I just picked up two of the new Cree LED light bulbs from Home Depot, a 6 watt, 2700K, 450 lumen and a 9.5 watt, 2700K, 800 lumen. After playing with them for a bit at home, but not at my cabin where they will eventually go, I have mixed feelings about them. Here are the pros and cons as I see them - ignoring the already commonly known drawbacks of CFL's:
- Efficiency. The bulbs were spot on after warming up at 6W (40W) and 9.5W (60W) respectively. The power factor for both was 0.96. The Phillips 40W equivalent CFL's I currently use consume 9.6 watts with a 0.57 power factor. The Cree gives me a substantial 37% power savings over the equivalent CFL.
- Color. The soft white bulbs look good to me, although I'm not a color snob. If I had to compare them to an incandescent, I'd say they're a bit more yellow to my eyes.
- Bulb temperature. The bulb itself is relatively cool to the touch, much more so than an incandescent and even a CFL. The Cree does have what seems to be a ceramic ring around the base of the bulb that does get hot, although not as much as an incandescent.
- Safety-coated glass. While not absolutely necessary, it is a nice touch.
- Size. The Cree bulb was taller than I expected. It was tall enough that it protruded from the top of my dining room light fixture. Here are it's dimensions compared to a standard incandescent and Phillips Mini Twist CFL:
Cree 6W LED: height = 4.75", width = 2.41"
40W incandescent: height = 4.29", width = 2.35"
Phillips 9W CFL: height = 3.24", width = 1.81"
- Light direction. Cree claims the bulbs are omnidirectional, but I don't find that to be the case. When I installed one of the bulbs in my hanging light fixture, there was a conspicuous lack of light directed toward the bottom and top - enough so that I would not want to use them in that location (see pics below). Their "filament tower", as they call it, actually directs most of the light to the sides. I did install the 9.5W bulb in a light fixture with a shade, and the directional effect is minimized.
The Cree bulb is on the left.
In the end, I probably won't be using many of these in my house. I will, however, install them throughout my cabin where they don't need to meet the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). The majority of my energy use in wintertime at my cabin is lighting, and it's also when I will be producing the least amount of solar power. A 37% savings in power for lighting will definitely help extend my battery capacity.