CFL Track Lighting
March 15, 2009 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Anyone found an energy efficient and cost effective CFL track lighting system? LED possibly?

Most track systems found at your local home improvement store only come with a Halogen option. Halogens are generally not very energy efficient .
posted by jeffmac to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You're only seeing halogen because you're only looking at tiny little MR16, MR11 or GU10 fixtures. You can still get the bigger (and far less stylish) track fixtures which take screw-in bulbs; they will work with CFLs. You can also get LED bulbs in an MR16 or GU10 form that will fit in the smaller track fixtures, but you'll probably have to order them online. The color rendering of LED's is still pretty lousy, which is why most people won't buy them, which is why your local big box doesn't sell them.
posted by jon1270 at 5:42 PM on March 15, 2009

Forgot to mention, LED MR16s also tend to be much less bright than their incandescent counterparts.
posted by jon1270 at 5:43 PM on March 15, 2009

Check out Ceramic Metal Halide options. Most major manufacturers (Phillips, Sylvania, GE, etc.) offer a range of these types of bulbs. I don't know your application, but these are great for retail lighting applications and provide great color rendering. You would probably need to get them at a lighting supply store not home improvement store. These are not as efficient as CFL or LED, but much more efficient than halogen.
posted by senador at 5:55 PM on March 15, 2009

I attempted to replace MR16 halogen downlights with a more efficient globe.
The MR16 are the low voltage type, and the only options appear to be lower wattage halogens (20w or 30w) or LEDs, either 20+ LEDs in each "globe" or one to three 1W LEDs.
I tried these in the lighting store, and to say I was underwhelmed...well, they are pretty dim, and very costly per unit. To see some of these, here is an Ebay search
The other option is mains voltage GU10 replacements. These *do* come with CFL options, although the bulb is much bulkier. There are also LED options here. Sample Ebay search.
All these options are considerably more costly per unit than standard halogens, but should be more cost effective over the life of the bulb.
I tried the 11w GU10 CFL in cool white and the 13w GU10 CFL in warm white. Both types take a long time to warm up to full brightness, like the original 1st gen CFL bulbs did, if you used those. I'm talking a minute+.
Even at full brightness, they are a *lot* dimmer than 50w halogens. My wife asks me to turn on the darks these days.
That said, the six I replaced light our otherwise shadowy kitchen, and are on for 12hours+ a day. The difference between 3.6kWh with the halogens and 0.8kWh for the CFL is quite substantial, and knocked 10% off our power bill.
If you can handle the dimness, I would suggest the 13w warm white CFLs as a potential replacement. Here is an example showing the bulkier size globe (note it is 240V for UK/AU/EU).
In the end, I replaced the 12v transformers for the low voltage MR16 and used GU10 mains voltage CFL globes instead. Things are a bit dimmer, but acceptable.
If I didn't have big holes in the ceiling for downlights, I think replacing the fittings with ones that use standard cfl globes would be much preferable.
posted by bystander at 6:19 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The track system is for the interior of our house. We'll have about 4 tracks in our kitchen/great room. The area has a very high (19') slanted ceiling seen here. It's a fairly modern design and our taste in fixtures is relatively contemporary when our budget allows.
posted by jeffmac at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2009

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