Review the EcoSmart 6" LED Recessed Downlight by Cree
While in the midst of a complete kitchen remodel, I came across the 6" EcoSmart LED downlight at our local home improvement center. I realized now would be a good time to replace our current 65w incandescent downlights with something more efficient, possibly even LED recessed lighting, so I bought a set of 4 to try. I was so happy with the results, that I decided to give the EcoSmart LED light a full review.
My original intent was to replace the existing (and ugly) black reflector cone trim with a white one and use an energy saving bulb. Since the kitchen always seemed like it could use just a little more light, I was hoping that the white reflector cone trim would reflect more light and give us what we were looking for. Fortunately I found the EcoSmart downlight instead.
Now, before I begin spewing forth all of the specifications of this type of light and start making your head spin wondering what it all means, I think a 5th grade explanation of watts, lumens, and color temperature will be a big help. It sure helped me! After all, there are usually many questions about an incandescent to LED conversion.
With traditional incandescent bulbs we think of watts as the measurement of light output. The more watts a bulb are rated for, the brighter the light. Truth be told, that isn’t the way it truly works. Watts are actually units of electrical energy being used to power that bulb to make it as bright as it is. It is the “input” of energy used. To help even more, think of it as the “cost” you pay to run that light.
Now lumens on the other hand are actually a measurement of how much light a bulb creates. It is the “output” of light. So, using our incandescent bulb as an example, a 65w bulb puts out 550 - 600 lumens. If we average that, it works out to about 9 lumens of light per watt.
Light color is measured in degrees of Kelvin, usually displayed with a “K”. People usually refer to light as being “cool” or white, such as fluorescent light and “warm” or more yellow, as in incandescent light. It doesn’t have anything to do with how bright they are. Warm light has a range of approximately 2500K to 3200K, with cool light being in the range of 4000K to 4700K.
Now that we understand how all these measurements of watts, lumens and color are used, let’s look at the specifications of this particular EcoSmart light. It is rated at 10.5watts, 575 lumens, and 2700K. Using our example of a typical 65w bulb, that means we are using only 10.5watts to produce the same amount of light as a 65w bulb! We are now getting 55 lumens per watt with the EcoSmart light compared to the 9 lumens per watt with the incandescent.
The 2700K is considered a soft white light which falls in the same warm range as incandescent light. The original four 65w downlights that I replaced in the kitchen used a total of 260 watts of energy. With the EcoSmart lights we now use a total of only 42 watts of electrical energy to produce the same amount of light. What a savings!
(note; EcoSmart has recently re-branded their packaging to 9.5w instead of 10.5w. They now average the watts consumption like other manufacturers do instead of listing the maximum wattage from laboratory testing)
According to Cree, the EcoSmart light will last for 35,000 hours. Based on an average of 3 hours a day of use, that’s a 32 year lifespan. The lights are dimmable, contain no mercury, and use 85% less energy than the standard incandescent bulb.
We have been extremely happy with these new lights. They are completely contained as one unit and have a very attractive look to them once installed. We replaced a total of four lights and the amount of light they put out is better than the ones replaced. I don’t know if it’s because they reflect off of a white cone trim now or if it’s just the quality of light in general, but we now have enough light in our kitchen. I even installed a dimmer switch to go with them and they work very well with it. LED lights generally need a separate transformer to run a dimmer, but the EcoSmart light has one built-in individually to each light.
Installation of these lights is a snap. The only tool you will need is a ladder. Seriously! Start by turning off the power at your breaker box to avoid any accidental electrical shock. Remove the old bulb. Then, reach up into the can and unclip the two small springs that hold the reflector cone in place. Be ready for some dust when you do this.
Next, unscrew the small wing nut on the inside of the can that holds the top plate that the socket is attached to.
Now remove the plate from the socket by squeezing the two clips on the side of the socket together. All you should have now is an empty can with the socket hanging down.
Next, remove the EcoSmart light from the box and screw it into the socket. After that, spread out the 3 long tabs of the EcoSmart light. On some installations this might take some finesse if your socket doesn’t hang down very far. Once the tabs are spread out, firmly and somewhat quickly push the light right up into the can. You can feel it almost snap into place. And you are done! After the learning curve of the first light, you should be able to replace the next light in two to three minutes. It’s that easy. Don't forget to turn the power back on at the breaker.
Installation video by EcoSmart
After being so impressed with the results in our kitchen, we eventually replaced all the downlights in the remaining rooms of our home for a total of 11 lights. That is a 600 watt reduction, wow! If you have been thinking about replacing the downlights in your kitchen or other parts of your home, I highly recommend the EcoSmart series of lights. They even have a 4" version as seen below and here is a review of EcoSmart incandescent bulb replacements that they offer as well. With the power savings, quality of light, and ease of installation, it is an easy choice to make.