Gallery: VIDEO: THE LED BULB CHALLENGE – We Upgrade 5 Designer Lamps at...


By now, we hope that most of you know that swapping incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs saves money and energy, but there’s still a lingering misconception that LED bulbs emit a cold, bluish light that is just not as warm or attractive as the old filament-filled bulbs we grew up with. To dispel this fallacy, we sought out a group of people with a critical eye for light bulb color and ambiance – lighting designers on the show floor of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at New York Design Week. These meticulous designers take light warmth and quality very seriously (that is their job after all), so we couldn’t think of anyone better suited to give an honest opinion about the latest generation of high-tech LED light bulbs. Watch our video above to see how we retrofitted five gorgeous designer lamps with new Philips LED light bulbs – and in the process saved $1,732.86 in energy costs and won over some designer converts to the future of LED lighting.

Christopher Poehlmann – CP Lighting




The first stop on our whirlwind tour through the ICFF was the CP Lighting booth, to talk to lighting designer Christopher Poehlmann. We’ve long been fans of Poehlmann’s beautiful, eco-friendly lighting fixtures, which are sculpted to look like tree branches but are actually made of recycled pipes! We wanted to up the green quotient on Christopher’s already very eco-conscious lamps, so we switched out the energy-guzzling 60W incandescent bulb in his Branch Wall Sconce with a 12.5W Philips Ambient LED Bulb. Though it only took us about 15 seconds to make the switch, and you can’t really tell the difference in light quality at all – the change will save $125.08 in energy costs over the next 5 years.

Christopher Poehlmann’s response: “Nice! I like it. The color rendering looks the same as an incandescent which is fantastic. People are very used to having that kind of warm tone from light bulbs and there’s no flicker. It looks great.”


Since we were on a roll with Christopher Poehlmann, we decided to work our LED magic on another one of his New Growth lamps. This time we chose the CP Lighting Antler pendant from Poehlmann’s New Growth series. The fixture, which is made of recycled aluminum pipes, uses four 25W incandescent candle bulbs, which we swapped out with four energy-saving 3.5W Philips candle LED bulbs, a change that both modernizes the lamp, and will save $154.57 in energy costs over 5 years. WIN!

Gabriel Kakon – Gabriel Scott




After our venture with CP Lighting, we headed over to check out the booth very different team of designers. Gabriel Scott‘s opulent, high-end chandeliers are designed mainly for upscale corporate clients like hotels and restaurants. Their luxurious Brass Kelly chandelier uses over half a kilometer of brass chain for a breathtaking cascade effect, but SIXTEEN (count ’em) 25W incandescent bulbs in the fixture gobble up energy like nobody’s business. Luckily, Gabriel Scott co-founder Gabriel Kakon allowed us to replace those antiquated energy-guzzlers with 16 Philips 3.5W candle LED bulbs for a whopping savings of $1,236.52 in energy costs over 5 years.

Designer Gabriel Kakon’s response: “Actually, someone today just asked me about a hotel where the ceilings are very high… they wanted to make sure that LEDs would work for this chandelier so that they could avoid having to switch the bulbs frequently.”

Vincent Georgeson – Misewell




Our next stop on the ICFF LED Bulb Challenge was Misewell, a company that focuses on timeless, classic design. Co-founder Vincent Georgeson showed us the Misewell Tokyo lamp, which we were immediately drawn to its cute and classy looks, but since its 60W incandescent bulb guzzles energy, and burns out in just 2,000 hours (about 83 days), we wanted to make the lamp a little more “timeless” and “long-lasting” with a 12.5W Philips Ambient LED Bulb, which lasts about 22 years before the bulb needs to be changed. The simple fix saves $128.05 in energy costs over 5 years.

Designer Vincent Georgeson’s response: “I like it – it’s a lot warmer than I expected. With LEDs, I’m always thinking a cold kind of color, like really white, but this looks great. I love the light that it puts out. It’s very natural, very similar to an incandescent.”

Jonathan Junker – Graypants




Our last stop in the whirlwind LED Bulb Challenge was the Graypants booth, a company that we’ve long been fans of for their clever and beautiful recycled cardboard Scrap lamps. It didn’t take much convincing to get Graypants co-founder Jonathan Junker to let us swap one of his 40W incandescent bulbs with a 12.5W Philips Ambient LED Bulb, and he was very pleased with the result, which saves $85.97 in energy costs over 5 years.

Jonathan Junker’s response: “I love the way the bulb looks. It’s actually a really nice bulb and we use it quite a bit. It’s the bulb I have in my own Scrap Lights in my house actually. It dims nicely, it has a good warmth to it that matches incandescents and I think it’s a wonderful fit and a responsible fit.”


In total, our LED lighting upgrades will save $1,732.86 in energy costs over the next 5 years without sacrificing anything in terms of aesthetics. As the above video illustrates, LED bulbs can work beautifully in designer lamps, and designers can’t tell the difference, in many cases. This new generation of Philips LED bulbs shine as warmly and as brightly as incandescents, last much longer and save energy and money. We think that’s a pretty good incentive to go out and swap out your incandescent bulbs, don’t you?


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  1. royalestel May 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Every kind of light technology has pluses and minuses.
    LEDs are typically more temperature sensitive than other kinds–they blow if they get too hot. They also aren’t yet as bright as a 100 or 120 watt incandescent, and the heat sink gets pretty hot to the touch, like an incandescent.

    Now the bright LEDs that you mention offer significant savings based on 24 cents a kWh — which is 6 times what I pay per kWh! If you live in NY and your bulb blows, try an LED.

    My take: They are good for relatively dim lamps after your original bulb blows. Get ’em from a reputable company, and write the install date on the bulb base with a sharpy. That way when the bulb fails, you’ve got some idea how long it actually lasted.

    I don’t typically purchase a newer product for energy savings unless it can pay for itself in less than five years. Which means . . . I won’t be buying more LED bulbs anytime soon. Give it five more years, though, and I think all my bulbs will be LED.

  2. Ada December 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I wanted to spend a mnuite to thank you for this.

  3. dem0n August 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    well, you could decorate with EL Wire (Electroluminescent Wire) & be just as green & have a really cool “futuristic” look…

  4. roofersinfife August 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Can someone talk about the type of light output that an LED has compared to CFL. My understanding is that a CFL puts out light that can fade paint, furniture as well as aid in the cause of headaches where as LED’s do not. LEDs dot flicker (Only when there is a bad quality dimmable driver inside) or when they are using AC LEDs like the acriche models that run straight in 120V AC. Roofers In Fife

  5. vale2453 June 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    In the states, the push is for florescent replacements which cause a great many people migraines.
    This LED bulb is wonderful choice no matter the cost!

  6. boseprasad June 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    LED area great plus but the costs are whoopingly high and also not available easily i searched for the led lights for pretty long time now but could not get it.
    Where a cfl costs any where between Rs.150/to 300/- led bulbs cost 750/- thats too high

  7. compact June 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I’m renovation my house and definitely going down the LED route.

    Would be nice if the article included the actual cost of replacing the bulbs along with the energy saved
    i.e. initial costs to replace the bulbs was xx but this is offset by the “whopping savings of $1,236.52 in energy costs over 5 years.”
    As that is definitely the question that’s people will ask at some point.

  8. jkgreen June 12, 2012 at 11:46 am

    LEDs sound great!

  9. Mark Boyer June 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

    The fact that the ambient LED dims nicely is a big plus — compact CFLs have been a major disappointment in that department.

  10. shayna from pattern pulp June 12, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Love this feature. Very well done! Interesting to see that many of the eco-material lamps didn’t use LED lighting. Also refreshing that the designers seemed so mellow about the switch-up.

  11. Yuka Yoneda June 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

    The LEDs really do give off a warm glow. Given that, there’s really no reason to stick with incandescents!

  12. Charley Cameron June 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Fantastic to see the options available, and that they can work so well within those elegant designs!

  13. Marc Carter June 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

    LED bulbs are amazing. Who doesn’t want to save money and at the same time not have to constantly change burnt out bulbs.

  14. Tafline Laylin June 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

    This is incredibly helpful and thorough. Thanks so much. I think finally this video puts to rest the notion that green lighting is inferior.

  15. Lori Zimmer June 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    i have the 12.5W Philips Ambient LED Bulb and i love it! plus, Jonathan Junker is really cute.

  16. Andrew Michler June 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Got the L-prize bulb on our front porch light, makes a big difference compared to 18 watt CFL.

  17. Evelyn Lee June 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Love the “warm light” LED’s offer. Not to mention the pocket book savings and energy reduction.

  18. Mike Chino June 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    It’s great to see the comparison between the incandescent and LED bulbs – I was really impressed with the warm light, and many of the lamps look even better with LED bulbs!

  19. Diane Pham June 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    viva la LED revolution! great to see how many watt options are available now, from low light to very bright — and all give off warm light!

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