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Tag: LED bulbs

Which Bulb Should You Buy for a Porch Light?

If you’re not sure which light bulb you should be using in your outside porch light, you’re not alone. Here’s the story of my journey to a solution…

My house has an porch-light fixture above my front door. The long, cylindrical fixture’s bottom is technically open to the outside elements, but the bulb is protected.

You can spot the bulb if you look deep into the fixture after you ring my doorbell. If I take my time getting to the door, and if you’re a tech geek like me, you might wonder what kind of light bulb I use. Funny you should ask…

Every six months or so for the past ten years, the bulb has burnt out, and I have to replace it. Each time, I’ve found myself faced with the dread of not exactly knowing which one I should be using. And that has usually led me to a moment of self-reflection and uncertainty about my place in the universe.

Because I’ve come this far in life, and I can’t quite figure out what it takes to screw in the proper light bulb. It blew out again last week. So I decided it was finally time to figure this out…

How Many Words Does it Take to Screw In a Light Bulb?
First off, it’s not like I’ve been entirely oblivious in my past attempts to choose the correct bulb. Previously, I’ve used GE outdoor incandescent postlights with bent tips. I’ve assumed that because they’ve carried the name ‘postlight’ they’re designed to weather the outside elements as long as they’re protected from rain. They’ve operated just fine, even though they must get a little damp now and again.
(I hope I’ve not been tempting fate.)

Unfortunately, I can’t find these GE bulbs anymore on Amazon. Plus, they’ve always been difficult to unscrew, because my fixture is so long and I can barely get my fingers in far enough to get a grip on the bulb. So, I’ve always wanted to find a bulb that’s a little taller.

And did I really mention the word ‘incandescent” earlier? What an embarrassment.
Yes, you’re right… I should have found an LED replacement by now.

Amazon Stumbles
So I went back to Amazon and began searching for ‘LED Postlight’ and ‘Porch Light’ bulbs.

Strangely, nothing popped up that talked about outside use or all weather construction.

Frustrated with my inability to use Amazon for immediate gratification on a Saturday morning, I invited my fourth grader to go with me on a light-bulb adventure to our local The Home Depot. And we drove off…

The Value of One-to-One Human Interaction
You can easily find hundreds of conflicting product opinions online for just about anything you’re looking for. Call me old-fashioned, but I still value the opportunity to walk into The Home Depot, find someone wearing an orange smock and ask my question. Over the years, I’ve usually received great advice at The Home Depot. And this time was no different…

I found my expert hovering in the lighting section and told him my story. I held up my burnt-out incandescent bulb and waited for his response.

He stared into space for just a moment and then directed me to a ‘Philips F15 Postlight dimmable LED’ that costs $4.47.

Illuminating
The packaging displayed a picture of a glowing outside lamp post. The fine print said “Do not use where directly exposed to water. Only install in operating environments between -4 degrees and +113 degrees Fahrenheit.”

I figured I was covered…

So, I bought the 7-watt LED, and my son and I drove home. When I installed it, the bulb was much easier to grip, and it powered up just fine. So, what more is there to talk about…?

Well, I wondered why I couldn’t find this Philips LED on Amazon. So jumped back online and typed in “Philips F15 Postlight.”

And there it was…
Philips LED Dimmable F15 Soft White Light Bulb

But the description didn’t promote it as a ’Postlight.’
And the technical details listed “Indoor use only.”

Still, there was that same photo on the packaging with the outdoor light post.

And in the user reviews, several talked about successfully using this bulb as their porch light.

The Fine Print
So what should we make of all of this?

I’m detecting a certain industry ‘hedge’ when it comes to screwing in light bulbs outdoors. No, my Philips LED doesn’t have a “use at your own risk outside” warning label. In fact, on the base of the bulb, the fine print said, “suitable for damp locations.”

So what’s the problem?

Well, Philips still seemingly prefers that you use its ‘postlight’ indoors.

But lamp posts live outside. And so does my porch light.

This Philips LED model number is #9290011822.
I’ll let you know how it goes…

Why Would Anyone Buy a Finally Bulb?

This new ‘Finally’ bulb promises to take you back to the future in a big way where LED bulbs have failed… finally. But is the LED bulb juggernaut already too far ahead?

This new ‘Finally’ bulb promises to take you back to the future in a big way where LED bulbs have failed… finally. But is the LED bulb juggernaut already too far ahead?

I know… It looks like I’m about to be particularly judgmental and disapproving. That’s not my intention. I’m just confused. Really.
(Admittedly, not the first time)

Here’s my back story…

Bumping into the Future?
So I was shopping at my local Ring’s End store last weekend for a replacement lawn sprinker.
(You may recall I had a meltdown last year when I realized that all of my garden hoses were very likely toxic… including the one that fed our vegetable garden.
So I replaced them all with hoses made by ‘Water Right.)

On my way out, I walked past a stack of boxed light bulbs on a table.

You know how I am about light bulbs.
(I’m like a moth.)

These were no ordinary LED bulbs.
No…

They were something new.

Newer than LED?
Well, I had never seen one before…

They were ‘Acandescent’ bulbs made by a Massachusetts company called
The Finally Light Bulb Company.
(No, not incandescent. ‘Acandescent.’)

I turned to the marketing rep, who was manning the table.

“What’s this?”

She explained to me that this new Finally light bulb used plasma to create its glow.

“Plasma?”

“Yes,” she explained.
“Finally emits a warmer light than LED bulbs, and it will help you sleep better at night.”

Uh huh.

“So this is a plasma bulb.”

She stared at me.

“That’s not the name of the bulb,” she responded politely.
(I actually think that would be an awesome name- the ‘Plasma Bulb!’)

And then she told me that Finally was running a promotion on its 100-watt model.
(Two for the price of one)

Well, I always love a deal. But I didn’t really need any extra 100-watt bulbs.

And then she told me that Finally bulbs can’t dim.
(That capability is coming next year.)

So I walked out on Finally, finally.
But I decided to do a little more research when I got home…

What is a Finally Bulb?
First off, the Finally bulb isn’t so new. This Acandescent bulb was introduced back in 2014 and released to the market in 2015.

Back then, I was still getting used to the mind-blowing introduction of LED bulbs.

Philips was one of the first out of the gate. Then Cree stormed the market.
(Other brands have also been showing up with lower price points.)

Beyond LED, I’ve had no clue there’s been a competing ‘breakthrough’ light bulb tech out there…

And what exactly is Acandescent technology?

Finally’s website describes it like this:

“Acandescence™ is a new lighting technology that utilizes induction to initiate and sustain a non-thermodynamic equilibrium plasma, coupled with state-of-the-art phosphors, to produce white light with the warm color of a typical incandescent light bulb.”

Make sense?
(Me neither.)

I think the bottom line is there’s a copper coil, a magnetic field and ‘plasma’ gas that together generate the light.

Here’s a page from Finally’s marketing materials that helps to explain…
How Acandescent Technology works

Acandescence Vs. LED
Okay… so we’ve got here another kind of light bulb.
Does the world really need it?
Is it going to topple the dominance of LED bulbs anytime soon?

Well, let’s look for a compelling reason to buy one…

Price

Ring’s End sells the 60-watt equivalent Finally bulb for $9.99.
So does Amazon Prime.
If you want to save a little bit, Amazon’s got the 6-pack for $53.94.
So that just breaks the $9 barrier.

And how does that compare to the competition?

Cree’s 60-watt Equivalent LED with the stripped-down 4Flow filament design is $7.97 at Home Depot.
Amazon Prime’s got it for $5.11 as an ‘Add-on’ item.

And Cree’s ‘Classic’ 60-watt LED is also currently available at Amazon as an Add-on item for $5.07.

So Finally isn’t your cheapest option, but depending on the brightness of the bulb you’re looking for, it’s not that much more expensive…

Energy Efficiency

Finally bulbs are fifteen times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. But LED bulbs took that prize years ago.
(And according to CNET, many LED bulbs today are slightly more efficient that Finally bulbs.)

Light Quality

This is the big selling point for Finally:
It’s supposed to replicate the look and omnidirectional light of incandescence. According to CNET, the Finally bulb does have even light distribution, but the quality of the light doesn’t live up to all of the hype.

Functionality

It can’t dim. (yet)
And it doesn’t actually pop instantly on.
(Takes a few seconds to get to full brightness)

Eh.

Mercury

Yes, you read correctly. There’s a small amount of mercury in the bulb’s plasma. Finally says the amount is small enough that it’s safe for landfills.
(I say… “Mercury?! Why would I want to bring any amount into my house?!”)

Size

The 60-watt models are physically smaller than the 100 watt, although they both have the same standard-size base. So if you’ve got a fixture with a tight squeeze, the 60-watt Finally could solve your problem.

Longevity

15,000 hours is great.
But some LEDs promise up to 25,000 hours.

Not Ready for Prime Time
I’m just not feeling it. Are you?

CNET’s 2015 review by Ry Crist totally hammered Finally.
He said it’s essentially CFL tech.
(Shudder)

And the bulbs aren’t as bright as advertised.

It’s almost a year later, and now Finally is suddenly showing up in stores like everything’s fine.
(Actually, I’m only seeing it for sale at Ring’s End and Staples.
…and Amazon.)

I feel like I must be missing something…

In Search of Tech Truth
I just don’t understand the glow of the Finally bulb.

To be totally transparent, I admit to firming up my point of view without actually having purchased or used a Finally bulb. But facts are facts… right?

Sure, maybe the light quality is better than the LED competition.
(Maybe.)

Even so… Will that make it competitive in the marketplace? Or will it end up being the Betamax to VHS’s crushing success.
(I know… an old reference for most of you)

I’ve been pretty happy over the past couple of years with my LED bulbs….

So I conclude this post inviting someone out there to set me straight.
Why buy a new Finally bulb instead of an already established LED bulb?

Please, help me to see the light.

And then maybe I’ll stop writing about light bulbs.

Finally.

Upgrading the Chandelier from Hell

One of these bulbs is not like the other. One of these bulbs just doesn’t belong… The good news is my father’s fifty-year-old chandelier has just entered the 21st century… invigorated with LED bulb tech.

One of these bulbs is not like the other. One of these bulbs just doesn’t belong… The good news is my father’s fifty-year-old chandelier has just entered the 21st century… invigorated with LED bulb tech.

For 50 years, the chandelier in my father’s dining room has been chewing up light bulbs. Year after year… Decade after decade…
It’s like the Guardian of Forever on “Star Trek.” Sitting there… as time streams about it, causing its fourteen bulbs to randomly fizzle.

Poof!
As a boy, I always felt like a day wouldn’t go by when one of these old school incandescent bulbs blew out.

In the chandelier’s early years, my parents happily fed it with a fresh supply of tiny candelabra bulbs. But recently, I’ve taken over the responsibility to maintain this relic.

My dad is quick to whip out his cell phone and call me every time one of the little 15-watt flames burns out…!
(Not that I mind coming by for dinner after I screw in a light bulb or two for him… He’s not quite nimble enough at 82 to climb the stepladder to reach the chandelier.)

And this is not the only electronic antique still hard at work in his apartment…
For example, the Sony cassette player from his ancient sound system was just fixed for the billionth time. Actually, the repair shop gave him a new ‘used’ unit instead of attempting to rebuild the old monster.
(Why a repair shop had a working cassette player hanging around is beyond me. But I digress…)

Time to Upgrade
I’d say over the last half century, the Lester family has literally screwed in over 2,600 bulbs into this freaking chandelier.
(That’s an average of one bulb a week for fifty years.)
Last week, I finally decided I’ve had enough…

It was time to make a change and find a more permanent lighting solution for the dining room.

The fix?
Upgrade to LED bulbs!
You know I have a soft spot for shiny LED tech.
(Plus, these bulbs last for years…)

Unfortunately, as I started to shop around on Amazon, I realized there wasn’t a lot of choice out there for this kind of replacement bulb. Though frustratingly fragile, little candelabra incandescent bulbs with their tiny bases are actually quite elegant. Their simplicity is difficult to replicate with the additional guts baked into the LED structure.

The closest I found in form factor was GE’s Energy Smart Bent Tip LED.
But this handsome replacement costs $15.21 per bulb!

That’s a huge jump in price from the standard GE incandescent 12 pack we’ve been buying. The short-lived beasties are easy to forgive when they net out at just over a buck a bulb.

As I pondered the value proposition of an expensive LED bulb replacement program, I thought I heard the evil song of the ‘incandescent bulb sirens.’ It gently compelled me to continue throwing dollar bills at our chandelier from hell.

But I remained undeterred in my mission…

An Eighteen-Year Fix
I eventually came upon this more affordable LED solution:

The TCP 3 watt non-dimmable bulb
It’s $11.99 for a six-pack.
We’re talking two bucks a bulb.
That’s still a big jump in price compared to Thomas Edison tech.
But it’s a ‘permanent’ fix.
(These LEDs are rated for an eighteen-year life span. When my father hits 100, I’ll buy him more bulbs for his birthday!)

Click.

Problem solved, right?

Not quite…

The Show is About to Begin
This particular LED’s form factor is different from the its incandescent cousin:

  • It doesn’t have a matching bent tip.
  • It’s built with a stubby, white base.
  • And it doesn’t dim.
    (Which isn’t a problem for my dad’s on/off chandelier)

So these TCP LEDs don’t really match the old bulbs…
…At all!!

After I considered the obvious discrepancy, I had a solution…

I decided to simply ignore the problem and rationalize it as a transitionary limitation! One day soon, my replacement program will be complete, and uniformity will be restored throughout the chandelier.

One remaining question:
Would my father actually buy into my evil plan to fuse LED tech onto his 1965 chandelier?
(No, I didn’t tell him I was about to create a ‘Franken-Lamp!’)

Fast forward to the moment of truth as I screwed in the first LED bulb…

It’s Alive!
I stepped back and looked at the ugly duckling.
Its light quality matched the others.
But who was I kidding…? It still stuck out.

The Ugly Duckling LED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oooh… maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

I turned to my father.
He looked up.
I listened for a response…

“Good. Let’s get some dinner.”
And then he walked away to get his coat…

Did I mention my dad’s vision isn’t quite 20/20 anymore?

Hey… he’s happy.
I’m happy.
The planet is happy. (We’re saving energy with LEDs.)

Our Guardian of Forever is set to shine bright through 2033…

Problem solved.

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