Our kitchen has 20 GU10 downlight fittings, with 35W bulbs in. So, 700W, costing about 7p/hour to run (and of course all the carbon emissions that go with it) – and fairly frequently one of the bulbs fails. With LED GU10 bulbs now well established, for the last couple of years (on and off) I have been trying to find some LED bulbs that we liked. We have tried the standard 17 LED bulbs, in ‘normal and warm white (1,5,6 below) but they just weren’t bright enough. We also had two sorts that blew in a few tens of hours which is far worse than halogen bulbs. We have tried a more powerful 35 LED bulb (No 2 below) … which was brighter, but too blue white, and poured all the light into a tiny spot on the dark granite below it leaving the room feeling dark. We have tried two sorts of 3W bulbs (3 and 4 below) which were MUCH more expensive, at almost £20 each, but the first was too white and too directional, and the second was a better colour, but annoyingly simply wouldn’t fit in the fittings (watch for this – loads of options are too deep for some sorts of GU10 fittings). And for both, they simply weren’t quite bright enough.
But, we have now found a winner, and it is … a compact fluorescent bulb. It is exactly GU10 size, so fits the fittings well; it comes in warm white which is the colour we wanted; it is 7W, so as bright as our 35W originals but costs less than 2p an hour to run; it gets bright reasonably fast – all fluorescents take some minutes, but this really isn’t that noticeable – it’s actually quite nice on a dark morning!; and, the light spreads widely, so evenly lighting the room, with plenty hitting the walls to make it feel brighter. We got them from http://www.energybulbs.co.uk (see here), and they cost us just £5.55 each.
So, whilst the future might be LED or similar, after some considerable effort, the best answer we found today is a CFL.
EDIT, 27/3/11 – Since I wrote this I have found that Surface mount LED GU10 bulbs are the best … and CFLs are total rubbish if it is cold. See this post.