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Costco BRAND LED floodlights on the cheap?

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I made it by Costco yesterday and they sell their own brand LED floodlights. Has anyone ever tried these out? They seem way too cheap to be any good. They were about $10 a pop. I almost picked one up just to try, but I've already spent too much lately on my lighting OCD.

post #2 of 39

They must be kind of like the other Costco/Kirkland brand products....they go out, try to find a version they like, and get that company to rebrand some of their products to have the Costco or Kirkland name.

 

Take their vanilla ice cream.  The recipe is the vanilla ice cream recipe from Humboldt Creamery.  Costco ran a competition for the best vanilla and the one that was chosen for the Kirkland brand was the winner.

 

Now, I would hope they'd operate selecting their LEDs in a similar fashion.  But a $10 LED floodlight?  That is super cheap!  Do you have any more details on it?

post #3 of 39

I will take a stab that these bulbs are cluster style, meaning that there are a bunch of 5mm LED's in the bulb. They will have odd coloring, won't spread the light that well and won't have a good heat sink on them, so they wont last.

 

Wal mart has some bulbs at this price point, and a lot of them don't work out of the box, the rest fail within 6 months. 

 

When you buy a LED light bulb they need to have a high powered LED in them or they are not worth it! Yes, they are expensive, but they last sooo long, and they are tough to break. So in the end you are paying less.  

post #4 of 39

If COSTCO brand LED lights last less than average, I suspect it may not have voltage regulator and/or LED itself may be slightly off-grade (which means slightly our of nominal specifications).

 

Slightly off-grade LED (like a bit darker) will be equally bright under higher voltage, but the life will be much shorter. If the voltage regulator is omitted, there is no protection for LEDs from voltage fluctuation, and will also shorten the life.

post #5 of 39

Hello

I am with Atlanta Light Bulbs and you are exactly correct, LED lamps are basically like anything else we buy. There is good, better & best. A good LED should be made of

aluminum & high density plastic. This is due to the fact that there is an LED driver inside that lamp which makes it operate...that driver gets extremely hot so when the LED lamp is made of some type of metal, and "fins" as I call them..air can circulate around the lamp and cool it so it will not overheat and fail. Cheap LEDs are cheap they are avaialable and right now are giving LEDs a bad name, they do save you money on your electric bill but are not always the brightest as the cheap ones typically just have a bunch of "LED indicator lamps" clustered together inside the lamp itself. This is the inexpensive way to put a bunch of indicator lamps together put them into a lamp and give you LED light....Good ones will have very few LEDs and they will be big chips, with a photo optic lens on top of the chip to harness and expand the light so basically the bulb design is working with the chip to deliver clean crisp light!

Check our our website www.atlantalightbulbs.com we have some wonderful LED's and we are trained in when and when not to use them and how they work!

 

post #6 of 39

Hi, Doug;

 

Do you mean regular low intensity LEDs by indicator LEDs? If so, it is hard to believe.

 

Even if a hundred of regular LEDs are grouped together, it won't be as bright as high intensity LED.

 or, am I wrong?

post #7 of 39

Well in theory yes , its a really bright indicator lamp.

Its not good however for "general lighting"

There is a huge difference when you put two together an look at the "lumen output" on the lamps, the cluster led indicator lamps emit light.

A high powered led lamp with good chips, optics and such will give light and it is more directable to a surface or an area.

 

post #8 of 39

Well, I bought one the other day at Costco- we have a lot (30+) of "can" type overhead lights, and the CFL bulbs have not been lasting at all- I have a box of dead ones, some have burned out in just a few hours. In many areas (dark stairwells) the slow on feature of the CFL bulbs is counterproductive, as they tend to get left on. We feel kind of stuck for bulbs, as the CFL's have not lasted or performed well, incancesdents use lots of power and are less available, and LED's are at this point far too expensive, so I thought this worth a try. 

The LED bulb was $13, claims 5 watts, "replacing" a 45 watt bulb. Subjectively that seems about right. It's not quite as bright as the "65 watt replacement" CFL bulbs it's next to, but it's close. The light is very bright white, not warm at all, and very directional. The bulb does not seem to get hot, and it's a bit heavy, so there may be a heat sink- I'm tempted to take it apart. There are a lot (not counting, but maybe 75 or more) of LED's, so we aren't talking high power LED's. States manufactured by Lights of America, 611 Reyes Drive, Walnut, CA 91789. Two year warranty (Costco is very good about warranty/ returns). "Assembled" in USA. Price seems a bit too good to be true, but then sometimes Costco gets closeout or dumped inventory. Not sure if I will try more or not, but they might be good for  the stairwells. 

post #9 of 39

I'm interested on how they do. Most multi 5mm LED's don't last long at all. Poorly built, get to hot..etc. But hey, you are set to get them to work for at least the next two years!

post #10 of 39

I'll post if it goes out. I'm not terribly optimistic for the long haul, I expect they are fairly low quality, and it's just not enough light to replace most of the can lights we have, but I'm thinking that for some areas it might work. Basically I'm trying to avoid buying any more CFL bulbs until LED's come down in price. If this plugs the gap it may be worth it for me.  

post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 

I finally got a chance to take a closer look at the Costco LED light bulb when I did a little head to head comparision with an EarthLED EarthPar 30 light bulb. You can check out the review on the EarthPar product page here.

 

One thing I must retract from my original post was the branding. When I went back to actually buy the bulb, the packaging wasn't overwhelmingly Costco, there was just a small "imported by Costco" at the bottom. Here's a pic of the packaging:

 

 

post #12 of 39

I now have a few of these bulbs and I can say I agree with the review posted by pgallet. The color temperature is very high- they are comparable to some 6500K underwater video lamps I have, so it may well be a 6500K light- not a pleasant color (like being illuminated by an electric arc), uneven, and not bright enough for general use. 

However, I will happily use them in a closet and a utility stairway where the instant on feature is most valuable (CFL was not useful in these areas), where the light requirements are not great, and where I would never pay $65 or more for a bulb. But they won't go in living areas. 

post #13 of 39

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Russell View Post

 

However, I will happily use them in a closet and a utility stairway where the instant on feature is most valuable (CFL was not useful in these areas), where the light requirements are not great, and where I would never pay $65 or more for a bulb. But they won't go in living areas. 

 

That's too bad the color temp is so unpleasant.  But great that you found an application for them, even if they're relegated to the closet!  Keep us posted as you live with them for a bit.

post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 

I like the "electric arc" analogy, dead on. I'll pull mine out next Halloween for a Frankenstein being brought to life display.

post #15 of 39

Interesting thread...thanks to all who previously wrote on the item.

 

I picked up one last weekend at Costco; bought it for the same reason - I had to know how well LED lights were going to fit my needs, and this was the most economical I found to date.

 

You guys are right about the color... bluish white, and the weight (it was surprisingly heavy). The light spot on target is visibly brigher than the light of a Sylvania 65 watt incandescent floodlight at the same distance.  Power dissapation is really low... the unit is only slightly warm after hours of runtime.

 

I'm happy with the item and will be buying more of them to replace incandescents in an overhead nine-light track-light.

 

My only concern is the Lights Of America branding.  I have many years experience replacing LOA brand light fixtures, mostly outdoors, that have failed prematurely. They have inviting products ( mostly powerful CFL fixtures ) that just seem to have a short life.

 

Jerry

post #16 of 39

The LOA LED's also have a track record of a short life span.... They are made to a specific price point. That price point gets you a certain quality. You will buy 3-4 $15 bulbs to one $49 high quality LED bulb.

post #17 of 39

I agree with the comments of others here - the Lights Of America LED bulbs at Costco are just about worth what you pay for them. The quality of the light and the amount of light are poor, IMO. For something like a motion-detector-controlled security light on the porch of front walkway, they are probably a very good deal, because the quality of light for an  outdoor security light is not that critical, and with the low duty cycle of a motion-triggered security light they should last a very long time.

 

BTW, my experience with LOA's CFL bulbs a number of years ago is that they were some of the worst CFLs on the market - in fact I wouls go so far as to call them trash (back then - don't know how they are now).

 

I borrowed a neighbor's LED 5W LOA bulb that he bought at Costco and put it on a Kill-A-Watt® power meter, and although the stamp on the bulb says it draws 100 mA, it actually was drawing 150 mA (power draw was indeed 5W as labeled). Worse yet, the power factor of this particular bulb is a measly 0.31, which means that even though your electric utility company is only charging you for the 5W of electrical power it consumes, the utility company is actually having to force roughly 18 W worth of electricity down the wire to power it. So you will be saving yourself money powering this bulb, but the planet will be feeling the full "18W" worth of fuel being burned back at the power plant and the full 18W worth of greenhouse gas that will be produced.

 

For reference, incandescent bulbs have a power factor of roughly 0.98 or so, which means that if the label says it is a 60W bulb, the electric utility is generating that same 60W worth of electricity to power that incandescent bulb at your house (ignoring transmission losses). With their power factor close to 1.0, icandescent bulbs are "true to their labeling" in terms of the power consumed back at the power plant, and with regard to the amperage you expect them to be drawing through your house wiring (60W/120V/0.98=0.51A, assuming PF=0.98). So although an incandescent bulb uses more power, what you see is what you get. Not so for these modern LED and CFL bulbs with low power factors, wherein the electrical current in your house wiring to power the LED or CFL is anywhere from 2X-5X more current than the labeled watts would indicate.

 

If this LOA 5W LED bulb was truly well-designed and efficient, it would have a power factor ("PF") of at least 0.95, in which case the current draw would be only 45 mA, not 150 mA (assuming 120 volts AC electrical supply). In fairness, many current LED bulbs that run on AC house power are similarly inefficient (power factors in the range of 0.20-0.45 are apparently more common than one would like to think).

 

Similarly, most CFL bulbs have a power factor of 0.55-0.65, which means that CFL bulbs require the power company to deliver almost twice the electrical current to the bulb than you are paying for, and the result is the air pollution and resource consumption back at the  power plant is roughly 2X what the labeled CFL bulb wattage would have you believe.

 

In fairness, there are LED bulb manufacturers that produce their bulbs responsibly to the planet as a whole, and there are LED bulbs for 120 VAC service with power factors 0.95 or better ( Cree's LR6 bulb, for example, and there are others ike them). You pay more for the higher-quality of power-conditioning inside the bulb to get the PF=0.95 or better, but if your goal is to help the planet while you reduce your own costs, then we all need to push back on these low-quality LED and CFL bulbs and insist that the manufacturers add a couple of dollars worth of extra capacitors or whatever it takes to make the power factors of their bulbs closer to 0.99, not 0.31 or 0.55.

 

As a side note, I have purchased "EcoBrite" LED bulbs from innovativelight.com and the quality and distribution of the light from their "90° cone" bulbs is very good, both in the warm white and cool white models. However, they suffer from the same low power factors that the LOA bulb does (depending on model), and they are more costly (on the order of twice the current price of the Costco LOA bulbs). There are other competitive LED bulb makers with high power factore (Wertmarke, Cree, AbeoTech, others)

 

Unfortunately for us consumers, these LED bulbs are a classic case of "let the buyer beware", because the electrical current running through your house wiring is up to 3-5X more than the simple bulb-wattage ratings would suggest. Certainly the current with LED bulbs is lower than it is with the equivalent-illumination incandescent bulb, but in the big picture, low-power-factor bulbs of all types are a greater drain on the world's resources than it might appear.

 

And if your electrical circuit is near capacity now, and say for example you are planning on adding six can-lights with LED bulbs to replace a single ceiling fixture in a given room on that near-capacity electrical circuit, make sure you size the circuit using the actual electrical current draw, do not simply divide the watts by 120 volts to determine the amperage of these low-power-factor bulbs.

post #18 of 39

I purchased one of these 'Lights of America' recessed lighting LED light bulbs yesterday at my local Costco. They do not work in dimmer switch circuit so we installed it in the bathroom. It's not very bright but it works there just fine- mostly because the light is quite blue shifted. Our bathroom is done in a lot of dark earth tones so the blue shifted light from this bulb actually is an accent in this situation. It would not be appropriate for most other lighting situations that I can think of. So far as I know only CREE makes a dimmable bright 'soft white' LED and I don't know how or where to get those.

post #19 of 39

The Cree website to find "where to buy" is at http://www.creelighting.com/buy.aspx (you need to input your zip code). Typically they use high-end lighting stores and electrical supply houses for their distributors.

 

Progress Lighting makes a line of nicely dimmable "LED trims" that fit into 4" or 6" recessed-can fixtures; they are a direct competitor to Cree right now in terms of architectural lighting. Like Cree, Progress Lighting has recessed-can inserts in both warm white and cool white colors.

The Progress Lighting website for 4" LED trims is http://progresslighting.com/products.aspx?Sku=p8026&x=19&y=7 

Progress Lighting for 6" trims is http://progresslighting.com/products.aspx?Sku=P8071&x=10&y=5

Like Cree, Progress Lighting seems to use mostly high-end lighting stores and/or electrical supply houses for distribution.

 

I found that our local electrical supply house (the places in the industrial parts of town, where contractors go to buy their supplies) had by far the best prices around here (southern California) for both the Cree and the Progress Lighting LED trims, just slightly above the cheapest internet prices and well below many of the internet prices. They also let me bring a couple of "loaner" units home to try in our house. Of course they ran my credit card to cover the cost of the loaners and then just held onto the charge slip, and I had to bring them back within a week or I would have been charged for them, but it sure was nice to deal with the knowledgeable folks at the electrical supply and be able to take home "demonstrator units" for a few days. When I brought the loaner LEDs back, they tore up the charge slip and it never hit my account at all. It let us see clearly that we preferred the "neutral white" color (3000-3500K) over the "warm white" (2700K) in our kitchen and in our bathroom, also let me move them around the ceiling until I found the best locations to eliminate shadows on the countertops, in the freezer, inside cupboards, etc.

 

I found the Cree products and the Progress Lighting products to be very high quality. Pricey, but very good quality.

 

We just bought four of the 3000K color ZetaLux® bulbs (regular-shaped, medium screw-base type bulbs) from EarthLED.com to install in the can-lights in our bathroom. The 300K colored ZetaLux® bulbs make excellent light (350 lumens each bulb in the 3000K color) and burn only 7W each bulb. EarthLED also makes a line of dimmable LEDs called LumiSelect in "warm white" (3000K) and cool white (6000K) in various wattages and bulb sizes. The LumiSelect series is less efficient than the ZetaLux or the EvoLux product lines, and the PAR16 I tried does not dim as smoothly or as low as the Cree and the Progress Lighting, but if you want slightly less expensive, dimmable, regular screw-base type LED bulb, give the LumiSelects a look. Main product page for EarthLED products is at http://www.earthled.com/products.html

 

The Progress Lighting P8026 that I tried was the best dimmable LED of all the ones we tried out. The Cree is a close second, but the Progress Lighting P8026 was the best for dimmability (for both smoothness and lowest-dimming). Be careful what type of dimmer you buy, because each LED bulb has different circuitry inside and will be compatible with some dimmers and not at all compatible with other dimmers. Each manufacturer lists which dimmers are reportedly compatible with their bulbs, but you really need to do the ultimate test yourself to determine which dimmer works best with whatever LED bulbs you buy.

 

I have no financial or personal interest in any of the companies I mentioned, I'm just trying to be an informed consumer and sharing what I have discovered, for what it's worth.

post #20 of 39

Hi noneyet,

 

We all appreciate your sharing the experiences with the LED's. They are new so there is a lot to learn and no one likes to learn it all the 'hard way'.

 

Thanks,

Russ 

post #21 of 39
Thank you for the information-

LED monitor
post #22 of 39
Hey Doug, small world. I was just over at your store last month for some 40" full spectrum fluorescent for my pet bird Aviary. For anyone interested in my opinion. AtlantaLightBulbs is the only place within a 500 mile(or more) radius of Atlanta, GA to buy specialty bulbs of all sorts. Excellent knowledgeable staff too. Not many places can properly ship 40" fluorescent that arrive in tack. See ya soon Doug.
post #23 of 39
Ron,

While you wait for quality LED lamps to get to a more reasonable price point, and still attempt to save a boatload of energy, you might consider dimmers, in every room of the house! You might not think "dimmer in the bathroom", but how often do you really need 100% of your lights on? I only turn mine to 100% for cleaning! You can instantly cut your lighting electric by 80% by purchasing the Lutron Maestro Wireless (no need to tear out drywall to install these babies! http://www.lutron.com/cms400/default.aspx?app=maestrowireless. Most people need a minimum of 1 foot candle of light to navigate a home, although that may just be too dim for most, you see how much you can save keeping your old incandescent lamps, which dimmed, last much longer than at full brightness. Lutron has great tech support for questions you might have about their products, how they work, how to install, and what system would be best for your application. I'm in the lighting industry and Lutron has the best products on the market and if you purchase from an authorized distributor (rather than your local hardware store), you can probably do pretty well on the pricing. You can contact your local Graybar Electric Co. (www.graybar.com) and ask for their Lighting Specialist...they can help you to pick out the best system for your needs, and your budget.

Thanks,
LightingGal
post #24 of 39
Hi LightingGal, Welcome to the Eco Huddle!

Some good tips though I would caution our people that Lutron is among the most expensive systems.

Many parties now make wireless control systems which are the equal and are much more cost effective.

It is best to stay away from proprietary systems as you have much more selection and do not have to go back to the same supplier in the future for add ons. 
post #25 of 39
 I bought this brand "ecoBrites" LED bulbs from amazon.com and they are very good. After reading some of the reviews here, I think this is different brand. Has anyone else bought that from amazon.com and tried it? 
 
I had done some research in general and tried several other brands of LED. Some are well-known and some are kind of new. Well, I don't want to name them. Compared with others, I believe the price of ecoBrites is not crazily expensive and is reasonable. In fact, I just bought 12 recently because they are on sales now during the holiday. amazon even provides free-shipping and free gift-wrap. Anyhow, from my experience with the LED bulbs I bought, here is my 2 cents.
 
1st, I think it is worth the money in LED if you consider not only the "big picture" but also your family and what the mercury, lead, and other poison stuff inside the fluorescent bulbs would do to your kids and yourself!
 
2nd, please check this link:
 
According to DOE's study, LED works best in spotlights, tracking lights and recessed downlights, while you consider other bulbs, including fluorescent/CFL, lost 1/2 lumens inside the fixture.
 
Other pros and cons are pretty much covered by other readers already.
 
For this brand, ecoBrites and the bulbs I bought from amazon.com, I also wrote a review on a 5w model at amazon there. What really impressed me the most was the light outputs of the 5w bulbs and 7w PAR30. Now, I have placed all 5w PAR30 along the hallway as recessed downlights. I even left one or two "on" all night, and my young kids are okay to go to bathroom at night and get up early in the morning by themselves (believe me, NY is very dark in 6am now). I will send some of these LED bulbs to my parents, so they can also find their ways at night. 
 
My electric bills are so much less, and I believe the pay-back will come sooner. I am also using four bulbs as tracking and spotlights in the kitchen. They are directional and they are perfect for kitchen works! I realized that under carbines lights actually waste quite a lot around the corners and edges, if you check carefully.
 
Anyway, if you also have them, please let me know how yours working for you?
 
Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Yvonne 
post #26 of 39
Thanks Yvonne for the detailed experience. LED's are very much a coming thing.

The typical LED's available today are best where you want directed lighting as compared to all around lighting. New styles are coming out all the time and in a couple of years they will be the norm - not the exception.

The LED's I am using are only for switched night lamps. Flip a switch beside the bed and find your way to the loo easily without lighting up the whole place. Guess we do have them for pool lamps as well.

The important thing is that the cheap 'no name' brands may turn out to be the more expensive - same as with CFL's.  
post #27 of 39
UPDATE on my purchase of COSTCO LED floodlights: One of three bulbs went completely dark a couple of months after purchase. I received a recall notice from COSTCO indicating the lot of product was subject to recall and I could return for refund. I returned all three. Next purchase was a $45.00 flood from Home Depot. The new flood has five high-intensity LEDS and much heavier, external, heat-sink. That unit continues to work to this day.

Jerry
post #28 of 39
The advice given here by electrical folks is correct. I have been in the theatrical business and landscape lighting business for over 30 years and bought a bunch of the led xmas lights 3 years ago. The phillips/sylvania lamps at lowes and home depot are worth buying and will last a long time,I personally this year went all led in my home,lamps,oh fixtures,track lighting,floodlights and even the low voltage landscape lighting,all good bulbs with heat syncs that will last a long time.If you cheap out,you are basicially getting crap lights that will not be color correct as my new white lighting is.


those costco bulbs are Garbage,you can find some offshore stuff too that will not last,If you have solar landscape lights which are also Garbage and not at all color correct you know what I mean
post #29 of 39

sorry to hear about all the bad Costco lamps.  My LOA bulbs have not gone bad, and I've had a few of them for 4 years now. Like anything else, form follows function, and the low watt cluster LEDs have their places in small, narrow spaces.  Last year I bought three of the  LOA 11W flood lamps which uses the power LED instead of the 'cluster', two are still working fine as my primary living room illumination. the third lights my solar shop  All of my LOA bulbs replaced a CFL, all are still working, and I do notice less electrical costs.  

 

Recently I found a 12V, 4W LED MR-16 flood-lamp (bi-pin receptacle). Meant for low-voltage outdoor lighting, I tried it on my solar 12V DC system, and it is working beautifully. It only draws 280mA from my solar charge controller, but is nearly as bright as the 11W LOA lamp. The bi-pin lamp costs $30 retail, but is worth the reduced battery use. 

 

Let's compare:

 

11W LED, AC flood-light running off of inverter power - 13 W (with loss)

or

4W LED flood, DC  (Controller voltage  multiplied by Current = realtime Watts)

                                   12.3V x 280mA = 3.44 W

 

 

As an aside, the member who works for the lighting company doesn't seem very impartial for the forum. 

 

 

post #30 of 39

Those inexpensive Costco LED bulbs I bought 2 years ago are still all in service except 2, and since they came in 5-packs I am still ahead!

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