We love bringing a great deal on any kind of lighting supplies to our customers, and gladly broke the $10 mark on a quality BR30 LED in the last couple of months.
We're talking about a name brand -- TCP -- and we're talking about the highest CRI rating you're likely to find on an LED bulb. (This is its ability to render colors well.) We did a lot of digging, and think it may be the best value in BR30 LEDs out there.
But it looks like we weren't ready to stop there -- for a limited time, and while supplies last, we've made a great deal unbeatable by slashing another 20% off the price. Through June 11 or until we're out of stock, these bulbs are just $7.95.
Seriously, it is now time to relamp your home or office with LEDs. This option gives you an incredibly affordable option when choosing a quality bulb. But act quickly before they're gone.
Plenty of people are confused about the different types of start technologies used by fluorescent lighting ballasts, and we thought we'd put together a quick summary on rapid start, programmed rapid start, and instant start options.
First, consider rapid start and programmed rapid start as similar technologies. The first is used by older magnetic ballasts while the latter is a more refined version used by modern electronic ballasts. Both types effectively ramp up the voltage on a lamp to light it. This is a relatively "gentle" approach to getting it lit, and preserves the rated life of the lamp. It doesn't provide an "instant on" experience, but still provides light soon after the switch is turned on. These types of ballasts can be used in areas using occupancy sensors, or anywhere lights are frequently turned on and off.
Instant start ballast technology sends a more powerful, immediate surge of voltage to provide immediate light. But the power of the surge is a jolt to the lamp and can shorten its rated life if used too often, so this technology is generally used where lights will not be turned on and off frequently. Once the lights are on, this technology is more efficient than the other two, so it helps to reduce energy costs.
This video explains these points and a few more:
With so many advances in the world of LEDs, we thought we'd take time to update some of the old data online comparing this digital technology with the non-digital technologies of CFL and incandescent bulbs. This seems especially useful now that your average household incandescent has been phased out of production and importation, and many people have found that CFL bulbs don't last as long as they were first promoted to.
A Review of CFL Bulbs
Let's first touch on that point of CFLs: many packages originally said they would last (or have an average rated life of) 10,000 hours. However, this is under conditions that take advantage of how they work, which means using them in areas where they're typically left on at least 15 minutes at a time. In frequent "on/off" locations like bathrooms or closets, their lifespan could drop dramatically. CFLs also don't come on to full brightness right away, most don't dim, and most don't work well in the cold.
Having said this, they were an important option when people were starting to look for energy savings from their light bulbs, as they use only about 25% of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs. Usually for $5 or less (some years ago), you could replace your 50 cent incandescent bulb with something that would last 10 times as long (in fact more like 5 to 10 times as long), so the cost of the bulbs themselves evened out. Meanwhile, you would slash your energy bill.
Given that lighting makes up about 10% to 15% of a residential electric bill when you're using incandescent bulbs, this could cut electric bills by roughly 8% to 11%. And while LEDs in the early days were slightly more efficient than CFLs, they also cost around $20 to $40 per bulb and most people couldn't afford them.
But that's no longer the case, so now let's get an update on the world of LEDs.
A Review of Today's LED Bulbs
Today, CFL bulbs have continued to plummet in prices and you can sometimes pick them up for around $1 each. But meanwhile, LED bulbs have become affordable as well with prices ranging from $3 to $10 (depending on the quality and features) for household (A19) replacement bulbs. Or if you spent more, you could get "smart" LED bulbs, but that's a topic for another day.
Meanwhile, the efficacy of LEDs has continued to improve. This means they're producing more light, or lumens, for every watt of energy used. For instance, you can replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 13 or 14-watt CFL -- an efficacy of up to about 60. Early LEDs had a similar efficacy, and may have only saved you 1 watt in a 60-watt replacement.
But today's LEDs, while far lower in cost, have boosted their efficacy and now approach 100. This means you can save up to 4 or 5 watts per bulb. If this doesn't seem like much, keep in mind that the average light bulb is used for around 1.6 hours per day, or 500+ hours per year, and this difference could yield $3 to $4 in energy savings each year. So an LED could pay for itself against a CFL within 1-2 years and then start keeping money in your pocket every year after that. Not bad for a technology that may last you 20 years!
Plus, LED efficacy is expected to continue rising, and to reach around 150 by 2020.
Even better, the quality of LEDs continues improving as well. Today, some LED bulbs approach a 100 CRI, which means they score almost perfectly on the Color Rendering Index. (This is a complex topic, however, as different technologies render colors differently, even if scoring a similar number on this scale.)
Meanwhile, some LED technology now make the bulbs even more closely mimic incandescent bulbs, which provide a warm color that many people love. This new technology means that the bulbs not only mimic the color temperature of incandescent bulbs at full brightness, but they also get warmer -- like incandescent bulbs do -- when dimmed.
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