Buying advice for LED light bulbs, to replace Fluorescent (CLF) and Incandescent.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by PracticalMac, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. PracticalMac, Aug 6, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018

    PracticalMac macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    Buying advice for LED light bulbs, to replace Fluorescent (CLF) and Incandescent (use as general advice, many minor variations)

    Over last 4 years I have been replacing all the CFL and Incandescent bulbs to LED.
    Along the time I have found good and bad LED products, so here is my advice in brief format.
    This advice is to replace typical old style bulbs, not special design, but be free to take advantage of off the exciting new lamp designs not limited to the screw socket!
    NOTE: LED is so superior to CFL by every metric, and with the chemical hazards, CFL should be removed and properly disposed of ASAP.

    Selection advice:
    LED's offer excellent variety and range of brightness, but 2 factors to consider:
    • Brightness, typically known by "watts" (40, 60, 75, 100, etc), now look for "Lumin" (100, 200, 400, 1000, etc)
    • Color or Temperature, known as "Kelvin". 2700 is a "Soft white" of "warm" glow. 5000 is "Natural" or "Cool white", which is close to afternoon sunlight.
    • Frequency, or "banding" on cameras. Good quality LED produce a completely steady illumination. Cheaper units are not as good filtering, looking at bulb with camera you will see banding on image.
    • Noise: Cheap units also produce an annoying buzz.
    • Dimable: if you need LED compatible with old style dim control, you need to choose bulb that support this!
    • Location: LED's bulbs may not fit some fixtures (A21 size), or not be ideal for some locations.
    • NOISE!: cheap bulbs produce annoying buzz!! Check for this when installed, replace immediately!

    Choose a Lumen and Kelvin for area. In Kitchen, utility room, and Garage go with high lumen (600+) and K (5000) for best visibility. Highly recommended with outdoor lights, closets, and some lights in bathroom. For bedroom a less bright (600 or less) and orange (2700K) to better mimic dusk and dawn light.

    Sylvania / Osram: Best bulbs I have found. Great light, no banding, no buzz, reasonable price!

    Ikea brand is super cheap!! They are lower end, low Lumen bulbs, but for fixtures with many bulbs are a great choice! Recommended!
    Lowes brand Utilitech I was pleasantly surprised with (but only purchased a few bulbs)

    GE bulbs, have tried several, and was generally less than impressed, with a few bulbs actually slightly noisy. GE offeres a slightly cooler 2850k light that does look great.


    Wal-Mart "Great Value". NOISY, NOISY, NOISY!! I kept returning the bulbs because of buzz.
    buzz buzz buzz! Some noisy enough can hear in next room!!

    There are a few exceptions where the old style Incandescent is recommended over LED:
    Extremely hot places, like attics. Electronics lifespan is shorter the hotter it gets.
    Rarely used places, like attics. At 1/5 the cost, why spend more when the bulb is used twice a year?
    and one to consider:
    Very Humid locations, LED bulbs may not be designed to resist high humidity, and water and electronics do not like each other. There are special outdoor LED with waterproofing, but need look out for them.

    Other opinions and experiences posts welcome.
  2. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    LEDs do still have some of the issues CFLs had. They don’t play nice in enclosed fixtures. Moisture is a problem. And some of them do give off a frequenccy hum. Color science is improving with every new generation and the range of sizes is improving. I’ve changed my floods out with LED to great results.
  3. CreatorCode macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2015
    Cree has the best reasonably-priced, high-CRI bulbs I know of.

    I've also had good results with Philips.
  4. ehrens macrumors member


    Nov 4, 2013
    the 651
    We have an awful lot of Philips bulbs as well. We even have some in (gasp) enclosed fixtures and they all seem to work pretty well. The only LED bulbs we have that aren’t Philips are some GE decorative bulbs with the candleabra base, ones that were made specifically for an enclosed fixture.
  5. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    A coupe of things I pay attention to: CRI and output. If there's no CRI metric in the online page, don't bother. The brand names have 80+ or 85+, and higher is better. I try to have more LED lumens than tungsten lumens, as for me the additional light seems needed when replacing. So for a 60-watt (800 lumen) bulb, I try to replace with a 1000 lumen LED.

    All of my enclosed fixtures have LEDs, and no problems after several years. Something else to be aware of is bulb size: A19, A20, A21. The A21 is a physically larger bulb that a standard incandescent and may not fit in certain fixtures or shades. More of a problem with higher output bulbs.

    I am very happy with LEDs, which has improved the lighting and significantly reduced our electrical bills.
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    I first went with Cree bulbs since they were cheaper. I placed them in the majority of fixtures. Some started failing within a couple months after two years all of them failed. Each case something came loose inside. If you tapped them they would flicker on then go back out. After the first couple failed I used Philips in all remaining fixtures and replaced each Cree bulb when they failed with a Philips. I haven't had any problems with Philips bulbs.
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    My house (2 floors) is almost 100% LED, and that's been for the past two years. All are recessed. I'm very satisfied. The only issue has been a pair of Philips small recessed ones on a dimmer -- noise and flickering. I've been too lazy to troubleshoot, because that pair doesn't get a lot of use.

    As far as color temperature goes, I chose GE "Reveal" for the larger bulbs, because it's a slightly warmer bulb than the others. Obviously tastes will vary.

    Maybe not everybody knows that Home Depot accepts CFL bulbs for recycling (or proper disposal . . . I don't know what they actually do with them).
  8. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    Lowes also accepts, as do city recycle facilities. Although if they are good, may donate to charity (why fill land if still useful?)

    on subject, Home Depot has a 60w version of its brand, and they have a high fail rate.
    I think they get too hot and fail, too small of heat sink. Goes to show that LED can also have poor reliability.

    About GE bulbs:
    Offer a huge variety, but quality is all over place. Basically I avoid as much as possible. That said when a bunch of GE was 1/2 price sale, did get a few of them (and those models where good).

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