In no particular order, this review features: types of lighting, backup generators, remembering CFLs, the cost of LED transfer, retail merchandising, CREE LEDs, my greatest fears, light bulb changing poles and finally answer the question of “how many people does it take to change a light bulb”.
It wasn’t concern about my carbon footprint or fighting climate change that finally motivated me enough to take inventory of every light in my house and trudge room to room with a clunky ladder to replace them all with LED lights – it was done to reduce our running wattage if/when we had to use our backup generator.
With incandescent light bulbs i.e. little pieces of glass and metal that produce enough heat to actually raise the ambient temperature of a room; you’re running watts are effectively the wattage of the bulb. e.g. a 60 watt bulb uses 60 constant watts to run for however long that bulb is on.
I’ll give you a moment to put your mind back together.
In my application for an emergency generator, all of those 60 watts, 100 watts here and there, add up quite quickly. The last thing I wanted to do is overload the generator because I turned on both overhead light fixtures when the electric water heater was on.
With LEDs that glass is replaced with plastic and stays cool enough to touch comfortably. Perhaps the best part, you receive an equal lumen output to your incandescent furnace, er light bulb, with a fraction of the running wattage. One lumen is the light output of one candle. I’m now using 60 watt equivalent bulbs that use only 9.5 watts
great for your electric bill and the environment, if you’re into that kinda thing.
LEDs last much longer as well. Though I’ll admit, it was a bit depressing knowing that I was changing a light bulb in a location for the last time in my lifetime.
However LEDs are not something new, though affordability has recently made it a viable option for most households. I was gradually migrating from incandescents and CFLs (the 1.0 environmentally friendly light bulb) to LEDs as they burnt out. We were quick(er) to hop onto the CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb) train back in its heyday during the mid-2000s.
Compact Fluorescent Lights took the longterm energy reducing properties of fluorescent lights and shrunk their ballast, leaving the core technology the same. Pressurized argon gas would allow electrons to flow from one electrode to the other, creating a photon arc which, when viewed through the phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb, would produce visible light.
The crux of the fluorescent light is inherent in its design. A relatively high voltage is required to start the illumination process. The colder the lamp is, the denser the argon gas, which in turn requires more voltage for the electrons to flow through the resistance. So while they run on very little wattage, it does use considerable energy to start them. The astute observer may have noticed that
industrial buildings using fluorescent lights leave them on 24/7 rather than turn them off and on
When we replaced our incandescents the first go around with CFLs – they came in a slew of Kelvin temperatures. Kelvin Color Scale is used to determine the visible color of the light produced. 2000K is red/orange, 6500k is blue.
These are colloquially known as cool (blue, high kelvin) and warm (red, low kelvin). Typically ‘warm’ lights are used in areas where aesthetics take precedence over function. Accent lights will almost always look better with a warm bulb just as you’ll almost always see fine print better with a more neutral ‘white’ light.
High kelvin bulbs should have been banned in the Geneva convention
Their ‘crisp’ blue hues are at least partially responsible (along with the incessant buzzing by the fluorescent ballasts) for more than one person’s headache during 4-hour long lectures.
Now advertised kelvin temperatures are hard to find, replaced by different marketing buzzwords depending on the company.
GE uses Relax to denote its warm bulbs (along with a warm color palette on its packaging materials) and Refresh to mark its cool bulbs (along with a blue color palette). The triumvirate would not be complete without the Reveal light (white light). However, the Reveal color scheme devolves from the theme of color representative packaging. Instead choosing a more luxurious color scheme and throwing on a ‘HD+ Light’ as a completely arbitrary attempt to justify their marginally higher cost.
$0.91 cents for a 60 watt LED bulb is pretty unheard of
A couple of these knocked out most of the household bulbs with roughly a dozen left over. A nice secondary benefit of LED bulbs is that you can use effectively higher lumen output bulbs than your fixture would allow with incandescent lights. There is also something to be said for a nice unified color output from your light fixtures
but that could just be my neuroticism talking
A few miscellaneous candelabra bulbs later (B10 is not an E12 by the way, message me if you want specifics) and the attic, upstairs and downstairs was complete.
But now the real challenge (and cost) would begin...exterior flood lights
My house sits on a sloping ~40° grade, which makes the back of my house nearly 2.5x the height of the front. Nowhere is this more pronounced than the back corner, where you guessed it, a dual flood light fixture is mounted.
I have three fears – heights, zombies and spiders. Lord help me if I’m ever on a roof with an undead spider. So I’m never too keen on replacing these bulbs as
I’ll often have to overcome at least two of these fears - obviously heights and zombies
So it’s always been important that they last as long as possible. This is where a bit of research was involved which ultimately led me to the CREE LED.
CREE is the Aston Martin of the LED world
They have a plethora of patents for concentrating lumen density, extending the life of an LED bulb and some other tertiary benefits. For my application, that meant weather ‘proof’ and shatter ‘proof’.
But such benefits come at a price and the eight bulbs I would need to complete my LED transformation came in at just over $100. But that’s a small price to pay if I never had to change these bulbs again. Not to mention (ok I’m mentioning it) that my old 120 watt incandescent flood lights were getting an upgrade to a 150 watt equivalent while only using 19 watts of power!
Now we’ll take a brief, albeit relevant, segue into retail merchandising
Most brick and mortar retailers will have floor plans, schematics or displays issued by their corporate office and are dependent on in-store personnel to execute the floor plan with their quantity on hand (current stock).
It is literally just plug and play, put this item here in this quantity. The only part that requires any cognitive ability is when the quantity on hand doesn’t match or a particular store isn’t allocated any of product A because of demographics, volume, store size or type (freestanding vs mall). Then in-store personnel must ‘flex and fill’ merchandise.
That background information was relevant to talk about add-on items. These again are set by the corporate office and can be as simple as a clipper strip hanging from a shelf or a bulk stack on the floor in front of a relevant selection of products. A common add on item will be batteries in front of flashlights, chip clips in front of chips, etc.
At the “Hom De Pot” I was shopping in, they had a bulk stack of light bulb changing poles for acrophobic homeowners such as myself, in the same aisle with the light bulbs. Good looking out!
Being the cynic that I am, I immediately questioned the efficacy of such an item and I looked for, get this, reviews!
I really enjoyed the authenticity of this review and it gave me the information needed to feel confident in purchasing the item.
Now armed with what certainly has to be the biggest advancement in ‘technology’ since the transistor radio.
I was more eager than ever to complete my LED transition.
The light bulb changing pole kit (there’s got to be a better name for this thing) comes with a number of attachments. I was confident the suction cup would be the way to go but couldn’t seem to find the right amount of moisture to apply to the suction cup so it would adhere securely to the bulb without slipping when loosening or tightening a bulb.
I ended up just using the suction cup for one light bulb that I could have easily reached with a step ladder. Now that I had ‘proof of concept’ for my application and not some staged, edited or otherwise manipulated by magic, YouTube video (I’m cynical, remember?)
it was time to conquer l'ampoule effrayante, that’s French for...‘the scary light bulb'
The bulb changing kit (as it’s called by the manufacturer; meh…) adds 11 feet to your reach which when combined with my ~9 feet of height and reach allowed me to graze the bottom of the flood light fixture. I’d need a ladder but I wouldn’t have to scale 20 feet in the air – that’s a win in my book.
Due to the grade of my yard, we had to position the ladder at such an unconventional angle that it required two other family members to ‘anchor it’ while I stood on the third rung and canted my body into the most awkward side plank you’ve ever seen.
So three people to change a light bulb. I regret nothing
Long story short (not), the EZ Light Bulb Changer (now we’re getting somewhere) works, with a learning curve. It is a metal pole so don’t be an idiot since you are technically working with electricity. Is it necessary to turn off your flood lights at the breaker? Probably not. But should you do it with the light switch flipped on? I wouldn’t recommend it.
My total cost for the LED transition was $227 including the Super Awesome Light Bulb Changing Pole (I’d buy that even if I didn’t have electricity). I can run every light in my house now using approximately 532 watts of power.
The equivalent of 5 of my old flood lights
I’m not saying for sure that I fixed global warming but I’m not not saying that either. You’re welcome earth.