Daily Archives: April 15, 2020

Some light on the matter

One of the things that’s been on my to-do list since moving house is to change a lot of the lights.  This is the first place I’ve lived to have recessed ceiling lights, and it has them throughout.  Lots of them: for example there are seven in each of the entrance hall and the first floor landing, eight in each of the living room and main bedroom, and nine in the kitchen.  It’s slightly perverse as the ceilings are not low, but these recessed lights were fashionable when the house was converted.

And they were all halogen bulbs.  At 50 watts each (as most are rated) that’s a huge power consumption.  Of course replacing them was on my to-do list!

But that involved some research.  I had to figure out what these bulbs were, the unfamiliar fitting (oh for the days of simple bayonet and screw fittings), and also how the **** I take one out and replace it.  So with my inevitable procrastination, it took a while to get around to doing anything.

Once some online research had turned up some technical terms for the bulbs (MR16 and GU 5.3), I took my first tentative step by buying a single LED bulb from our in-town electrical shop.  The only option they had was warm white (3000k), 4 watts and 330 lumens.  I tried it in the entrance hall, but found it too bright there.  So I tried it in the attic (my office), where it’s about right.  I bought four more to complete the line of five in the ridge of the roof.  This is the only room where I use the ceiling lights for hours on end, and it’s down from 250W to 20W to light while sitting here at the ‘puter.

Having established exactly what I need to look for, I started to research online.  I need lower-light bulbs for the hallways and bathrooms, brighter bulbs for the kitchen, and dimmable bulbs for the living room and bedrooms.

And online I have a vast choice!  I’m interested in trying pure (cold) white, and “daylight” bulbs.  The latter turn out to be few and far between, but I test-drive ‘cold’ light with a box of these, which I can buy locally.  I expect to take a while to get used to ‘cold’ light, but am instantly OK with them in the entrance hall, and find them a huge improvement in the shower room.  I conclude they’re so much better than ‘warm’ white light as to negate the familiarity from a half century living with incandescent, fluorescent/CFL and other such inferior technologies.

I went back to Screwfix for more, but they didn’t have them locally.  Then I was struck by the lurgy, and the country was struck by lockdown: I couldn’t even order them online.  Plans on pause.

A few days ago, revisiting the Screwfix site told me I could now click-and-collect, so I ordered another three boxes (15 bulbs).  I also ordered some much brighter bulbs for the kitchen from another site.  Today I picked up both consignments – 25 new bulbs making 35 LEDs in total – so now the house is largely transitioned to low-energy lighting.  There are a few still to be done: the one over the shower has a different housing to protect it from steam (the others in the shower room are no problem), and there are a couple I can’t reach just by standing on a chair so will have to wait until I can beg or borrow a stepladder.  The biggest single improvement is that the kitchen is not just more efficient but also much brighter than it was yesterday.  I enjoyed cooking my dinner almost as much as eating it!

Still to do: the dimmable rooms (bedrooms and living room), and the bathroom.  The dimmable rooms are lower priority, as the ceiling lights in those aren’t much used.  The bathroom is awaiting a round tuit to redecorate with feature tiles and low daylight-grade lighting.

Today’s LED lighting may be surpassed in a few years (high CRI seems a likely candidate).  But some of them have reached a point that CFL (aka “low energy”) lights never attained, where it’s clearly better than its predecessors not just in power consumption but also aesthetically and practically.  A longer-term to-do will be to upgrade those CFLs I have in my standard lamp and table lamps.