LED bulbs versus an LED fixture

Our finished basement had the world’s worst light fixtures. They were curvy metal track lights with halogen bulbs that were constantly burning out, leaving the basement darker and dingier than it already was.

While I was converting our basement playroom into my new home office I knew I had to spring for better light fixtures. I went with two 16-inch Orinoco flush-mount fixtures ($39.99 each) with LED bulbs. They take three 60W bulbs, and they’re clean and simple — basically just huge white circles with three chrome clips.

For my “studio,” a.k.a. the laundry room where I paint and use my power tools, I decided to try an actual LED fixture. I picked a 13-inch Luminus for $59.99. It’s supposed to work for 25,000 hours, which is almost 23 years if you keep it on for three hours a day — plus you never need to change a light bulb.

They look REALLY similar, don’t they? Two flat white circles?

So WHY did I choose regular fixtures with LED bulbs for one room, and a full-blown LED fixture for the adjacent room? Well, first we have to talk about lightbulbs.

After listening to a design podcast talk about colour temperature and the Kelvin scale — it sounds boring, but it was actually fascinating — I was convinced I was using the wrong bulbs. Apparently we’d been buying “warm white” (sometimes called “soft white”), which yellows everything.

I bought a new package of lightbulbs* (Luminus LEDs, 9W=60W) to try in the kitchen to see if they really made a difference. They were 5,000K on the Kelvin colour temperature scale, which put them firmly in the “daylight” category.

The second I flipped the light switch, it was like I’d flipped a switch in my heart. IT. WAS. GORGEOUS.

Everything was white! Really, truly white! Our white trim was white, our white subway tile was white, and our white accessories were white. Everything looked clean and sparkling! Our old bulbs may have been called “soft white,” but they should have been called “nasty yellow.”

So, of course, I became obsessed with these light bulbs and bought many more packages. I ran around the house like a lighting lunatic, changing out the bulbs and admiring the effect. Everything was looking a thousand times better — and cleaner — because of LIGHT BULBS!

Here’s a six-pack of them on Amazon

Circling back to the new light fixtures for my home office, I, of course, outfitted them with my favourite new bulbs (hooray for 5,000K daylights!) and they looked wonderful. The once-dark basement room was flooded with clean, white light, and I loved it.

We’d moved one of the old (terrible) curvy track lights into the studio/laundry room section of the basement, figuring it would be fine in there — and certainly an upgrade from the bare bulb.

But once I was used to the brightness of my LED bulbs in my office, the studio felt like a dingy cave. So when the last of the halogen bulb died its quick, frustrating death, I gave in and bought the LED fixture I’d been eyeing (13” Luminus with 3,000K).

If you’re keeping track, that meant one room had flush mount fixtures with 5,000K bulbs (“daylight”), and the adjacent room had a 3,000K LED fixture (“cool white”).

So which setup do I like better? There are pros and cons to both.

I love the clean, bright white light from the 5,000K bulbs in my flush mount fixtures ($39.99 each plus about $10 in bulbs per fixture). But while it’s not a big deal, I don’t love that you can see the ghostly glow of the three individual bulbs.

In the other room, I love that the LED fixture ($59.99 and no bulbs required) is a solid circle of light — no glowing brighter in certain areas, because the whole thing is a bulb. It even photographs differently, without the haze that I get in pictures of the regular fixtures.

But the colour temperature is definitely warmer. When you stand in that room and look into my office, you can tell the office lights have a crisper, whiter glow.

If I had a do-over, I think I’d buy all LED fixtures *if* I could get them all with a 5,000K temperature. Then I’d have the happy cleanness of pure bright white light, combined with the crispness of a solid glowing circle and the convenience of never changing a bulb.

Now, if you’re not completely bored of reading about light bulbs, I highly recommend you try a 5,000K bulb in your own home. It’s like cleaning without the cleaning — that’s how good everything looks!

So what do you think?

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