Posts Tagged ‘CREE CR6’

CREE offering a new look for great lighting!

February 2, 2012

Our favorite LED, recessed down-lighting from CREE, the CR6, has gotten more colorful.  Well actually the available trim kits have.  Following the footsteps of Henry Ford “you can have any color as long as it is black” the CR6 has until now only been available in white.   CREE is offering Mr. Ford’s favorite color, black, as well as “wheat” (I might call it bronze) and plain old “anodized” or silver. Energy efficient, dimmable and long lasting, here is to good looking lighting that works!

 

 

Thanks,

Jason

 

 

Interesting LEDs from Cooper Lighting and Commercial Electric

November 1, 2011

There are a couple of interesting LED recessed (or sort of recessed!) lighting fixtures that we’ve tested recently that are worth sharing.  I wouldn’t consider either one the CREE-killer (the CREE CR6 is still my head & shoulders above the rest favorite residential LED fixture).  But each might be a workable option in some situations.

First is Cooper Lighting’s ALL-PRO LED.  This product provides another options for “wet” locations, and at a lower price point than the HALO fixture previously reviewed here.  The dimming seems to work.

Cooper Lighting All-Pro LED Fixture

A couple things I don’t like are the 3000K rating which means it’s in the very white (some say blue) color range.  For comparison the CREE CR6 is a much warmer looking 2700K.  The other big downside for me is the 81 “color rendition index” compared to the CREE 90.  A higher number means things look truer to their natural color to the human eye.   At a rated 14.6 watts, it’s very efficient, but not as good as the CREE.

Price wise, this is comparable to the CREE and cheaper than the HALO.  If you need a wet-rated fixture, this is a worthy choice.

Next up is the Commercial Electric Light Disk.  The light quality is similar to the above product at 3000K and a CRI of 80.  OK, but not on par with the CREE CR6.  However, it does have two big advantages going for it.  It is brighter that either the CREE or the Cooper products.  Not hugely so, but brighter.  Commercial Electric  LED Disk Light

And the big feature in it’s flexibility is the ability to fix in either 5″ or 6″ cans or, uniquely surface mounted right on a 4″ junction box–a surface mounted fixture with a recessed light look.  There might be some very useful applications for this, from closets to simple retrofits would you want a sleeker modern look to replace a clunky looking surface fixture. 

We’ll keep evaluating and reviewing as the technology evolves, and we’ll keep you posted on anything interesting.

Cheers,
Mike

Staying Cool…How to Save Energy in the Kitchen this Summer

May 31, 2011

We had seven visitors this Memorial Day weekend for what’s become an annual rite—my wife’s family runs in the Burlington Marathon.  With the extra people, and the need to keep them fed, including with the pre-race, pasta-fueled, carbo-loading, I found myself thinking how to stay cool in the kitchen.  And how to save energy.  [If I can brag a bit on my daughter, this is also now an issue since she has embraced baking and is doing amazing things.  Her baking is also impacting my waist size!]

Even in the heat of the summer, you can cook, stay cool, and minimize the fighting the air-conditioner has to do.  There are a few simple strategies.  Reduce the heat you produce.  Remove the heat you do produce.  And chip away at the other energy-savings via efficient lights, appliances, and behaviors as you would elsewhere in the home.

Don’t generate as much heat in the first place.

If you don’t heat up the kitchen, you don’t have to cool it down.  Here are some things you can do, none of them hard, all of them useful.

  • Grill outside.  People love this!  And if keeps you from heating the stove, oven, and room!
  • Try to limit pre-heating the oven.  You can’t do this which some baked goods where rising might be impacted.  However, you make find that getting the oven up to temperate doesn’t take as long as the recipes might suggest.  And if you’re cooking that baked macaroni and cheese, you don’t really need to wait for the oven to heat all the way up—although you may have to leave it in a couple minutes longer.
  • Don’t “peek” if you don’t need to.  Opening the oven door dumps heat into the room, drops the oven temperature, and increases cooking time.
  • Shut the oven off a few minutes early.  An oven will retain the heat for a while after you shut it off, and the food will continue to cook.
  • Check the oven door seal, and clean it with a bit of degreaser if needed.  A good seal keeps the heat where it should be.
  • Boiling water for that pre-race pasta?  Keep the cover on!  And as tempting as it is, the don’t peek rule applies here.  The water will boil faster AND you’ll reduce the amount of steam and hot water vapor you dump into your house.  Speaking of pasta, you may be able to get good results reducing the amount of water you use, as suggested in the NY Times article.  Some folks even suggest turning the heat off after adding the pasta and returning it to a boil.  I’ve done this with rice with good success.
  • On the stove top, match the pan to the element.  Don’t use a small pan on a large element because much of the heat just goes into the room.  (Induction stove users—you’ve got an advantage here!)
  • Sometimes a small toaster oven will do as well as a large oven—and require less energy and dump less heat in the process.

Evacuate any extra heat if you can.

  • Here’s where an exhaust fan with a good range hood comes in handy.  If it is vented to the outside—as it absolutely should be if you have a gas stove or oven—you can remove the heat and cooking-related moisture from the house.  Remember, as you suck air out of the house, you’re bringing in air elsewhere, and you don’t want to do that if the air is hotter and more humid that you like.  In this case, though, it’s well worth the trade.  [BTW, this same principle applies in the shower—get the steam out rather than using your A/C to cool in and remove the humidity.]
  • Safety first.  Any time we’re talking about exhaust fans, I like to remind people that they be vented outside and NOT into the attic.  And you should make sure you test your combustion equipment (including water heater and furnace) to make sure the exhaust fan doesn’t impact proper venting.

Other smart things–they add up.

  • Kitchens often have a lot of lighting, including recessed lights and track lighting.  Incandescent, including halogen lighting, actually use most of their energy creating heat, not light.  A kitchen full of mini-space heaters disguised as lights will be harder to keep cool.   Switching this to CFL or LED lighting (see previous posts on the CREE CR6, for example!) can move a huge difference.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full, and don’t use the “Rinse/Hold” feature for just a few dirty.  It uses several gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Do the dollar bill test—the seal on your refrigerator door should snug hold a dollar bill in place when closed.  If not, the seal may need to be replaced.
  • Mom was right.  Don’t stand with the refrigerator door open FOREVER.  Minimize the time with the door open and the number of times you open it.  This saves energy in its own right.  And remember, refrigerators don’t magically create “cool”.  They remove heat from inside the compartment, and dump it—and waste heat—outside, which just happens to in your kitchen.
  • You probably don’t have a lot of flexibility with your current appliance locations, be it generally makes sense to keep the refrigerator out of bright sunlight and away from the stove—remember, you’re trying to keep it cool.   Keep it in mind if you’re remodeling, though.
  • And at new appliance time, think Energy Star!

You can also explore more general cooling tips for not just the kitchen, but your whole house.

And to really find the trouble spots in your home — and to be sure they’re addressed with the right solutions, we recommend that you get a comprehensive home energy audit.

The Incandescent Lighting Meltdown

May 7, 2011

You know I’m a fan of the CREE CR6 LED light.  Mostly because it performs great.  And partly because it’s energy efficient.

Standard incandescent lights waste about 90% of their energy use on producing heat instead of light.  Think about that in the hot summer months every time you turn a light on!

Well, the folks at CREE found a good way to demonstrate this using the Easter Bunny.

Think about that as we head into the summer cooling season.  You pay to waste electricity on inefficient lighting.  And then you either sweat or pay again to remove the extra heat with your air-conditioner.  A double whammy.

Lutron C-L Series: A good dimmer choice for dimmable CFLs and LEDs

February 23, 2011
Lutron Diva C-L Dimmer

Lutron Diva C-L

Lutron Lumea C-L Dimmer

Lutron Lumea C-L

Regular readers have seen me rave about the CREE CR6 LED light.  (And if you haven’t—now’s the time to read more!)  I’ve had good success using standard dimmers, with the Lutron Diva working well.  However, Lutron has a new series of “C-L Dimmers” designed specifically for dimmable CFL and LED.  I’ve tried the Diva C-L, the Skylark C-L, and the Lumea C-L.  I like them.  And this line of dimmers does help alleviate some of the dimming problems one encounters with most so-called dimmable CFLs and LEDs. 

While CFLs have been around for a long time, they haven’t worked well with standard dimmers.  Frankly, I’m LESS than impressed with CFL that are claimed to be dimmable.  I found a too-small dimmable range, flicker, and shorter than expected life from the dimmable CFLs that I’ve tried.  And LEDs, I’m not ready to recommend most (the CREE and the HALO are two stand-out exceptions). 

But what if you’ve just invested in the lower quality—but still dimmable—options?  You may be experiencing some of the frequent problems with these bulbs using standard dimmers.  Things like the reduced dimming range I mentioned, sudden drop out as you dim the bulbs low without intending to shut them off, lights not coming on when the switch is in a dimmed position, or annoying flicker.

The Lutron C-L series features a "behind the plate" adjustment dial that helps optimize the dimmer for the bulbs you're using.

The Lutron C-L dimmers do a good job reducing these problems and the list is opposite the problems cited above.  Lights stay on as they’re dimmed.  Lights turn on regardless of whether they when dimmed when shut off or not.  Flicker is reduced.  Lutron handles this with some black box electronic that I’m not privy to—and with an adjustment dial that helps tailor the dimmer to the performance your bulbs can handle.  These dimmers don’t make inferior bulbs better.  But they do improve the experience of using the bulbs.

[And they’re great with those CREE CR6s!]

Thanks,
Mike

More commentary on the CREE CR6

January 1, 2011

I received a comment on yesterday’s post about the CREE CR6.  Rather than leave the comment and the response buried in a comment section, I’ll pull this out into a front-page continuation of yesterday’s post.

David B. wrote:

Mike, not to be a spoil-sport, but I don’t think a $50 light bulb is worth getting excited about. First, LED’s don’t use dramatically less energy than a CFL (the $200 savings is compared to an incandescent). Second, if a product can’t pay for itself in a couple of years, most people aren’t going to bother.  Finally, the 35,000 hour life expectancy is a bit misleading. That works out to more than 20 years at 4 hrs a day (someone energy conscious enough to spend $50 for a bulb is probably obsessive about turning off lights that are not being used presently).

While LED’s offer some aesthetic and performance advantages over CFL’s, the price probably needs to drop below $10 before they make any sense.

Hi David,

The right LED lighting makes a lot of sense right now!  And I’m going to get excited anyway!   On a New Year’s morning, here’s a thumbnail version of the reason why.

I like the non-energy performance and appearance of the CR6 and LR6 better than the incandescent they replace.  And some people like “better” over “cheaper”.   When “better” is cheaper than “cheaper” that’s even better!  (Whew—try saying that fast five times.)  And over the life cycle, these certainly are less expensive.

I disagree with your statement that “if a product can’t pay for itself in a couple of years, most people aren’t going to bother”.  That is a common fallacy in the energy-efficiency world, and it ignores the real reasons that most of our customers pursue energy-efficiency, namely for comfort, health & safety, durability of the home, and even aesthetics!  Energy-efficiency is often a nice way to pay for these benefits for many people.  And examples of this abound.  Windows is one—and we see payback on windows stretching to 40 years-plus in some cases.  [By the way, this doesn’t mean we don’t educate people about the low-hanging fruit of air-sealing, insulation, duct-sealing, etc.  We install more of those services than windows.]   What’s the payback on a granite countertop?  A sofa?  An Xbox?  A trip to the Grand Canyon?  What’s the payback on making your daughter’s bedroom more comfortable all summer or winter? 

As I’m sure you’re aware, many people don’t like and won’t use CFLs.  And even though I used them in recessed light applications, the quality was inferior than incandescents in characteristics including light quality, color rendition, and dimmability.  And that means that the stuck with incandescents.  I’ve noted this in the California market, for example.  In these cooling climates—and high electricity rate markets—in particular this is a shame.  Not only are people forgoing the savings on the lighting side, but the inefficient lighting is dumping heat into the space that they there pay to remove with air-conditioning.  A double whammy.  Having a product that people are willing to use is a game changer.

In new construction applications, or retrofit applications where trims are being installed (or replaced) anyway, the cost is the CR6/LR6 is actually overstated by about $10—because it includes an integrated trim already.  Plus, installation is quicker than with a two-step trim-lamp-process.  Not much, but minutes add up.

In some high-bay applications with 9-, 10-, or higher ceilings, a 35,000 hour life (or a 50,000 hour life in the case of the LR6) is a huge deal.  Some people have to pay a professional to change their lamps—and avoiding this covers the cost of the LEDs even without the energy savings!   This is certainly true in commercial situations as well.  You may be handy and not afraid of heights or ladders (and have the appropriate ladder), but for some people this is a very important factor.

I’ll note that it took me three tries to find these at the Home Depot in NY—because they’d already sold out at the first two and they were waiting on the next shipment.  So some people are recognizing the value already. 

These already make sense.  We don’t need the price to change a penny for that to be true.  I do agree that they won’t have broad market appeal at that price point yet.  I’ll expect the prices to drop steadily in the coming years.  They have already dropped over the last 18 months.   But people can feel good about starting savings today.

Happy New Year!
Mike

CREE CR6 is on the streets–and it looks like a winner!

December 19, 2010

[Note–see longer review posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

I finally got my hands on a the LED CREE CR6 for recessed lighting applications and gave it a quick test run.  It looks and works great.  I’ll post a more complete review soon, with pictures.  Meanwhile, I’m giving it a big thumbs up.  It and the CREE LR6 stand at the top of the heap, with HALO’s LED fixture not far behind (and ahead in a few applications).  Here’s a product that in many respects beats all comers in its class–incandescent, halogen, and flourescent (and other LED) lighting.

Thanks,
Mike

STILL waiting on CREE’s CR6

September 12, 2010

[Note–see review posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

I know I said I’d be reviewing the CREE CR6.  And I will…if I can even get some.  My local suppliers keep saying another month, another month, the story they’re getting from CREE.  A lot of folks have contacted us looking for more info.   As soon as I can get my hands on the product, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, do check out the posts on the CREE LR6 and HALO LEDs, ready-for-prime-time products.

Thanks,
Mike

CREE CR6–Still Waiting!

June 29, 2010

A couple folks have asked about how CREE’s CR6 LED light performs.  I wish I could tell you!  It’s still not available locally (we’re told the end of July).  But we’re looking forward to trying it in the field and to see if it stands up to CREE’s LR6-a solid performer.  Stay tuned.

Thanks,
Mike

New CREE CR6–LED Recessed Light

May 15, 2010

[Note–see review posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

Energy-efficient lighting is an important part of any green home.  As such, I’m looking forward to trying the new CREE CR6 LED light.

It doesn’t look as robust as CREE’s LR6 (see earlier review); however, it has very similar specs and a much more affordable price point.  We’ll have to see how it performs.  And if HALO or other manufacturers respond with something similar.  Stay tuned.

Thanks,
Mike


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