GE 'Energy Smart' 9W LED Lightbulb (Product Review)


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

The Future We Want Is Already Here, It's Just Unevenly Distributed

There's little doubt in my mind that compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) will turn out to be just a transitory technology. While they are a significant improvement on incandescent bulbs (which are better at producing heat than light), they remain a bit too fragile and hard to dispose of to be the lighting's 'holy grail'. Light emitting diode (LED) lights, on the other hand, could very well be the answer we've been looking for: They're very efficient, turn on instantly, last a long time (decades!), and don't contain easily dispersed toxins (mercury free, lead free, RoHS compliant). Let's have a closer look at GE's 9W 'Energy Smart' LED lightbulb. Read on for more info and photos.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

First Look at the GE LED Bulb
The first thing that one notices when looking at the GE LED bulb is the strange shape of the heatsink. It's quite different from the Qnuru LEDs, but it seems to be doing a good job dissipating heat. The first question that people ask me when I show them these bulbs is: "Why do they need a heatsink? Are they that hot?" The simple answer is that LEDs are more heat-sensitive than incandescents, so while they produce a lot less heat, they still need to dissipate it faster to remain at their peak operating temperature.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Heat is the Enemy of LEDs
What's clever about the shape of this heatsink/radiator is that is allows light to escape on the sides and bottom of the bulb, making it a better replacement for a CFL or incandescent bulb (more on that below).


Photo: Michael Graham Richard


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Some specs:


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

The GE LED bulb has a limited warranty of 10 years, but it's rated at over 22 years on the box, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if this was actually a conservative number. This means that some of us might be putting our LED bulbs in your will...


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

While GE says the bulb will save you $85 over its life, that's compared to a 40W incandescent. That number would be lower compared to a CFL, but it could also be higher since in my experience the GE 9W LED can replace a 60W bulb, not just a 40W.

That number will also become much higher in a few years when LED bulbs cost a lot less. If the GE 9W LED was the same price as a CFL, savings over the life of the bulb would make it a great investment, as well as the greenest way to get light other than the sun.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Light Quality and Directionality
Above is the GE 9W LED. It's a 'warm white' bulb, and the quality of the light is impressive. I don't really have anything bad to say about it compared to the quality CFLs that I've been using before. There's no strange red or blue tint to the light and it mixes well with other non-LED bulbs.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

And this one is the Qnuru 9W LED (warm white version) in the same lamp.

The way the camera adjusts to light makes it a bit harder to see in the photos, but the GE light is more omnidirectional, sending a lot more light downward and to the sides of the bulb. Whether this is a big plus will depend on what kind of lamp you want to use the LED bulb with. If it's a torchiere, it won't help much (see below), but if it's a reading lamp like above, the GE definitely has the advantage.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

This is the GE bulb in a torch lamp. In person, it's more obvious than on this pic that a lot of the GE bulb does a good job, but that a more directional LED bulb (like the Qnuru below) would do a better job of lighting the room.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Here's the Qnuru 9W LED bulb in the same lamp. Again, it's a bit hard to see on the pic, but in person, it does light the room a bit better.

For reviews of other LED lightbulb models, see the links below:


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

See also: Philips AmbientLED 17 Watts LED Lightbulb (Product Review)

See also: Qnuru 6.4W and 9.2W LED Lightbulbs (Product Review)

See also: FIRST Green 'e-Watt Saver' 7W LED Lightbulb (Product Review)

See also: Philips AmbientLED 12.5 Watts LED Lightbulb (Product Review)

Price: Right now these bulbs are $50 if you buy them straight from GE. That's too expensive for most people, but in a few years I'd be surprised if these or similar bulbs weren't selling for under $5-10.

Thanks to GE for providing the review unit.

If you like this article, you can follow me on Twitter (@Michael_GR) and Stumbleupon (THMike). Thanks.

More on LED Lights
CREE to Supply 10.5W LED Downlights to Home Depot
BoingBoing Looks at LED Lights Through "Sober Assessment Goggles"
Researchers Make White LED Light Bulbs using Salmon DNA
Quantum Dots Make LED Lightbulbs Emit More Pleasant Light

Tags: Energy Efficiency | LEDs | Lighting

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK