LED Retrofit Lighting to Help with Winter Electric Bills

LED Retrofit lighting has come a long way this year.  Anyone who has been to my home knows I am a little bit of an energy geek.  In fact it is a bit of a joke with a couple of the neighbors.  When I first moved in, I “upgraded” my entire home inside and out to dimmable Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFL bulbs.

The previous owners had installed a Lightolier retrofit lighting system with dimmers all over the house.  The problem was these great looking switches were designed for 100w bulbs up to a room of ten 100w bulbs.  When a CFL is dimmed to 10%, and there are only two 9w bulbs on the circuit, the load can be below 2w.  That is a problem for the older switches.

The next step was to upgrade all of the light switches again to electronic dimmers that were CFL ready.  This also allowed me to install a few motion sensing switches in water closets, pantry’s and walk in closets.  Once you get used to walking into your home with your hands full and the lights coming on, you have a hard time going back.  The system is a combination of Leviton smart sensor switches and Insteon Smart Switches.

With the new switches everything worked well except two areas where the bulbs had  a dim glow all the time.  Unfortunately these bulbs would cast a glow in the bedrooms.  Just enough to make you crazy.  I ended up installing two high wattage LED bulbs and that solved the problem.

This year the CFL bulbs started to fail so as I ran out of bulbs I started looking at alternatives.  I found that LED retrofit kits for recessed lights had dropped about 50% so I decided to give one a try.  I installed it in a walk in closet.  The bulb it replaced was a 18W daylight CFL.  Overall the light was a better color for getting dressed.  More importantly, the light gave off a much more even light pattern.  Anyone who has CFL in recessed can lights knows what I mean.  The bulb itself is annoyingly bright and the room isn’t.  The LED isn’t like that at all.

The other benefit to using the LED is my old cans stopped letting air into the attic like swiss cheese.  I went back and got 5 more of these lights and replaced every single recessed CFL that went into the attic.  I don’t know if it will really reduce my heating bill, but I don’t feel the cold air coming in any more so I feel better about it.

The best part of the recessed LED retrofit kits is how they dim.  They act much more like an incandescent bulb.  When I dimmed a CFL 70%, it felt like I was only losing about 30% of the light.  I didn’t have the control I was used to and I merely accepted it as part of the tradeoff for saving energy.  With LED retrofit lights, I don’t have that trade off.  The LED lights dim about 90% without any problems.  When there are only one or two lights on a circuit, below 90% the bulbs flicker.  When there are three or more, they will dim as far as my Insteon Dimmer switches will go without any flicker.

In the rooms with the Leviton Smart Sensor switches, the lights work perfectly, and there is no warm up like there is with CFL lights.


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