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New Crop of LED Filament Bulbs Look Almost Exactly Like Incandescents 328

An anonymous reader writes A recent article posted on a green building site gives a detailed analysis of a creative new kind of LED bulb that has been popping up Europe and Asia over the last year. They look almost exactly like Tungsten filament bulbs, require no heat sink, and offer extremely high efficiencies in the 100-120 lm/W range. The article describes their construction, compares them to conventional LED bulbs, and describes the result of a report by the Swedish Energey Agency that analyzed the performance of several brands of these these bulbs on the European market. Particularly interesting are links to teardown videos.
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New Crop of LED Filament Bulbs Look Almost Exactly Like Incandescents

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:06PM (#49245803)

    Is it 3D printed? No.
    Is it the Internet of Things? No.
    Is it Elon Musk? No.

    How can anyone think this will work?

    • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:23PM (#49246385)

      Ah but you can get WiFi enabled ones, that can adjust color/light levels in conjunction with whatever TV show is on.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@ w o r l d 3 . net> on Friday March 13, 2015 @08:06AM (#49248727) Homepage Journal

        I don't know why remote control lights are not more popular in the west. In Japan other parts of east Asia they are very common. Typically bedrooms and living rooms have a large central dome light with remote control. The remote controls the brightness and these days often the colour hue as well. Daylight, warm white and very warm white are standard options. The more advanced ones let you control the direction of the light as well, so for example when watching a movie you can dim most of the room but back-light the TV a bit to improve the apparent black level.

        The lights are usually LED, around 5000lm but highly diffuse. I've never seen anything like them in the west, just stupid RGB wifi enabled crap with no practical purpose.

    • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @10:17PM (#49247041)

      Is it 3D printed? No.
      Is it the Internet of Things? No.
      Is it Elon Musk? No.

      How can anyone think this will work?

      You forgot to point out that it isn't from Apple... Obviously, all other bulbs will become obsolete when the iBulb comes out...

  • Tubes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lisaparratt ( 752068 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:14PM (#49245861)

    Someone needs to use this tech to make fake nixies, they'd look great.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:16PM (#49245877) Homepage

    We have a bunch of these--had to mail order them, since they aren't available at retail yet. They look very realistic, and produce a nice warm light. I wouldn't want them for my only lighting, but compared to the old fake edison bulbs, they are fantastic--no stupid excess of heat, and much more efficient.

    • by Khomar ( 529552 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:45PM (#49246109) Journal

      I am curious if they still have the property of not attracting insects. One of the things we discovered while in Texas is that LED bulbs were great for outdoor lighting when you didn't want to attract insects like a normal light bulb inevitably does. Apparently, it has to do with the LED lights not transmitting light at certain frequencies. With a warmer light, they may be transmitting frequencies now that will attract insects. It would be great for indoor lighting, but it loses the benefit when used outdoors.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:43PM (#49246517)

        Yeah well I like my porch light attracting bugs. Bugs attract geckos and geckos are fuckin' awesome.

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @12:34AM (#49247537)

        Insect attraction predominantly comes in the UV and the infrared spectrum. I don't think there is an appreciable difference in the spectrum to change the attractiveness to bugs.

        Also of note is the primary spectral components don't change with colour temperature. Only the relative intensities between the blue and the red component where the warm light will have a higher concentration of red emitting phosphor and less in the blue change. The fundamental frequencies are the same.

        Also for a really strange night, put one of those nightclub UV bulbs out on your porch. They attract some really weird bugs.

  • price? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [erauqssemitelcric]> on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:41PM (#49246059) Homepage Journal

    i want to go LED so bad but waiting for a good price point

    • Re:price? (Score:4, Informative)

      by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:53PM (#49246581) Homepage

      waiting for a good price point

      I don't know how much these cost where you live, but where I live I can get LED bulbs at Home Depot from $6 to $20 depending on quality and brightness. They have an expected lifetime of 20+ years, and I don't have to change the light in that time. To me, this is a no-brainer and I've been buying LEDs for my whole house.

      In fairness, I know that the power company where I live is subsidizing the bulbs, and absent the subsidy they would cost more. But it seems likely that you might be able to buy subsidized bulbs where you live too.

      Also, I just checked the EarthLED [earthled.com] web site, and without asking me where I live, the site showed me a deal: $100 for a 20-pack of LED bulbs. I've never heard of the brand ("Euri") but surely you could pay $5 per bulb for something that will last so long?

      I like the Cree TrueWhite bulbs and I pay extra for them. LED bulbs tend to be a bit too yellow, so Cree developed a "notch filter" that takes out some of the yellow from the light, correcting the color. But now the light is a bit dimmer since some was taken out; so Cree puts a few extra LED modules into the bulb. Result: same amount of light, better color, consumes a little more power but not too much more.

      I have also replaced all the 48-inch fluorescent fixtures in my home with Cree Linear LS4 fixtures at 3500K color temperature. Wow, it's so much nicer light and completely silent. Totally worth it.

      If you are using incandescent bulbs, and you replace your most-commonly-used ones with LED bulbs, you will save enough money on electricity to pay for the new bulbs within a reasonable time. If you already have compact fluorescent bulbs, and you don't mind their light, then LEDs aren't guaranteed to pay for themselves right away and it might make sense to keep waiting. Otherwise, go for it.

      • great info, thank you, very tempting

        time to take the plunge

      • Depends on where you live. Here in Brazil lamps that use LEDs are still only a "curiosity" and which are charged as a luxury item as any decent electronic around here.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        In Europe places like Aldi and Lidl sell 800lm (70W equivalent) bulbs for about £2.50 each, which is something like $4. No subsidy, 20 year expected lifespan.

        For about £6 you can get more efficient ones (100lm/W) with a five year warranty on sale some times, normal price about £10. The situation is similar in Japan. I don't know why the US is so expensive, even with subsidies.

    • The price point is already great, when you consider the operating cost.

    • I ordered a whole load from Aliexpress for around $4 each. Given the expected life of them and the efficiency I thought that was a pretty good pricepoint.

      Plus they really are pretty to look at, and dimmable! (you can specify dimmable or otherwise, voltage, and fitting type)

      So far the ones I got in 4W and 6W configurations emit light comparable to 40W and 60W bulbs imho, They run cool, barely getting warm after long use. The colour is very nice, much better than the old style LEDs, i.e. without the blue

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:41PM (#49246065)

    I heat my house with incandescent bulbs. Until LED's can do the same thing, I will never switch. What kind of an idiot would switch to a less efficient method of lighting AND heating their house?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      LEDs could do the same thing. 300 watts of incandescent and 300 watts of LED will do the same heating.

      You'll just have a lot more light with the latter.

    • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:53PM (#49246179)
      Forget those new fangled light bulbs, I still burn whale oil to light my house. A little pricey to import from Japan, but well worth the effort in the end.
    • You better stock up then, since incandescent bulk are actively being phased out at the moment, with the federal government prohibiting both manufacturing and imports of bulbs that consume too many watts per lumen. Expect it to become very hard to find 100w and 60w incandescent bulbs before long. So.. You will be forced to give them up kicking and screaming when you can no longer find them in the store, or pay an insane premium for old stock on eBay. (there are some pretty nice 60w alternative led bul
    • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:52PM (#49246571)

      I know you are joking but there are more efficient methods of heating than resistive heating. Namely heat pumps.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        Don't you mean there are cheaper methods of heating than resistive heating? Because as far as I can tell, resistive heating is 100% efficient. Incandescents convert some fraction of the input energy to visible light. Almost all of the rest is emitted as heat. And if there was no light emitted, a resistive element is nearly 100% efficient. It's just that compared to cheap gas it's not particularly cheap to heat with electricity.

        My computer is 100% efficient at converting every last drop of electricity t

        • by kybred ( 795293 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @12:43AM (#49247561)

          Don't you mean there are cheaper methods of heating than resistive heating? Because as far as I can tell, resistive heating is 100% efficient. Incandescents convert some fraction of the input energy to visible light. Almost all of the rest is emitted as heat. And if there was no light emitted, a resistive element is nearly 100% efficient.

          No, he means more efficient [wikipedia.org]:

          In electrically powered heat pumps, the heat transferred can be three or four times larger than the electrical power consumed, giving the system a coefficient of performance (COP) of 3 or 4, as opposed to a COP of 1 for a conventional electrical resistance heater, in which all heat is produced from input electrical energy.

          Translation: If your heating is all electric, with resistive heating you get a watt of heat per watt of electricity. With a heat pump you get more that one watt of heat per watt of electricity.

    • Do what the rest of us do and heat the house with your computer.
  • by SWPadnos ( 191329 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:45PM (#49246103)

    https://www.superbrightleds.co... [superbrightleds.com]:

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:54PM (#49246185)

    These are really cool. But it did make me chuckle when the article talked about how current LED candelabra bulb in particular are quite ugly. The candelabra bulbs were made to (poorly) mimic the shape of candle flame, and now we are attempting to mimic that imitation because we have gotten used to the way it looks :)

    • The candelabra bulbs were made to (poorly) mimic the shape of candle flame, and now we are attempting to mimic that imitation because we have gotten used to the way it looks :)

      In 1910 Sears. Roebuck was sold both (portable!) gas and electric lamps and chandeliers. Sears, Roebuck Home Builder's Catalog: The Complete Illustrated 1910 Edition [amazon.com]

      It has never been easy or cheap to change the way you illuminate your home. Think of the ways light affects how we perceive food and table sevice, skin tones, colors and textures in wall coverings, fabrics and so on.

  • by snikulin ( 889460 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @07:55PM (#49246195)

    ... but on a very micro scale

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:08PM (#49246291)
    77V average forward voltage with 10mA of current and delivers 102 lumens. The high voltage somewhat simplifies the driving circuitry. I'm assuming its around 20 forward elements in series per filament. The overall bulb efficiency is probably 70% of the filament. Overall a pretty nice spectral response from the phosphors and the light seems to look good (not sure as I've only seen video). The lack of heat problems seems believable if the efficiency is as good as is claimed.
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:11PM (#49246311) Homepage

    They look almost exactly like Tungsten filament bulbs

    In my house there are three consecutive rooms: one with an incandescent bulb, the second with a compact fluorescent and the third one with a LED light. I asked my kids which one they prefer and to my surprise, they both chose the LED light. Then I bought a somewhat "warmer" LED and put it in the corridor next to the white LED room. As an old timer, I prefer the warmer LED. Not my kids. They describe it as artificially yellow and again to my surprise they choose the whiter LED.

    The only reason we prefer the ugly yellow hue from indandescents is because we are used to i. It isn't "warm", its sucky. Same with thing happened when gas lighting was first replaced by incandescents: people pined for the soft orange glow of gas lights but within a few years people realized how bad that hue was.

    My kids, young and unencumbered by tradition prefer the LED lights. So will everyone else rather soon, as we slowly transition to whiter more sunlight-like hues that are now possible with LEDs.

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:24PM (#49246395) Homepage Journal

      Given that shorter wavelengths suppress melatonin production, that "bug" may actually be a feature we want to retain.

    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:28PM (#49246417)

      For the entire history of the human race nearly all the lighting we have encountered has been block-body radiation, and a black body spectrum will always look better and more natural to us than other light spectrum. So florescent and sodium vapor will finally die off as LEDs become less expensive, but variations in color temperature will never go away. Warm lights will always feel more cozy and intimate just like campfires and candles have always been. Cool light will always feel a bit dreary, like an overcast day. And Daylight spectrum will always feel bright and cheerful. Opinions on whether a living room should be bright and cheerful or warm and comforting may vary. But unless we somehow stop experiencing natural lighting whatsoever, and evolve into Morlocks, variants of black body light will retain their historical associations.

    • When there aren’t other temperature lights for comparison the human eye/brain adjusts. A fully tungsten-lit room looks just as normal as a fully daylight-lit room after a minute or two. In darker rooms, warmer lights don't kill night vision like cooler lights, so you can see dimmer areas better. (That's why astronomers and soldiers in the field use red lights to illuminate their maps.) Also warmer lights resemble a fireplace or candles. Both those factors are comforting -- the former for practical rea

    • We went through this when we converted all our lights to LED. Room by room I swapped in 7000k LEDs. Initially we felt it was stark and sterile but then over time we started to associate the "yellow" rooms with being a bit dirty / dingy. For about 3 months we were only going to go 7000s in the main living areas and leave the warm white in the bedrooms / lounge. Now though we are white throughout the whole house. The best part is it is so close to daylight that when it is gloomy outside during the day th

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Lights on during the day?

        You don't need 7000k LEDs, you need a house with windows.

        Good luck with your circadian cycle in the meantime! (I'll just leave this fuckton of citations over here [justgetflux.com].)

        • Seriously are you saying that you never have days where it is a bit miserable and gloomy outside and you would like a little more light inside??

          Christ half my house is glass and I live in Brisbane where it is sunny most of the time and I still get days where it is dull and crap outside.

          As for my circadian cycle no one in my family has trouble sleeping. Never has and we have had these lights for over 2 years now.

      • Yep, same here. We converted our whole house to daylight bulbs. Initially it felt a little weird...when you entered the room, it just seemed strange. After weeks you get accustomed to it, and then it actually starts looking a lot better then the crappy yellow lights.

        The weird part about the whole process, though (at least for me), is that you don't just get accustomed to the color of the light...you get accustomed to the color of the light in that particular space. We'd convert one room, and after we adjust

        • And did you have the strange sensation of having the yellow light bleed into a white light room and look at the yellow light and think "that just looks BAD". And not in a poor taste way but in a something doesn't look right there, perhaps I should steer clear. Kinda as if it was a deep red and was a door way to hell.

    • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @09:54PM (#49246919)

      While I agree that the preference for low color temperature illumination indoors is to some extent a matter of past experience, I claim that there is also a physiological basis for this preference, and that this too contributes (although does not entirely explain) to the reason why people like tungsten light.

      The Purkinje Effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] is the basis for the Kruithof curve http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K... [wikipedia.org] which quantifies a relationship between the color temperature and illuminance of a light source that is regarded as pleasing/comfortable for human vision. That is to say, at lower illuminance, human color vision is mesoptic (a blend of photopic or "cone-based" and scotopic "rod-based"), and so is less sensitive to longer visible wavelengths than shorter ones than at high illuminance, where photopic vision dominates. This partly explains why, in a dark room, blue LEDs frequently seem almost painfully bright compared to red ones (another component is that the blue LED may actually be brighter). Therefore, for the purposes of indoor illumination, our eyes tend to find high color temperatures to be "harsh" or "glaring."

      Nevertheless, to a certain extent, this perception can be overcome with exposure and time. But I do think that the evidence suggests it is not simply a matter of what generation one grew up in, or that such preferences have no physiological basis.

    • My kids, young and unencumbered by tradition prefer the LED lights.

      You can get any color temp you want with LEDs same as old fashion bulbs. If your kids prefer a higher color temperature this may only indicate they prefer a higher temp bulb rather than a useful comparison between LED and Incandescent. If the test isn't apples to apples its worthless.

      So will everyone else rather soon, as we slowly transition to whiter more sunlight-like hues that are now possible with LEDs.

      No, different people have different color temperature preferences. This isn't changing anytime in the foreseeable future. Huge markets for both high and low temperature bulbs not going away anytime soon. LED changes nothin

      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        Huge markets for both high and low temperature bulbs not going away anytime soon. LED changes nothing.

        Huh? for most of the last 100 years we pretty much had a single temperature choice: yellow incandescent. A bit more recently we had halogen (relatively successful) and CFLs (not really). What is this huge temperature market you talk about?

    • The only reason we prefer the ugly yellow hue from indandescents is because we are used to i. It isn't "warm", its sucky. Same with thing happened when gas lighting was first replaced by incandescents: people pined for the soft orange glow of gas lights but within a few years people realized how bad that hue was.

      Yep, your mind prefers what you already know and like. Another example...120 hz TV's with the motion smoothing feature. You would think a smoother motion video would be preferred by your mind...after all, it's used to seeing reality most of the time, which has an infinite frame rate (or whatever the biological limits are...close enough to infinite). Yet, a good number of people (myself included) prefer the choppiness of 24Hz or 30Hz video. I don't see anything technically wrong with the higher frame rate pl

  • This is really going to confuse the interior-designer hipsters. "What do I do: Use new technology that looks old, or waste energy?! Ahhhhhh."

  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Thursday March 12, 2015 @08:47PM (#49246547)

    Cree for the higher lumen stuff, and Ikea (dunno who makes theirs) for the 200-lumen stuff.

    Both the Cree and Ikeas I get are 2700k, and trust me on this.. I was a huge tungsten snob, it's all about the color temperature.. I bought the LED lie hook line and sinker.

    All of mine are opaque (soft white) and when they're in the fixtures, they're indistinguishable from the tungsten.

    My power draw for my lighting (all-up) was around 550 watts. Now it's around 56. (both figures calculated by totting up all the wattage from all the fixtures)

    There's also a knock-on effect, the LEDs run so much cooler I suspect the AC runs less. Maybe not a lot less, but any less is welcome.

    The only thing I haven't LED-ified is the home cinema, due to the lighting requirements there it's all MR-16 mostly 10* 20w spots on a dimmer, rarely run them brighter than 50%. For now I refuse to give these up.

    Oh the bathroom is also still tungsten. Four huge 25w globes. These new filament-type LED may just the thing to LED-ify the bathroom.

    And yes.. I've also noticed a lack of bug-attraction with LED, as evidenced by the two 1000-lumen LED monsters in the garage. Barely any bugs wander in. A moth maybe. A bee, once. But nothing near the bugstorm induced by my very brief fling with CFL. Very brief. Like 2 days. I hate them. Hate hate hate!

    LED FTW

  • That's like a LED TV inside a bulky CRT box. The enclosure is not necessary and adds to price and environmental impact unnecessarily. Also an extra hazard if it's glass. I would rather have modern minimalistic look and creative shapes enabled by technology. Is it really necessary for bulbs to be changeable now that they last for lifetime of the fixture? And why not have one central transformer for the whole chandelier (if not low voltage outlets in the room)? Got to be more efficient.

    • I've bought a couple of LED replacement fixtures for less than the cost of putting LED 'bulbs' into the old ones, rated for the same amount of light even.

      I agree, design the fixture for the type of light, and consider replacing the whole fixture. By the time the thing dies, I might be tired of looking at that design anyways.

      I'll note that due to the extra space of having the light come from a fixture rather than a 'bulb', the concerns about heat-sinking are generally eliminated.

      One thing I did do, however,

  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @02:20AM (#49247783) Homepage

    I find it interesting that there are sound engineering reasons behind this shape, not just the retro look. The filament shape solves the 360 degree light distribution of most LED lamps but raises the issue of how to cool it effectively when not in contact with a heat sink. Helium has a much higher heat conductivity than air and moves the heat effectively to the envelope. Holding the helium for years without leaking is difficult requires something more gas tight than plastic. Forunately, there are many factories for glass bulbs that would otherwise be closed due to the decline in incandescent lamp sales. The technology for the glass envelope and sealed leads is a result of many years decades of development and probably would not have been worth the investment just for this purpose but these factories are already there with trained personnel and fully depreciated equipment.

    • by Neil Boekend ( 1854906 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @04:03AM (#49248025)

      TFA talks about the filament temperature: 60C. This is no problem. It does use a special gas to keep the temp that low but TFA does not explain what gas because the writers do not know. Presumably helium.

      Holding helium for years is easy. Sealed glass is traditional in bulb manufacturing and is sufficiently helium tight. Incandescent bulbs have that, because the filament would not survive oxygen.
      Typical He leak rates for stainless steel tubing with good welds and good flange connections is 10^-8 mbar*l/sec (my job).
      I assume serial produced sealed glass bulbs can achieve the same with ease.
      I'll assume the envelope is 0.125 l and the over pressure is 1 bar. That leak rate then means that the pressure will drop to 0 bar over in 1.25*10^10 seconds. That is almost 400 years.
      Don't worry about leaking the helium from a well sealed glass bulb. By that time we'll have full RGB spectrum luminescent plants that detect your mood and adjust their spectrum accordingly.

      • by XNormal ( 8617 )

        > TFA talks about the filament temperature: 60C. This is no problem.

        It's "no problem" because someone has done the work to solve it. A filament has a very small surface area to dissipate heat. Air is a very poor heat conductor. Glass too. Without the helium fill gas and a sufficiently large bulb envelope area the filament equilibrium temperature for the same electric power would be much higher and greatly reduce the efficiency and lifetime of the bulb.

        > Holding helium for years is easy. Sealed glass i

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