My latest lighting experiment is a 900-lumen bulb from G7, which is rated at 9 watts and priced at around $16. It’s advertised as equivalent to a 65W incandescent. I’ve had two of them for about two months now, and my initial impressions are favorable overall.
It’s noticeably brighter than the 800-lumen bulb I frequently buy from Micro Center, while consuming less power. G7 bills it as a 3000K bulb, but it’s a bit softer than most of the 3000K LED bulbs I’ve bought. I like its light color better. And while there’s a brief delay when it comes on, the delay is very brief. I would hesitate to call it an instant-on bulb, but the delay is shorter than any other bulb I’ve found in its price range. And it uses an aluminum heat sink, so it’s a lot lighter than other LED bulbs I’ve seen. In a ceiling fan, that would be a plus.
So what’s the bad news?
The size. It’s been a while since the last time I saw a 150W incandescent, but the bulb isn’t much smaller than one of those. It’s a good three inches wide at its widest point; I measure my other LEDs at 2 ½ inches, which is comparable to a traditional, old-fashioned household bulb. I would love to use these bulbs in my can lights, but they don’t fit.
Using them in lamps can be tricky, depending on your lampshade. The narrower the shade, the more light the shade will eat. And in a lamp, the only light that goes down is the light that the shade deflects, so low-end LED bulbs like this one are more efficient in overhead lights than lamps. That said, I ended up putting one of mine in a lamp and they work well enough in two of the three lamps that I tried. (I always try every LED bulb I buy several places in the house, because I never know when I’ll be buying another.)
There’s still a tradeoff with almost every LED bulb that costs less than $20. The best LED bulbs are about the size of an incandescent and close to it in shape, distribute light similarly to an incandescent, emit 100 lumens per watt consumed, emit a warm white light at least, turn on instantly, and are dimmable. For less than $20, you’re doing well to get three of those attributes, and frequently you still only get two. The G7 gives 100 lumens per watt, warm white light, and a very fast (if not quite instant) light-up.
Is it worth the tradeoff? Well, I know 10 bulbs in this house that I absolutely, positively can’t replace with these. Then again, I can come up with about 10 bulbs in the house where the size and inability to dim aren’t an issue.
At the very least, I can use the bulbs there, and buy something else for those other 10 spots.