July 15, 2024


Think spectacular technology

This big-ass bulb from Ikea offers vintage style but poor dimming

I’m not sure if any of us asked for light bulbs as big as our heads, but here we are. First, Philips announced a whole lineup of king-sized LED bulbs with artful, nostalgic designs — now, Ikea’s beaten them to the punch with a big-ass bulb of its own that costs just $13.

It’s one of several bulbs in Ikea’s “Lunnom” collection of vintage-style LED light bulbs that disguise themselves as old-school incandescent light bulbs — a growing trend in the lighting aisle that seems to be connecting with consumers who are reluctant to move on from the incandescent aesthetic of the bulbs of yesteryear.

As for the appeal of light bulbs the size of cantaloupes, the idea is to use them as fixtures in and of themselves, no lampshade or sconce necessary. That makes the Ikea bulb’s vintage design — also intended for exposed bulb setups — a nice, complementary touch.

Still, Ikea’s gigantic Lunnom LED doesn’t look nearly as fancy as the Philips Deco LEDs slated to arrive this fall, and while it provided more than enough brightness to qualify it as an excellent accent light, it didn’t perform well on dimmer switches. That’s a bummer for a bulb like this one that’s made to be seen. Dial it down, and there’s a good chance you’ll see it flicker. That’s not so bad if you don’t use dimmer switches to begin with, but if you do, I say wait to see how those Philips bulbs stack up before buying in.

Ikea’s Lunnom LED is much larger than other vintage-style bulbs.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Let’s check the specs

Ikea pegs its jumbo-size Lunnom LED at 400 lumens bright, with a ruddy color temperature of 2,200 K. Those numbers checked out fine in my lighting lab, where I clocked it at 2,269 K and a brighter-than-advertised 465 lumens.

Ikea’s bulb puts out plenty of beige-tinted light, but the arrangement of the diodes also casts some potentially ugly shadows.

Chris Monroe/CNET

That puts it roughly on par with what you’ll get from 40W accent light — and with a power draw of just 4.2W, it’ll consume about 90 percent less energy. Use it for an average of 3 hours per day and it’ll add about 50 cents to your yearly energy bill. For comparison, that 40W bulb would add just under $5 to your bill over the same stretch.

With a slight sepia tint to the glass, the bulb’s light output looks a little beige in appearance, and appropriately warm for a vintage-style light source. Unlike some other vintage LEDs that twist their fake filaments into helices or spirals, Ikea’s design leaves the diodes arranged into columns, making for a look that’s less artful and more industrial. Those columns also get in the way of each other, creating shadows within the bulb’s field of light. For my money, I still prefer those spiral-shaped filaments — they’re more eye-catching, and in most cases, completely free of any shadows at all.

At 465 lumens, Ikea’s bulb is also brighter than a lot of other vintage-style LEDs, many of which only offer 300 lumens or so. Brighter is generally better, but with exposed bulbs like these, there’s definitely such a thing as “too bright.” Ikea’s bulb doesn’t necessarily cross that threshold, but it might flirt with it. With the bulb lit up at my desk a few feet from my face, I found myself averting my eyes from it.

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