Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Friday, August 12, 2011

Philips AmbientLED 17 Watts LED Lightbulb (Product Review)


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Finally a 75-Watt Incandescent Replacement (100W Model is Coming Soon)
I liked all the LEDs that I've had the chance to review so far. In fact, I use them every day and don't have much to complain about; in my office, I have a Qnuru 6.4W LED (the cool white model), in my bedroom the bedside lamp uses the FIRST 7W LED, and the living room used the Philips 12.5W LED. Until now that is... While light quality is fine with all these bulbs, brightness for most of these has been hovering around the 40-60W incandescent-replacement level, and that's not enough for all purposes. That's why I was so happy to learn that the new wave of LED lightbulbs from manufacturers like GE and Philips are cranking up the brightness. Today, let's look at Philips' brand new 17W AmbientLED model.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Philips AmbientLED 17-Watt Review
This review is kind of an update on my review of the 12.5-watt model of this LED bulb because they are very similar (as you can see in some of the photos below).

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

They both look like they belong on a futuristic spaceship, or at least on a science-fiction show, but what matters most is how well shape follows function. The strange curvature of the yellow part helps the LED bulb project light in all directions much better than the 'ice cream cone' design of so many other LED lights (for example, see the Qnuru and FIRST models)

The 12.5-watt model is rated at 800 lumens, while this new 17-watt model is rated at 1100 lumens.

You might be wondering if it's dimmable. Short answer: Yes, it is dimmable. I've tested it and it works pretty well.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

As you can clearly see here, the main differences between the 12.5-watt and 17-watt models is that the cylindrical heatsink is longer on the more powerful LED bulb. While LEDs don't produce nearly as much heat as incandescent bulbs, their components are less tolerant of heat than incandescent filaments. That's why they need to shed that heat with large heatsinks.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Here's another example of form following function. The way the top part of the bulb is split in three sections helps it have a large surface area to radiate heat and provide airflow. In practice, once the LED bulb is lit this isn't visible and doesn't affect light diffusion. Same with the yellow exterior, which acts as a filter for the blueish LEDs inside. Once the bulb is lit, the light is of a normal warm-white tint and isn't particularly yellow.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Light Quality of the Philips 17W LED
Unfortunately, I'm still not set up for very elaborate light quality testing, and since my last reviews I moved to a new apartment so I can't take a photo in exactly the same room as before (I always keep the camera settings the same between these photos, and I don't tweak them in Photoshop). In fact, this new room is bigger and has darker walls than the room I used before, so the photos don't quite do justice to how bright this LED is. You'll have to rely on my word, I suppose...

I found light quality to be quite good, as with the 12.5W model. As I wrote at the time:

"If I don't tell people, they don't know it's a LED, and I could easily see myself using Philips AmbientLEDs as my main source of light without problem.

To me this really shows that LEDs are ready for prime-time, all that needs to be done is to reduce the price, and that will happen with economies of scale and as R&D into new ways to make them pays off."

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

We'll have to wait for the 100w replacement model (which is supposed to come out in a few months) before we have a truly bright LED, but this one is sufficient for most mid-sized rooms, and a couple of them would be enough for most big rooms (I guess it depends on personal preference - some people like things to be really bright, in which case you can either wait for the 100W model or just add a third or fourth 75W replacement LED).

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Also noteworthy is that a Philips LED bulb using very similar technology to the one used in the AmbientLED 17-watt model won the U.S. Department of Energy's L-Prize after going through some pretty thorough tests. This is a good sign regarding the quality of these bulbs.

Price: The bulb will be available online exclusively at Home Depot at an initial retail price is $39.97.

If you like this article, you can follow me on Twitter (@Michael_GR) and Stumbleupon (THMike). Thanks.