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Cheap LED Bulbs

© March 2009 Anthony Lawrence

We found 1.5 watt LED bulbs at Walmart for $5.78. These state that they "replace 40 watt" , are "warm white light" and claim a 30,000 hour lifetime (though they are only warrantied for two years).

Interestingly, they also say "Outdoor Lantern". The fine print does point out that the minimum starting temperature is -20 F, but it surprised me to see it recommended for outdoor use at all as most websites I've read seem to warn against using LED bulbs outdoors.

I was looking to use these inside. I put them in a lamp near my wife's computer. This wasn't done without some convincing: my wife is very fussy about her lighting. However, like me she's cheap, so the prospect of replacing 40 watt bulbs with 1.5 watts attracted her enough to at least give it a trial run.

standard 40 watt
single 1.5 watt LED bulb
two 1.5 watt LED bulbs

The first picture at left is a standard 40 watt incandescent bulb. It illuminates the area nicely, but it does cause some glare on my wife's computer screen. The single 1.5 watt LED below that obviously isn't providing the same illumination at all - that "replaces 40 watt" is more than optimistic.

Below that we have two of the LED lamps turned on - that comes closer to matching the 40 watt incandescent. It is bright enough to read by and doesn't put glare on the computer screen.

They aren't hot, either. Heat is where incandescent. lamps waste energy; LED bulbs run cool.

Overall, she likes it. It could be a little brighter, but with two bulbs, it is sufficient. Using 3 watts instead of 40 for four hours a day is worth more than $5.78 - assuming these cheap things will last at least a year, of course. I'll have to remember to keep the packaging and sales slip: I don't really trust anything this cheap.

I'm going to poke around Home Depot later today to see if they have better quality and higher output bulbs. I can find lots of choice online but shipping costs for small numbers of bulbs makes the cost unnattractive.

There are higher light output bulbs advertised. For example, this GeoBulb Line promises that - at a price of $120.00 per bulb!

Tony Lawrence 2009-03-24 Rating: 3.5

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-> Cheap LED Bulbs


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Tue Mar 24 17:05:14 2009: 5833   TonyLawrence

And as of today, she still likes these lights.

I'll need something brighter for my lamp. More expensive units are brighter and also have much longer expected life and better warranties.

Wed Mar 25 14:31:56 2009: 5857   BigDumbDinosaur

These state that they "replace 40 watt", are "warm white light" and claim a 30,000 hour lifetime...

For the purposes of calculating light output, I use 1:4 for CFLs and 1:10 for LEDs. That is, each watt consumed by a CFL produces the same number of lumens as a standard 4 watt incandescent lamp, and each watt consumed by an LED produces as many lumens as a 10 watt incandescent. Research currently underway will probably improve the LED's efficiency, but at 1:10 it's already far better than any other electric light source, including high pressure sodium (which you wouldn't use for residential purposes).

As for life expectancy, the Achilles' heel of both CFL and LED replacement lamps is the electronic circuitry used to regulate lamp current. LEDs themselves are very long-lived and can approach or exceed 100,000 hours if not driven too hard. However, the Chinese lamps you have use extremely cheap semiconductors and that is from where the inevitable failure will come. The advertised 30,000 hour rating on these LEDs you purchased suggests that the LED(s) are being driven near the high end of their current rating in order to get adequate light output. The pictures you posted suggest that the "replace 40 watt" claim is grossly optimistic -- more like 15 watt, from what I see.

The fine print does point out that the minimum starting temperature is -20 F, but it surprised me to see it recommended for outdoor use at all as most websites I've read seem to warn against using LED bulbs outdoors.

I'm not sure why a website would warn you not to use an LED lamp outdoors, unless they're concerned that someone will steal it. The -20 F "starting temperature" (there's nothing to "start" in an LED lamp) is an industry standard often seen applied to CFLs for outdoor use.

Incidentally, the lower rate of heat dissipation associated with CFL and LED lighting saves you some additional energy costs during hot weather by not contributing as much cooling load to the air conditioning system. Each watt dissipated as heat adds 3.35 BTU to the equation. Since incandescent lamps convert over 90 percent of their input energy into heat, a single 100 watt lamp generates about 300 BTU. In the average home with all incandescent lighting, the total BTU thus produced can add as much as five percent to the cost of running the A/C.

Wed Mar 25 14:41:14 2009: 5859   TonyLawrence

For example:

Average Rated Life: 50,000 Hours --- Operating Temperature: -20 ~ +45 C for indoor use only - must be in weatherproof housing for outdoor use


Wed Jun 10 13:18:06 2009: 6486   TonyLawrence

I saw this today: (link)

An ultra-powerful laser can turn regular incandescent light bulbs into power-sippers, say optics researchers at the University of Rochester. The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb can

Not quite LED efficiency, and no mention was made as to how this might affect the bulb's longevity, but still interesting.

Tue Dec 8 18:50:29 2009: 7727   EdH

I bought 6 of the Walmart 1.5 watt LED bulbs about a year ago for $5.78 each, also got 2 of the $10 4.5 watt LED bulbs. I was surprised they were so cheap compared to other LED bulbs I have priced. Only 1 of the bulbs has gone bad in a year. I brought it back to Walmart with the packaging and they gave me another one just like it. If you buy these, keep the packaging.

The Super Walmart in Ames, Iowa is the only one I can find them at so far, I have checked a dozen other Walmarts. I'm looking for a Walmart in Southern CA now, but haven't found one that carries them. Anyone else know a Walmart or other source near Pomona, CA or Upland, CA that would carry these cheap $5.78 LED bulbs?

The Walmart LED work great in areas like bedside lights, accent lighting, or I put one in the fixture next to the front door outside above the mailbox. It aims straight down at the box.

The other source I have found for cheap LED bulbs is Costco. I bought two 3-packs of decorator torpedo shaped chandelier LED bulbs to replace the 25 watt chandelier incandescent above the dining room table. I tested these Lights of America 1.5 watts on my Kill-o-watt meter and they really do use about 1 watt each. 6 watts total for all 6. This is a Lights of America LED bulb model 2025LEDE12-30K 120V 60Hz 1.5W 30mA. Replaced all 6 bulbs 150 watts total of the old incandescent for 6 watts total of new LED chandelier bulbs, and in case I think they appear to be brighter too than the old 25 watt incandescents. The lighting is nice because the fixture we have points straight down at the dining room table and the LED bulbs are very directional, aiming straight down. So far none of these bulbs has burned out in 6 months. I think they were $18 for a 3-pack if I remember correctly.

I converted the entire house, all 56 bulbs to CFL, and the energy usage dropped by 40%. Now I want to convert those CFL to LED.

Energy costs will only go up, might as well convert now.

Tue Dec 8 20:21:07 2009: 7728   TonyLawrence

Thanks for your info.

One of our bulbs died; I couldn't find exactly the same thing but did find a 6 watt LED with a different hue. Seems brighter than what we had.

Tue Mar 30 23:16:28 2010: 8309   LouHughes



We offer great quality LED bulbs for a great price. Our 1.8 watt LED bulb is $6.99 and our 3.0 Watt LED bulb (which is really what you are looking for) is $9.99. Only problem is that our minimum order quantity is 100 units! Maybe you should buy them and hand them around to your friends?
Here is the link to them:


Nobody sells energy efficient lamps as inexpensive as we do. Right now CFL's offer much better bang for the buck!

Wed Mar 31 00:03:39 2010: 8310   TonyLawrence


I don't feel quite that generous :-)

Wed Mar 31 01:43:52 2010: 8316   BigDumbDinosaur


Our 1.8 watt LED bulb is $6.99 and our 3.0 Watt LED bulb (which is really what you are looking for) is $9.99.

Whoopity-do! A 1.8 watt Chinese-made LED lamp of the type sold by wholesalebulbs.net is little more than an extra bright night-light. The 3 watt LED produces a little more light than a 30 watt incandescent, but in a narrower spectrum, causing the perceived brightness to be about the same. Unless the lamp is on 24/7 the math doesn't compute, as the claimed life expectancy of most of these LED lamps is optimistic at best. This is due to the LED being driven at or near its maximum rated forward current, and the generally poor quality of the electronics used within.

If you are truly interested in lighting your home with LEDs it would be best to wait a bit longer, as there are some technical developments coming down the pike that will greatly improved lamp life and output. The technology is not available to the Chinese and may not be for some time to come. Look at it this way: anything LED you buy right now is financing R&D, as well as substandard manufacturing. Early adopters rarely get their money's worth with this stuff.

In the same vein, few of the CFLs on the market have been able to achieve the claimed 10,000 hours that they supposedly will run. While the fluorescent lamp itself can run 10,000+ hours if operated at a reasonable continuous current flow, the electronics cannot. These parts are operated near their maximum ratings, which causes thermal stresses that precipitate failure. Also, with the electronics fully enclosed--necessary due to the CFL being powered by line current--there's no ventilation. Heat is the number one enemy of power semiconductors, and the problem is exacerbated by the low quality of the semiconductors found even in name-brand lamps. Lastly, the electronic ballast is vulnerable to power line crud that can trigger an abrupt failure.

In my office, I have a pot fixture (sits on the floor) and a table lamp near my desk, as well as a floor lamp by my test bench. The two by the desk have CFLs that are continuously on most days from about 8 AM to 9 PM, six days per week. That's an average of 78 hours per week or about 4,000 hours per year. The most life I've ever gotten out of any of the CFLs has been 19 months, or about 6,400 hours. In contrast, the lamp by the test bench has a circular fluorescent lamp powered by a magnetic ballast. On average, this lamp is on 6 hours per day, or about 1800 hours per year. The circline lamp that is in this fixture has been in use since 2004, hence has already seen 10,800 hours of service. The substantially greater life is, of course, due to the magnetic ballast. The ballast itself is going on some 20 years of use. No CFL can touch that sort of longevity. As always, caveat emptor!

Tue Oct 19 19:26:02 2010: 9047   BillMcK


As far as mentioning CFL's electronics running at or near max rated temps., just take a wiff of the lamp after it has been on for a while (30 minutes or so). It smells like electronics are burning!!! WAYYYY to hot!


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