it is under any reasonable situation a good LED bulb will last longer and be more energy efficient than good CFL's and incandescent.

    There may be some random magic scenarios where you can make the LED die more quickly, but they are unrealistic.

    " hype about lifetime " Customers are always disappointed,  LEDs are more or less simply better.

    The materials for LED's could be a problem, but its not like CFLs are problem free. I dont know which is worse mercury or gallium .

    The original article was nothing more than a hit job, because I think the author needed to write something (to get paid) and had no actual information to put down.

    "In other words,  totally unlike incandescent and substantially unlike a CFL, reliability and life expectancy go down hill sharply as soon as you install  it anywhere that air is restricted. Guess what?"

    Is simply factually incorrect, heat effects CFL's and incandescent as well.

    •  Gallium replaced mercury... (3+ / 0-)

      ...in fever thermometers. I suspect the gallium present in LED lamps isn't easier to get out if they are broken than if you break a CFL.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:11:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think gallium is hazardous (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, craiger, Calamity Jean, kurt, mrkvica, emelyn

        although it is fairly rare. Even if it is, it's chemically bound in the actual LED chip, and encapsulated in clear plastic. I don't think it's a hazard.

        If you want to scare people, tell them LEDs contain arsenic, because most do. It's also not dangerous in that form - not any more dangerous than dihydrogen monoxide, anyway.

        I suppose swallowing a few thousand LEDs might make you sick, though. But then there's guys who eat light bulbs too.

        No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

        by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:36:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A couple people have made this comment (7+ / 0-)

      and there's some confusion, because "LED" is used to mean two different things. An LED could be the entire bulb assembly - those probably don't get too hot. An LED can also mean the individual bits that light up inside the entire assembly. Those can get very hot without the whole bulb getting hot, and those are what the article is about.

      The filament in a light bulb can hit 5000F (yep, three zeroes after the 5), but the glass bulb gets nowhere near that. The LED that gets hot is essentially the filament of the entire assembly - it won't hit 5000F, but much over 200F it'll probably be toast. And the outside of the assembly, like the outside of a light bulb, won't be as hot.

      If you heat your oven to 500F, is the outside of the oven door that hot too? Because that's basically what your argument and "hit job" remark are claiming.

      The idea is that an LED will last a lot longer than either a CFL or incandescent. That idea is true if the entire assembly is well-designed and installed in a way that heat doesn't build up inside the device. If that's not true, then the idea of long life doesn't hold.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:53:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emelyn

        "That idea is true if the entire assembly is well-designed and installed in a way that heat doesn't build up inside the device. If that's not true, then the idea of long life doesn't hold."

        In any reasonable experiment you are wrong to imply that the lifetime of a LED bulb will be shorter than a CFL or incandescent.

        It is simply factually incorrect to imply that heat buildup will not negatively effect CFLs or incandescents.  

        For any equivalent bulb the LED will last longer in any reasonable situation,

        Now if you buy a bargain bin LED and a top of the line specialty CFL you may be able to artificially create a negative comparison.  

        For 99.9% of the situations, a LED bulb will simply last longer. Having worked with LED on a few short academic projects , I have never seen an LED burn out due to heat. additionally in my day to day life, I have never seen a LED burn out period.

        "If you heat your oven to 500F, is the outside of the oven door that hot too? "
        That implication has nothing to do with what I said, You can get LED's which are exposed to air, worst case scenario it is relatively easy to remove the shell of a bulb and do the experiment.
  •  I've used LED bulbs for years, since they cost (6+ / 0-)

    over $40 for a 40 watt replacement.  None of them has yet failed, even those in small metal outdoor lighting fixtures. Of course,it has yet to be 20+ years, but every single frequent use bulb in our house has been LED for years now. 5-6+ years.

    Not one failure and none are in the open air. Four of the bulbs are in closed, glass-shaded lamps which are used 6-8 hours every night. Not a failure.

    This article reminds me of a lot of paper napkin navel-gazing that is short on real experience. YMMV

    I call bullshit. YMMV

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:05:21 PM PST

  •  I've had LED bulbs for years now. (6+ / 0-)

    Not a single one of them has given up on me, including in spots where supposedly long-lasting CFL's quit on me after a mere half a year.  I even dropped one of them from a height of about 8 feet and it didn't break.  They are all name brand LEDs, though.

    I think this diary's concerns are overblown.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:42:27 PM PST

  •  The problem is fitting the "bulb" design. (5+ / 0-)

    If you design the fixture for an LED from the ground-up, with the current-limiting electronics somewhere away from the LED, and with adequate heat dissipation for the LED and the electronics, then LED lighting is great.

    The problem is trying to fit it into the form factor of the standard incandescent light bulb, and using line voltage.

    I think it will only be a matter of time before the idea of a "light bulb" that goes into a fixture is obsolete.

  •  It looks like as part of the House Budget deal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Simplify, badger

    announced today, there will be no enforcement of the ban on incandescent bulbs. Lovely.

    As part of budget deal, Congress blocks light bulb efficiency standards

  •  Misc. (5+ / 0-)

    Put a string of LED holiday lights up in your garage or storage spaces and leave them on 24/7. Costs less than a dollar a year  and is good for security and convenience.  

    ---------------------- Avaritia facit Bardus (greed makes you stupid)

    by Everbody on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:09:25 PM PST

  •  interesting new LED designs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, Liberal Thinking, mrkvica

    There are some interesting new designs for LEDs coming out that attempt to fix some of the problems, including heat dissipation:

    http://www.indiegogo.com/...

    still designed as a replacement 'bulb though

  •  I hadn't made the switch yet because (6+ / 0-)

    I worked in energy conservation for a few years and I measure everything in "pay back years" the number of years it takes to recoup the initial cost.

    I'd heard LEDs were pretty high, like ten or more, so I've stuck with CFLs which now pay for themselves in months.

    Interesting though. And it's great people are buying them up, better than a lot of things to be spending money on.

    Interesting responses. Geeks coming out of the woodwork, all that scientific type talk that I love.

    Great post.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:18:57 PM PST

  •  Check your sources... (7+ / 0-)

    The EDN bit is a blog post.  The author of the blog post owns a company which is trying to sell thermal management technology for LED lighting.  He throws some numbers around, but provides no empirical support for the numbers he cites.  I can reach out and touch the base of the 75W equivalent LED lights in the table lamp next to me, and while they are warm to the touch, they are no where near 85C.  In fact, they are cooler than my hot water which I have set at about 48C.  

    •  See the comment above about what an LED is (8+ / 0-)

      either the assembly (which probably doesn't get very hot) or the components inside (which can).

      Before it burned out, the microprocessor temperature on one of my computers (the temp is inside the processor, measured with a diode) could hit 90C. That didn't mean the steel case of the computer was too hot to touch - it was still room temperature. It's the same thing here.

      As I asked above, if your oven is at 500F, is the outside of the oven door at 500F too? That's what you're arguing. The oven door stays cool because there's poor heat transfer from inside to outside. That's good for ovens. Generally, that's not good for anything electronic. The fact that you can touch the LED assembly comfortably may be (doesn't have to be, but could be) a bad thing that endorses the article.

      Nevertheless, I haven't claimed to know enough to endorse the article or not. The title is "Something to watch ...", and I think it's produced a  good discussion. It's also produced comments based more in ideology than engineering, but many fewer than I expected here, which I like. It's also produced comments based on experience, which suggest that even if lifetime were cut by some huge amount, like half, the fact that people only have the lights on a few hours a day still allows the LEDs to last for years, and probably longer than an incandescent or CFL.

      Hopefully you're not afraid of discussion or consideration of facts contrary to your world view. It's supposedly the other party that does that.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:07:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If that is the case... (0+ / 0-)

        Then LED lightbulbs are doomed.  His argument seemed to be that they were pegged in a normal base down installation in free air.  The CR advice is make sure that bulbs are rated for an enclosed fixture if that is where you intend to use them (CFL's too, since they have a ballast in the base).

        Also I would hope that if the internal components (in the case the DC power supply) are running at 85C that the base of the bulb would be at 85C, otherwise Houston we have a problem, because heat will continue to build up.  As long as ventilation is adequate you should be good to go.

        Believe it our not, this worrying about every last detail is a fairly common trait among engineers.  I know I suffer from it when I design software.  I know I can never handle or envision every corner case which might arise (especially with user input) so in the end you do the best you can while still meeting specs, budget and schedule constraints.  I suspect that if a bulb is compatible with the fixture you are using it in that everything will be fine.

        •  The point of the article is that not all LED bulbs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          craiger

          are compatible with all fixtures, not that all LED bulbs are doomed.

          As to your comment about 85C - nope, that's wrong. Heat flow is the same (mathematically) as Ohm's law.  If you put 10 volts across two equal resistors, each one will have 5 volts across it. That doesn't imply the 10 volts will continue to increase without limit - it won't change at all.

          Temperature is analagous to voltage. Heat flow is a current analog. The material between the LED and the outside air is a thermal resistor. The LED inside the bulb can sit at 85C all day and the outside of the complete assembly can be at 0C if sitting outside in cold air (that may not happen for real world bulbs, but it would be possible). Just as in the Ohm's law example, there's a temperature drop across the thermal resistance.

          Same as a light bulb - the filament is at 1900C to 3000C, but the glass bulb is at around 125C or less. The heat flow to the glass and from the glass to the air is what makes the temperature of the glass lower.

          This is pretty basic physics, for example if you've ever done a thermal calculation for a house (heat loss, furnace size, etc), or a heatsink design for electronic gear. Yours and similar comments are confusing temperature (degrees C or F or K) and heat (basically related to watts or some other units) and how they're inter-related through thermal resistance (a function of things like package material and design).

          Good engineers worry about every last detail - when they forget about things like O-rings in cold weather or ice knocking off heat shield tiles, in the extreme cases, people die. LEDs aren't likely to kill anyone - that doesn't mean they shouldn't perform to specs and expectations, or that they shouldn't be deployed correctly and responsibly. When people don't think about problems thoroughly and holistically, unintended consequences almost always come back and bite them in the ass. Like most software (and I maintained a large open source project for about 8 years).

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:57:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  No LED failures at our house (5+ / 0-)

    We have multiple types, many in enclosed ceiling fixtures, etc.  So far so good.

    Obama is still my guy.

    by AKguy on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:28:54 PM PST

  •  We replaced our incandescents with LEDs & CFLs (5+ / 0-)

    - when we moved into the house, to increase energy efficiency.

    One CFL has died.  The LEDs are all fine.  It's been about four years now.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:03:38 PM PST

  •  This is not a well-informed diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emelyn

    Gallium is not rare.  Further the amount used wouldn't even approach any kind of resource problem.

    Second, LED lights are not producing "more heat" than other bulbs.  The problem is one of surface area.  LEDs are very small and that heat has to be wicked away quickly from the tiny surface of the LED.  It's a technical engineering challenge only.

    •  From wikipedia: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, kurt, mrkvica
      Gallium does not exist in free form in nature, and the few high-gallium minerals such as gallite (CuGaS2) are too rare to serve as a primary source of the element or its compounds. Its abundance in the Earth's crust is approximately 16.9 ppm. Gallium is found and extracted as a trace component in bauxite and to a small extent from sphalerite. The amount extracted from coal, diaspore and germanite in which gallium is also present is negligible. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates gallium reserves to exceed 1 million tonnes, based on 50 ppm by weight concentration in known reserves of bauxite and zinc ores. Some flue dusts from burning coal have been shown to contain small quantities of gallium, typically less than 1% by weight.
      That certainly doesn't describe a common mineral. Although the USGS reserve estimate is one I hadn't seen before, and if that's correct and extractable, there is a substantial supply even at 10X current consumption. Indium, which is also used in some LEDs, is estimated to have viable reserves of only 6000 tonnes, and usage is already higher than gallium.

      As with some other comments, you're confusing heat with temperature. LEDs produce less heat than incandescents by a substantial amount. LEDs can still get hot enough to shorten their life or fail - the actual LEDs inside the lamp, not the entire assembly - if they don't dissipate the heat they produce effectively. And it happens at lower temperatures than incandescents operate at.

      Of course it's a technical engineering challenge, but it appears it may be one that hasn't been successfully addressed yet for some applications. That's kind of the point of the article. Maybe you didn't read it.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:50:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I could direct your attention (0+ / 0-)

        to this chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/...) you can see that Gallium is in fact the number 35 in abundance. Further if you notice the first couple that are relatively more abundant or only slightly so.

        Gallium is very common and it's presence in bauxrite is one of the major reasons it's used in semi conductors.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:14:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, Umm, CFL's are also at risk.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, badger

    The electronic control circuits in the base of compact FL's also need to be cooled, we put a 23W unit in an old bathroom fixture and went on to smell burning electronics whenever the light has been on for a while.

    LED's are far worse, and it requires the ENTIRE LAMP to be designed with cooling in mind.

    Maybe we should revisit the design and efficiency of the original lightbulb? :)

    You know, if we were all generating tons of Solar/Wind electricity, who the hell would care about lightbulb efficiency?

  •  Light and Heat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    First, if you are replacing recessed lights, you should just use the right replacements. For example, here's a page from Lowe's: recessed lighting. The important point is to make sure there is enough air flow that the heat doesn't build up. Generally, these fixtures have openings that dump the excess heat into the space above the fixture. (I'm not plugging Lowe's; it's simply the first website that came up in the search. I suspect you'd get the same results with any large company.)

    Since LEDs generate far less overall heat than incandescent bulbs, they should operate well in most places where you would put an incandescent. I have several, and I've used them for months. Most of mine are in lamps, where there is no enclosure.

    I have one in a globe enclosure (about a six-inch globe) and the globe itself doesn't get noticeably warm. I suppose if I left it on for a long time, it might heat up, but it has been in use for months and hasn't failed.

    There are LED "light engines" made for all different applications. Buyers simply need to look for the kind of replacement depending on the use. They should also check the packaging for limitations. For example, many LEDs are not designed to be used outdoors, where they would be exposed to moisture and extremes of temperature.

    So, yes, you could create a heat problem if you put an LED into a totally enclosed space that was too confined for it to radiate off the extra heat. The best advice to avoid this is to read the package before you buy and get what you actually need.

  •  Vibration? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, mrkvica, wa ma

    Sadly, I am late to this diary, but have read the comments with interest, and I have a question.

    My application has overhead lights that are subject to pretty serious vibration. I have been using CFLs, and they fail pretty quickly. It seems the ceramic portion of the base separates from the glass portion of the lamp under the vibration stress.

    I have replaced the CFLs with LEDs, and don't yet know how their lifespan will compare. But, these are in a hayloft, and I have them in vapor-tight fixtures. Some comments here have made me concerned about heat build-up in those fixtures. Why can't anything be simple?

    Any well-informed advice would be most welcome!

    Alpacas spit if you annoy them. So don't do that.

    by alpaca farmer on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:14:19 AM PST

    •  Just a guess, but I'd expect LEDs to work best (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alpaca farmer

      in high vibration situations (CFLs second best, incadescents - which have a fragile filament - worst).

      The problem (and I'm at fault for either not knowing or not making it more clear) is only with certain LED bulb packages, specifically the kind that replace plain old light bulbs. The type is an A-19 LED bulb.

      The heat buildup problem appears to be internal to the bulb, not a fire hazard type of heat buildup (for example, I wouldn't use a quartz/halogen type bulb in your application, unless I was trying to collect on insurance), and the result is shortened bulb life.

      However, with a vapor tight fixture (and no air flow) and vibration, bulb life is always going to be a problem. If the lights aren't on a lot of hours per day, an LED bulb might still be the best solution. It should handle the vibration better, and it's very long life, even if shortened, should still allow it to the last longer than alternatives. And you still save a lot of energy over incandescents.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:08:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the info. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, wa ma, badger

    I have wondered if I was the only one experiencing very short lifetime with LED bulbs--base up, in ceiling fan fixtures with a glass surround.

    As a physical chemist I find your explanation makes perfect sense.

    I wonder what options will be available for ceiling fans going forward.

    •  We use a CFL in the globe below our ceiling fan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      political mutt

      and they seem to last a reasonable length of time. I haven't kept track, but it's a pain bringing in the ladder to change the bulb - it's about 15 feet up hanging from a cathedral ceiling - and I haven't had to do it often. We use that light maybe 5 hours a day in winter, maybe 4-5 days per week.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:14:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  New shades are needed. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, badger

    Why can't enclosures have open areas to help air flow, and cooling?

    I understand how a ceiling light that is fully enclosed will simply bake with heat.  What if that ceiling light was enclosed with a design that allowed heat to escape?

    Would that help?

     

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:55:29 AM PST

  •  Gilligan's Island (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, badger

    There was an episode of Gillian's Island where a much needed light bulb burns out. Mr. Howell, the rich industrialist, insists that light bulbs should be built to last and last. Gilligan points out that the light bulb is made by the Howell corporation. Mr. Howell whines  'well you can't have them last forever, we would go out of business.'

    So, perhaps there is a built in failure rate to keep people buying new light bulbs.

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:36:00 AM PST

    •  isn't one of Edison's still burning? (0+ / 0-)

      ok, geezus, not burning like combustion, but burning like still on and working.

      and by working I mean functioning not putting mass thru a distance working. god, tech talk when the lawyers and PR spinners show up!!

      Badger, I am sorry to nag but I had to read all this to get to the point where people are finally agreeing that replacing a LED bulb into a fixture designed for an incandescent is not a fire hazard, only, maybe...maybe one of reliability and public acceptance.

      So would it be too much to put that somewhere in your diary that this is no more a fire hazard type problem than an improperly used or installed incandescent bulb, such as in a can lighting that has been subsequently insulated, capturing and not dissipating the heat generated?...or are you saying it is a fire hazard, more than incandescent?...cause there is so much parseing so far that I have a headache and it's not from bad lighting..

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:58:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  LED lights are an aesthetic crime (0+ / 0-)

    /

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:36:52 AM PST

  •  Thermal management is an issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    with all solid state devices.  It is true that there may be some problems with people sticking LEDs into old legacy fixtures that are not properly designed to provide the sort of air flow and heat sinking that these devices will require for their longest lifetime.  Transitions are never problem free.  But ultimately it will be well worth the effort and expense.  

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      and should have made that point in the diary. Some good commenters, fortunately, have clarified the issue better than I did.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:15:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, badger

    Was considering switching to LEDs after switching to CFLs and seeing my electric bill drop substantially but we'll stick with the CFLs. The ones we installed four years ago still are going strong. We basically replace incandescents when they fail with CFLs.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:12:02 AM PST

    •  I'm pretty neutral at the moment (0+ / 0-)

      about LEDs vs CFLs, but I should have made it more clear that the problem is for a specific type of LED bulb (A-19) in specific (low air-flow) fixtures/situations. Some of the commenters have pointed that out.

      I suppose I should do a comparison (power consumption, economics, operating life) of both types, but I'm too lazy, and we've been using CFLs since the 1990s, so I'm not in a rush to change. And we pay less than 3 cents/kWh for electricity, so it isn't a big savings, if any.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:21:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I bought a special CFL... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wa ma, badger, Kickemout

    ... for the lamp post in my front yard. It has a light sensor on it to detect dusk and dawn, so the light can stay on through the night and turn off at morning.

    It lasted about an hour and a half. I figured it must have been defective, and replaced it with another. That one lasted about 40 minutes.

    I got to thinking about it and I think the problem is that the light sensor detects the light and turns it off, then it's dark and it turns back on -- faster than the eye can see, so it burns itself out from turning on and off multiple times per second.

    Stupid engineering, if you ask me. For this scheme to work, the sensor would have to be separated from the bulb and shaded from itself, while still allowing it to see ambient light.

    The lesson: Don't bother with light-sensing outdoor lights.

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:19:37 AM PST

  •  You are way smarter than me, badger (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    and so I appreciate both your diary and all the similar smart engineering geeks this topic brings out.  I just try and read and learn.  

    Frankly, I can't use the flickering lights in most of my living spaces because they trigger migraines in me.  I don't like the color temperature of CFLs and LEDs, I'm old fashioned that way, too, I guess.  I still use Xenon bulbs in some of my flashlights, though more LEDs have crept in.  

    HOwever, I look forward to you genuinely smarter men and women who can figure out all this technical stuff for me, until then, I just want to thank you all for the learning lurking I get to do, today.  

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:55:44 AM PST

  •  LED Failure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    Thanks so much for this "very" informative article. Over the years I have replaced almost all my incandescent bulbs with CFLs and have recently been purchasing some LED's (some with the fixtures, got two carriage lanterns from Sam's Club). I replaced most of my 12v yard lights with LED's fixtures when they go on sale. My experience, thus far, has been mixed with LED's. The 2 lantern fixtures I bought at Sam's Club came with 3 candle opera LEDs per fixture. All 6 of the bulbs burned out within a couple of months (replaced with CFLs). My LED yard lights began going out within months of purchase. I thought it might be cheap resistor/capacitors being utilized. Other LEDs I have in single fixtures or exposed directly to air seem to be doing just fine.

    •  There is a real range of quality levels (0+ / 0-)

      with CFLs and I expect with LEDs too. We've had CFLs last only a few months and others last for years - in the same fixture. Name brand doesn't seem to make a difference either, nor price.

      I haven't figured out a way to judge, other than the cheap CFLs we bought at Costco, and the free ones from our utility, seem to do well.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:27:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My CFLs didn't last remotely as predicted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    so I am going with LEDs. I don't know whether it was bad manufacturing, something about the fixture or ambient temp, or what. I'm not much of a home repair guy.

  •  No failures yet for us (0+ / 0-)

    We have one that's at least 5 years old in an enclosed fixture that's on 6-8 hours a day. Four more are 4+ years old and are on 10 hours a day (on a timer). The rest are all a little newer, but there are 26 of them by my count, in all different kinds of fixtures. We don't have any LED-specific fixtures, just the 25+ year old house fixtures and a few lamps. We have yet to have a single one fail.

  •  So little science in this diary and I hope others (0+ / 0-)

    understand this.  There is no real heat issue with LED lights.  Gallium also has a low melting temperatue so they could not use this metal if the temperature went up to 85C as gallium melts at 29.5C.

    •  please proceed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, johanus

      What does the melting point of elemental gallium have to do with a solid state device based on gallium arsenide phosphide?

      "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

      by craiger on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 03:33:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's getting way too complicated for me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, Amber6541

    ..I just wish that as a customer of light bulbs -- I refuse to call myself a light bulb consumer since I don't eat them -- so as a customer/buyer I find this is getting too complicated for me.
    I've been saving up to buy some LEDs for all the recessed lights I have, but now maybe not? CFLs make me want to tear my eyeballs out.
    I like bright rooms, but I also want to pay less for that and 'do the right thing' . As much as I want to do the 'right' thing, I find that I'm paralyzed by doubt on this topic.

    Also, I can't afford to experiment with the price of LEDs & CFLs due to the costs. <-- That's important!
    Then we had the kitchen lights re-done and we had to install a certain type of fixture (for code) and now I can't find bulbs to fit..... CFLs have different insertion thingies, so I can't replace the bulbs without paying another electrician to replace the recessed fixtures.

    WHAT'S A PERSON TO DO??

  •  This diary overstates the problem (0+ / 0-)

    pretty dramatically.  We have 43 LED bulbs of various sorts in our house in a variety of fittings (most of them base up). We started to use them 4 1/2 years ago.  One blew after less than a year and was replaced under warranty.  The others are still working just fine.  The fluorescent bulbs we used previously did not last as long and contained mercury.  Incandescent bulbs don't last very long at all and use lots of electricity.  LED bulbs are much cooler than flourescent or incandescent bulbs, but it is particularly important that the LEDs themselves be cooled.  That is why companies put a lot of effort into developing effective heat sinks.

    I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

    by Eric Blair on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:17:40 PM PST

  •  Better alternative (0+ / 0-)

    Which is just one reason why florescent lighting is better.  You can get 'warm' 2,800 kelvin light fluorescent bulbs if you want a light tone similar to incandescent bulbs.  The tube type with electronic ballast is best.  CFL's are also oversold.

    Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

    by BenFranklin99 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:00:42 PM PST

  •  I changed over to all LED fixtures and bulbs (0+ / 0-)

    almost 8 months ago, and haven't seen any heat problems whatsoever, including the enclosed can lights made by Lithonia Lighting that are at Home Depot.

    Even the LED's that fit in regular sockets are heavily finned for heat dissipation, and put out a minimal amount of heat.

    CFL's suck eggs compared to LED's IMHO.

    I am inclined to call BS on this diary.

  •  HOLD THE PHONE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    otto

    Every LED manufacturer worth ANYTHING will label their product with an enclosure rating. Yes, the majority of mass-market A19 LEDs produced to date are not enclosure-rated. But they put that on every package.

    The Switch line of LEDs have been enclosure-rated all along, and they just added the new Infinia line that's much more affordable than their original high-end bulbs but leverages all the same tech. They come in 40W and 60W equivalents, both with a built-in liquid cooling system (no joke) and a lifetime warranty.
    http://www.amazon.com/...

    Feit makes a really nice dimmable LED bulb that's enclosure-rated and moisture-tolerant - 7.5W (40W equivalent).
    http://www.amazon.com/...

    I have been using almost 20 of the Feit bulbs for close to a year now and they are all going strong, aside from one that failed immediately and was replaced for free. Switch Infinia is my new standard for any future installs because the light comes out slightly warmer; I can't personally testify to its durability but the warranty is solid and the company is an industry leader.

    Basically, tldr: enclosure-rated LEDs exist; use them where needed.

    •  I've had good luck with these (0+ / 0-)

      No enclosure rating on the box, and I've just used them in table lamps (I use Phillips LEDs in ceiling cans, so far with no problems), and not dimmable, but sometimes on sale for as little as $4 ($5.23 today), 50 watt-equivalent, much nicer light that any CFLs we've had (and we've had many). Now, I've only had them in for a few months. But a couple dozen, with no failures:

      http://www.1000bulbs.com/...

      Shipping gets spendy with that source, so mostly makes sense for ordering multples.

  •  The critical point is good engineering. (0+ / 0-)

    That is, engineering for the application.  In the house we built 3 years ago we installed (American made) LEDs in all our ceiling can lights.  Those LEDs, some with significant daily use have huge radiating surfaces and are designed to create turbulent flow which is more effective in increasing heat conductance.  No problems with any of them.  But I did have to do homework before making the decision.

    In all other applications we use incandescents since not buying chinese-made is a greater issue than energy use.  But now I'm seeing poorly designed LEDs from china that are made to mimic light bulbs, giving the impression that they are bulb replacements.  They have not been designed properly, they have not been engineered properly, and I suspect the manufacturing quality is crap or components that are at the edge of burn-in failure are used.

    I'm waiting to see the shake out with bulb-style LEDs.  Meanwhile I really like them.  I dive, and LED lighting has revolutionized the power that one may have for night diving.  I have a unit that is exceptionally bright and does need to be water cooled otherwise it will overheat.  After one trip when an ignorant TSA agent left it on in my luggage I now secure the redundant switches and attach a note.

  •  Long-term, this is a non-issue (0+ / 0-)

    The problem arises because lamp sockets intended for incandescent bulbs are designed to prevent heat loss (making the lamp a bit more efficient because it's heat that generates the light). That's why sockets are made out of heat-resistant, non-conductive materials like ceramic.

    LEDs don't use heat to generate light (which is why they're so much more efficient). They are a type of semiconductor, and heat is the enemy of semiconductors.

    Designing an LED bulb to retrofit an incandescent socket is, therefore, hard, and compromises must be made. It's why you see big finned metal heat sinks on many LED bulbs.

    Eventually we'll have new lamp sockets designed to remove excess heat, not conserve it, and this problem will go away.

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 09:07:53 AM PST

  •  "I Want Some LED Lights": Lighting Designers Speak (0+ / 0-)


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