Posts Tagged ‘CREE’

Can the LED Mean no More Excuses?

June 14, 2013

We have written about LED lighting in the past, and there are lots of good reasons to consider it in your home.  The recessed lighting options out there can help with energy savings as well as tackling a troublesome air sealing dilemma.

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But the big hurdle for me is the light bulb. We use them everywhere in our homes and in places where we really need them like to read or get down the stairs.  There have a number of bulbs making their way to market, and one of them is CREE.


It did cost me $12, but my biggest complaint is that I may have to keep the receipt for 10 years if it fails under warranty.  If it only lasts 10 years, it will have been a $1.20 a year investment and I expect to spend that much a year to keep it on about 6 hours a day since it uses only 9.5 watts produces 800 lumens.  An incandescent might cost $8 a year to burn the same hours and it sure won’t last 10 years.

What does it look like though, since nostalgia and good looks matter and have kept some of us from changing standard light bulbs to compact fluorescents.    Go figure, I think it looks like a light bulb.  I’m running out of excuses. Even with antique fixtures, something crying for an old Edison bulb I think it looks pretty good.




Nostalgic for that Old Edison Bulb? Comfort(of a kind) and Energy Efficiency in Good Design

January 3, 2012

Panasonic has released a dandy looking light bulb for the future.  It looks a lot like something from the past.  Certainly LED light bulbs have their place in our lighting future as they already do in our present.  Cree  has certainly topped our charts here at GreenHomes America, especially when it comes to recessed down lighting. 

As expected, the Pansonic LED Nostalgic Clear, promises a long life at 40,000 hours and significant energy savings at 4.4w over 20W (for a CFL) with an A-Energy rating.  At 2700k Panasonic claims the bulb produces a soft warm light, and overall it is fairly compact.

I’ve mentioned the Switch bulb which I think looks pretty neat  even when off, but with this one, your interior decorating scheme might be a bit more industrial. 

 Let’s face it, sometimes you can see the light bulb and who wants to look at some clunky piece of technology from the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica days?  I do like the look of the Panasonic Nostalgic Clear.   

The frontier is still multi-directional, bright lighting; something as yet not done well by LED lighting overall, and I am sure is lacking in this Panasonic bulb as well.  Gerry Negley, Cree’s CTO has said, “I don’t know what lighting will look like in the 21st century. I can tell you it will not be constrained with shapes and technology of the past.  It will not look like a traditional light bulb.”  Can’t wait to see, but for now give me something familiar to light the way.

Good looking lighting?

October 31, 2011

I have to say I’m a sucker for good design.  Something that catches my eye is sure to draw me in, but more important is whether or not it works.   Like a book jacket that promises an exciting story, I want it to actually read that way.  A wise man in my family once said, “life is too short to read bad books.”  I have to add, especially with bad lighting.

 How about LED lighting?  You heard Mike rave about some of the CREE and Halo products.  Not coincidentally, both are ceiling recessed lights and this is where the directional nature of LEDs shine.  (Sorry, Bad pun).  And as far as good looking design, when it’s off, we don’t see recessed lighting, it is recessed after all.

I’m still waiting for that perfect regular ol’ light bulb replacement, and a good looking one.   More important may be another drawback to LED lighting which is the brightness “ceiling”.  As incandescent bulbs are phased out and my eyes get worse, I’d like to see more bright LED lights come to the market.  And the directional nature of LEDs means there are design challenges trying to get them to throw light in every direction.

I have found some bulbs which are pretty cool looking but just like the dust jacket of a book, what is inside?  I hope to not be looking at the bulb when it’s on because it’s shedding some good light!  What catches my eye is the promise of better light so far, the bulbs out there brighter than the 60w comparison look funny or they are big and clunky and well as pricy!

Exciting to me are the ones that promise the same light as a 75w or 100w incandescent like the Switch, and they don’t look like a prop from Star Trek.   If it looks good and works, count me in!  They are due out this coming year, and I look forward to trying them out, good book in hand.

Efficiency guru Amory Lovins once said all people want is “a cold beer and a hot shower” I say” a good book and good light” too!

The Ancestors

October 7, 2011

Old light - New light

True to form as an American, my family is a hodge-podge of ancestry new and old,  New Englanders that were Mayflower descendants, mid-western farmers who were horse thieves or ministers, to immigrants here for just a few generations scraping by working in mills.    I don’t think they ever made it to America, or if they did the left, but somewhere on my wife’s side of the family tree are Vikings.  I imagine they were probably good at plundering, lighting their way with a good oil soaked torch.  It’s good to know where you come from.

In the lighting family tree, the baby of the bunch is the LED light attempting to unseat the CFL as the next best thing.  I’ve mentioned some innovations with LED’s recently, Mike’s talked about Cree lighting  and we know it’s important to conserve with lighting as well. But If I had to ask any of those family members from long ago if they would rather spend $1 or say $30 on a light bulb (accounting for inflation and converting it to the currency that makes sense, say Viking Pennigars) I can guess the response.

Over generations things change, for one thing, humans now tend to live past thirty. Light bulbs last a lot longer too, especially LED’s.   That sure is a bonus when the fixture is way up there, and requires a ladder, maybe a really long ladder!    As I think about the benefits of LED lighting, I thought it would be good to find out where it came from and how it works compared to other types of bulbs.  

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, a diode being a thing that electric current flows through.  Electrons flow, photons are emitted i.e. light. They are small and efficient but expensive.  

Most are familiar with Compact Fluorescent Lighting, a CFL has a phosphorus coating on the tube that lights up when the argon and mercury vapors inside get charged with electricity. 

The old fashioned incandescent bulb is essentially a heating element surrounded by gas which produces light.  In fact an incandescent bulb 90% of its energy is emitted as heat rather than light, not very efficient for lighting but great for heating except that for most electric heating is not very cost effective.

GE invented the first practical LED in 1962 those of a certain age will recognize them as the vibrant red of clock radios watches and pocket calculators (these things now come in smart phones almost exclusively, but that little flashing green light telling you there is a message is also a LED) They’ve gotten better since then.

So what’s good about a LED lightbulb?  Longevity:  some last 35,000 – 50,000 hours better than a CFL’s 7,000-10,000 hours or an incandescent’s 1000 hours or so.   Very inexpensive runtimes, a draw of 10w or so, a variety of color, blending different colors manufacturers can get a light that pleases the eye.  Unlike CFL’s it’s not recommended that you evacuate the room when they break, and LED’s are dimmable.  Next week I will talk about a few LED’s on the market now as well as some coming out by the end of the year that promise to be even better.  Much better than whale oil lamps and torches, that’s for sure.  My apologies to any relatives still using those, but there is a better way.



image of Match and LED’s from Wikicommons

LED lighting moves past just a bright idea: it helps to improves lives

September 27, 2011

I keep seeing new ideas and activity with lighting. 

 To my pleasant surprise I was just in a home with retrofit lighting, with both a CFL bulbs, and LED bulbs.   I liked the LED better.  (And you’ve probably heard Mike rave about them.)   Light Emitting Diode lighting is making great headway.  In an earlier post I briefly mentioned Switch light bulbs which look pretty cool even when they are off.

There’s more than a good looking light to this technology.  The New York Times reported today  about a non profit orginization  D-
which has designed a light therapy product called Brilliance for infants suffering from jaundice.  Not a life threatening situation for all, but in resource poor countries, technology like this may make a big difference.  Untreated, jaundice can lead to deafness and brain damage.

The key to Brilliance and the use of LED’s is that the lighting lasts longer and uses half the wattage of the specialty CFL’s a similar device needs.  It costs less, saves more.  That’s something in which we can all see the benefit, and it’s at the heart of what I love about energy-efficiency.  Done well, it can be about doing more with less.   I’ll talk more about this new technology and what it means to all of us in future weeks, from what it is, why it’s better and some advances that might surprise you.   

In the meantime, as readers here now, energy-efficiency in your home isn’t about “shivering in the dark”, but just the opposite.  It’s about staying more comfortable, safer, with better lighting, while wasting less energy.

image from

Easy-Bake Oven loses its bulb with 100-watt phase-out

September 14, 2011

 This brings back memories of the little baked cakes my sister would make.  It amazed me that a little plastic toy with a light bulb inside could actually make a cake.  Patience was always tried since it seemed to take forever, but I guess 15 minutes isn’t really that long though.

Surely a sign of the times, lights out for the 100 watt light bulb.  In the United States, 100 watt bulbs will be the first to go by next year.  So the easy bake oven gets a new retro design and a heating element like a regular oven.  My guess is it’s not any more efficient, but hey it’s baking a cake!  That’s important work.  As matter of fact it’s a bigger baking area so I hope it’s at least better insulated.

What this really brings to mind is the importance of lighting and how we are seeing many new opportunities.  CFL’s are a good option. LED’s are even better.  We’ve talked about CREE lighting before.  There are also LED light bulbs available, and by next year some promise a replacement for the burnt out 100watt incandescent such as Switch light bulbs.   I guess we will see.

With major power outages now and then and the rising cost of everything and the increased usage of electronic gadgets, it makes sense to pay attention to electricity a little more closely.  I think I might bake a cake celebrating the beginning of the end and also new beginnings.

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.


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.


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.


HALO LED lighting

November 6, 2009
HALO LED recessed lighting

HALO LED Recessed Lighting

Halo lighting has some  recessed LED lighting available.  It’s good stuff, and I wouldn’t hesitate to install it (in fact, I have installed it my own home).  Right now, I do like the CREE product better, but part of that is personal preference.  Some quick observations:

  • The HALO product is available in a 3000K temperature with a CRI in the low 80s.  The light isn’t quite as “warm” looking at the CREEs (the 2700K product), and the color rendition doesn’t seem quite as good to my eye.  And, personal preference, I prefer the warmer look in a residential setting.
  • The HALO LED isn’t quite instant on.  I experience a slight delay after flipping the switch before the light turns on.  It’s not a big deal, but again, the CREE product holds on advantage.
  • One important HALO advantage:  it is currently available with a “wet location” rating that you’d need in shower enclosures, for example.  CREE does not yet have product for this application.
  • The HALO products does offer a broader range of trim options than CREE.  If you need a particular style, HALO may be the way you need to go.
  • The HALO product–with trim purchased separately–was much more expensive the the CREE at local suppliers, as much as $60-90 more than the LR6.

My bottom line:  I like the CREE product better, and would chose it in most instances.  However, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the HALO–and it’s got to be HALO in wet locations right now.  I like either of them better than similar compact flourescent products.

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