Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pamase Kaiser Series Collapsible Trekking Poles Review

Before I saw these Pamase Trekking poles on Amazon, I looked at some dozens of poles. The main features I liked about these poles that made me choose them were the extended EVA foam handles, the advertised 7075 T6 aluminum, and the reasonable price for a first-time buyer.

Other features, or PROs:
+ Each pole comes collapsed in a plastic carry bag, netted on one side.
+ The wrist wraps are slightly padded for  comfort. They adjust easily.
+ Rubber tips are included that press over the metal points. The rubber tips do not screw on, but they appear to be tight enough not to fall off.
+ Screw-on snow baskets are also included. They require some effort to screw on, so they will never come off by themselves.
+Assembly is easy, with the three parts sliding together and held by two spring-loaded locking pins.
+Adjustment is made by loosening the adjustable shaft by rotating it counter clockwise and then sliding the shaft up or down. Adjustment marks on each pole make it easy to match lengths.
+Advertised length adjustment is 38cm to 130cm or 15 inches to 51 inches. When adjusted to the desired length, the shaft is tightened by rotating it clockwise until tight. The adjustment is very tight and there is no slipping even under a reasonable amount of force.

- When assembled, the poles have a small amount of looseness at the two joints, which creates the impression of fragility. Held suspended, they jiggle. However, as soon as any amount of weight is placed on the poles, they firm up and exhibit only the expected amount of flexing produced by aluminum tubing. Confidence in the poles is therefore quickly restored.
- On city walks (asphalt, concrete, stone) the poles are noisy when the rubber tip plunks down on the hard surface.
- The poles are advertised as having "anti-shock." On some poles I looked at, this meant the presence of a spring in the shaft, to absorb the impact of planting the pole. These poles do not have such a spring.

In Use:
These poles are functional and perform well. Once you adjust to the jiggle, they are fine.

If you need portability (such as a luggage fit), these will work. Would I buy these again? Well, if I wanted a second set of poles, there are so many available I'd probably find something different just to have something different. And since right now I don't need disassembling poles, I'd get a pair that don't come apart.

Bottom Line:
These are a quality product at a great price. Recommended.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Neewer® NW320 TTL LCD Display LED-Assistive Preview Focus flash Speedlite Review

The one issue with my Sony A 7II is that the 28-70mm lens is slow, shooting at the equivalent of F 3.5 to 5.6. In indoor light, some lighting enhancement is desirable. And in outdoor situations where bright sun and objects create half-shaded faces and scenes, some fill-in light  would be useful. Enter the Neewer® NW320 TTL LCD Display LED-Assistive Preview Focus flash Speedlite for the Sony A 7II. It fits onto the camera's hotshoe and operates with TTL (Through the Lens) logic, adjusting camera settings for the amount of light, leaving you with a nearly perfectly exposed shot, most of the time.

The Neewer NW320 is only rated at 32, which is a modestly powered unit (compare speedlites at up to 180 or more), but it is great for portraits, small groups, museum objects, plants, flowers in the shade, and so forth. The light power is great up to about 8 feet.

For the entry-level price, this unit is great for those who want to experiment with an on-camera flash before committing to a $400 one. The flash head tilts up and includes a diffuser for adjusting results.

Four Stars

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Oxygenics PowerMassage Model 88446 Showerhead Review

The Oxygenics PowerMassage Model 88446 Showerhead provides five spray patterns, all of which offer robust sprays. The company claims that its "dual Oxygenics Engine" creates the impression of greater spray pressure than standard design showerheads. There would appear to be some credibility to this claim since the 88446 uses only 1.75 gallons per minute, far less that the "water saver" showerheads that use 2.5 gallons per minute.

Oxygenics also gets bonus points not only for printing easy installation instructions on the box, but for including Teflon tape as a needed item in the parts. Labels on both ends of the connecting hose ensure that the  correct connections will be made. Installation is simple, easy, and straightforward. However, if you have problems, there is support through a Web site, an email contact, and an 800 toll-free telephone line. There is also a QR code on the box, promising video of the spray patterns and features.

All the needed installation parts were included in the box. If your old showerhead is stuck on tightly, or if the threads on the pipe are seriously stuck with teflon tape, you might need some slip joint pliers and an  awl (to help dig out the old tape). Otherwise, the installation is a hands-only, fifteen-minute job.

The five spray patterns are well chosen: multi, wide stream, focused stream, flood, and massage. The selector handle turns easily but gives a solid feel to the head. The water sprays with plenty of energy, feeling at least like a 2.5 gallon-per-minute head. The head works well, as advertised, and adjusts easily.

The only quibbles we could discern are:  (1) The hose connecting the faucet to the showerhead is very stiff. This five-foot hose needs to be worked with so that it doesn't stick out sideways from the wall. It might be that after a sufficient amount of hot showers flow through, the hose will soften and relax. Meanwhile, some bending is needed to help out. (2) The proprietary "pressure chamber" that mixes the water and air together drains when you turn off the shower in the same way those outdoor hose bib anti-siphon valves drain when you turn off the hose.

Bottom Line
Showerheads grow increasingly fancy with multiple spray patterns (I saw one at the store boasting 35 patterns) and various features. Some heads are huge, approaching ten inches in diameter.  A few are metal and  quite heavy. The Oxygenics PowerMassage Model 88446 is made of a sturdy plastic with a beautiful brushed nickel finish. It's light enough for anyone to handle easily. It works very well.

Highly Recommended. Five Stars *****.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector Review

The Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector is an excellent tool, and I haven't even tried it for its designated use yet. The TLD100 s positioned as an air leak locator, finding temperature irregularities that signal heating or cooling leaks.

In actuality, the TLD100 is an infrared thermometer. It can read the surface temperature of objects in a range from minus 22 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit, from a few inches to four or more feet away. Understanding this, you can see the versatility.

1. Say you microwave some leftovers for thirty seconds or a minute. Did they get hot enough? All over? I nuked some refrigerated casserole for six minutes. The TLD100 reported that the food had reached only 115 degrees. So I rezapped it for a couple more minutes and the TLD100 said it had reached 165, which is perfect.

2. I bought the TLD100 as an adjunct in locating a water leak. Yes, I realize that this is "off label," but think about this. I might be able to locate, say, the hot water pipe under the slab by noting floor temperature differentials. The unit is designed to compare questioned area temperatures with reference temperatures.

3. Open the fridge or the freezer and check their temperature.

4. Is the parking lot or the beach sand too hot to walk on in bare feet? Check the temp with the TLD100 and find out.

5. How cool is the air coming from your air conditioning vent? Measure the surface temp of the vent as a proxy.

6. How hot is the air coming from your heater vent?

7. Maybe measure the surface temp of your pool water. Bathtub water?

8. You can even use it for its intended purpose!!!

Bottom line: At the reasonable price it sells for, I recommend getting one of these TLD100 Thermal Leak Detectors. If you have kids, you could teach them about temperature and various surfaces. (Plants will have a lower temp than asphalt, for example.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

(Almost) Always Save the Screws

When you buy a new door knob, hinge, switch, wall outlet, or other hardware item that includes screws, always save the old ones. (The only exception might be if the screw heads are slotted and filled with paint and the screw is a common one.

Why? Have you priced screws recently? And have you tried to find exactly the screw you need that fits some arcane or 50-year-old item? I even take the wiring screws out of old outlets, since you never know when you might need one, and such an unusual, stubby screw would probably cost a dollar or two at the hardware store. I've found that those "screw assortments" have none of the commonly used screws in appliance or electrical repair.

I just installed an outdoor cover for a GFCI and the accompanying screws did not fit--too long. I had to scavenge the screws from a wall plate cover because I didn't have any spares.

You'll end up, of course, with a jar filled with an amalgam of miscellaneous screws, but think of the pleasure of fishing through it sometime in the future and finding just what you need.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Air Conditioner Manufacturers Ranked

In the continuing saga of choosing the best, most reliable central air conditioner brand, after looking at what appeared to be nonrepesentative reviews (every brand I looked at was rated one star out of five), I decided to find some overall rankings.

And now it's time for some more cautions.

1. If you search on "best central air conditioners," you'll get lists and reviews of the fanciest, most feature laden, and expensive units made. "Best" here doesn't necessarily mean "most reliable" or even "highest quality."

Here's a list of "best" air conditioning systems.
1. Lennox
2. Frigidaire
3. Trane
4. American Standard
5. Carrier
6. Bryant
7. Coleman
8. Another Carrier
9. Amana
10. Goodman

Now, here are the rankings by an air conditioning contractor, who has field experience with all these brands:
1. Day and Night
2. Goodman
3. Carrier
4. Mitsubishi ductless split
5. Bryant
6. Amana (lowered simply because it is the higher priced Goodman, which makes Amana)
7. York
8. Trane
9. Rheem (not recommended)
10. Lennox (not recommended

And here the top three and bottom three from a famous consumer magazine:
1. American Standard
2. Rheem
3. Trane
. . /
8. Amana
9. Goodman
10. York

And here from an anonymous YouTube posting (that repeatedly spells "category" as "catagory"):
2. Byant
3. Payne
4. ICP
. . .
7. Day and Night
. . .
9. Goodman
10. Rheem
11. Ruud
12. Trane
13. American Standard
14. Amana

. . .
3. Lennox

Since no reasons are given for the rankings and since we don't know who has posted this or why, such a list is essentially useless, except for me to point out that anonymous ranking lists are useless.

Bottom line: There are dozens of brands made by a handful of manufacturers all using parts made by the same suppliers. It's just like automobile manufacturing. Of course, there are differences. If you are in the market, see the next entry for what to look for when you shop. Oh, I almost forgot. The bottom line is to choose an honest, reliable, knowledgeable installer. Watch a few YouTube videos about A/C installations, good and bad. Reliability of your air conditioning system is directly connected to the how properly it was installed.

Air Conditioning Brands--A Cautionary Tale

So  you want to choose the highest quality, most reliable new central air conditioning system for your home? Why not look at the reviews? Well, here are some cautions.

1. First, reviews can be faked. Review sites try to reduce the fakery, but it's difficult. Amazon distinguishes between "verified customer" and not verified. Just remember, an unhappy owner can post more than one negative review out of spite, a company across town can abuse a brand the competition uses, even a regional wholesaler might get into the act.

2. Second, and this is the most telling, unhappy customers are much more likely to post negative reviews than happy customers are likely to post positive reviews. We are a society that lives inside a culture of complaint. There is a bias toward criticism. And with air conditioning in particular, disgruntled customers are especially angry--because they are hot and miserable. (I talked to an A/C repairman once who told me it was not uncommon to be greeted on a house call by an angry customer who blamed him for the unit's failure.

To return to selecting the best air conditioner brand, here is a classic example. I wondered what the reviews were like for various brands, and hoped to pick out the best. So, I go to an evaluation site and pick Trane, a well-known brand.

Trane: (61 ratings) One star out of five. Sample review excerpt: "This is the biggest [piece of junk] I  have ever owned in my life."

So I think, that's not good. Let's try Lennox, a popular brand at warehouse stores and hardware stores.

Lennox: (38 ratings) One star out of five. Sample review excerpt: ". . . unit goes bad . . . class action lawsuit. . . ."

So I think, that's not what I was expecting. What about Carrier? They are a very old, experienced, reputable company, right?

Carrier: (81 ratings) One star out of five. Sample review excerpt: ". . . service calls every year for the last three years. . . . Carrier's quality has gone way down."

Well, that brand sounds risky. How about Goodman?

Goodman:(63 ratings) One star out of five. Sample review excerpt: ". . . total system failure . . . very, very low quality."

Now, I'm beginning to get suspicious. This brings  us to the next caution.

3. Manufacturers don't deliberately junk. I don't think I'm being a Pollyanna here. Manufacturers want to (a) stay in business (b) make a profit (c) have a good reputation and more sales by word of mouth. It is self defeating to build junk. Even if you're cynical, can you believe that all of the manufacturers above are "one-star" companies? If one or two were rated one star while others were rated three, four, or five stars, that would be more plausible. But all of them one star?

4. Individual experiences get generalized. This is the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. "I bought a Brand X air conditioner and it was no good; therefore, all Brand X air conditioners are no good." Remember the "your mileage may vary" warning? Same  here. Your experience may be unusual. If the company that installed your system did a poor job, you're likely to experience a poor air conditioner.

See the next posting for some comparisons of A/C brands.

Monday, July 4, 2016

How I Chose an Air Conditioning Contractor

Circumstances have occurred that make it necessary to replace my central air conditioning and heating equipment. Both the condenser and the heater are 18 years old. So I called some HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) contractors. I found them by using reference lists (Angie's List, Yelp, Google) and I also located a couple from ads in the newspaper. Here are the results.
Newspaper ad for Contractor A said I could get "up to $6500 off" a new system. It didn't say what the system was or what the final price would be. I looked up the brand of AC system the company mentioned in the ad and learned that it has an aluminum condenser coil. Fixing leaks on aluminum coiols is expensive (one reviewer said it cost him $1000 to have a leak fixed). Yelp was not very helpful because it had many five-star reviews (mostly about service calls rather than installaions) and many one-star reviews, some of which the contractor had responded to by saying they are fake. One person said he was quoted $17,000 for a new system installation.

Contractor B's newspaper ad promised a super special price. However, their Better Business Bureau rating was D minus because of unresolved disputes.

Contractor C gave me an estimate over the phone after a one-minute explanation of what I thought I needed. I wondered if that was one of those "slam it and cram it, fill it and bill it" contractors.

Contractor D came out and had his assistant look at the existing furnace in the attic. He measured the access hole to the attic to make sure the equipment would fit. I asked what brand he installed an and he said Tempstar. I had never heard of that brand. Looking at the reviews on furnacecompare.com, I noted that they were, like many others, almost equally divided between one star and five stars. Contractor D gave me a price more than triple the lowest price. It was a hot day and he had said he could use 40 more employees to take care of all the calls. That made me think that he was giving me a price that would really make it worth his while if I accepted, and if I didn't, he had all the other business anyway. He also said that the price he quoted was "without permits," and that it was up to me whether or not I got one, even though they are required. He said an air conditioner permit would be $1000. I attempted later to find out online what the permit fee will be. It seemed from what I could tell that it would be under $100. We will see.

Contractor E didn't specify any equipment, only a price, which was only slightly below Contractor D.

Contractor F came out and looked over the situation, including a look in the attic. He gave me three options, a good, better, and best, with increasingly more elaborate equipment, each with prices broken down by condenser and furnace. This contractor installs Goodman and Amana, the latter of which was in his proposal. Ratings and reviews on both are the same as the other brands: half one star and half five star. Contractor F has all kinds of certifications and so on. The company is rated A by the BBB (not A+ because of one complaint in the last three years).

So which did I choose?

I chose Contractor F for several reasons:

1. Three contractors and four Web sites all said that for reliability, proper installation is more important than the actual brand because much of the equipment is the same or very similar. This contractor knows what he is doing and has trained his installers to know how to do it right.

2. Amana has an excellent warranty.

3. Amana condenser units (in the ASX16 series) include high and low pressure cut out switches which help protect the unit.

4. The price was competitive.

Bottom line take away: Find a contractor who will give you detailed hardware descriptions and detailed prices, preferably with options.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Micrographia (Tiny Handwriting) Remedy

If your handwriting has become tiny and virtually illegible (as is common with Parkinsonism and Parkinson's Disease), there are a few things I've discovered that might help you, too.

To return your illegible handwriting to readable, try the following:

1. Get some Manuscript Tablets from the 99 cent store or other source. Alternatively, get some wide-ruled notebook paper. Use the lines, which are about a quarter of an inch (one centimeter) apart, as guidelines for the size of your lower-case letters. Each letter must reach from one line to another. Yes, a quarter of an inch tall. Caps, and letters with ascenders and descenders, are two lines big.

2. Slow down. You'll notice that you can't scribble very fast when the letters are that large. I also noticed that with my micrographia I was trying to write in a hurry. By slowing down a lot, I could write legibly (when my meds were working). Slowly formed large letters can result. Writing slowly, for me, has proven more effective than practicing loops and swirls.

3. If you have Parkinson's Disease or Parkinsonism, try taking your medicine half an hour before meals or two hours after meals. It is said that food protein interferes with the carbidopa-levodopa.

I like writing on newsprint pads. (Newsprint is that brown, soft paper once common in elementary school. Its soft texture makes the pen glide across the page better. I also like PaperMate and Bic stick pens with the easy gliding ink. Some gel pens are good for ease of writing, too.

Writing annotations in the margins of books might look strange with large handwriting, but at least the notes can be read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cuisinart Grind and Brew Thermal 12-cup Coffee Maker Review

The Cuisinart Grind and Brew Thermal 12-cup Coffee Maker makes good coffee, if you need a large amount. The maker does have a 2 and a 4 cup setting, but it is really designed for larger brews. If you need 10 or 12 cups at a time, consider this machine.

+ It can brew up to 12 cups (that is, 6 ounce cups) at a time.
+ It can grind coffee beans and brew the coffee.
+ It can brew pre-ground coffee by simply pressing the Grind Off button.
+ It includes a Brew Strength setting with three levels of strength.
+ It includes a stainless steel carafe

- The hot plate is on only during brewing, and then turns off.
- Pouring coffee requires turning the carafe very far over, and rinsing requires turning it upside down. It does not pour as easily as other carafes.
- Weekly cleaning of coffee powder build  up is needed.

If you drink a large amount of coffee at each brew, such as an office, this machine might serve you well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hamilton Beach Grind and Brew Coffee Maker Model 49989 Review

For a great cup of coffee made from fresh ground beans, the Hamilton Beach  Grind and Brew Coffee Maker (Model 49989) is a possibility.

+ You can brew one cup or two at the same time
+ The coffee brews directly into the cup or cups--there is no carafe to wash.
+ The cup base is adjustable (two positions) to accommodate regular and tall cups or mugs.
+ You can make coffee either by grinding fresh coffee beans or by using pre-ground coffee.

- The grind function sounds like an air raid siren. It's very loud and runs twice for each brew.
- There is no hot plate to keep the coffee hot before you want to drink it. In a way, that makes sense, because when you brew just one cup, you probably want to enjoy it right away.
- Because the coffee brews directly into a cup (which is often cold) and not into a heated carafe, I find it necessary to heat the coffee for 36 seconds in the microwave oven. (Why 36? The 30 second button leaves the mug at the back of the oven with the handle away from me. 36 seconds rotates the mug back around to the front. If you don't have a rotating plate you won't have this problem.)
- Because the coffee is diverted sideways in case you want to put two mugs side by side for a two-cup brew, it's necessary to position one cup for a one-cup brew carefully so there is no dripping outside the mug.
- With a small mug, the coffee sometimes splashes out onto the counter.

Overall, the Hamilton Beach Grind and Brew coffee maker makes very good coffee, reasonably quickly, and is easy to clean and maintain. The noise of the grinder is the major negative.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Narrow Neck Bottle Brush and Cleaner

If you have a narrow-neck bottle that needs to be cleaned inside, you can use an ordinary bottle brush. But what if you (a) don't have a bottle brush or (b) the bottle brush is not long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle?

I was faced with this dilemma recently, and adding to the problem was that the bottle--a humming bird feeder--is square rather than round, making it necessary to have a brush with sideways bristles.

The sideways bristles, of course, immediately suggested a toothbrush, which I easily obtained. But it was too short to reach the bottom of the bottle. 

Solution: A quick trip to the tool bench in the garage. I drilled a hole in the end of the toothbrush and screwed about a quarter of an inch of a three-inch drywall screw into the end. This lengthened the brush enough to clean the entire bottle.

Note that you can use many different kinds and lengths of screws--or even a piece of screw rod--to make a brush with whatever length you require. Home Depot and Lowe's both carry the screws you might need.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hand Retractable Tip Stylus Review

When you use your smart phone, iPad, Galaxy Pad, or other touch-sensitive device, a stylus can be much more accurate than a fat finger tip. There are many styli and pen/styli available. This review examines the Hand retractable tip stylus.

First impressions. I first encountered the Hand stylus at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it was being demonstrated as a brush to use with a drawing program on an iPad. I was given one to review. My first impression after beginning to use the Hand stylus was its heft. Generally, I like heavy items, because my brain somehow associates weight with quality. So, just holding the Hand produces the satisfying sensation that I'm holding a quality object,  However, in use, the weight causes the stylus to slip frequently out of hand out of my hand.

Here is a comparison chart to show how weighty by comparison the Hand stylus is:

Item                                           Weight in Grams        Length in Millimeters
Typical stylus-pen combo                  8                            147
Another typical stylus-pen                 9                            150
Pocket stylus                                      4                             114
Mini stylus                                         3                                51
Hand retractable stylus                     26                             130 (retracted)
Bic stick ballpoint pen w/o cap          5                              144
Bic stick ballpoint pen with cap         6                              150
Bic B3 Grip retractable ballpoint      10                              145
Bic highlighter, cap on                      10                              140
Stainless steel gel pen cap on            25                              137
Stainless steel pen cap off                  19                              124

The Hand stylus is the heaviest of the examined items. Note that the stainless steel pen is close in weight. In use, however, I do not experience the slipping out of my hand that I do with the Hand stylus. The weight of the Hand might not be a problem, but shoppers should be aware of it.

For Men? I don't want to appear sexist, but my sense is that the Hand stylus will appeal to men especially. The weight, the hexagonal barrel (hexagons are my favorite shape) and knurled tip (reminds me of a metal file) all say "manly man."

Rotating Retractable Tip. The 4 millimeter tip retracts like an ordinary ballpoint pen, thus protecting it from damage. The retraction-extension cycle also rotates the tip a quarter of a turn, so that wear will be even. Tips are replaceable, too.

Performance. The Hand stylus works well on my Android phone (Galaxy S4) and a bit less well on my Galaxy Tab 2 (as all the other styli work less well on it). I installed a drawing app on the tablet and the Hand worked very well following the assignments from thin pencil line to thick brush line. The overall performance of the stylus is fine. The 4 mm tip makes using tiny keyboards much easier.

Customer Service. The original Hand stylus given to me for review at CES stopped retracting after only few uses. I emailed the company and they replied immediately with apologies and sent a replacement in just a couple of days.

When I disassembled the broken unit, I noticed that at least one internal part is made of plastic--nylon would be my guess. This may limit longevity.

Recommendation. Especially for men--and most especially for men who like to show off their techno toys--the Hand stylus will make a great gift. And at a price of about $20, it bears the cachet of costliness.

Monday, February 1, 2016

LED Light Bulbs Review Continued

Here's some advice on purchasing LED light bulbs.

1. Shop wisely. The technology, manufacturing costs, and retail prices are all changing rapidly. Bulbs that used to be $10 each are now $2.50 each, and soon we will likely see $1 for those same items.

2. Dimmable LED bulbs require a bit more circuitry than nondimmable bulbs, so as a consequence you (a) pay more for them and (b) get less light from them at the same rating. That is,  a nondimmable bulb rated at a 60 or 65-watt "equivalent" will put out 800 lumens and use 8.5 or 9 watts. The dimmable version will put out 650 lumens and use 10 or 11 watts.

3. Life span of the bulb is given in hours. If years are listed, that's usually based on 3 hours per day. So a bulb claiming 22,000 hours of life might also claim that it will last 20 years (365 days per year times 3 hours a day is 1095 hours per year. 22,000 divided by 1095 is 20.) Today I noticed some nondimmable 60-watt equivalent bulbs claiming a life of only 10,000 hours. It's difficult to say how this compares to what you will actually experience. I know that with CFL fluorescent bulbs I've never gotten the seven years claimed from them.

4. Should you replace most or all of  your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs? Yes. The energy savings will be well worth it. Lower electric bills. And you'll feel comfortable leaving a bright porch light on all night because it uses only 9 watts.

5. Should you replace most or all of your CFL bulbs with LED bulbs? That's a more difficult question. CFL bulbs already are well down the scale on energy use and they likely cost a couple of dollars each. So you might use  LEDs as your replacements when the CFLs go out. The exception is that most CFL bulbs create radio interference. (When I drive into my garage containing CFLs on the garage door opener motor box) my AM radio goes to a loud buzz.)

6. You might want to avoid yesterday's and the awkward new LED bulbs. Some of those are flat, some are too directional. Just buy the bulbs that look like traditional incandescent bulbs.

7. Once again, you have your choice of color temperature. The 2700K are the soft-white equivalents. I've noticed that they seem to run whiter than incandescents. (Some are labeled 3000K, which might be more accurate.) Daylight bulbs are about 5000K and up.

8. You can put brighter bulbs in sockets that were limited before. That is, you might  have a lamp that is labeled, "Do not exceed maximum bulb wattage of 60 watts." That was because of the heat created by incandescent bulbs. But LEDs of 85-watt equivalence (1100 lumens), use only about 14 watts. So feel free to go large.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

LED Light Bulbs--Things to Consider

Ever since CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb) bulbs became available, there has been the issue of equivalency. Since a 13-watt CFL bulb can produce the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb, the bulb makers put "60 Watt" on the CFL package in larger type than the actual wattage used by the bulb.

But that's not the actual equivalency, especially with LED (Light-Emitting Diode) bulbs. The correct way to compare light bulbs (incandescent, CFL, and LED) is by (1) lumens, which measures light output and (2) color temperature, which measures how much like daylight the hue or color of the light is. The lumen measure is especially important with LED bulbs because some of them claiming a 60-watt equivalence are not nearly as bright as an incandescent bulb.

Compare bulbs, all described as 60-watt equivalent:

Standard 60 Watt Incandescent Bulb  60 watts  800 lumens  2700-5500 degree color
Utilitech LED bulb                                9 watts  750 lumens  3000 degree color
Sylvania LED bulb                              8.5 watts  800 lumens  2700 degree color
Feit Electric bulb                                  4.2 watts 466 lumens  2200 degree color
GE Brite Stik                                         10 watts 760 lumens  2700 degree color
CREE LED flood                                  9 watts    655 lumens  2700 degree color

I noticed this discrepancy when shopping for LED flood light bulbs. Many said "60-watt equivalent," but few produced the full 800 lumens that a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces. So be careful out there. Check the light output in lumens before you buy.

Regardless of the actual watts drawn by either a CFL or an LED bulb, to be equivalent  the bulb must produce the output listed here:

40-watt or equivalent = 450 lumens
60-watt or equivalent = 800 lumens
75-watt or equivalent = 1100 lumens
100-watt or equivalent = 1600 lumens
150-watt or equivalent = 2600 lumens

Final word: LED bulb technology is still in transition, and some of the older bulbs have a shorter life or produce a lot of heat. So be wise when you see a super bargain on LED bulbs.