Off the shelf retail store screw-in LED and CFL bulb comparisons

blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
If you're a CFL micro grower like me, I'm sure you've been seeing more and more LED bulbs appearing in your local box stores next to the CFLs.

Maybe you're wondering, like I was, are these things any good for growing?

I know my initial impressions from what I was seeing on the shelves, was no.

The bulbs put out half the lumens that the same wattage CFL put out or the lumens were close but the only bulb was PAR style bulbs with big metal heatsinks and thick glass reflectors, not to mention expensive.

Then one day I was at Lowes and I saw some 2700k LED bulbs that said they put out roughly the same lumens as similar wattage CFLs and they weren't outrageously priced (2 bulbs for $14). This got me intrigued, so I bought some.

I have always wanted to make a thread showing just how much light actually comes off a CFL bulb at varying distances, but I never got around to it. I figured testing some similar wattage, same color LED and CFL bulbs might be interesting. Both to show how much light comes off the CFL bulbs and to see how these LED bulbs compare.

I used this light meter.

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Here's a front view so you can see it has a pretty low profile.

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The part that measures the light is about 3/4" taller than what the meter is sitting on.

CFL bulb lumen measurements are done at 12" by the manufacturer.

Lumens are actually kind of complex because they measure the light over an area instead of a reading at a point a certain distance from the light.

I'm measuring lux. This is going to be a simple reading showing the amount of light from the source in a direct line.

I will be putting the meter directly under the light and measuring at 12". I will then measure 12" to the side at 12" height.

The next measurement will be at 6" height and the last measurement at 9" height.

This means the light source will roughly be about 11" from the meter, 5" from the meter and 2" from the meter.

Really the heights don't matter as long as all the measurements for all the lights are taken at the same heights.
 

blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
Ok, let's get this started.

First up is a 13w CFL bulb. This bulb says it puts out 900 lumens.


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Here's the bulb in the fixture with a ruler so you can see the measurement height.

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
First measurement

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over 12"

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measurement at 6"

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and at 9"

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Here's a front shot so you can see where the meter is.

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
Here are the LED bulbs I bought.

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They say 800 lumens from 10w. That's pretty close to the 900 lumens from 14w CFL.

Here's a closeup of the bulb

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Here it is in the fixture. I am measuring from the source of light, not the edge of the plastic lens.

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
Here's the measurement at 12"

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and 12" over

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Measurement at 6"

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and at 9"

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Um, wow. That was my first thought. The LED is lower wattage and puts out way more light than a slightly higher wattage CFL? I guess so.
 

blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
I pulled the lens off the light and found this inside.

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Let's measure this sucker with no lens and see what how it does. (Now you can also see why I measured the light with the lens from where I did).

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
Measurement at 12"

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and 12" over

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measurement at 6"

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and at 9"

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front shot

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Wow, the lens blocks a bunch of light. Guess I wouldn't be running this bulb with a lens lol.

So let's see how the measurements compare (lux readings at 100x scaling)

13w 2700k CFL
12" 7 lux
6" 28 lux
9" 101 lux

10w 2700k LED with lens
12" 24 lux
6" 110 lux
9" 534 lux

10w 2700k LED with no lens
12" 37 lux
6" 165 lux
9" 707 lux

I find that interesting because both lights are 2700k they are similar in wattage and the LEDs put out a lot more light than the CFL.

One thing to note. The LEDs are more directed. So while the cone below the light is brighter than it would be for a CFL, a CFL does put it's light out evenly all around the bulb. So plants can grow up next to and above a CFL and still get a lot of light. Using these lights, if a plant grew next to and above the LEDs, the plant would not get very much light.

More comparisons coming.
 
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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
This is valuable research. Do you plan to do grows with both to see which performs better?

I've got a whole thread of CFL grows using the CFL bulbs that will be posted in this thread.

I am doing a grow in that other thread with a recess style 22.5w LED bulb in a new cab I built.

It was shortly after starting that cab that I ran across these bulbs and started the measurements.

The results have led me to try some LED experiments which will be posted here and/or my other thread
 

earthwyrms

Active member
i am wondering if the LEDs give out UV and that is why the bulb is opaque (probably not).

i hacked the chipboards off a couple phillips 8.5W 800lumen bulbs. i want to know what Volts and Amps the array uses and each LED individually so any bulb can be hacked and put on better heatsinks and driven with a different (possibly better) power supply.
 

PetFlora

Well-known member
ICMag Donor
Nice report

Several years ago, some of us used similar led globes (with/without) diffusers to very good results. You can probably find mine in the archives

Better to use spot lights which direct all the light to the canopy

Also I have only seen 5000 or 3000k in big box stores, BUT, Amazon has 4000-4500 which are neutral white
 
thanks for putting in numbers what many of use 'suspected' even a cheap led bulb outperforms a bigger cfl

and the lens/diffuser REALLY makes a difference! ive always broken them off before even turning them on because it makes sense, but wow!
 

The Revolution

Active member
I was just perusing walmarts lighting. Seen some different led bars and the bulbs you tested. I think I also seen an led floodlight or security light this may have potential. Thanks for taking to time to not only do the science, but also.offering your results here for us in such detail
 

blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
I found these bulbs at Wally World. They're slightly less than $5 per bulb.

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
Measurement at 12"

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measurement at 12" over

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measurement at 6"

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measurement at 9"

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front view

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blynx

WALSTIB
Moderator
ICMag Supporter
I removed the lens and found this inside.

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I doubt anyone would actually remove the lens and keep this reflector in place, but what the heck let's get some light measurements lol.
 
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