Lighting: LED vs Incandescent vs Lantern vs Candle

As I replace my 2nd “22+ years life!” LED in the kitchen lighting system in 4 years…

What have people been doing about light lately?

With solar online, I’ve been debating going to a bit more “inefficient” lighting for some use cases - especially when it offers radiant heat that, in the winter, helps heat people directly. Being under an incandescent bulb, even a 60W bulb, makes a big difference in body observed heat in lower temperatures, and I know a few people use just use a dangling spot bulb over their keyboard to manage “winter hands” temperature issues. I’ll probably be trying that this winter as well.

I think the universal opinion is that CFs are horrid across the range of metrics (from complexity to being hazmat for disposal).

Modern LEDs are nice, but as I add more dimmers, you have to go to the “warm glow” sort or they look vile when dimmed. A typical “dimmable” white LED will turn a ghastly grey when dimmed.

But given the observed lifespan of those, I’m wondering if it works out just as well to actually go back to some incandescent bulbs with an “always used” sort of dimmer slider as a soft start on them. For less frequently used locations, the power costs aren’t significant, and if it’s somewhere that radiant heat would be nice in the winter, well…

I’ve also been using our lantern more lately in the evenings. It’s a Dietz Jupiter, big kerosene lantern, and it puts out a wonderfully warm light.

While Kleen-Heat fuel isn’t terribly cheap at around $10/gal locally, it’s still not that expensive to run and emits a good amount of heat in the process - also nice for winter.

Mostly daylight LEDs here. No burnouts yet with the new house.

I have a couple hurricane lanterns. They live in the well-house in deep storage, where they will likely remain unless there’s a serious power outage and can be constantly monitored when in use. Too many cats in the house, I know it’s not likely but I’m just not liking the idea of one getting knocked over if I leave the room for a minute.

For portable lighting, I really love my Streamlight siege-x: Siege® X USB Camping Lantern | Streamlight®

I have an original Siege lantern running on AA Eneloops. It’s nice, but the Siege-X is brighter, smaller, more versatile, and I’m liking getting some gear more standardized on 18650/CR123 batteries.

I’ve been adding LED tape to things over the years, and really liking it. It seems like the LEDs are pretty indestructible, it’s the built-in power supplies like in the bulbs that seems like the cheap/fragile part.

In 2018 I built a shelf/monitor stand for my electronics desk. Top shelf extends out over the bench, and I ran two rows of ‘daylight white’ LED tape down the length. In the stainless box is a basic PWM dimmer. Circuit by NutsAndVolts magazine, PCB by me. Powered off a random 12v wall wart I had around. I’ve got several 8ah SLA batteries, that would run it well if I had to as a backup.
Gratuitous finished shot!

I later discovered an LED tape with warm and cool white LEDs on the same tape, and controllers that let you changed color temperature. The LEDs are just common anode, the controller can dim the total light, or it mixes the two LEDs’ brightness to change color temp. So I built myself a light with that, makes a great reading light.

Cool white. Bluer in person than the camera shows


Full warm white.

I’d like it to be a bit more reddish and not as yellow, but it’s still good.

Your LED strips look like what I have in my office. They’re yellowing pretty badly after 4 years, I need to replace them. Debating going with something color temperature adjustable like you’ve got over the bed.

Inside are all LEDs , definitely a few have burned out before the 50 million hour estimated lifespan or whatever, but not enough to complain about. Still got a good cupboard full of LED lightbulbs collected free from various energy efficiency programs over the years. So I wont complain.

In the garage using some 8 foot flourescents that were headed to the dump. Most were dead, they buzz and flicker horribly, been looking at replacing them with the LED tubes that drop in replacement to the existing fixtures, at least as their dying and i’m working through the spares i have. Not sure if the ballasts would still buzz with LED tubes in there, but I think some of them you can actually bypass the ballasts.

Interesting thought about targeted heating with incandescents. Usually use those oil filled electric radiator things for spot heating, but I wonder if the perceived comfort of a radiating light providing heat is better per watt than convection alone. Sounds nice now that its cold these days.

They also provide light in the process - and a nice, smooth spectrum of blackbody radiation, not the weird spikey thing that LEDs blast out. Which I’m not sure matters, but I sure can’t prove it one way or the other.

I definitely feel radiant heat from task incandescents - it’s not massive, but it’s noticeable, especially over time, and it’s enough of a thing to be worth messing with. In my office, in winter, I’m super interested in any sort of combined heat/light system that gives both (see the lantern), and focused heating of people is far more efficient than general heating of the whole room and people via the air…

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Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of water bottles for doing precisely this, as well. Toss one in bed before you do the evening routine and by the time you get there the bed is toasty. Or toss one by your feet under a blanket and you can be comfortable in a near-freezing room. Water bottles are useful for another thing too - if you expect the fire to go out and need to get up in the middle of the night to re-stoke it, your bed will lose considerably less of its retained heat if you went to bed with a couple water bottles - their thermal mass is quite useful for those short excursions.

But this is a thread about lighting, so I’ll stay on topic with this: being able to get seriously warm (I’m talking 2000K or so) lighting without any hint of blue in it at all (most LEDs are awful for tossing in some blue even when cranked pretty warm) has a huge psychological impact, especially in winter. Cancelling out the grey/blue overcast of the days and the short daylight periods with some fire-like psychological cues goes a long way towards caring for your human side.

And… tea lights are named that for a reason… they can be used to actually warm your tea. Look for a tea light pot warmer - that’ll combine the heat and light you’re looking for!

I should try some water bottles!

I’m not sure what the lantern color temperature is, but I expect it’s somewhere in the 2000K range. It’s slightly whiter than candles (cold blast, woo!), but still very “warm flame” color.


On the plus side, I picked up another couple gallons of fuel for it and some candles, so we’re good for incandescent particle lighting this winter! :smiley:

I’ve added another incandescent to the house - the light over our kitchen sink is now a BR40 65W bulb on a nice sliding dimmer. In theory, starting it out dim and manually ramping it up should help longevity (no major spike of current through the cold filament on startup).

Quite a nice glow, when dimmed!

Picked up some luminoodles for the truck.

Most of those LED tube replacements I’ve looked at are designed to connect directly to 120VAC, so you remove the whole ballast and just wire them up in parallel inside the box.

I think some of the simpler ones are literally just strings of LEDs across the AC waveform with ~170V of forward drop or so - you get flicker, but they’re dirt cheap! Throw in a bridge rectifier for 120hz flicker instead of 60hz, and most people won’t even notice.

Speaking of candles, I made a few jar candles yesterday - seeing how they burn now!

@Syonyk What kind of wax and wicks did you choose?

Random cotton wicks from eBay.

I got some soy wax, some beeswax, and have built a variety of test candles. One pure soy, one about 50/50, one pure beeswax (I expect it to tunnel terribly), and one that is about 25% beeswax, but that is not in the desired container. It wasn’t melting and I forgot the cardinal rule of glasswork, which is don’t change temperature rapidly, so I cracked the container I was working with and ended up dumping it in something else.

It’ll end up a blog post at some point…

I have forgone anything save Phillippe Hue LEDs (and/or the little controller dial made by Lutron) and Milwaukee - I have a number of full-on Milwaukee lights (the kind that can plug in) connected to “smart switches” to provide lighting until we finish the remodeling.

Everything else seems like cheap crap In comparison - I really like the color changing temperature of the LEDs - I wish I had more time to get into

The other nice thing about Hue bulbs is they dim themselves - no need to try to make LEDs work with old dimmer switches.