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Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Posted by Northlut (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 1:56

I recently bought a single Ecosmart LED flood for my house as a test (I have over 40 recessed lights in my house, so I needed to start small). Overall, I've been pretty disappointed with it. There are a few problems, but the biggest by far is the behavior with a dimmer. The box claimed it is dimmable, and technically it is, but it works very poorly. There are three problems:

1. It makes an audible buzzing when it's dimmed. I have some rooms with 6 lights on the same circuit, where it would be incredibly annoying. Even with 1, I can hear it from several feet away.
2. The dimming isn't linear, and seems to have discrete steps. Switching between 60% and 80% provides virtually no visible difference (whereas with incandescents, the difference is clear).
3. It doesn't respond immediately to either dimming or turning on or off, so you don't really get any feedback on where you've dimmed to. If you want to do anything other than 100% or 0%, you have to dim a bit, wait a second for it to catch up, then dim some more, and repeat until you reach the level you want.

The vast majority of the cans in our house are on dimmers tied into our Control4 home automation system, and we do use the dimming quite a bit in several of the rooms, so it's really important to us that we find lights that will dim properly. It would cost me well over $1000 to switch them all out, and I'm not prepared to do it unless I can find LEDs that work well.

(FWIW, I'm also not terribly thrilled with the light quality from the LED vs. incandescent, but at least it's better than CFL, which I despise...).


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

I just realized, I didn't actually ask a question :)

So: can anyone recommend a different model for me to try? Thanks!


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

These are retrofits that come in 4, 5 and 6 inch. Halo RL406830. HD sells them if you want to try and then return. They are dimmable and are 3000K.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

They're dimmable, but according to the package so is the one I have now... Do you know for sure that they dim without the problems I describe above? Also, I need 2700K ideally.

FWIW, what I have now is the br30 linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ecosmart bulb


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

If the total load is less than the min load required for the dimmer, you will have problems dimming - buzzing and flicker included.

Line voltage led lighting generally work well with elv dimmers .

You could try the Cree CR6 for 6" cans.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Hmm, yeah, maybe that's the problem. Bummer, those dimmers are expensive (and were all just installed within the last year), so that's a whole new set of costs to consider when switching over...

Also, maybe I should start a new thread for this, but what exactly is involved in switching out the fixtures in our kitchen, which currently have 4-pin CFL in them? I don't imagine there's an Edison (or GU24) connector hiding up inside there, so I don't think I could just install a CR6 directly. Is it going to be a difficult project to change those out? Can someone point me to what I should buy? It's a little confusing...


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

It looks like you have cfl cans with an integrated ballast. To convert them to led, you need to disconnect the ballast and change the 4 pin connector to either a gu24 or e26 Edison base.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Thanks davidtay.

FWIW, I picked up one of the HD Ecosmart-branded CR6 units today, and it works WAY better than the Lighting Science BR30 bulb. No contest, really.

I think I might hire someone to switch out the cfl fixtures. I could probably do it, but it seems like it might be a little beyond the kind of project I like to do myself...


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Excellent!

Some other bits of information
The GU24 CR6 comes with a GU24 pigtail which is meant to replace the existing connector - spliced in place.

As for dimmers, the Lutron CL dimmers work well with LED lighting (Cree CR series, Sylvania RT series, ...).
Unfortunately, Control4 and other Zigbee device vendors have not published a list of known LED lamps that work well with their dimmers (including ELV).


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

+1 for the Ecosmart/Cree CR6.

On the remote ballast CFL cans, I have been slowly converting my Juno cans to CR-6s. I did it by basically drilling a new hole in the can, installing a rubber grommet, disconnecting the ballast from the main wiring, and running new wiring for a new socket. The ballast and the old socket remain, but are bypassed.

The trick in my house, since I can not access the cans from above, was to do it from the underside. With the Juno cans, one can pull the trim out like a normal can - with the two spring clips. Then there are three screws holding the can itself to its mounting bracket. Once the screws are removed, you can slide the can down to access the remote ballast and its wiring. You may have to twist the can a bit to get the wires to clear the ballast box.

Once the can interior is removed, the ballast just unclips - exposing the wiring. Undo the wire nuts, run some new wire (which should probably be MC for code compliance) for the new socket, then button things up again. Install the CR6 and done.

If you have attic access, it is a lot easier. Drill hole, run new wires, install socket, and done.

It is a great idea, because the CR6 uses about 1/3rd the power of the CFLs, and is almost as bright. Plus you don't have to wait a minute or two for the lights to 'warm up'. However if this sort of work is uncomfortable for you, by all means hire an electrician do it right.

This post was edited by wws944 on Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 20:21


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

I took the reflector out of one of my CFL cans today, and I don't see an easy way to access the ballast, but I haven't disassembled one of these before, so maybe it's easier than it looks. Here's what I have:

Can you tell from that a way to get at the ballast (without cutting a hole in the ceiling -- I've already given our amazing drywall guy enough money in the last six months)?

Unfortunately these are in the kitchen on the first floor, with another floor above, so no access from the attic. That would just make it too easy :)


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

What size is that can? Can you read a make/model on the label?


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

What brand/model can is it? Even zooming in with gimp, I couldn't make it out.

There should be a way to 'service' the ballast. Looking at the photo, I'd guess it has to do with those four clips. Perhaps there is some pertinent documentation at the manufacturers web site?


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

It looks like a remodel can to me. The four clips hold the can in place. The ballast is probably up in the ceiling. To get to it the can has to be pulled out of the ceiling.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Get the manufacturer and make from the can first. The 4 clips need to be manipulated for the can to pop loose.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

The manufacturer is Elite Lighting, and it's a 6" can. There's some paint in that one so I can't read the entire label, but it shows catalog number B6PLRIC-26-E. From some Googling, I believe this is it (though I'm not sure where the "26" comes in). So yes, it does appear to be a remodel can, which is good news. I knew it was added during a remodel (before we owned the house), but I thought they'd pulled down the ceiling, so I assumed it would be a new construction can.

So, perhaps not as bad as I thought. To make sure I understand, the idea is to pull out the can, remove the incoming line voltage from the ballast, and pigtail on a GU24 connector, feeding that back into the existing can, right? Or I imagine I could pull the balast and can out completely and put in a new can without a ballast, though that seems somewhat wasteful...


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Lumens

Duh, the "26" is for the 26 watt model. Which, when I realized it, made me think to check the light output. The claimed output on the bulbs I have in there now is 1800 lumens, which is more than 3 times the claimed output of the CR6... Seems like not such a great match after all :(

(The CR6 I installed is far from the kitchen, so it's kind of hard to do a visual comparison of brightness.)


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

My Juno cans use the same 26 watt CFLs. Realize that a lot of that 1800 lumens gets trapped in the can, whereas with the CR6 all the light goes in useful directions. So it is not as bad as one might first think. But still, the CR6 is a bit dimmer than the CFL.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

You need to disconnect the ballast as well.

The traditional bulb in a can setup results in quite a bit of light being trapped. Yes, it would seem that the light output from a 26w cfl is far more than a cr6.

I used to have 23w cfls in cans before as I did not like the focused light from par lights and always wanted more light.

The cr6 replacements give more (and better) light, last far longer (0 replaced whereas with cfls at least 1 -2 in the same time period), are dimmable and consume even less energy.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

I have a handful of those 26W 4-pin cfl cans as well, mainly in a bathroom and laundry (rest of house is mainly 12v halogens). On another forum I stumbled across links to adapters on eBay, search for g24 to e27, that will convert to standard bulb socket.

I couldn't find a way to access the ballast either, so I just tested a 60w equivalent a19 led with the adapter. The led bulb worked fine, so not sure the long-term issues with just leaving the cfl ballast in.

The 4-pin cfl had almost all the light trapped in the can, compounded by a poor choice of baffle trim. my cans are 4", so will fit either an r20/br20 or a standard a19 bulb. I think as long as the a19 is more directional down than the omni shapes, something around 10-13 watts and 700-900 lumens will be brighter effectively than the 4-pin.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

Maybe just fine, maybe a fire.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

I bought some Phillips LED flood bulbs from Home Depot to test in my kitchen without a dimmer and loved them so I went on their site and ordered 8 more to use in my basement . No buzzing. Only noticeable issue is that you can't dim them all the way down to barely nothing like a regular light bulb. They stay on a little brighter. That doesn't bother me. Instant on also unlike the ecosmart brand. I have 12 cans with 65 watt bulbs down there so I was really looking at reducing overall wattage.


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RE: Truly dimmable LED recessed floods

"I couldn't find a way to access the ballast either, so I just tested a 60w equivalent a19 led with the adapter. The led bulb worked fine, so not sure the long-term issues with just leaving the cfl ballast in."

I wouldn't recommend it. Even if it works for the moment, the high striking voltage from the ballast might take out that expensive LED bulb in short order.

There should be a way to drop the can so that the ballast can be serviced. Just need to figure out the trick. (And report back here, so the rest of us can learn.)


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