Friday, November 17, 2023

When did light bulbs become such a pain in the in the socket?


One of the toughest things about the new house is getting the "light" situation in each room settled. 

Unlike the last two houses, where the longest exterior walls faced north and south, this house is like our home in Columbus, this house faces east and west.  Because of this, and the layout of the rooms, our windows are east-west and north, with only five facing south.  

The previous owners, who were a man-child and his wife, were huge fans of bare bulbs in clear glass fixtures, which give off horrible lighting effects, making everyone look like a ghoul.

I mean, c'mon people, it's going to be 2024 - don't we all know what lightbulbs look like?

We've been using LED bulbs for a very long time. But the new mainstream LED bulbs in "equivalent watts" don't seem to get the job done anymore. 

Light output is measured not in watts, but in lumens.  Today's modern 60-watt equivalent bulbs are supposed to crank out 800 lumens.  Add to that the light temperature of daylight (which makes everything look and feel cold), Soft White, and Warm White, which has a brownish cast. 

The problem is, that there is no standard for what qualifies as "Soft White" light anymore.  And then the manufacturers have their own standards.   today I saw a box of lightbulbs that claimed to be "Soft White" and on the high end of the kelvin (bluish light) scale.  Can someone tell me how that is supposed to work?

And there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the lumen ratings.   The difference between GE Reveal soft white 60-watt equivalent bulbs and the 75-watt equivalent is 15 lumens, supposedly. But when I get out my camera light meter, the output between the two bulbs is almost the same. 

We've had luck with GE 100-watt equivalents which actually do put out a reasonable amount of light.  But at the same time, we now have a box full of lousy 800-lumen bulbs that are worthless because their light output is all different. 

Change is the only constant in life, but dealing with these light bulbs and their inconsistencies in illumination could drive one to drink. 

Slowly, we are testing and finding "watt" works, but so far, the 800-lumen bulbs are losing out to the brighter cousins. 


  1. I hate LED lightbulbs, for much and the same reason as you - there is no way of guaranteeing that you will get "what it says on the box". Wishy-washy, not bright enough, too harsh or too muddy, just a pain in the arse to get right.

    That's why, when the old-style filament 60W bulbs were being phased out, I bought a crate of them - and we still have a box full in the cupboard!


  2. The LEDs are awful. I go to estate sales and rummage in the garage and come back with all the old filament bulbs. It's still the best way to light a room.

  3. The first generation LED bulbs were a nightmare, and the problem now is that the industry has not got its act together, and each brand and type does not work with the others. I suppose they could figure out most people's light needs, but the majority of people would say "just like incandescents" which might not align with the advantages of LED's. I have seen videos explaining all the lumens, colors and so forth, but it gets complicated, and the bulb manufacturers don't help much. I'm slowly coming around, but am still not sure that LED's really save money.

  4. Sylvania used to make flat lightbulb - people used to refer to them as lollypop lights. The light quality was EXCELLENT because it used a tape of LEDs. The only problem was that they crackled when you turned them off. Those bulbs spoiled us.