LED light bulbs – will you ever spend $50 on a bulb?

Sylvania's 100w Equivalent LED Light Bulb
Sylvania's 100w Equivalent LED Light Bulb

Yes, $50.  I can imagine most of you area saying “never” or “not a chance.”  But don’t dismiss it out of hand without considering the benefits.    (and not all of them are $50)   LED lighting is the next wave of lighting technology, and one of these bulbs might actually be worth it.  Why?

  • It’s LED – so it lasts for years and years.  That means while you’re paying more up front, you’ll save more later (and no changing light bulbs!).
  • It looks like an incandescent bulb - no otherworldly blue tint of previous LEDs or cold white light of the CFL.
  • It doesn’t have the problem of mercury like CFL bulbs do.  No more difficulty in disposing of those old bulbs (because you don’t put them in the garbage, do you?  Find local recycling options at this site: www.earth911.org)
  • You don’t have to change the bulbs as often – terrific, especially for those hard to reach lights over stairwells.
  • It requires nothing other than that you screw it in – no special adapters or anything.  Some are a little longer than most bulbs, but they anticipate it will fit most lamps.
  • You can now find them at hardware stores like Lowe’s  and Home Depot, as well as Amazon. With their economies of scale and improving technology, the bulbs are getting cheaper  (some of the lower wattage ones are $10-$15).   And until it’s as cheap as you would like it, you can get the feeling of contributing to a better planet now…

There are two drawbacks currently:

1)   They don't seem to have produced LED tri-light bulbs (the ones that have three light settings).  LEDs can dim (which is great), but for our table lamps without dimmers, it’s the CFL or the good old incandescent bulb for now.   So for now put these in your pot lights, hard to reach lights, and lights with dimmers!

2) The highest output is equivalent to a regular 100W bulb at the moment.  I am sure it will change quickly as the technology improves, but for now we'll just have to enjoy looking better in low light.

Tips on picking LED light bulbs:

If you want to change but aren't sure what level of bulb you need, manufacturers for the most part have put the wattage equivalent clearly on the packaging.  But in case you run into a website that only talks about lumens (the measurement of light output), I am re-printing below the best selection guide I have found, produced by the Lighting Association.  They haven't published a new one which catches up with the fact that you can get LED light bulbs up to 100W, but it gives you a sense for the lumen output you're looking for.

how to pick a light bulb
how to pick a light bulb

Great Table Lamps

So many great lights, so little time.  Here are some of the great table lamps available.  

Tube Top Table Lamp

I have loved these table lamps ever since I saw them in a store a few years ago, and I think they’re a great design in modern lighting. They come in multiple colors for the base and lampshade. I have most often seen this light with a clear base and a white lampshade, but I really like this version all in black. I think this light would make a great desk lamp, or a pair would make great bedside lamps. And at $120, it’s great style at a great value.



Tall Plinth Light

This steel base table light looks sleek and modern, but with the steel base it gives a more organic feel to it which I think is great.   At 33.5 inches this is a tall light and would be best in a living room, on a side table in a dining room, or other type of location where you have room and space.


Porter Table Lamp by Thomas O’Brien

I think this table lamp looks great and is very versatile.  It could work well as an almost industrial element in a modern design scheme, or as a modern element in a more traditional design.  If you have a more traditional setting, you may wan to consider the hand-rubbed brass version of the lamp, which still has the modern design but is more warm and traditional in color.


Saturina Table Lamp

I love the double shade on this table lamp, and the different looks it would have lit and unlit.  The double shade would give a great diffuse light, while still having direct lighting below the shades.   It is a simple but interesting  light, and would fit very well into a contemporary lighting design.


Dioscuri Table Lamp

For something lower to the desk and a little different, the dioscuri table lamp offers diffuse lighting from an etched white handblown glass globe.  Beautiful by itself in in the larger size, you could also do as they show and have a grouping of them.  The sizes of the globes range from 5” in diameter, to 17” in diameter.  I think this glass lamp would be wonderful in a living room, or a bedroom on a chest of drawers.


Anisha Grande Table Lamp

A sleek design, this light is definitely a conversation starter.  Unlit, it’s very difficult to figure out where the light will come from in this table lamp.  According to the designer website “Anisha outlines an empty space, defines it and fills it with its light” and I think that’s absolutely true.   It’s a piece of art as well as a light.


Pinwheel Table Lamp

I love the lightness of this lamp, and it’s eco-friendly given that it’s made from recycled aluminum.  Sadly I gather I am showing you a light that has been discontinued, at least from what I have found online (not yet confirmed by the company).  I think that is such a shame, it’s a gorgeous light.  If you do like it, they  are continuing to make pendant lights in this design.