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Auraglow colour-changing LED

August 24, 2015

I’ve been intrigued by colour-changing LED bulbs for years, and have kept an eye on the market while they gradually improved.  Auraglow were kind enough to send me their 10w colour changing bulb free of charge for me to review.  For some reason it took them three tries to get one sent to me, no one knows what happened to the first two that were sent out, but it finally arrived and I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks.

auraglow1

As the photo shows, they are really rather pretty!  You get sixteen colours plus warm white, and the warm white is a separate LED, rather than a mix of the red, green and blue LEDs.  The white is 10W and my guess would be that the other colours are substantially less, although they’re still pretty impressive.  They’re pleasant colours, well-balanced in hue, and the combination colours are brighter than the pure red, blue or green ones.

The idea behind using this bulb was that I could use the warm white in the daytime and the yellow through red shades in the evening. I had a spot for it lined up in the bookcase opposite my bed.  The trouble is, these bulbs are huge.  They only come in BC or E27 fitting, and like most table lamps today, the lamp I had was an E14.  I have an E14 to BC convertor in there already which works fine with the white LED bulb I usually keep in there, but the Auraglow bulb was a bit too big to fit in with that as well.  You could cram it in, but all the light ended up at the top of the lamp, and since it’s in a bookcase, it was getting cut off by the shelf above it.  In addition, the white was both weaker and more yellowy than the LED bulb I had in there already, so it wasn’t really an improvement.  (I have no idea where I got that bulb that’s in there already, I don’t think it’s more than 7W but it’s the best I’ve ever found.)

So I dug out a lamp that wasn’t really being used and put it on my bedroom desk, by the curtains.  Then I had to move it along the desk, away from the curtains.  It turns out that the bulb isn’t just huge, it’s really heavy.  I’d already tried it in a desk lamp in my partner’s flat, and it was so heavy it had pulled the lamp over.  This table lamp is medium height and slim, and it kept on falling over whenever someone drew the curtains and brushed against it.  The lamp is now tucked away where the curtain can’t brush it and hopefully it’s safe.  The great thing about this bulb being remote controlled is that I don’t have to go anywhere near the lamp to turn it on, I just keep the remote in my bedside chest, so I could put it in the most inaccessible spot I could think of, provided the remote can get line of sight to the bulb.

Now we’d found a home for it, how did it fare?  Pretty well.  As I said, the warm white is on the yellowy side, more so under a standard cream lampshade.  Warm white is a really hard colour to get right with LEDs, and I have found that the same LED bulb or string of fairy lights will look good in some places, against some paint colours, and awful in others.  Every time I’ve tried an LED bulb in my living room (painted off-white) it looks weirdly greenish, for instance, but in my bedroom (painted cream) they’re generally fine.  This one is a perfectly pleasant colour, although not one I’d want to use for colour work, and it looked odd when I tried it for my bedside lamp.  Even kept on my desk, you notice that it’s a very different colour from the other LED bulb and the halogen bulb in the room, but only if you glance between them to compare.  It’s not the strongest LED bulb I’ve seen, which is surprising for 10W, but I do like a lot of light for reading by.  If it’s more of a general lamp, it’s fine.  I wouldn’t use it for lighting an entire room, though.  You’d need quite a few of them, and they’ve expensive.  If the white were brighter and the colour were better, it’d be tempting.  Let’s see how the technology improves in that department.

Now for the really fun part, the colour-changing aspect.  You can set it to move between the colours in a few ways, which some people will enjoy for parties.  We admired how pretty that was briefly, then hunted for a good colour to put it on in the evening.  You can have a yellow, two shades of orange, or a red.  The yellow is a bit on the greenish side.  The two oranges are both very pleasant amber colours, and the red is a good one, on the more orangey side for a red LED.  The yellow and oranges are made from a mixture of green and red light, and opinion is split on whether or not green light affects your melatonin production and circadian rhythms.  I’ve decided to stick to the red light, which lights up a surprising amount of the room.  I don’t know whether or not green light affects me, but I stick to lights which look the same whether or not I am looking at them through my orange-tinted blue-blocking glasses, and the orange hues on this bulb looked different through the orange specs, suggesting that there’s something I’d want to block in there.  If you’re not using orange specs, and you don’t mind changing the light a few times, you could try gradually moving from white through yellow and orange to red over the course of the evening.  It’d probably feel very relaxing.

Would I buy this myself?  At the moment, no.  I’m not using it to its full potential, I’m only using the white and the red, and it’s cheaper to buy a second lamp and put a coloured bulb in that one.  If it were cheaper and heavier it’d be a different matter, but I’m guessing there are manufacturing reasons why that’s an issue.  But it’s very pretty, a fun gadget to have, and I do love being able to use it with a remote control. This is the first red bulb I’ve tried, if you don’t count the red fairy lights, and I was very impressed with the colour.  Watch out for another post soon about the various colours of light bulbs I’ve amassed by now.

Considering new lighting options

May 16, 2010

While my faithful GoLite is still going strong, the little white LED lightbox which I bought on eBay for £10 looks like it might be on its way out.  The timer function no longer works, and sometimes the light goes out and the cable has to be wiggled or unplugged and plugged in again in order to get the light back on.  I’ll keep going until it really is dead, but I’m starting to consider my options.

I do prefer having a spare lightbox for the sewing desk, since I hate crawling around on the floor to unplug cables every time I want to change which room I’m lightboxing in, and also because the blue of the GoLite doesn’t go well with sewing.  I’ve been interested in LED lighting for a while anyway because of the energy savings.  The snag is that while the wattage is very low, the price of the bulbs is high and apparently it’s difficult to get a comfortable shade of white.  Certainly the cool white of my current lightbox isn’t something I’d care to light my home with.

So one option is simply to buy another white LED lightbox.  The cheapest I can see is the Rio, which is £50.  It looks like a nice enough little lightbox, but this isn’t like getting a spare one for a tenner.

Option 2 is to get this all-singing all-dancing bulb.  There are various multi-coloured LED bulbs on the market, but the rest are less bright and don’t include a warm white.  This one boasts 8W of power, includes a warm white, and comes in both wide and narrow beam versions.  I could use the cool white or the blue for light therapy, the warm white for general use, and then in the evenings I would have a selection of colours from red to yellow for darkness therapy, which is something I could do with in this room.  At the moment, if I want to sew during darkness therapy time, I have a couple of lamps above head height at my desk and while the room doesn’t get that bright overall, I’m sure there’s some light creeping over the top of my orange glasses.  The total cost would approach that of buying a separate lightbox, especially if I ended up getting it a desk lamp of its own so that it could be right next to me.

Things to consider and/or ask about:

1. How good the warm white is, both in terms of colour and brightness, and whether it will mesh well with the halogen bulbs I currently use for my sewing desk.  I hear that some warm white LEDs these days are pretty decent.  It would presumably be different to those, however, as they’re creating the white light from white LEDs and this would be creating the white light from a mixture of red, blue and green.

2. I presume that even a warm white LED still has a lot of blue in it.  Would using this as a general lamp during the daytime overdo the light exposure, or would it be fine as long as I moved it a bit further away from me?  People can be outdoors for hours without messing up their sleep, after all.

3. Whether the light therapy usage time would need to be ridiculously long.  I know that one LED lightbox I researched ran on 10W, but I can’t remember if that was a white or a blue one.  At 8w, hopefully this would be close, and I could position it in the effection spot just above my eyes, although I’d need to make sure it wasn’t too close in order to avoid glare discomfort.

4. On the other hand, perhaps it wouldn’t matter if the usage time was longer since even the warm white would presumably have a reasonable effect.  This could turn out to be the lamp which you just use as your general desk lamp instead of a shorter burst of more concentrated light therapy.  If I end up simply putting it in the floor lamp which leans over my desk from the left, I’d need to make sure that the light was strong enough to more or less compensate for a 60W equivalent bulb.

5. Wide beam (88 degrees) or narrow angle beam (31 degrees)?  Does anyone know what your average R63 spotlight bulb is?  I’d be happy with an equivalent to that.  Judging from this page, the narrow angle bulb would work well.  You can also read more about the bulb in question here, where it claims that it’s equivalent to a 50W halogen.  That should be sufficient.

Colour tolerance and myopia

May 11, 2010

I’ve mentioned before that my partner really hates coloured light.  I haven’t tried that many colours on him, just the blue lightbox and a range of yellow and amber bulbs, but he has strongly disliked all of them.  My eye specialist has finally given a reason for why this might be the case. Colour, she says, is very important to myopes (short-sighted folks), and the more myopic you are, the more colour will matter to you.  I’m fairly fussy about colour myself, I can’t stand fluorescent light (though that’s probably a case of colour and flicker) and I’m very picky about colours when it comes to reading and tinted lenses, though I don’t know how far that is caused by having Meares-Irlen Syndrome.  I’d be curious to test my partner some time and see how much colour he can tolerate, if there are any colours he finds easier than others, or if he’s only really happy when the light is white or close to it.  I mentioned to the eye specialist that I find yellow and orange light mercifully comfortable, and she said, “Oh yes, yellow light is very soothing for the eyes.”  For reference, here is how myopia is usually categorised:

0 to -3: mild myopia
-3 to -6: moderate myopia
-6 to -10: severe myopia
over -10: extreme myopia (not usually listed as it’s so rare)

Including astigmatism, I’m about -7, so my eyesight’s worse than that of most people but I still know a fair few people who are at a similar level to me.  My partner, on the other hand, is about -19.  Before I met him, the worst myopia I’d encountered was one guy at -12 and a woman at -10.  Several opticians he’s been to have never seen myopia as bad as his, although it’s by no means the worst around.

So his reaction is unlikely to be the norm, and even my degree of fussiness about light colour seems fairly unusual.  To people who have tried different coloured light or lenses, are you myopic, and have you found difficulty in tolerating the colour?