Posts Tagged ‘recessed lighting’

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

 

 

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 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.]

Thanks,
Mike

A Green Bathroom–Energy and Water Efficient

November 7, 2009

OK, so you what to make your home more efficient, but you need bathroom makeover–or a new bathroom altogether–and you need it now.  There are still things you can do that will have an immediate impact and improve your home’s overall performance and energy-efficiency.  Here’s a real example from a project being wrapped up right now.

dense packing cellulose insulationWe’d like you to start by taking a look at the whole home’s performance.  At a minimum, you’ll want to look for thermal deficiences–air leaks and poor insulation around the bathroom iteself (and we always want to look at combustion safety before and after!).  Key spots include areas behind tubs and shower enclosures–often ignored and left wide open when building a home.  Of course, you want to make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls–in this case the walls were completely empty and needed to be dense packed with cellulose.  Replacing the tub also allowed easy access to make just the critical air-sealing was done.

One of the early parts of a project is making sure the plumbing in in order.  This particular project required new supply and drain lines–and this opened up a few big opportunities.  First, the water heater (actually an indirect storage tank fed by a 96% efficient sealed combustion boiler) was moved directly under the bathroom, about 40 feet closer to the bathroom.  This is a big deal from both an energy and a water efficiency perspecitive.  The closer your hot water is to the bathroom, the less time you wait for hot water for your shower, the less water that goes down the drain, and the less heat lost as water left in the pipes after you’re done cools down.  

GFXOn a related point–and one that’s likely to require some wrestling with the plumbing inspector–you can use smaller diameter pipes (IF you’re using low-flow faucets and shower heads so you still get sufficient supply–this is a big deal, but too complicated to go into hear.  (Google “structured plumbling”.)

The other opportunity on the drain side is “drainwater heat recovery“, using a device which lets you capture heat going down your drain and using it to preheat incoming cold water–saving the amount of heat you need to dump into the incoming water and saving you energy and money.  This is hard to do in a one-story house with no basement or crawlspaces, but makes sense for a lot of homeowners.  The less water you need to heat, the less energy you use.

EPA has kicked off a “WaterSense” program to help identify water efficient products and practices.

efficient toilet

There are many choices.  This particular toilet by Toto uses 1.28 gallons per flush, and it works!  Unlike the low-volume toilets of several years ago, the better ones have been designed specifically to work at lower volumes.  And they do.

shower headNew shower heads also use a lot less–and still deliver a comfortable shower.  In this case, the 1.6 gallon per minute shower head hasn’t arrived yet, but the one in place uses a reasonable 2.5 gallons per minute.  Again, less water over all, and the less hot water you use, the less you pay to heat it.  The are a variety of shower heads that will take you even lower–with good results.  Personal preferences come into play here, but most people should be able to find a 1.6 gpm low-flow fixture that works for them.  And many are happy with some even lower flow heads.

You didn’t expect me to leave this topic without talking about electricity, and I won’t!  Using efficient bathroom lighting can chip away at the electic bill.  CFLs have come a long way, and can provide excellent quality light.  Dedicated CFL fixtures are available in a wide variety of styles ranging from basic to high-end designs.  In this example, the sconces on either side of the mirror have a bright, instant-on lamp, in a warm color that avoids the sterile flourescent look that some find ghastly.  As you can see in the inset picture below, the fixture is a dedicated CFL fixture, and only accepts CFL lamps, no screw ins.  LED technology is evolving, it not ready for prime time in lamps intended to send light in all directions, and it wouldn’t yet be a good fit for these scones.

CFL sconce in green bathroom remodel

While LED lamps aren’t ready for sconce applications, they excel in recessed can fixtures.  I’ve written on the CREE and HALO recessed can LEDs before.  Both are great choices today.  In the case, the HALO fixtures were used because they come with a trim kit rated for wet locations.

HALO LED lighting and Panasonic Bath FanYou’ll also notice in the picture an ENERGY STAR labeled Panasonic bath fan.  It’s quiet and efficient and really gets the job done.  In this particular project, it will eventually be replaced by a heat recovery ventilator, but it along with the Renewaire bath fan are excellent fan choices.

As an aside, I often make light fun of bamboo as a green choice.  This isn’t really a condemnation of bamboo or any other sustainable material.  My beef is that people focus on materials before they consider they overall performance of a home–comfort, safety, durability (what good is it if you let greener materials rot in a poorly designed home?), and energy-efficiency.  Having said that, when you’ve got the performance issues ironed out, it’s great to look at materials, too.  And in the picture above, I really like the bamboo used on the ceiling.  There, I said it! 

Of course, at the end of this project, having added ventilation fans and done insulation and air-sealing, we need to again check equipment for combustion safety, and check pipes for gas leaks!  The combustion safety is a bit easier since the project included switching over to a sealed combustion boiler.  But this is an important step not to be ignored.

Even in a bathroom remodel, you can apply home performance concepts and wind up with results that make you happier–less waiting for hot water–and not running out of hot water! and eliminating drafts, condensation, and moisture and mildew problems.  And you save energy, to boot.  Good stuff!

Thanks,
Mike

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.

Thanks,
Mike

Recessed Lighting & Air-Sealing

August 6, 2009

Here’s a classic example of air-leakage around a recessed light fixture.    The dirty insulation in this photo is from air leaking out of the house and being filtered by the fibergalss insulation before it exits the house.  Dirty insulation around recessed can light(Fiberglass makes an effective filter in this case!)   In fact, insulation that’s dirty on the bottom is one of the clues we look for during a home energy audit.   Leaks like this represents a lot of heat loss in the winter, and depending on wind or duct leakage it can also mean higher cooling bills in the summer.  Fortunately, there are ways to effectively air-sealing around these fixtures.   Add to my to-do list:  we’ll put together a short video showing the problem and the fix.

You definitely want to address this before you add insulation!  Even taking advantage of the insulation tax credit only makes sense if you make sure you air-seal first.  

[Be sure to check out the video on recessed lighting which includes a discussion of airsealing.]

Thanks,
Mike


%d bloggers like this: