There are some quite interesting low energy options to regular incandescent light popping up these days, such as Compact Flourescent Light (CFL) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED). The latter also being used more widely in consumer electronics as a better alternative to Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), as they deliver a more dynamic range of contrast with perfect blacks.

Anyway, these (more or less) new energy-saving light sources have all suffered a considerable down part thus far; due to the fact that they've been rather expensive to get a hold of. And even though they may as well make up for their high price in the long run, far from everyone has yet been convinced of their greatness.

The LED bulb's quirky, "cut off" shape makes it
highly suitable for a direct, spotting light.

$2 LED light bulbs!

This seems to be changing, luckily. Because recently - by sheer luck, actually - I came across some really affordable LED based light bulb replacements, browsing through some eBay items available from a seller based in Asia. So I tried my luck and bought a few, as they only costed a couple of bucks each, which is about a tenth, or twentieth even, of what similar lamps go for in the local shop over here in northern Europe.

40W incandescent light bulb, followed by the
3W/42LED and the 2W/37LED light bulbs.
The LED lamps I purchased consume 2 and 3 Watts, respectively. The 3W version consists of 42 LED's and its luminance corresponds to a regular 25W, incandescent light, only with a different tint, which is bluer and colder, as expected from a LED based solution. The 2W version has 37 LED's and thus delivers a slightly dimmer light, although of the same colour tint as its 3W counterpart.

From Incandescent to LED - First Impression

The 3W 42-LED bulb in action
I currently have the 3W LED bulb seated in my desk lamp, and it's a bit of a difference to my old regular bulb, which consumed 40W, which makes the comparison more than a tad unfair, but even in this light (lame wordplay, sorry ;)) the LED bulb is still performing quite acceptable, perhaps due to its high Kelvin, cold tint. I might go for a slightly more powerful bulb in the long run, however. Preferably with a bit warmer colour tone, as alternative tints of LED's most likely become more available in the future as they grow in production scale as well as popularity.

Incandescent vs. LED - Light Comparison

Here's a quick head-to-head comparison between the two 2/3 Watt LED bulbs with my ordinary 40W incandescent light bulb. All three photos are taken with the same camera, using same settings, without use of flash, PhotoShop adjustments or the likes.

Bear in mind however, that the monitor does also add some light, and furthermore,  I have a 2x15W pendant turned on as well. You can still make a bit of difference out, regarding colour tint especially.

40W incandescent (left) vs. 3W LED (middle) vs. 2W LED (right)


The cost efficiency as well as the long life span of LED's are simply remarkable. LED's are usually stated to last for about 20-25 years of normal use, which makes them a reliable and highly priceworthy investment. While the high frequency, cold tinted light may not be for everyone, or fit every occasion - I would still put my bets on LED's to be the dominating light source of the future. Especially when lamps provided with coatings that with greater success manage to reproduce a natural colour of light become available in the future.

Until then, the sun itself will prevail and still be the optimal source of light!

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