40,000 Watt Energy Miser Lighthouse Lightbulb
– The Simpsons
We are in the process of changing over our lighting from CFL and incandescent bulbs to LEDs. We started with the lights that we use the most.
The kitchen fixture came with halogen GU10 lamps, but we found LED replacements that are as bright and slightly warmer than their predecessors. The only difference is that the bulbs are a bit longer than the original halogens. It doesn’t bother us at all.
We’ve also swapped our table lamp bulbs and utility fixtures (tip: Ikea LED bulbs are a good deal, and they are often on special), and we’re starting on ceiling lights.
For exposed-bulb fixtures that don’t see much use (like our restored vintage ceiling lights), we still use incandescents. As I mentioned in one restoration post, we intend to swap these lights over as well.
The problem is, most LED lights ain’t pretty. I mean, they aren’t anything like as bad as CFLs, but most of them are not winning any pageants.
Even though LEDs use much less electricity than standard bulbs, they still need a way to move heat away from the diodes themselves, often via exposed fins. This heat sink helps LEDs last a loooooong time, but they do change the look of the light. That doesn’t mean they can’t be attractive, though, as long as we update our thinking on what a bulb should or can be. After all, if we always stuck with how things used to look, bike rides would be much less fun.
As more companies manufacture LED lamps, there are more and better-looking options for exposed-light fixtures. Some of them incorporate the heat sink element as a design feature, and others emulate existing styles. Here are a few of the lookers now available.
1. Candlelabra/Chandelier Bulbs
LED manufacturers tackled the appearance of candlelabra bulbs early on. This Martek 3-watt flame-tip bulb (40w equivalent) is frosted so you don’t see the diodes inside, and they dressed it up with that bit of brass instead of the usual white plastic. This bulb could be used in a medium-base fixture with an adapter.
For a vintage look, try this flame-look bulb from Philips. It’s 4.5 watts (also 40w equivalent) with a medium base. It reminds me of turn-of-the-century flame lamp shades (like this shade from House of Antique Hardware).
If your vintage light takes candlelabra bulbs, these sympathetically styled LEDs have you covered.
2. Downlight Bulbs
While candlelabra bulbs are an easy visual transition, bulbs for more general use have a very different look. Brighter lights mean larger heat sinks, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This downlight bulb from ThorFire (seriously: ThorFire) makes a feature of the heat sink fins, adding a contrasting band. It almost looks steampunk to me. This 7-watt unit comes in warm and cool white versions, and replaces 70 watts of incandescent light.
Of course, I was so amused by the brand name that I had to do an image search. I passed up some fiery comic book covers in favor of this image that some dear friends will appreciate.
Moving on…the less divinely named SunSun Lighting offers this 40-watt equivalent bulb with a smooth, silver-tone heat sink, which would work great with chrome or nickel fixtures.
Come back to this bulb later if you have a chrome or nickel fixture, because you’re probably still snickering at THORFIRE!!!! or thinking of Chris Hemsworth (or both), depending on your inclinations.
3. Globe and Edison Bulbs
Archipelago Lighting built this 25w equivalent with an enclosed heat sink, making the bulb more traditional-looking. They also simulated the look of a filament around the diodes. If it had some confetti in it, it could be a London Shard snowglobe.
When this bulb is lit, I imagine it is indistinguishable from a clear incandescent globe.
There’s been quite a fashion for “Edison” filament bulbs in recent years. An Australian company, Edison Light Globes, brought LEDs to this trend by adding diodes and sinks to the old-school bulb shape. They offer these and other bulbs for 110/120- and 220/240-volt systems, and they look terrific.
Edison Globe also has a version of this bulb for 110-volt service (although the LED array isn’t as cool-looking as in the 220/240).
4. Traditional Bulb Shape
Change averse? Maybe you just want something that looks like a dang lightbulb already?
This one from LEDshine360 is a 40w equivalent and could not look more like a regular frosted incandescent bulb. If you really want that bare-lightbulb look you remember from your first place, you’re all set!
No more excuses! There’s a good LED for just about every fixture. Follow Thor’s example.