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Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever? 235

Posted by timothy
from the slave-to-flashim' dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A spate of smart LED bulbs and light sockets are coming to market and seeking crowdfunding, following the (apparent) success of Philips Hue. But do they really make sense for lighting control? Here's a comprehensive roundup of 13 products and the pros and cons of the category." I like the idea of controllable, long-lasting light bulbs, but I haven't yet been tempted enough to pay $50 apiece.
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Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever?

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  • by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:32AM (#43189211)
    Ok. Slightly better. But why wireless? Why internet? If you are not home do you need to control lights? If you are that bad about not turning off lights when you leave are you really going to remember once your gone? You need more than a dimmer switch? Really? Why? Why not wire all the lights to a central keypad in the home(think dedicated tablet computer). Can't wait for these to be wide spread enough to where you can drive down the street at christmas time, hack the entire blocks house lights and turn it into a spectacular light show for yourself set to music.
  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:37AM (#43189217)
    We've had LED bulbs for a while in Taiwan, and I've never seen them go above about $30usd (and even that is on the high side). I'm constantly hearing about $50 and even $80 bulbs in the states. Do you all have special tariffs on LEDs there?
  • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:46AM (#43189225) Homepage

    In the UK, normal LED bulbs designed as plug-in replacements for incandescent and CLF bulbs typically cost about £13. The Philips Hue bulb, which can change colour with a remote control costs about £50.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:11AM (#43189367)

    Right after the holidays there are loads of xmas strings of lamps.

    The color balance can range from nice to awful.
    A small string can be wound around a foil covered cardboard tube with a lamp adapter at the end.

    The whole thing only draws a few watts.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:22AM (#43189397)

    In Germany, they cost 10€-20€: http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85Z%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=farbwechsel+birne&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afarbwechsel+birne [amazon.de]

    I personally like the volleyball sized ones: http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85Z%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=farbwechsel+kugel&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afarbwechsel+kugel [amazon.de]

    They are great for nights outside on the balcony with the laptop and a cigar. I also have one that is waterproof for the pool. I find them in the junk bins in discount supermarkets.

  • by anubi (640541) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:18AM (#43189569) Journal
    I have noted some MR16 LED's I bought run hot. The "Shoe Palace" at the local mall installed this same kind of lighting and I notice about 10% of their emitters are now dead. It is my belief that the LED's were sold on their initial appearance of being very bright, not for their longevity. So the marketers overdrive them to make the specs look good for a quick sale.

    I bought mine for outdoor illumination, but after examining them, it appears they are very poorly sealed against moisture. Not the LED, rather its the inverter electronics that appears quite vulnerable to condensation which would be expected in an outdoor application, much like you would expect same in a bathroom application.

    I have been looking at those 10-watt LED chip arrays from China, which look like they would survive outdoors as long as I ran them substantially below their rated power due to not having them heat sunk very well. They still need a driver, but in this case, I will put up with the inefficiency of using a ballast resistor in order to get the reliability and robustness against moisture that I do not believe I can get from a buck ( switching ) converter.in a wet environment.

    I definitely wanted the outside lighting to run on 12 volts ( DC, full wave rectified, minimal filtering for voltage spikes that would destroy the LED ), I considered the 12 volt 20 watt MR16 halogens unsuitable because their current draw demanded heavy expensive wire, I wanted to run my lights with repurposed CAT5 cable ( which I have lots of) snaked in old garden hose as a direct burial conduit. Obviously, the ends are exposed to water, kids and pets, so line voltage is definitely out. I can get 10 ohm 25 watt ( 1 volt per 100 mA ) ballast resistors pretty cheap, and run them way under rating so they barely run warm. They are well sealed, so if they get wet, no big deal.

    You may have seen a lot of indicator type LED's and small flashlights and think these things are the ideal cold light source. When I played with higher powered LED's ( 1 watt and up ), I was quite dismayed with how much heat I was going to have to deal with. Incandescents make even more heat, but the heat does not destruct the lamp like heat will shorten the lifetime of a LED.

    I have several UltraFire WF-502B flashlights I bought so I could re-use the lithium 18650 style cells I recovered from "spent" power tool and laptop battery packs. I was doing some research on how to build charge equalizers with the cells and later fell in love with the lithium cell technology. These are quite nice high powered flashlights which deliver an unusual amount of light. The flashlights are made from machined aluminum, and they are the first flashlight I have ever had that ran noticeably warm after it has been turned on for a few minutes. They have about a 5 watt LED in them, on a massive block of aluminum heat sunk to the aluminum body of the flashlight. Yes, a beautiful design, and it also illustrates well that high power LED's will heat up.

    I know our Government is doing all they can do to ram Fluorescent and LED technology down our collective throats. It is still my firm belief that those technologies are downright dangerous in the bathroom, where condensation wets the innards of the thing, then when you turn it on, ka-blooie! By their construction, incandescent bulbs are extremely resistant to condensation ( and if they are on, no condensation will happen because of the heat ).

    Yes, there are some good bulbs out there. There is also a lot of junk. I do not want to diss the new stuff, but in my book, its too early to retire the legacy incandescent.

    I have seen the color changing ones where one can custom mix red, green, blue, white LED outputs to make almost any desired hue, and they have their application. I do not know if I really want it all that bad, but maybe it would be good for things like mood lighting. I know I highly prefer my light around 2700K, ( quite yellowish ), but others may want the higher temperature 6000K ( downright cold bluish ) light.
  • by nblender (741424) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:15AM (#43189707)

    Admittedly not a lot of people want this but .... We have a place out in the forest... Sometimes when we arrive, it's late at night and it's _dark_ out there... I mean, if it's overcast and the middle of the winter, you can't see _anything_... So we have a yard light that I control remotely via crappy unreliable X-10.. The house is already internet connected via cellphone so I have various scripts on my webserver to let me control things like the thermostat and the X10 yard light. yeah; you could keep the car headlights on until you can get up to the door, unlock it, and turn the lights on.. The remotely controllable yard light also works well in conjunction with the security camera.. Infrared mode doesn't work all that well.

    No, not life changing but a small matter of convenience.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:23AM (#43189915) Homepage Journal

    CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !

    Fluorescent lights give me a headache. I don't care if this is supposed to be medically possible, since it happens to me. They all do it, though some are substantially worse than others. So-called "daylight" fluorescents are the worst, e.g. ott-lite. Those give me a headache in record time.

    Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.

    Only idiots believe that solar panels take more energy to make than they will produce, which has been false since the 1970s.

    IGPs? Sure, I only play cheesy online Flash solitaire, but I NEED A quad 7990 and an external 3KW PSU just to feed it.

    My problem with IGPs is that they are from intel in which case they really are shit (I actually play games in 3d, this is no longer a corner case since the majority of the population of the USA plays video games) or from AMD in which case the drivers are shit. I've owned several systems with embedded nVidia graphics. That's in the chipset, though.

    Electric cars? They "had to" push it home on that show with the car guys. And Elon Musk eats Christian babies.

    There's at least as much support for EVs here as against.

    And LED bulbs? Still new enough that you have the uninformed Luddites bitching that they cost $60 each, despite the fact that you can now buy them for under $20 regularly and around $10 on sale

    How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT. You must spend real money on an LED lamp to get one that even has current limiting, let alone power regulation.

  • Where you get the bullshit idea that "you need quite a few of them just to light one room" is anybody's guess.

    They probably get it from reality. You can rarely sufficiently light a full room with a single incandescent. LED lamps which aren't directional are lossy and wasteful. GE has a design for incandescents which are twice as efficient as normal, I'd rather use them. Every LED lamp which isn't fifty bucks that I've seen has agonizing flicker, as well. They give me headaches just like CFLs.

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:57AM (#43190363) Homepage

    CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !

    I find the five minutes or so they take to "warm up" a bit annoying, but what I can't live with is the poor colour rendering and unbelievable amounts of RF noise they put out. The fact that they draw slightly more power than comparable incandescents (as measured by the fuel flow meter on the generator) just puts the icing on the cake, for me.

    Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.

    I'd prefer an RTG, but no-one seriously cares that they take more energy to produce than they make. What they do is they make it possible to produce energy quietly a long way from existing energy sources. In any case, the "more energy to make than they produce" thing hasn't really been true for a couple of decades.

    IGPs? Sure, I only play cheesy online Flash solitaire, but I NEED A quad 7990 and an external 3KW PSU just to feed it.

    Some people do need fairly hefty machines that run all the time. I suspect that most of the properly geeky people on here have a couple of machines at home that run 24/7 and are always doing *something* - rendering, compiling, encoding video or audio or even just running Folding@Home.

    Electric cars? They "had to" push it home on that show with the car guys. And Elon Musk eats Christian babies.

    I'm coming round to the idea of electric cars. They still need to charge more quickly, and once we work out some way of breaking the laws of physics that will come. I actually *do* use 600 miles tank range quite often, and I can easily get through a couple of tanks of diesel in a week. If I'm driving a long distance I stop every couple of hours for a break, so if I could get roughly 200 miles at normal motorway speeds out of about 20 minutes of charging (time for a cup of tea, a bit of food and a pish) then that would work pretty well for me.

    LED bulbs rock, but they have the same poor colour rendering problem as CFLs. If they could get flatter spectrum phosphors they would be excellent. As it is, I keep incandescents around for working on electronic stuff because it's very hard to read the markings on tiny surface-mount components by CFL or LED.

  • by ebh (116526) <edhorchNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:06PM (#43191471) Journal

    The problem I have with Crees is th form factor. We have recessed lighting in our kitchen, mostly R30, and the fixtures are 40 years old, certainly superseded by newer standards. Regular R-30 bulbs fit perfectly. The Cree equivalents take some work to fit right, especially the ones with the built-in bezels.

    That said, I love the light they produce. It's a bit brighter, and only slightly whiter than the light the 65W incandescents put out, at a fifth the power consumption.

    I have one question for the pick-your-color manufacturers: Have you ever consulted an interior designer? The colors of paint, fabric, etc. in a room are all picked with specific lighting in mind, both natural and from lamps. Start futzing with it, and things will start looking crappy. Ever wonder why a hotel room looks fine under CFLs but the same CFLs in your bedroom make everything an ashy grey? It's because the colors in the hotel room were picked specifically because they complement the color spectrum put out by the CFLs.

    I'm looking forward to the day not far off when I can have all LED lighting in the house, but I have no desire to make radical color changes (except for special applications people have mentioned ike aids for the deaf).

"You're a creature of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this." -- from the movie "The Lost Boys"