GU10 Bulbs, Halogen, Low Energy or LED Buyers Guide
In my home I have a number of "spotlight" bulbs in the GU10 and MR16 types and due to soaring energy costs I have rersearched and tested a large number of GU10 energy saving bulbs or lower wattage standard halogen bulbs.
In this guide I will share my findings in the hope it helps you make the best choice without laying out a fortune on expensive bulbs that don't do what you want. If you find the information below useful then I would really appreciate it if you click "Yes" at the bottom so the guide remains highly visible to other Ebayers :-)
Standard Halogen Bulbs
There is no beating the light produced by the standard halogen bulbs but at 50watts per bulb it can be very expensive to run these, particularly if your light fitting has several 50w bulbs in it !!!
For a simple way to reduce your costs by 30% consider switching to the 35w halogen equivalents which are freely available form all decent hardware & DIY stores.
In my bathroom I have switched from 3 x 50w bulbs to 3 x 35w bulbs and although they are not quite as bright, I now realise that the old bulbs were far too bright (and the 35w bulbs are more suitable anyway ! Already that has saved me 45w of power when these lights are in use !!!
Low Energy Bulbs
When it comes to normal lightbulbs, the energy saving bulbs are excellent and the technology is well developed. For GU10's however the technology is struggling to fit into such a small unit and in my opinion doesn't work too well.
I have tested 9w and 11w low energy GU10 bulbs and concluded the following:
* The bulbs are much bigger (longer) in size than a standard GU10 bulb as it would be impossible to cram the technology into the actual size of a GU10 bulb. This can make the bulbs difficult to fit in certain recessed spotlights and are very unsightly in surface mounted bulbs.
* The bulbs take a short while to warm up and are very dim when they first come on. It seems to be about 30-60 seconds before they are fully bright but when they are, the brightness and way the light is diffused is as good as conventional halogen bulbs. These are therefore useless in a hall or somewhere where you need instant lighting.
* The "colour temperature" of the light is different to standard halogen bulbs. Standard bulbs are "warm" whereas these energy saving lights are more a daylight/cold white. Some people may prefer this type of white light but overall I didn't like these bulbs and cannot find a use for them.
LED Light Bulbs
The potential for LED bulbs is huge and once fully developed it will save people a fortune, much more than the current energy saving technology. These will be the future I am sure !
I have purchased and tested several different types of LED GU10 Bulbs on ebay and had mixed views of them. For general lighting they are just not good enough, but for precise and decorative lighting they are excellent and unique. I have therefore concluded the following:
* Most important is the colour temperature. Some of these bulbs can give off an extremely cold blue light, some are "daylight white" which again is quite cold and some are warm white. Eitherway I have not seen an LED bulb that is as "warm" as the conventional Halogen bulbs so make sure you buy the correct colour temperatures. By default the cheap ones which do not list a colour are a very cold light.
* The way light is diffused from an LED bulb is a precise spot rather than general lighting. This makes them perfect to light pictures on a wall, a display cabinet, or to compliment existing lighting, but as the only source of light they just don't cut it compared to conventional halogen bulbs.
* The type and number of LED's is very significant. Newer bulbs have 60 or 78 standard LED's or the much newer bulbs have 3 superbright LED's which seem to be about the same brightness as 60 conventional LED's. Some smaller bulbs are anything from 9 LED's to 48 LED's. I have found that the best bulbs are the 3 superbright LED's but again they are only really suitable where a precise spotlight is needed.
* Sellers claim these are anything between 35w and 50w of light but what isn't clear is how precise the light is. Using the bulbs I have tested I would say they are nearer to 15-25w equivalent of light and a very precise spotlight. They shouldn't really be compared to conventional bulbs.
* LED bulbs are pretty much the same physical size as standard GU10 bulbs. The ones containing a small number of superbright LED's are flatter on the front, whereas those bulbs with older style LED's protrude at the front. This is fine unless your light fitting is recessed and sometimes the protruding LED's get in the way of the fitment.
* Heat output from these bulbs is very very low. After being on for hours you can handle them and they are just warm (compared to halogen bulbs which are burning hot after just a few minutes) so they are much safer in certain fittings
* Electrical usage - these are super efficient and use between 0.8w and 4w per bulb (the whole GU10 bulb not just per LED) so they cost extremely little to run.
* Life expectancy is outstanding on these bulbs - 50,000 hours, so 10 years of normal use !!!
I have used these LED bulbs as ambient lighting in my living room which provide a nice background light to pictures and a display cabinet and create a nice low light without costing hardly anything to run. A friend has used a number of 48 coloured LED bulbs (Blue, Red, Green) bulbs as ambient lighting in his restaurant and they make nice subtle colours (again with very little operating cost).
In summary - the technology for GU10 low energy bulbs is just not good enough yet for mainstream use, however the LED bulbs provide excellent and very cheap ambient lighting and operate at much lower temperatures. This technology will be the future I am sure.
I hope this helps and prevents you spending a lot of money (as I have done) on bulbs which are not nessecarily suitable for what you want.
Note - if this guide has been useful, please rate it below and as always feel free to email me via ebay messages with any comments or suggestions.