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TCP 75 Watt Equivalent 1-pack, Energy Star PAR30 LED Reflector Lamp (light bulb)

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Review of TCP 75 Watt Equivalent 1-pack, Energy Star PAR30 LED Reflector Lamp (light bulb), made by Sunlite

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer:

In the lighting industry's parlance, a "light bulb" is called a "lamp." To most consumers, a lamp is a fixture. Just to be clear, when I refer to "lamp" in this review I mean "light bulb" rather than the fixture that holds the lamp, socket, etc.

I've written about lighting extensively, for electrical trade magazines and a newsletter put out by a major electrical distributor. So keep that in mind when reading this review; it may help you feel more comfortable with what I'm about to tell you. Below this review is an explanation of LED; for most people it is worth the time to read. But it's not specific to this product.

The Amazon product page does an OK job of describing this lamp and its features (for example, that page tells you it's dimmable).

But it does not do a great job. As a reviewer, I will fill in the gaps there.

This is a PAR 30 lamp. Most people gloss over that, not understanding what PAR 30 means. It's important to understand, however. You may have guess that PAR, being in all caps, is an acronym. It stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector. This reflector (combined with a diffusing lens) is basically what makes LED lamps even usable. The number (e.g., PAR 30, PAR 38, etc.) refers to the dimensions of the bulb. In a PAR 30, the bulb is 3.75 inches in diameter at its widest. The lamps also come in long neck and short neck versions. This is a short neck lamp, but I installed it in a recessed can fixture anyhow. When you do that, what you get is reflection inside the fixture and more light dispersion. But sometimes the result isn't what you want. In this case, it worked out perfectly. Always worth a try.

This is also a flood lamp, something impossible for LED until only a few years ago. This flood, like all floods, casts line in a cone pattern. So when deciding were to use the lamp, observe the illumination cone. If used in a recessed can in a white room, there's backlight above the cone. Note that, because these LED lamps require a power supply similar to what's in a desktop computer (to provide the 3VDC to 5VDC power for this solid state device) all LED lamps of this type produce heat greater than what an incandescent does. That means if you use them in a recessed can, that can must be of the tall type suitable for use in fiberglass insulation if used inside a residence or office ceiling. If used in free air, no problem.

I tried this first in a full bathroom in the fixture above the vanity (which is against one wall). The cone wasn't sufficient for the light to be sufficient. Then I tried it in a half-bath where the single light fixture is exactly in the middle of the ceiling area. That looks amazingly good. This lamp replaced a 60W incandescent flood lamp and the light is noticeably better.

The white light makes it easy to see in there, so cleaning it is easier. Also, for those who like to read while on the throne this daylight spectrum light is much easier on the eyes than soft white.

LED lamps can be an excellent choice in the right application, or a bad choice in the wrong application. I gave you two applications to illustrate this point. Based on those, you should be able to determine if you can find a good place in which to install this lamp. Note that it doesn't have to be a ceiling fixture. I've got one of those tall gooseneck "floor lamps" and installed an LED in it. This one I'm reviewing would also work well in that application.

Some information on LED lighting

LED (light emitting diode) is not a variation of CFL (compact fluorescent). The CFL is a bad idea that I never bought into. In the typical home application, a CFL lamp actually results in a net waste of electricity versus an incandescent lamp. That's because of the high inrush current and abominably low power factor; it takes time to "pay off" those minuses with run time, and the typical run time isn't long enough. A CFL lowers the efficiency of all connected loads, including your refrigerator, by lowering power factor on the load side of your service. CFL also gives you light that is of unacceptably poor quality. CFL isn't compatible with existing lighting controls; if you have dimmers for incandescent lamps, you have to replace those with CFL-compatible ones. CFLs also have a short lifespan, quite the opposite of the propaganda that they are long-lasting.

LED is solid state, and thus efficiency is very high. But that also means it runs at the same voltage as what's inside your computer. So an LED lamp needs a 5V (or lower) power supply. If it's a direct replacement screw-in for a 120V incandescent, as this G30 is, that means it needs a power supply in its base. The power supply generates waste heat which, in some circumstances, is too much for a given application. For example, you generally do not want to use an LED in a recessed lighting "short can" fixture (the tall can is fine).

LED gives you many advantages. These include:

  • Ultra long life. This varies by model, but it's several times what you can get from an incandescent or CFL.
  • No mercury. Fluorescent lamps use mercury, and the CFL is no exception. How that device ever got onto the market I still do not understand. Having a few T8 lamps in your garage is one thing, having glass containers of mercury all throughout your house is just stupid. Count how many "light bulbs" you have.
  • Great color rendition, color temperature, etc. (if designed for those features, and most LED lamps are). Depending on the model, you can have very nice lighting.
  • Ultra low energy usage. Your typical 60W incandescent lamp puts out about 750/850 lumens. An LED direct replacement will use about 10W (most of that consumed by the power supply). If you replaced several of your most commonly used (in your home) incandescent lamps with LED lamps, you would see the difference in your electric bill.
  • Many interesting shapes and styles.
  • Compatibility with controls, such as dimming (if designed for that, and most LED lamps are).

The first LED direct replacement lamps that came out were not dimmable. Then it dawned on the lamp manufacturers that the target market for energy-efficient lamps would be, duh, people who cared about energy efficiency. What a concept. Such people have already made extensive use of dimmers. In our home, nearly every light is on a dimmer rather than just an on/off flip switch. That meant we could not buy LED lamps. Today, most such lamps are dimmable (including this one). Always look for that on the package. If you have dimmers in your house, it is best to buy ONLY dimmable lamps so you do not inadvertently mix and match.

Because I've replaced so many incandescent lamps with LED, I'm using considerably less electricity each month. In the summertime, this savings is amplified by the decreased load on the air conditioning (which I use sparingly, but when temps go past 100 DegrF that baby runs). If Congress (the opposite of progress) would end Daylight Wasting Time, I would not need to use lights in the morning. I'm still not sure why Congress imposes this energy-wasting, public endangerment (traffic fatalities and industrial injuries spike for the 3 weeks following each clock change) on us, but they do.

The big energy savings (even with DWT) also means less coal burned to satisfy my needs, so less mercury ending up in tuna fish, less acidification of the oceans, less destruction to coral reefs, etc.

I'm not saying buy a few LEDs and you save the world. My home is very energy-efficient in other ways, including all energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient HVAC/heat pump system, insulated doors and windows, wall insulation, extra insulation above the ceiling, energy-efficient habits, etc. What was missing prior to the emergence of dimmable LED lamps was a way to meaningfully reduce the electricity used in lighting. The LED lamps solved that problem.

 

 

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