(You can ‘kind of see” my Bambusa Oldhami outside the “office / kids old room” window. It’s the very tall thing that is far back through the bulb. The bush nearer the window to the right is a Camelia and when in bloom is spectacular. That is my view most of the time when at the computer. A large number of “feathered friends” visit both and I get to watch them close up sometimes through the window.)
OK, I did a rapid ‘pick up’ of a bunch of incandescent bulbs in preparation for the January 1 criminalizing of the 100W incandescent in California. Along the way, we’ve learned some stuff.
and even had a little fun with it:
So what’s this posting about? A lightbulb that I’ve found I rather like. A lot. And it stays legal in California (and the rest of the USA) for “a while” (about 2018 for the rest of the USA, California? Who knows…)
It’s the Philips “EcoVantage” halogen bulb.
I initially went into it with “attitude” toward this bulb. The Greens have slowly pushed me from contributor to or member of The Sierra Club and Friends Of The Earth, over into the land of alienation. All due to the Moderate Greens allowing the Looney Greens to run the asylum. So I was pretty sure anything being pushed with “Eco” in the name was going to be trash and have issues. That it ‘survives’ the first cut of the Bulb Prohibition left me suspecting all sorts of machinations to force us (i.e. me) to buy a product I didn’t want.
The reality was quite different. (Which is why I’m happy to have my biases and bigotries, but also cheerily ignore them when doing research… because they are sometimes wrong and the only way you find out is to test them.)
The picture up top is one with a clear envelope being run ‘way dim’ on one of my dimmers. They also come in ‘frosted’ as you can see on this picture of the package:
Before going into the praises of this bulb, a couple of housekeeping bits.
Among the things we went over before was that the FIRST bulb to be whacked is the 100W and slowly over time other bulbs will be attacked until even the lowly 40W bulb takes a hit. (So those 60W incandescents I bought were a bit early, but that’s ok, they keep).
The law ‘cuts out’ at 2600 lumens (at present…) so there are clear “utility bulbs” in 150W that give 2750 lumens and are still available (along with 200W in both clear and frosted). I’d initially settled on these as my ‘working bulbs” as they do fine on a dimmer, even if the light is a bit yellowed by dimming.
“Rugged Service” bulbs are exempted, but they are very inefficient (some way more than others. FEIT was worst and Litetronics makes the best. GE in the middle at so-so.)
“Three Way” bulbs are presently exempted (and I’d had “issues” with the crappy ones I’d tried in prior years) so one reasonable strategy was to use a three-way incandescent on the low setting (most of the time) until that filiment burned out, then you have a ‘normal’ bulb after that. So a 50 – 100 – 150 would become a straight 100W after the 50w burns out. I’m using this strategy at present with the livingroom lamps. Well, I couldn’t wait for summer to find out if I could get a decent 3-way compact fluorescent, so I dropped about $25 on a couple of bulbs to test them. They are now much better than before (actually work!) and only have 2 minor issues that I’ve found.
First off, you have to be careful with picking the “Color Temperature”. I’ve got a GE bulb in 2700K that does a good match to the incandescent in the other lamp (that has a 15-135-150 bulb in it that is NOT available as a CFL). Except… the color shifts between “low” and “high”. So it’s a very good match on high, but looks just a tiny bit too ‘cool’ (or bluer, though still a yellow bulb) when on the low setting. Not so much it jumps out at you, but not enough for a clean ‘match’. Given that, I’ll only use the GE during summer months (when it does help keep the house cooler) while in winter I’m going to run the regular 3-ways as the heat is a feature. I also got an “Ecosmart” 50-100-150″ CFL that works very nicely (from Home Depot). It has a 3000K color temperature so looks significantly ‘whiter’ than an incandescent. It’s in my office lamp (that was holding the Halogen above for the picture) and a different lamp is on the dimmer now. A very nice lamp that lights quickly, makes a nice clean color, and is generally good. It does, however, interfere with my wireless connectivity if too close to the antenna…
Secondly, all the ‘3-way’ CFLs I found were in a very narrow range of brightnesses. You don’t get things like that 15-135-150 available…
A visit to Home Depot showed I can get a new dimmer that will actually work with my dimmable CFL bulbs (and supposedly my dimmable LED bulb) for a mear $40 to $50 each…. Oh, and it takes a special faceplate with a large rectangular hole in it so my nice hardwood toggle sized switch plates would need to be replaced. Doubt if I can find one that matches the rest of the woodwork though… So the “dimmer upgrade” is going on the slow track for ‘sometime in the next decade, maybe’ at which time I’ll try CFLs in dimmer circuits again. Until then, it’s incandescents all the way… I use this feature All The Time. Barely lit, just enough to move around, when others are sleeping (or when I’m sleeping ;-) and / or when making that ‘midnight run’ to the bathroom… or that first morning crawl… or… )
OK, I think that’s most of the ‘catch up’ stuff. On to the Good Bulb.
The Good Bulb
I bought a couple of these in clear just to take a look at them. I’ve gone back and bought about a half dozen more… Some in clear, and a couple of frosted (that work better in the bath fixture as the clear ones give a ‘mottle’ effect to the skin… they can ‘project’ the waffle pattern of the glass without fuzzing it. Surprise… )
I also bought two of the “Natural Light” that have a slightly blue coating on them. These are to compete with the GE “Reveal” bulbs (and probably with 3000K CFLs too) in the “clean non-yellow look” niche.
OK, I really like this bulb.
The package has a note that it can be used on dimmers. As we saw before, a Halogen can be picky about power level. Too much is OK, but dim it and you can find that the tungsten is not redeposited and you get early bulb failure (or at least, not extended life). What I think is going on is pretty simple. They are running a halogen very hot. Thus the 1000 hour lifetime and the very good ‘lumens / watt’.
This has the side effect that when you dim it you are still inside the ‘hot enough’ range for a longer part of the bulb brightness. All this in a bulb that runs about $1.50 each. Nice.
So I’m getting absolutely great color rendering index, plenty of light, it’s very efficient, and I can dim it quite a bit without worry (and with a highly probable life extension out to about 4000 hours.) This I like.
First, a standard 100W Philips bulb of no distinguishing character. It’s the benchmark.
1620 Lumens 100 Watts 750 hours life 16.2 Lumens per Watt
The Rugged Duty bulbs come up pretty grim in comparison:
FEIT 700 L 100W 5000 hrs 7.0 L/W
GE 1580 L 150W 2600 hrs 11.9 L/W
Lite 1100 L 100W 20000 hrs 11.0 L/W
Lite 1750 L 150W 20000 hrs 11.7 L/W
The Litetronics (Lite in the chart) advertises a spectacular lifetime. Given the L/W it’s the ‘best buy’ if the life is valid. The GE does not give much life extension for the extra 50W of power to get a little less than the same light as a 100W bulb. The FEIT is just a train wreck… 7 Lumens / Watt?
OK, the Halogens are much better, but even there some are more equal than others… I’ll be referencing a Philips ES bulb in the list. It’s a great bulb I found at Home Depot, but it’s about $4 each, so I’m not going to say much about it (other than that it’s a very efficient long life bulb, that costs a lot…)
GE 1490 L 95W 3000 hrs 15.7 L/W
Ph 1500 L 95W 3000 hrs 15.8 L/W
PhES 1600 L 70W 3000 hrs 22.9 L/W
PhEV 1490 L 72W 1000 hrs 20.7 L/W
The first two are the ‘usual’ halogen in a BT type bulb. It’s like a regular bulb that is sort of skinnier… 15.8 L/W is nice and 3000 hrs is great lifespan. They are bright and clean with a slightly ‘yellow’ color like a regular incandescent. But the lumens are a bit less than the regular 100W bulb. They are being run in a long life mode, not a high lumens mode.
That Phillips Extra Savings bulb has a ‘sort of regular’ bulb shape, but with a more cylindrical ‘bulb’ end and less spherical. It’s just flat out a great bulb. Long life. Efficiency. Nice clean light. But it’s $4 a bulb. That’s expensive… On the other hand, you really do get 100W of light for only 70 Watts. I can live with that. Over time, I’ll be putting a few more of these in the box for “someday”.
Then we get to the Philips EcoV bulb. Almost the same L/W as the expensive bulb, but only $1.50 (so three of them is $4.50 and lasts about the same as the $4 bulb). But it is run a bit hotter, making the life shorter. This also gives a very clean white light… It also means I can run it on my dimmers and not go yellow as soon nor have to worry about shortening the life of the halogen bulb… Hmmm…. AND I get very close to the full 100W of light for 72W. This is starting to sound real nice.
I’ve lived with one of these in each of two different fixtures now. I find I love ’em.
The light quality has a very pleasant impact on the mind. Way better than a CFL and in some ways nicer than a regular incandescent. Add in more efficiency along with longer bulb life and I’m starting to think these are just the ticket… even on a dimmer.
The price is still a bit higher than I’d like, but it’s OK. I’d also like a real 100W version (at about 150W worth of light) to play with on the dimmer, but realistically the 72W version make more than enough light for anything I really use and having less ‘depth’ of dimming is a feature on the halogen as it keeps you in the proper working temperature better. There is a lower power version as well, so on my ‘someday’ list is to put one of each on a dimmer and do relative life times in my regular use. Unfortunately, that’s likely to take about 6 years to burn out a bulb if I’ve figured things right…. So I’ll most likely just packrat a bunch of what I like best.
So at this point, these EV bulbs are my “daily drivers” in the dimmers (with one exception that needs higher wattage) and the ‘regular incandescent’ stash is in ‘someday’ inventory. As I build an inventory of these guys, I may sell off the regular incandescents (provided the halogen lifetime is as expected even on a dimmer…) We’ll see. For now it’s going to be ‘belt and suspenders’ as I have enough regular incandescent bulbs for my expected future needs and these are still available in the stores for a couple of years at least. My early scoffing at the short 1000 hour lifetime having turned into a ‘feature’ of being able to dim them without worry.
I’ve also found some ‘3-way’ CFLs that do OK, so those will be for summer use and to extend the incandescent bulbs lifetime.
All in all, I’m pretty darned comfortable that I’ve got this thing worked out to my liking. I’ve got all of about $20 of bulbs that were ‘bought before needed’ and that’s fine with me. Problem kept away. I’ve also got about $15 of 100W incandescents that may be replaced with EV bulbs over time. Not exactly a big worry. (At 19 cents a bulb, $15 buys a lot of bulbs!)
So other than an eventual followup on life span, I’m probably at an end to the “bulb” project. Hopefully this will have been of help to others as we plunge into the Green Prohibition Era…