When you’re decorating your home, lighting is a key ingredient. Bright, pleasant lighting can make even a lackluster room feel warm and welcoming. On the other hand, poor lighting can ruin the look of an otherwise well-designed space. But the exact definition of “good” lighting depends on your situation. For example, you want your bathroom to be as bright and pure a white as possible. That way, you can do your hair and makeup without dim or off-color lighting throwing you off. On the other hand, a dining room benefits from a softer, warmer white, which provides more of a candlelight-style ambience.
This becomes a little more problematic when you’re dealing with LED bulbs. LEDs have a couple of major advantages over traditional incandescent or CFL bulbs. For one thing, they’re insanely energy-efficient – about 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. For another thing, they’re long-lasting. Where incandescent bulb life could be measured in hundreds of hours, LEDs last for thousands. That said, LED lights have tended to incorporate ballasts into their design. For some light fixtures, this makes no difference, since the bulb is hidden. But if your bulb is going to be exposed, you want one that’s easier on the eyes. That’s where a vintage-style bulb comes in. These are modern LED bulbs, but they’re designed to mimic the look of an old-school “Edison” bulb.
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We’re about to review four of the best vintage-style Edison LED light bulbs on today’s market. We’ll start with the LUXON LED Edison Bulbs. This is a flared vintage bulb with a premium gold filament. Next, we’ll take a look at the GE Vintage Style LED Light Bulb. This is a round-style bulb with an eye-catching spiral filament. After that, we’ll examine the Ascher Vintage LED Edison Bulbs. This is a non-dimmable vintage bulb that’s available in bright white as well as warm white. Finally, we’ll investigate the ASOKO LED Edison Light Bulbs. This is another flared bulb that outputs ultra-warm 2,300K light. Once we’ve taken a close look at all four, we’ll be able to render a fair verdict. Let’s get started!
Dimmable LED Bulb Basics
So, what is it that makes one dimmable LED bulb different from another? And are there any other features we should be looking out for? Let’s talk about some of the basics of LED bulbs, before we get into the specifics of any one bulb.
Are Ordinary LED Bulbs Dimmable?
Much like incandescent bulbs, ordinary LED bulbs are not dimmable. Dimmable and non-dimmable bulbs have an entirely different design. If you install a non-dimmable bulb on a dimmer circuit, it might seem to work at first. In fact, as long as the dimmer is at 100%, it will work just fine. But as you use the dimmer, you’ll wear hard on the bulb. In the best case, this means the bulb will wear out quickly. On the other hand, it could blow out immediately, or even damage your fixture. If you’re going to use a dimmer switch, you need to have a dimmable bulb.
That said, the same is not true in reverse. If you install a dimmable bulb on a non-dimmable circuit, it will still work just fine. The only thing it won’t do is dim.
Do I Need to Replace My Dimmer Switch?
Depending on the type of dimmer switch you have, it might not be compatible with LED bulbs. If you originally used the dimmer switch for incandescent or halogen bulbs, it’s probably not. That’s because older dimmers use a different technology, and are called leading-edge dimmers. Newer, trailing-edge dimmers are less common, but they’re better suited for LEDs. If you still have your switch’s documentation, you can check to see what kind is installed. An electrician can also help you figure things out.
So, why could you run into issues with a leading-edge dimmer? The reason is that they’re designed for higher-wattage bulb. In fact, they’re often designed to control racks or strips of halogen bulbs. So your maximum wattage rating is typically going to fall between 250 and 1,000 watts. That’s great news if you’re drawing a lot of power. But for LED bulbs, it’s way too much wattage. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the dimmer, though. You’ll just have to fall between very specific power tolerances. The total LED load must be at least 1/10th of the minimum wattage of the dimmer. Otherwise, the bulbs will flicker and die quickly. On the other hand, if the bulbs exceed 1/10th of the dimmer’s maximum wattage, they will also get damaged.
Trailing-edge dimmers, sometimes called “LED-ready” dimmers, are designed specifically for LEDs. For one thing, they’re designed for the lower wattages that LED bulbs draw. As a result, you’ll have far wider compatibility with a wider number of LED bulbs. Trailing-edge dimmers are also entirely-digital. Without getting too far into the weeds, this is simply a better way of managing LED power. We should point out, though, that just as leading-edge dimmers work with some LEDs, the opposite is true. You can still use incandescent or halogen bulbs with a trailing-edge dimmer. You just have to be within the dimmer’s relatively-low wattage limitations.
Look at the Lumen Output
Traditionally, people have determined their brightness needs by looking at a light bulb’s wattage. This became such a common tool that LED bulbs commonly list their wattage equivalency. For example, a 4-watt LED bulb might say “40-watt equivalent” on the package. This means it’s designed to produce the same amount of light as a 40-watt incandescent bulb.
But luminous flux, or “lumens” is a more objective way of measuring a bulb’s light output. This information will normally be listed somewhere on a bulb’s packaging. For reference, your typical 40-watt incandescent puts out around 450 lumens of light. A 100-watt bulb puts out around 1,600 lumens.
What About Color Temperature?
Secondary only to brightness, the next most important consideration is the light’s color temperature. This “temperature” is a measure of the shade of white your bulb gives off, and it’s measured in Kelvin (K). The lower the temperature, the redder the hue will be. As the temperature gets higher, the bulb becomes pure white, then eventually takes on a bluish tone. Counterintuitively, lower color temperature is considered “warm” white, while higher temperature is “cool” white. Because we’re looking at vintage bulbs, they’re mostly warm or very warm, in the 2,000 to 3,000K range.
LUXON LED Edison Bulbs
The LUXON LED Edison Bulbs are the epitome of the term “vintage bulb.” Modern bulbs have a short stem, followed by a globe at the top. These, on the other hand, flare out from the bottom right away, and have a more cone-like shape. The glass has a slight amber tint, which augments the retro appearance. Inside, the light is provided by a high-quality gold filament. This is a premium material, and lasts longer than tungsten or copper, with a life span of up to 50,000 hours. It also reduces energy consumption, and produces a more consistent energy consumption.
These bulbs are available in a 4-, 6-, or 8-pack, and all of them are reasonably priced. They draw four watts of power, and are designed to replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb. The actual light output is 400 lumens, assuming you’re at full wattage. The bulbs can be dimmed anywhere from 0 to 100 percent, provided you have an appropriate dimmer switch. The color temperature is 2,700K, which is a pleasant warm white. It will fluctuate slightly when you dim, but the effect is only marginally noticeable.
GE Vintage Style LED Light Bulb
General Electric needs no introduction. They’re one of the world’s most well-known companies, producing all kinds of electronics. They manufacture everything from appliances to this extension cord with a built-in foot switch. Given their reputation and experience, reviewing the GE Vintage Style LED Light Bulb was a no-brainer.
This bulb has a round shape, rather than conical. But unlike a modern bulb, there’s virtually no stem. It looks like a little globe that screws into a standard light socket. The amber finish looks stunning under almost any circumstances. And inside the bulb, a spiral-shaped filament catches the eye. It’s old-school in the most awesome of ways, and it’s bound to be a conversation starter. This bulb comes in a single pack, not a multi-pack, but it’s very reasonably priced. Our only minor complaint is the 14,000-hour life cycle, which is a bit short for an LED bulb.
The GE vintage bulb draws a total of three watts, and is designed to replace a 40-watt incandescent. This makes it fairly dim, at only 240 lumens at maximum power. The light itself is extremely warm, with a temperature of 2,000K. As a result, it’s great for accent lighting, especially around wood. It’s also fully dimmable, so it can be turned down even further.
Ascher Vintage LED Edison Bulbs
The Ascher Vintage LED Edison Bulbs have a similar conical design to the LUXON bulbs. They also have highly-visible filaments, and plug into a standard light bulb socket. They ship in a four-pack, which makes for a fantastic value on the per-bulb price. They’re also rated for 20,000 hours of use, which makes them reasonably robust.
These are 60-watt equivalent bulbs, with an output of 700 lumens and an actual draw of only six watts. Unlike the other bulbs on our list, this one is NOT dimmable. If you use it on a dimmer switch, it may not work at all. And even if it does, the life span will be severely reduced. On the plus side, you can choose between three different color temperatures. There’s a 2,300K ultra-warm white with an amber glass. Next, there’s a 2,700K warm white with clear glass. The 4,000K bright white version also has clear glass, and is great for rooms that require pure white lighting. All are protected by a robust 18-month warranty, which is unusually long for a light bulb, even an LED.
ASOKO LED Edison Light Bulbs
The ASOKO LED Edison Light Bulbs are yet another cone-shaped bulb, with prominent filaments. They fit in a standard socket, and they’re available in a four-pack or a six-pack. And with a 25,000-hour life span, they’re the second longest-lasting bulbs on our list.
This is a 40-watt equivalent bulb, and it draws four watts of power. The light output is a moderate 320 lumens, a bit less than the LUXON 40-watt equivalents. That said, the color temperature is noticeably warmer, at 2,300K. The bulb is 100 percent dimmable, as long as you have a compatible switch. And even when dimming, the color temperature is fairly consistent. It will fluctuate in a narrow range between 2,200 and 2,400K.
As you can see, each of these unique LED lights has something to bring to the table. We started out by examining the LUXON LED Edison Bulbs. These are classic vintage bulbs, with a conical shape and highly-visible filaments. The soft amber light is pleasant, with a warm cast to it.
The GE Vintage Style LED Light Bulb has the most unique look of the four. It’s round instead of conical, which gives it a distinctive form factor. Not only that, but the spiral filament is particularly eye-catching. It’s not as bright as some of the others, but it’s great for soft atmosphere lighting.
The Ascher Vintage LED Edison Bulbs give you the most flexibility as far as color temperature. Unlike other vintage bulbs, it’s available in a pure white, so it’s suitable for brighter lighting situations. Then again, it’s not dimmable, which could be a drawback for some people.
The ASOKO LED Edison Light Bulbs are similar in most respects to the LUXON bulbs. They have the same general shape, and a similar amber cast to them. That said, the 2,300K color temperature is the warmest of the bunch. It’s great if you want to mimic the feel of candlelight.
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