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An LED Alternative to Incandescents

 Posted by on November 8, 2007
Nov 082007


By John DeFore

Of all the products that made BuildingGreen’s new Top 10 list, the one most likely to be of use to those of us who aren’t building homes (or remodeling kitchens) any time soon is the LR6 LED Downlight from LLF. Designed for use in recessed lighting fixtures, the downlight offers predictable benefits over incandescent bulbs (far longer lifespan, far lower energy use) but also lasts longer than the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) many eco-conscious consumers look to as replacements.

The thing catching BuildingGreen’s eye, though, is that LEDs don’t contain toxic mercury, as CFLs do. (The LR6 is also dimmable, unlike most CFLs.) While many LED products on the market have problems with light output and color, LLF took “a bottom-up approach” according to product development exec Gary Trott, who told us his company had assembled a team to overcome the various challenges in using tiny LEDs to illuminate large rooms. Judging from photos of a demonstration booth comparing the LR6 to CFLs and incandescent — and from the praise of third parties like the Lighting For Tomorrow competition — they succeeded.

Don’t expect to see something like this in big-box stores any time soon, as the module’s $130 price tag makes it a tough sell for bargain hunters. (Find a dealer here.) Trott is quick to point out that the fixtures do pay for themselves over time (an average of under two years in commercial use, five years in residential), and are comparably priced with fluorescents. But it takes a committed customer to appreciate that, at least until the case against conventional bulbs gets more mainstream traction.

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