Posts Tagged ‘LED lighting’

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!]


CREE CR6 Review–A bright spot in efficient lighting!

December 31, 2010

The long-awaited full review!  And let me cut to the chase:  When it comes to LED recessed lighting, right now CREE is the top choice, and the new CREE CR6 stands strong alongside its LR6 sibling.  The CREE CR6 is a winner!  I’ve tested a dozen different makes over the last month, and the CR6 and LR6 beat all the competition hands down.  (I’ll provide a review of the others over time—but I won’t tease you waiting for the answer about which is best–CREE wins.)

Unlike some of the energy-efficient lighting involving significant performance compromise, the Cree CR6 holds its own against the 65-watt incandescent recessed bulb it is intended to replace.  In fact, I like it better!

Available in a “warm” (2700K, for you technical types), it looks great.  Its high CRI of 92, objects it lights look like you’d expect and don’t take on a ghastly pallor. 

CREE CR6Performance-wise, it came on instantly just like an incandescent.  That sets it in stark contrast from most others we’ve tested. It also seems to dim almost as well as an incandescent and better than even the best dimmable CFLs we’ve tested. In terms of brightness, it’s rated at 575 lumens, however perhaps because of better efficacy (how much light leaves the fixture v. how much gets trapped) this seemed brighter than its CFL competitors.   (Note:  the LR6 has a higher lumen rating at the same 10.5 watts.)  The CR6 has great dimmability when matched with a Lutron Diva dimmer.  Unlike most of the LED competing products, the individual LED diodes are not visible—instead we see a warm, very uniformly glowing surface.  It’s a beautiful light that I like better than the incandescent it replaces!  When energy-efficiency comes with better performance, it’s a no-brainer!

The unit is rated at 35,000 hours—something I obviously haven’t had the ability to test yet!  I can report that the CREE LR6’s are still performing great after almost two years of daily use.  The long life span makes them an excellent choice in harder to reach ceiling fixtures.

The CR6 was very easy to install, and it worked great in the three different 6” housings that I tried it with.  Both the CR6 and the LR6 (and the LR4—which I also like!) come with an integrated trim.  The only downside of this is that if you have an existing trim you really like, you can’t use it with the CR6.  The CR6 trim looks great, though, better than most of the trim kits it replaces, and I would gladly remove existing trims to use this.

The price may shock some.  It’s going to be in the $50 to $65 range.  I purchased mine for $49 at a Home Depot in New York, where NYSERDA subsidizes the cost.  But at 10.5 watts, it should save you an estimated $200 or more over its life, depending on your electric rates. 

I’ve had trouble locating the CR6 locally.  And it’s still hard to find.  But it is available through Amazon.  I got mine at a Home Depot under what appears to be their Ecosmart house brand.  (They also sell other LED products under that branding—so make sure you get the right one “powered by CREE”).

As mentioned previously, the CR6 and LR6 are not yet rated for wet locations—although I’m told those products are on the way.  If you have a wet location application (like a shower), the Halo LED Module product is a good, albeit more expensive, choice.

I heartily recommend the CR6 (and the LR6), and I’ve installed it in my own home!

What do others think?

[See more commentary on the CREE CR6.]


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.


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.


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.


LEDs have lower life-cycle energy use than Incandescents

November 30, 2009
Incandescent bulb shown next to LED bulb

Photo from the NY Times article

The NY Times reports on a German study which indicates that LED lighting requires 1/5 the energy of incandescent bulbs over their life cycle–that includes manufacture and disposal in addition to the obvioius electricity consumption while they’re being used for lighting.  Just another sign the LED lighting will likely play a big role in our future.  (And some LED lighting is ready today.)


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.

Recessed Lighting–Energy Issues

September 28, 2009
Air-sealing around recessed cans and other videos on the GHA site

Air-sealing around recessed cans and other videos on the GHA site

Last month, I mentioned air-sealing around recessed lights.  Well, we’ve put together a short video explaining how we find and fix leakage and touching on some of the energy-efficient lighting options.  This video and a couple of other on air-sealing generally are posted on the GreenHomes air-sealing page.


Philips submits 60-watt bulb replacement for testing in DOE’s “L Prize” contest

September 25, 2009

DOE and partners are conducting a contest to development replacements for the 60W incandescent light bulb–the L Prize

Philips has submitted the first entry–and if testing shows the products meets the requirements, Philips wins the $10 million prize and leads the way into the market place.

To avoid the problems the plagued the introduction of CFLs as low quality bulbs flooded the market, The L Prize competition includes technical specifications for quality, performance, and mass manufacturing as well as a rigorous evaluation to detect and address product weaknesses before market introduction, to avoid problems with long-term market acceptance.

There are some LED so-called replacements for regular Type A bulbs out there, but these aren’t ready for prime time.  (As I’ve written, the CREE LED recessed lights are!)  I’m confident these products will be ready within a few years.  Kudos to DOE for the contest, and to Philips for the first entry.


LED Lighting–Some of it is ready!

July 28, 2009

I’ve mentioned LED lighting before.  Again, based on our reviews, most of the stuff you see on shelves in the stores right now (like the Lights of America bulbs at Costco) isn’t ready for prime time.  The colors are ghastly, the light output is underwhelming, and the design is such that I doubt will lead to long lamp life (LED fixtures need a way to dissipate heat to work properly and to retain their life).  You can try them in your garage or an outdoor fixture, but I wouldn’t buy too many of them.

CREE LED Lighting is a great choice for residential applications.

CREE LED Lighting is a great choice for residential applications.

Having said that, I continue to be very impressed with the CREE’s LR6 lighting—enough to install it in multiple prominent locations in my own home.  The2700K fixture is warm and very suited to a residential application.  It’s bright, dimmable, and just plain looks good.   It’s one of the few that has thus far earned the ENERGY STAR label.  The 50,000 hour rating is certainly intriguing, too.  Right now, CREE LEDs are only available as recessed fixtures—but it you’ve got recessed lighting, this just might be the ticket for you.

[Note–see review of the CREE CR6 posted on Dec 31, 2010.]

Thanks, Mike


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