Today I tried out two new LED lights. The first was a Philips AmbientLED in the MR16 form-factor, to work in my low-voltage tracklights. The second was a Cree EcoSmart CR6 pot-light.
Philips AmbientLED MR16 (10W)
Philips makes MR16-form LED lights in various wattages. I’m replacing 50W halogen bulbs, but their most powerful LED was 10W (35W-equivalent). The lower-power models all appeared to be about the same shape as an MR16. But the 10W model has a raised area on the front surface. My track-light fixtures have a glass disc in front of the bulb, and the raised area would interfere with that. But the glass disc was easily removed, allowing the raised area to protrude through the front of the track-light housing.
Despite the lower equivalent-power rating for the LED bulb, it seemed as bright as the 50W halogen beside it on the track.
The light from this one, as with most of the AmbientLED line (excluding the excellent remote-phosphor models), was a little colder than the halogen. Philips doesn’t say on the box for some reason, but I think their colour-temperature is somewhere around 3000K, a little harsh to be called “soft white”.
The dimming performance is typical for the AmbientLED bulbs: not quite as good as incandescent, but much better than the dimmable CFLs. As usual for LED, the light doesn’t redden when dimming; it stays exactly the same cold white colour… just less of it.
The fixture I’m using has electronic low-voltage transformers, and is fed by an ACT RD161 X10-compatible dimmer that’s designed for inductive loads. With these LED bulbs installed, there’s quite a noticeable buzzing sound coming from either the transformer or the bulb. The buzzing is there even at full brightness. They aren’t all playing together quite nicely. I’m hoping it won’t shorten the life of any of the components.
Cree EcoSmart CR6
The Cree EcoSmart CR6 is an interesting light. It’s designed to be used in 6″ pot-light fixtures, in the place of what would usually be a 65W BR30 reflector flood. But unlike a BR30, this bulb has its own trim attached to it. You have to remove the existing trim and some other parts from inside the fixture. With my pot-lights, it wasn’t hard to install at all. It completely changes the appearance of the fixture, but not in a bad way.
Cree calls the LED technology here “True-White”. It’s a remote-phosphor technology, similar to the excellent Philips A-form LED bulbs I tried recently. And it works very well. The colour temperature is specified as something in the 2700K range, pleasantly similar to a soft-white incandescent.
It dims very well, compared to CFL. I think it somehow even managed to redden slightly when dimmed, though nowhere near as much as an incandescent would. I’m running it from an INSTEON SwitchLinc dimmer.
Like all LED lights, it’s instant-on, no warm-up time.
When dimmed to very low levels, it starts to blink a bit, and ultimately cuts out entirely. But on the whole it’s very impressive. I think I’d actually be happy replacing my 65W incandescent pot-lights with these, which is something I could never say about CFLs. A bit of sticker-shock there, though, at $60 each from Home Depot. They’re claimed to pay for themselves in a few years, and last around 20 years.