Monday, December 13, 2010

LED Lighting. I've drunk the Kool-Aid

Some lights burned out. The "Honey Do" list had an entry for "Replace broken lights in house". The florescent under-cabinet lights hurt our eyes.

In my recent hobby (trains) I've made a new friend, Home Depot. I probably go there 3 times a week. They know me by name (and CC#). I've always LOVED LEDs'. Yes I've had a constant infatuation and love-affair with them culminating in collage when I was actually able to make them from scratch (fun stuff with silicon and hydrofluoric acid). I love everything LED. Lately its been those micro flashlights, and I've experimented with strip lighting for my trains.

But today my task was mundane. Light Bulbs. Well what do you know. Home Depot has LED Light Bulbs ! I've read about them in all the exotic press (like Popular Science, and slashdot) but never seen one with my own eyes. There they were on the shelf. Expensive as hell but they "Looked Like" real light bulbs. What? I needed a 60w equivalent - typically about $3 for your incandescent or $5 for a ( ) CF bulb. I Hate CF bulbs. Its the worse of both categories packaged into one. Annoying flicker of Florescent, and poison of the mercury, and they just make my eyes hurt. But were supposed to ditch the Incandescents and buy into the CF mantra ... for what ? Global Warming ? Landfills full of toxic waste ? I'll never buy a CF if they pry my Edison from my dead cold hands (but hasnt stopped the Significant Other from getting some ... arg.).

So here I looked and my Love And Joy was now in a standard bulb package ! Wow.
Prominently displayed was a logo on the box "Save $97" ... fine print (over 20 years).
Actual Cost $24.00 Damn. Its a hard sell. Buy a $3 incandescent that lasts a year and only adds on to the non-line-item electric bill where I can imagine its the TV or the pool pump adding the $ ? Or pay $24. cash-in-hand *right now* for the promise of less cost later.

So I let my Love Afair with LED's combined with my Super Math Skills to convince me that $24 one time is worth $4 20 times + 10x the electric costs.
It actually makes economic sense, especially if placed in fixtures that are a pain the arse to get at. But really, if you do the math it makes sense ... except the pain of the 1-time purchase.

Well xmas spirit in hand, and open wallet in tow I got ONE. Ok Only ONE. What harm in that.

When I unpacked it at home I had the same experience as unpacking my iPhone. I cradled it in my hand, it felt GOOD. Strong, Rugged. Heavy. Packed like an hereloom, not a throw-away. This was no childs light. This is a Real Man's. Light. And armed with the math I could advocate the expense as "Saving Money". It Felt GOOD.

Then came the test. I plugged it into the kitchen overhead light. Dareingly turned on the switch expecting full heartedly that it would be a dim reminiscent of LED's gone by ... but NO ...
It SHOWN . Shone with the proud light of day. The tone was perfect (slightly yellow) , Yea even *better* then incandescent ! No way. Way. Dude. I liked the light BETTER then Incandescent. And of course no match for CF or Florescent strobe headaches.

Wow. I was impressed. Sold that is. Black Gold. Texas Tea.
I was onto something.

Open the channel. I needed to replace 2 indoor floods in the basement. Off to Home Depot. There they were ! 2 LED's for indoor floods. A 40w equiv (even though replacing a 100w flood). I quivered and shrank but decided my morals were strong and I was going for it. So I did. Brought them home, and pluged them ... ALMOST in ... DAMN.
They were too big for the socket (recessed movable celiing spot) but only by a TINY TINY BIT.
Almost about to give up I heafted the piece of art in my hands and *wished* it to fit.
Then I realized under the white paint, was heft. Heavy. Whats that ? Pure Aluminum !
I can deal with that. Off to the shop and I turned on my belt sander. 1 minute later 1mm of aluminum block neatly sanded off and volila ! They fit !

And they Shone ! And light was in the basement and all was good. Beautiful.
When's the last time you could SAND a light bulb to fit ??? Damn. Never expected THAT advantage.

So next on the "Honey Do" list was under-the-counter Florescents. I HATE those but I remembered my friend, Home Depot, had a few LED strip lights ... off to the store and back with 2 in hand. A little rewiring and a wire nut and voila ! Under-counter LED's that look beautiful and should last 20 years and don't flash like Pokemon cartoon giving me epilepsy.

What more can you want ?

I'm converted. I'm an LED Man now. I have taken it on myself to help the prices come down by replacing every bulb and lighting in my house to LED wherever practical (few places still need VAST lighting like my 500w halagins in my workshop) but for the most part its a no brainier.

No More Florescents.
No More Incandescents.

I'm the LED Man and I'm not going back !