The lightbulb reinvented

Timothy Hunt asked me (via Twitter) if I’ve seen the lightbulb reinvented, an LED bulb that screws into a standard socket but has wi-fi capability so you can tune its light temperature and otherwise control it with a smartphone.

I hadn’t. But I found it interesting, and appreciate the mention.

For now, I’m just trying to get into the game. I count 10 LED bulbs in my house right now. The rest of my bulbs are still CFLs. I lost a CFL this week, and I need another bulb for the lamp I’m going to put in the office I’m cobbling together in my basement. I’ve been buying non-dimmable bulbs from Micro Center because of their low cost and reasonable efficiency (around 85 lumens per watt).

The problem I’m finding with many LED bulbs right now is that they’re not much more efficient than a comparable CFL. I spotted a Feit Electric soft white 60W equivalent at Costco for $16 this weekend, but at 13.5 watts, its power consumption is identical to a CFL. The bulb I can buy at Micro Center for $13 isn’t just cheaper, it consumes 35% less power. The non-dimmable bulbs at Micro Center are the most affordable LED bulbs I can buy locally that actually outperform the CFLs on the shelf next to them.

My latest experiment is a 900-lumen bulb from G7, which is rated at 9 watts and priced at around $16. It’s roughly equivalent to an 80W incandescent. If the G7 bulbs pan out, they’ll be my new favorite bulb. It’s brighter than my go-to 800-lumen bulb from Micro Center and uses one watt less. I have two on order; one to replace a CFL that burned out in the kitchen, and one to use in a lamp in my office.

Right now, my options are a bit limited, but I bought my first bulb 24 months ago, and now I’m up to 10. So I’m buying one every 2.4 months. I have about 20 CFLs left outside of the bathrooms. Outfitting the bathrooms with LEDs is going to be very expensive, so those will be last.

But replacing what’s left projects to take four years. So by the time this project is ready and practical, I may very well still be in the market for some bulbs.

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