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Getting the green light: Energy efficient LED bulbs

This week, Katie Lee, editor-in-chief of Shiny Shiny, swaps energy guzzling halogen for some long life LED alternatives - but do they really offer a usable alternative?

Petrol_crochet_hat_1_thumb_1When I saw Gabrielle's post the other week about GU10 bulbs I headed straight over to the grammatically ambivalent Your Welcome website to make a quick purchase. Until recently I hadn't even heard of these damn GU10 halogen bulbs, and I could have quite happily kept it that way had I known just how evil they are.

It all started when I foolishly bought a light for our bedroom. I'd looked at quite a few lights in our local 2nd hand furniture store, but all of them seemed on the dodgy side (requiring a full service from an electrician and various wire checks). After too long spent dithering and living without a bedside light, I eventually made an impulse purchase on a trip to the hell that is Ikea, picking up a lamp with two movable spot lights and separate flick switches. And boy did I come to regret it.

Evil  bulbs
Flygge The lights came with GU10 halogen bulbs. I hadn't really checked what bulbs they took, assuming I would be able to replace whatever was in there with some of my long life screw-in numbers. It was only when I got it home I discovered those idiosyncratic GU10 connectors make swapping to normal bulbs impossible. Not only did I get to feel foolish about that, once I switched them on I also got to feel foolish about the amount of light they churn out.

All I wanted was a couple of gentle bedside lights that would allow a spot of bedtime reading without disturbing my boyfriend (and vice versa). Instead, we were drenched in light, so that even just with one bulb on it almost outshone the main light.

Then there was the heat. I burnt my hand within the first fortnight, reaching up to switch my light off. Just a week later, one of the bulbs blew, obliging me to hand over some ridiculous sum for a replacement. It was about at this time I started to contemplate relegating the lamp to the dustbin (hardly a sustainable way to deal with bad impulse purchases). So these LED bulbs appeared in the nick of time.

Gu10led200_1 And are they any good?
Well, the light is a whole lot less bright, taking us down to around 15 Watts instead of the glaring 40 Watts the halogen bulbs provided. They stay cool, so I'm not longer a burns victim, and they'll last longer and consume less energy, making them both energy and purse efficient. The light is much whiter than halogen light, which won't suit everyone. I quite like it though - it gives the room a moonlit glow, which works well in the evenings. They're not all that bright, and while that's perfect for what I wanted, you may want to look at the brighter alternatives over on the Your Welcome low energy bulb page.

If you use these sorts of halogen bulbs to shine very bright light onto your work or similar, these LED bulbs probably won't live up to your standard. But if you just want a bit of mood lighting that means your partner won't trip over all your stuff when coming in late of an evening, I'd definitely recommend them.

November 14, 2006 in Columns & Opinion, Energy saving | Permalink

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