Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Best Warm White LED Bulbs

I'm going to preface this by saying that I know this isn't the "sexiest" post ... but I firmly believe that lighting is a hugely important -- and often overlooked -- aspect of any interior. Get your lighting right and you're about 40% of the way towards a comfortable, cozy, livable interior. But the reverse is just as true; a lovely interior with horrid lighting is never going to going to invite anyone to come in, sit down and get comfortable.

 I've always liked the idea of using LED bulbs because, in theory, what's not to like? They use less electricity and they last longer than a typical incandescent. But every time I've tried them in the past 3-4 years, I could never get past having to choose between a cold, blue light or the annoying slow build of light output of the warm white options. My house either looked like a hospital ward or a creepy motel hallway. In short: yuck.

But when we were having our new home rewired last fall (knob and tube wiring is NOT fun) our electrician assured me that things had gotten much better in the LED department. And he's right; there are some great options out there mixed in with the really, really bad.  It took some real trial and error but I've managed to find some fantastic and affordable options. Here are my favorites:

This recessed downlight is what really changed my mind about LEDs (all thanks to my electrician; he promised to buy them off me if they weren't 99% identical to their incandescent counterpart). We have these in our living room -- they just plug right into the ceiling socket so you don't need to buy separate fixture housing, they're dimmable and they give off lovely warm light -- and love them so much that we're planning to use them in the kitchen and basement renovations (currently in the planning stages; more to come!). There's also a 6 inch version if that's what you need. AWESOME all around.
If you have existing track lighting, or older down lights with independent housing, these are essentially the same as the ones above without the surround. We're using them in the ancient track lighting in our existing "your-days-are-numbered" kitchen. Can't wait to ditch that but I can't blame these lamps; it's not their fault that they have to live in something that was probably middle aged when Dallas first aired.

When it comes to traditional bulbs (or "lamps" if you're in the industry), there are so many LED options to choose from that it's easy to get thoroughly confused. I know that I certainly did; we went through A LOT of them when trying to find the right one to use in our flush-mount fixtures on the second floor (if you've ever tried to remove the shades or globes of one of those things, you'll know why I wanted to go with LED). By the time we finished, our house was a virtual wasteland of crappy options ... and one shining triumph. Meet LEDARE E26 , a clear dimmable bulb that's roughly equivalent to a 50 watt incandescent that costs less than $7. I actually prefer the light output of this guy over its $11 counterpart and have been stocking up each time I head into IKEA for something.


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