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I've been looking at replacing 50W GU10 halogen lightbulbs for something more energy efficient.

Some people say that LEDs cannot give you the same light (even 10W LEDs), and to use 11W CFL instead, like the ones from megaman.

I need these light bulbs for both my kitchen and my living room, so I don't want to be surprised by way dimmer light bulbs.

What's the current state of this?

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5 Answers

I use myself both GU10 and MR16 bi-pin (low voltage) LED replacements for what should be Halogen bulbs.

If you need the amount of light that you get now from the 50W bulbs, then no. This will not cut it.

But do you?

I have 6 GU10, 3W each LED that go on a fixture designed for 6 35W Halogen. For dinner, that is all I need. Yes, it is on the romantic side, but since you have 6, you can point 3 at the table and 3 at the walls around and you have both decent task light and ambient light.

Add to that the fact that there is the option (almost always)to add more ambient light (add the 3 LED above the bar next to the dining table, or the 2 wall lights in the hall next to it) and you are just fine.

In my kitchen, I have 12W LED recessed lights which replace 65W equivalent and they give PLENTY of light. you can do brain surgery under that light... So really, people give LED bad rap. They do great job if you get the right light for the right setting and make sure to get the right amount of Lumens.

The W per Lumen ratio is great, and light quality is great. It only fails when people don't realize that the things they buy, even though it should be clear based on the data on the package, are too weak to replace the incandescent bulb. a 3W LED cannot replace a 50W Halogen is the short answer, but LED CAN replace Halogen if you plan it right.

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I've found some low energy equivalents on Amazon (UK site).

6 GU10 Lectrolite branded 11w = 50w Low energy saving warm white light spotlamp bulbs.

I've no idea how good they are, but a search for "GU10 low energy" turned up some other choices too. If you can find them at a local hardware store they might have some on show (though if it's a DIY barn it's hard to get the true effect of the light).

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I have installed 11w megamans in my dining room. They take about 3-4 minutes to reach full brightness and the light is different to halogens. That said, I like them a lot and they are plenty bright enough.

However, I decided to get some 4w LED lights in to, since I had gone to the trouble of replacing the transformers and mr16 fittings with GU10 240v connectors and it would be easy to swap and see.

The 4w LEDs are just as bright as the 11w megamans but, using "warm white", they colour is closer to the old halogens.

The main difference seems to be that the CFL megamans are a slightly whiter warm white and diffuse and the LEDs are much more focussed beams (even though they are "wide beam") and warmer yellowish.

I got the megamans for £11 each and the LEDs (brightlightz.co.uk) for less than £10 each.

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I tried the LEDs, the look is precisely like a Bulgarian chip-shop. Ugh!

That's a technology that will take a few more years to sort itself out: fine for those solar-powered lights they give away in garages, but not for indoor use just yet.

The Megaman CFLs have a nice, gentle light but take a while to warm up. They're also quite deep (roughly three times the depth of a halogen GU10) so won't work in every fitting. I don't think they'd work well with dimmer switches either.

In the end I've been gradually replacing my 50W bulbs with 35W ones, without really noticing the reduction in light. But, perhaps I put too many in to start with?

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LEDs vary greatly in color and quality. I've found the CREE-branded units with a 2700 color temperature very close to incandescent (higher color temp number tends more toward blue; 3000 and higher are often found in the brand-X LEDs). One difference you will find is that the color temp does not shift toward warmer as you dim like it does with incandescent. –  TomG Jan 7 '13 at 1:42
    
TomG: fair to say as well that the technology has improved over the last two years! –  Jeremy McGee Jan 7 '13 at 12:40
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I've installed MR16 LEDs in track lighting in my kitchen and like them a lot. The color quality is great,and of course the power consumption is substantially lower than the old halogens.

The key to upgrading your lighting from incandescents is to look at the lumens rating. Wattage is a very poor indicator of light output, particularly with LEDs that are continuing to increase in efficiency. Even the "watt equivalent" rating is silly and not that accurate.

Check the lumens output of your current bulb, and then buy an LED (or CFL) with a similar output, preferably using as few watts as possible. All light bulbs currently sold in the US have the lumens and watts prominently marked. You can also compare the color of the light, if that's something that matters to you. Color is usually measured in "degrees Kelvin", ranging from about 2500 (yellow) to 5000+ (daylight / bright blue).

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