Finally found an efficient, attractive, and affordable ceiling fixture, with 3 LED bulbs, totaling just $88

Posted by Paul Braren on May 28 2012 (updated on Jul 8 2014) in
  • Efficiency
  • Reviews
  • BulbsAndFixtureCombination

    Short version, if you're replacing a ceiling fixture, consider heading to Home Depot if you live near one, or head online, to try:

    Qty 1 of $46.97 Progress Lighting Renovations Collection Antique Nickel 3-light Flushmount
    Qty 3 of $13.97 EcoSmart 13-Watt (60W) Warm White (3000K) A19 LED Light Bulb
    $46.97 + $13.97 x 3 = $88.88

    and you will very likely be pleased by the quality of the instant-on LED lighting you will enjoy, particularly for bedrooms or home offices. Then there's the cost savings, due to fewer watts burned, and less wasted heat. Each LED bulb puts out 850 lumens at 3000K, so your total output will be 2550 lumens, minus any minor losses from the lightly-frosted glass fixture. For reference, standard GE 60 watt bulb are 840 lumens, at 2800K, which is a only a little warmer than 3000K.

    I went from 4 34 watt T8 (4 foot) fluorescent bulbs burning 134 watts total, down to 3 LEDs totaling just 39 watts, so that's a savings of 95 watts right there. Those savings are considerably more than my Core i7 laptop uses, and both items are used on average about 10 hours every day. Yes, I'm now saving about $62.24 per year, according to this calculator, and my 18 cents per kilowatt hour local rate. The savings would be even greater if I accounted for my reduced cooling needs.

    Curious how I arrived at this decision?  Well, a bit of research, and some trial and error (3 different bulbs, and a lot of shopping on line and in store). This home improvement was such a success my wife actually wanted me to get the same fixture installed another room, where she was never quite happy with the CF bulbs I had installed some years ago.

    Read below for the backstory...

    Back in January, just hours before heading to CES 2012, my 4' long ceiling "cloud" fixture in my home's office failed. Shouldn't be a big deal to fix, but then it turned out it wasn't the bulbs. It was the two expensive, large, heavy ballasts that had died. The idea of replacing just the 2 ballasts didn't seem terribly appealing, as I'd still be using four 34 watts bulbs, so that's 136 watts.  Even though they're fluorescent bulbs, they still put out a fair amount of heat in my relatively small space, certainly an issue in the summer months.

    And the idea of buying a whole new fluorescent fixture for $188 was even less appealing, such as Home Depot's Design House Fluorescent Ceiling Mount 32 Watt 4-Light Linear Cloud Light Fixture.


    And buying 4' long LED replacements for T8 fluorescent bulbs seems way way too expensive, seen here for example.

    Having had success with Cree LED downlights that I wrote about back in July 2012:

    I began my quest for finding a whole new ceiling fixture, ideally one a bit more attractive, and suited for home use, and of course, considerably more efficient.

    Heading to CES, knowing I needed some LEDs, surprisingly enough, a UL guy was handing out flyers to those of us in the press area eating our boxed lunches, inviting us to special CES session on LED lighting. Headed over to suprisingly entertaining The LED Transformation:  Lighting and Beyond session, with a very impressive panel, including:

    • Todd Straka, Business Development Directory, Global Lighting, UL
    • Philips Andrew Lindstron, Director of Business Development for Philips Lighting North America
    • S. Pekka Hakkarainen, Vice President of Lutron Electronics
    • Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering, American Lighting Association

    Replays should be available here

    Of course, I took the opportunity to meet both S Pekka and Philip, right after their presentation:


    telling them the tale of my various trips to Home Depot, trying to get the right bulbs and dimmers, at the right price. To my surprise, I was able to also stay in touch via email as well, having had pricing and availability issues that have since been resolved.

    So when I returned back home, I resumed my hunt for a suitable fixture, bulbs, and optionally, a dimmer as well.

    1) Find a suitable ceiling fixture

    Having had success with Cree LED downlights that I wrote about back in July 2012:

    I began my quest for finding a suitable ceiling fixture, ideally one a bit more attractive, and suited for home use, and of course, considerably more efficient.

    After shopping online for quite a bit, I slowly realized that lamp sites are crummy, and that ceiling fixtures intended for LEDs were very pricey (starting at $200).  So I decided that what I was really looking for a ceiling fixture with these attributes:

    • semi-flush design (to allow LED bulb heat to escape, for longer life)
    • less than 12" tall overall, to avoid hanging down too far (my ceilings aren't particularly high)
    • install-on performance (so you're not tripping on things as you walk into the room, waiting for the bulb to turn on)
    • dimmable (compatible with Lutron DVSCCL-153P-TP Diva Dimmable CFL/LED Dimmer, Taupe)
    • at least 3 bulb sockets, with space for a typical 60 watts bulb (A19 medium base), allowing me to get close to replacing the overall light output I
    • a diffuser that'd help hide the typically ugly LED bulbs themselves, particular when the lights were off
    • affordable
    • my ceilings aren't very hig
    • local (I want to see a floor model before buying)

    Shopping online proved quite challenging, such as this acrylic/canvas model
    that seemed a little pricy, can't hug the ceiling because of its pendant design, and wasn't available locally.

    Poking around Home Depot's site, there were many 3-light and 4-light designs, but not all could fit a medium base bulb, or weren't available locally, such as the decent-looking but online-only Glomar 3-Light Semi Flush Fixture with Auburn Beige Glass Finished in Vintage Bronze for $67.40.

    So I hopped in the car and checked out the local Lowe's and Home Depot selections, and here's what I found, among the many 3-light semi-flush models available in store:
    Progress Lighting Renovations Collection Antique Nickel P3515-81

    Currently, this fixture is available at:
    Home Depot $46.97 Progress Lighting Renovations Collection Antique Nickel 3-light Flushmount
    Amazon $46.97 Progress Lighting Renovations Close To Ceiling P3515-81 Antique Nickel

    2)  Find three functional and affordable LED bulbs

    The more I researched LED bulb technology and pricing, and the more I realized what I was actually seeking was:

    • a bulb with a size similar to a standard 60 watt bulb, which is A19 medium base
    • a color temperature between 2700K and 3000K
    • dimmable (compatible with Lutron DVSCCL-153P-TP Diva Dimmable CFL/LED Dimmer, Taupe)
    • install-on performance (so you're not tripping on things as you walk into the room, waiting for the bulb to turn on)
    • affordable

    I had tried the Philips Dimmable AmbientLED 12.5-Watt A19 Light Bulb at:
    Home Depot $14.97 Philips AmbientLED 12-Watt (60W) A19 Soft White (2700K) Light Bulb
    Amazon $24.26 Philips 409904 / 423343 Dimmable AmbientLED 12.5-Watt A19 Light Bulb

    but unfortunately, it was too warm and yellowish for my needs. Apparently I'm not alone, see also Marco Arment's recent comment herehere, and here. The color quality of the lighting just seemed to be lower overall than the warm fluorescent bulbs it was replacing. I also noticed that there was a bit of a delay in the start time, that is, a delay between when I flicked on the switch as I walked into the room, and when the bulb actually turned on. In other words, while the bulb said instant-on, it's really more like almost instant on (perhaps  1/5 second delay), enough to be annoying, if walking fast enough. Actually a bit slower than the fluorescent tubes I was replacing.

    Perhaps the newer Philips new L-Prize Winner with the CRI >90, more lumens, and less watts, would address these concerns. But here's the catch, that bulb is around $54.99 each. Hmm...

    So I  looked for other affordable options, and settled on the one that put out the most luments per watt:
    Home Depot $25.97 EcoSmart 13-Watt (60W) Cool White (5000K) A19 DayLight LED Light Bulb (E)*
    Wow, what a mistake that was, 5000K is extremely cool, and gave off a sickly blue glow to the one bedroom with this beyond fluorescent cool bulb.

    Finally, third time's a charm, settled on:
    Home Depot $13.97  EcoSmart 13-Watt (60W) Warm White (3000K) A19 LED Light Bulb
    See also full review of the bulb here.

    This bulb's 3000K is a bit cooler then Philips, and the color quality just seems better to my eye. Individual perception and CRI is a whole topic in itself. Only you, trying an LED out for yourself, can really determine if you'll be happy with your purchase, in your intended environment.

    What are the other considerations in my decision?  The Philips had much better construction, evident when held in hand, with no creaking or play. But the yellow color when turned off showed right through the frosted glass of the fixture I had chosen. This fixture then became rather ugly, the difference is rather apparent below:


    The EcoSmart admittedly doesn't have the same build quality, and I saw one in the store that had dropped and was broken, so I snapped a picture of the inerds so you could see the LEDs with the diffuser removed. Notice how the LEDs are actually yellow, and the diffuser (set down in front of the box) is basically a flexible, semi-transparent piece of heat-resistant plastic:


    But I doubt that the somewhat more fragile design doesn't end up having any consequences in my particular installation.  I should also mention that I was also informed at CES that a large lighting center that happens to be right near my home, Connecticut Lighting Center. I'm told it's very much worth checking out, for efficient fixtures. I just haven't made it over there yet.

    So there you have it, the full backstory of my decision. If you also want to be able to dim these LEDs, I tested that as well, the $33.08 Lutron DVSCCL-153P-TP Diva Dimmable CFL/LED Dimmer, Taupe (available in many colors) works great, no flicker, no hum, instant on, and can dims down quite low, see also

    Isn't it great that big-box retailers are finally trying to educate the public on the overall cost of ownership of bulbs?

    When I was shopping at Home Depot, there were three other guys reading the labels on LED bulbs, discussing their concerns with the nearby Home Depot employee. Indication that things are changing, for the better. Finally. I somehow doubt we'll miss those CFL bulbs, that are now so last decade...


    May 30 2012 Update:
    I'd have to say that the reviews at Home Depot's site are a mixed bag, with negative reviews mostly about possible short life/failure, but mine have about 500 hours on them already. Perhaps having made it past that initial DOA period, mine will indeed last many years? Only time will tell.

    A bulb with very similar specs and design, but more favorable reviews at a higher price, spotted at Lowe's for $19.98, see reviews here:
    Utilitech 60-Watt Equivalent Indoor Warm White LED Light Bulb

    Here's a fun and interesting LED overview by Tekzilla (thank you Renny Phillips!):

    which also mentions the nice Energy Star guides, including
    Learn about LEDs
    Choose a Light Guide

    Mar 02 2013 Update:
    If I were buying again today, I'd order 2700K bulbs with 85CRI or greater. In fact, I already have! Here's my newer favorites.

    8 Watt - Dimmable - LED Light Bulb - Omni-Directional A19 - 2700k, warm White - 400 Lumens - 40 Watt Equal - 120 Volt - Lighting Science DFN19W27V1120
    $11.00 each

    Will be ordering 3 of these higher lumen output (but identical looking), once back in stock, for a larger room:
    13.5 Watt - Dimmable - LED Light Bulb - Omni-Directional A19 - 2700k warm White - 800 Lumens - 60 Watt Equal - 120 Volt - Lighting Science DFN19W27V2120


    Mar 11 2013 Update:
    Wow, new promising up and comer, $12.97 each at Home Depot for this potential 60 watt incandescent bulb replacement, with 800 lumens, but only uses 9.5 watts:
    Cree 9.5-Watt (60W) Warm White (2700K) LED Light Bulb


    Jan 26 2014 Update:
    Well, the Cree 9.5 watt bulb above was disappointing, with CRI of only 80, so I returned them, and went with Cree TW series, see also:

    Replacing your 60 watt bulb with the Cree TW Series LED, is it a bright idea?
    by Paul Braren on Sat Nov 23rd, 2013

    Looking ahead, the Switch Infinia looks pretty promising, but the CRI of only 83 still isn't up to what I'd want for interior use, discussed here. I'll try one out in the dead of winter (now) on the back porch, to see how it goes.


    Jul 08 2014 Update:
    The Switch Infinia has held up to single digit winter and three digit summer temperatures (Fahrenheit) on the back deck just fine. Not sure how it'll hold up to direct sun all morning, with an expectation of yellowing of the plastic due to UV damage. But so far, so good!