Allow me to clarify that last post. I’ve had a few LEDs now, big enough to be considered “lighting,” not just indicators or accessory illumination.
It’s pretty hard to find flashlights that aren’t LED-based now. LEDs are shatterproof, and make the batteries last longer- what’s not to like? The deal, however, has been that these products are small enough to be easy to switch to LEDs. Small LEDs do not run enough power to roast themselves. In particular, using multiple small LEDs spreads the heat out enough that no one LED gets cooked.
I then bought a desk lamp. If LEDs and compact fluorescents are about 4x the efficiency of an equivalent incandescent, then this 3-Watt jobbie should be equal to 12W in an old desk lamp. Desk lamps are inherently a good application, since LEDs throw light in one direction. No lampshade necessary. In this particular case, overcooking the LED can be avoided. The lack of a lampshade allows lots of cooling airflow, and the LED and housing are well-integrated to couple the heat. This, too, is because the LEDs can last 15,000-50,000 hours, or 5 to 20 times longer than an incandescent. The LED then never needs changing, is built directly into the housing, and can conduct its heat away through the entire “head” area.
The lamp was ten bucks. Maybe a little more than an old-tech lamp, but again, it won’t burn out for years, likely a decade or two. I don’t even know what we’ll be reading two decades from now. It’s a neutral-to-slightly warm white, not a weird bluish like some LEDs put out. If you walked in the room, you might never know it’s an LED and not an incandescent.
It’s not all great, however. The switch is a little cheesy. Occasionally, you have to jiggle the switch, like some annoying toilet handle. However, that’s a completely separate issue from the LED, and could’ve happened with an incandescent lamp anyway. Push comes to shove, I can replace the switch by wiring a new one in. Or just bypass the switch, and unplug the lamp from the wall every time.
The next step up is a room-scale LED. These have waited until the heat issue could be solved reliably, while building in quantity, at price. Apparently, the issue is solved. People have still kept working, since even after I posted last, you can now find this size of LEDs for under $20. I’ll post again when I’ve found a reputable one, at a good price, and have some hours on it.