Replacing an incandescent bulb with LED

I’ve been hesitating about buying LED lightbulbs for years (and CFLs before that), because there seemed to be a lot of variables and a lot of confusing terminology and contradictory information about them. I had bought a few over the years, but not many.

But recently, my last 65W incandescent floodlight bulb burned out (for a recessed fixture in my living room ceiling, about 20 feet up), and so I went looking for information about replacements.

And I found that such information is much more clearly presented than I’ve seen in the past.

For example, here’s a page about PAR, BR, and MR bulbs.

Summary: PARs and MRs are narrow-beam spotlights; BRs (“bulged reflector”) are wider-beam floodlights.

And numbers like BR20, BR30, and BR40 indicate the diameter of the bulb at the wide end (measured in eighths of an inch).

Another area that had always confused me is color temperatures. “Daylight” sounds like a good color for a lightbulb! But “warm” also sounds like a good color for a lightbulb! But “daylight” is a different color than “warm”! And the colors are all measured in numbers! Confusing!

The abovelinked page explains: “Warm or soft white (2700K–3000K) is typically more suitable for home use in the family and bedrooms. Daylight (5000–6500K) is more often used to light kitchen areas.”

And finally, there’s the question of whether you can use a brighter LED bulb in place of a less-bright incandescent bulb. A “65W equivalent” LED bulb (that is, an LED bulb that gives the same lumens as a 65W incandescent) is under 15 watts, and a “100W replacement” LED bulb is under 20 watts. So it should be fine to put a 100W-equivalent bulb in a 65W socket—but last time I researched this, for CFLs some years ago, I saw caveats saying that you shouldn’t use brighter (higher-wattage-equivalent) bulbs in recessed fixtures (and many of my fixtures are recessed). Something to do with ballasts, maybe? I forget. But as far as I can tell, it seems to be fine to put brighter LED bulbs in recessed fixtures.

So I ended up replacing my 65W incandescent soft-white ceiling floodlight with a brighter (100W-equivalent, 1400 lumens) LED BR30 ceiling floodlight (that uses 16W), in a warmish color (3000K), made by Cree. And my living room is now noticeably brighter. Very pleasing.

The box for the Cree bulb also specifically suggests using a Cree 65W BR30 for ceilings under 8 feet high, and a Cree 100W BR30 for ceilings over that height; it was nice to get that extra validation for my decision to get the brighter light.

Oh, and the front/bottom of the Cree bulb is plastic rather than glass; on the one hand, that makes it look a little cheap to me, but on the other hand, that makes it a lot less likely to shatter if the bulb falls off of my long extension pole while I’m trying to install or remove it in the high ceiling fixture.

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