In case you weren’t already aware, incandescent light bulbs are mostly on their way out. While some retailers like IKEA have, by their own initiative, opted to phase incandescent lights out of inventory, others will likely follow suit, motivated in part by the Bush Administration’s 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which calls for about a 25% increase in light bulb efficiency from 2012 to 2014.

Resistance to the widespread adoption of the considerably more efficient compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs has frequently been chalked up to poor light quality (i.e. bad color temperature), high initial cost (expensive to buy) or concerns over mercury content. While the former two of these three concerns have been largely mitigated by advances in CFL technology, lingering concerns over the inclusion of mercury in CFLs seems to be holding some folks back from making the switch.

Now there’s a new lighting option on the block. LED bulbs are making their way onto the lighting scene and offer the promise of efficiency that rivals CFL options, very low heat output, zero mercury or lead content and, as some manufacturers say, the potential for pleasant color temperatures. However, as was the case for early versions of CFLs, LEDs are currently expensive and many cast off a blue-ish light that isn’t so pleasant. All of that considered, LED bulbs will need to deliver on manufacturer promises if they are to compete with CFLs as the nation changes over to more efficient lighting.

image copyright EarthTechling

I recently received a sample LED light bulb from lighting specialist PIXI Lighting (owned by Westinghouse Digital) and put the light to use in my office and home. The bulb I was sent is the company’s A19 standard style bulb which is said to provide light output equivalent to that of a 40 watt incandescent bulb.

According to the product’s specifications, the A19 consumes 8.5 watts of power while outputting 455 lumens. The bulb is available in two versions, a “warm” light with a color temperature of 3000 Kelvin or a “daylight” version with a color temp of 6000K. All of PIXI’s light bulbs come with a 5-year warranty and are said to pay for themselves through energy cost savings over the course of about 1 year. Pricing is said be around $18  for this bulb, which lines up with similar LED bulbs selling for between $18-$27.

No information was provided by PIXI or the product’s packaging about whether the bulb they sent was the “warm” or “daylight” version, so I am going to estimate, based on my experience with the bulb, that this was the daylight version. Speaking of product packaging: I sincerely hope that the packaging PIXI chose for the A19 it sent me is for purely promotional purposes (the inclusion of a 2 GB USB flash drive is my only clue). The ornate box and other associated packaging material is entirely unnecessary and stands to take away from the bulb’s “green factor.”

Aesthetically speaking, the A19 bulb has a sort of futuristic look to it. Perforated metal fins run the circumference of the bulb, giving it a feel that is reminiscent of a jet engine’s turbine. When placed in recessed lighting cans, the visual effect was minimized; whereas, when used with a ceiling fan, it was much more obvious. The appearance inspired plenty comments from guests who saw the light bulb in action-some positive, some not-so-positive.

As promised, the bulb came on immediately-no waiting around for it to come to full brightness as is necessary with most CFL bulbs. Also, the bulb never felt even slightly warm to the touch, indicating that it wastes very little energy in the form of heat.

The bulb is fully dimmable, which we found handy in the evenings when only ambient light was needed. As far as color temperature goes, we sure hope this is the “daylight” version, which PIXI recommends for use in office environments. The light is very white, making it seem much brighter than it actually is. It’s the sort of light one might expect to see used for illuminating artwork or perhaps at the dentist’s office. The effect has a sort of sterility to it. Personally, I’m not a fan of this temperature of light, but I do know folks who prefer this sort of cool light for some indoor lighting. It is certainly a far cry from the yellowish light that was common with early CFL models.  Something tells me I’d prefer the “warm” version.

The PIXI A19 does as promised by remaining cool, using just a trickle of electricity to create bright light, and looking like a futuristic version of a standard, frosted incandescent light bulb. Its ability to be dimmed is a handy touch, too. Overall, this is an effective and user-friendly eco-conscious light bulb. Practically speaking, though, I think the price is going to need to come down significantly if it is going to compete with CFL, which is gaining traction quickly in the U.S.

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