Manufacturer: Philips
Model: Econic 3W GU10 25 Degree 3000K LED.
Application: General Lighting - Directional lighting.
Wattage: 3W
Width (max): 53mm
Length: 50mm
Tube Length: N/A
Bulb/Tube material: Plastic/Metal
Colour Temperature: 3000K At Beam Centre
Peak output wavelength: Broadband
Total light output: Not stated.
Rated lifetime: 25,000 hours.
Cap: GU10
Operating voltage: 230-240V AC
Operating current: 35mA (Due to very low power factor (0.35)
Warmup/restrike time: none
Cost (original): 19.98 (From B&Q Garthdee, August 2010)
Value (now): --
Place of manufacture: China
Date of manufacture: March 2010 - Date code 0C on lamp.
Lamp Status: Working, new in packaging.

So here we go, we have finally reached the point where high power LED's are starting to poach traditional incandescent territory.

ES50 lamps such as this have been a very popular type of halogen incandescent lamp both in the domestic and commercial markets since their invention in the closing years of the 1990s.  In the domestic setting they have been popular for a number of applications; but recessed down lighters and directional workspace lights like the one on my desk are probably some of the most common.  They have been popular in the commercial market for display lighting and similar use in recessed fixtures as in the domestic market.

Compact fluorescent versions of these lamps have been popping up for a few years now - in fact I've been using a 7W 4000K CF version in my desk lamp for a year or so - however these have a few drawbacks.  Firstly is that many ES50 lamps have quite narrow beam angles - whereas the fluorescent versions due to the large surface area of the source really come in flavours of "180 degree flood" or "slightly less than 180 degree flood" - and that's it.  Due to the very compact tube in fluorescent terms, they tend to run very hot as well - which in turn means that they tend to start out very dim.  The fact that the tube is actually inside the same enclosure as the ballast results in that in turn running very hot - the entire assembly of this one tends to stabilise at nearly 70 deg C - that can't be good for the ballast.

LED's do address some of these problems.  Firstly there's the beam angle - LED's are point sources, as such directional beams are something that they are very well suited to with the correct optics.  This particular lamp has a rated beam angle of 25 degrees, far tighter than anything any CFL product can manage.  The warm up time issue is of course non-existent, with full light output being achieved instantly.  The temperature issue is one which is likely to be somewhat less of an issue here simply due to the lower power levels involved - however it is still an issue.

LED's do not like heat - they are at their most efficient and will last their best at low temperatures - plus at higher temperatures (beyond their designed specification) their spectral properties tend to drift somewhat.  If the LED is getting that hot though, you will probably already be witnessing a substantial drop in output however, so it's not likely to be a major issue in designs like this.  If there is one major headache when it comes to high power LED designs, it is the thermal management.  If you look at the higher power versions, they tend to have impressive looking finned metal heat sinks built into the base to help dissipate the heat.  This is because while you're not dealing with that much actual heat than CFLs in power terms in a lamp like this - LED's need to be kept at a lower temperature than CFLs do.  While this particular lamp does not have any huge fins or anything - the substantial weight suggests to me that a good percentage of that white section is in fact a heat sink.  The whole thing does get quite toasty (isn't that a technical term!), seeming to stabilise at around 55 deg C.

The one complaint I think I have about this lamp is that while the *overall* colour of the light is all but indistinguishable from incandescent - it's that it isn't entirely uniform throughout the beam.  It's a nice pure 3000K a the beam centre, but drops considerably to a very yellow - I'd say around 2300K at the edges.  In many applications this is really going to be quite visible, and may be seen as unsatisfactory - it would certainly bug me somewhat if using it as a task light for my desk, at least initially.  This may be less of an issue if the lamp is to be used in recessed ceiling fixtures - but for task lights and display lighting it's something which I think Philips need to put some more thought into.  Bit of a shame really - as it's a good effort on all other counts.

It is a bit expensive - on the same note though, if you looked at CFLs when they were just starting to appear on the market, they weren't far off the same price in relative terms.  Once this sort of lamps start to gain a foothold in the market properly I would expect to see price levels dropping quite considerably.  These aren't likely to drop to the price of incandescent ES50's, but at the same time - they're going to last a heck of a lot longer!  Unlike CFLs as well - these LED retrofits will undoubtedly handle physical abuse very much better - so you're not likely to kill your 20 lamp by whacking your head on the lamp when standing up from the desk - I've taken out more than one incandescent doing that!  Have killed a CFL by dropping it before too.

One other item of note is the power factor of this device.  This is not something which a domestic customer really needs to worry about - as domestic electricity meters only measure real power - taking no note of any reactive load.  The meters used on commercial premises however are more complex, and do in fact measure not just the real power consumed in watts, but the apparent power in VAR (volt amp reactive).  What this means is effectively that the power drawn by this lamp is not entirely in phase with the 50Hz sine wave of the power supply - the result of this is that while it is drawing a total of 3W of real power - it appears for all intents and purposes, to be drawing 8W of power.  As I've indicated above - domestic meters in the UK don't take into account reactive power (conventional magnetic fluorescent ballasts (without power factor correction capacitors which some are fitted with), fridge motors and many other low power things with switch mode power supplies in like laptop and phone chargers also have lousy power factors) - so you don't need to worry - as far as your meter is concerned, this lamp uses 3W.  If you're planning on using a few hundred of these throughout your office complex however, you might want to see whether you'd be getting quite the energy cost saving you were looking for though!  You'll still see a considerable saving I imagine with a cut from 35W to 3W - just that the increased reactive component may have an effect on the overall figure.

These are early, tentative steps into the market of main steam lighting for LED technology, just as was the case for CFL technology 26 years ago...As with that before it though, it shows great promise.  I will be watching with great interest to see where things go from here.


Click Thumbnails for full size images.






This lamp added to the Virtual Display Shelf on the 14th September 2010 at 22:59.

References: Lamp packaging and markings only.

Acknowledgements: None.


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