Compact Fluorescent vs LED lights colour spectrum

Compact Fluorescent vs LED lights colour spectrum

Jim Uno emailed me,
he said he was a fan of my video’s and
he’d like to send me some LED lamps because they have so much
better colour spectrum. And, I’m always reluctant
about taking on freebies, but I knew I had a bit
of a problem, because shots at my table
saw, this type of Spruce wood always showed
up a little bit green, And, I always had to
fudge the colours a bit, to make it look good.
Now, the LED lights, that Jim sent me are mostly
strips like this one. But, I have a lot of light
fixtures like this that I use, so I also ended up buying
some LED equivilant bulbs, from the Home Depot. I
thought I’d do a quick check of the spectrum,
just using a CD Rom as a deflection grading
and you can see how it takes the light from the outside and just, sort of, seperates
that into different colour bands, so I can see
the individual wave lengths on here quite nicely. Now, let’s check this
with a lamp here, and again, and this
is interesting, you can see here, there’s
different images of this lamp with
different colours. So, that tells me this
compact flourescent light that I’ve got in here,
is actually emitting light primarily at very
specific wavelengths. So, I thought I’d
set-up an experiment. This is a compact flourescent
bulb and this is an LED bulb, and I want
just a strip of light exposed from each. So, let’s do the test
with the CD ROM again. And, looking at it here,
on the right we have the LED bulb, and
on the left we have the compact flourescent, and
you can see the compact flourescent has gotten
most of the light and just a few wavelengths whereas the LED bulb is
pretty smooth spectrum in comparison. Now, Jim
Uno says his LED’s are really good, so I’ve got
one mounted on the ceiling. And, let’s try that
again with the CD ROM. And, there might be another
peak with a blue as well. Whatever it is, it’s
more like the other LED and not lie the CF.
So, I’m pretty sure that the spectrum
coming out of CF bulb, is shit and the LED bulbs, both Jims, and the
ones from Home Depot are way better. Now,
to illustrate why the spectrum difference is, even
though we can’t see them with the naked eye,
matter, let’s switch to black and white. So, we
have these objects of different brightnesses,
and now I’m just gonna switch lights, and
you’ll notice now the brightnesses are quite
different with respect to each other. This
had gotten way dark, and this is quite light
Let’s switch back. And, now if we look at the
whole thing in colour, it’s obvious what the difference
is, we’re looking at it with red light.
So, the thing is, the colours that we see
as red, gree, or blue are actually whole
ranges of wave lengths. And if the green from your
lamp, for example, has only one wave like the green,
and the object is very reflective or not
at all reflective at that wave length, the
green will be much brighter or much dimmer than it would
be under natural light. And, so what’s causing
this one to show up slightly green, in
many of my shots, is probably that it’s
slightly more reflective at the wave length that
the CF bulbs emit, than it is at other wave
lengths, so if this proportionally reflects
green, when you illuminate it with a CF bulb. The
other nice thing about LED bulbs is they’re
more efficient. All three of these are
60 watt equivalant. This one consumes 13 watts, this one 10 1/2, and this one just 9 watts.
And, they’re about the same brightness. But,
my understanding is that bulbs like this
are actually a relatively poor match for LED’s,
because the LED’s are best when operated relatively cool and if we look inside,
this is the inside for one of these, we have
just eight LED’s in here and this bulb gets fairly hot especially because we’ve got
the whole plastic around here. Whereas the strips
that Jim sent me, I’ve got this one long
strip, this one is 12 watts, and it’s got 96 LED’s
and when it’s on, it barely gets warm. So,
I set-up an experiment. I’ve got the 13
watt CF bulb here, and the 9 watt LED bulb here, and as far as I can
tell, these both have a pretty equivilant light
ouput, they’re both 60 watt equivilant. And, here I’ve got a 12 watt LED strip, but to
be fair, I blocked off one quarter of it, so it’s
like 9 watts of LED light coming out. And,
looking at it from a distance, I’d say this
is quite a bit brighter than either of those two. Given that these LED strips are
more efficient than the bulb, and I already have them,
I went ahead and already mounted some above my main
work area, in the shop, and the cool thing is these mount
really flush to the ceiling, so I’m much less
likely to hit them, but I still want to be able
to control the light a bit, so some of these I’ve actually
put on swivel mounts, so I can vary where
they’re aiming. And, I’d like to also
put one back here, that I can either aim
at the table saw, or aim into the
back of the shop, so ideally I’d be able to
have it out of my way, here, or come down like this, here. So, I need some kind of
offset swivel for this. So, I figure I’m gonna mount
this LED strip on top of this piece of wood, and then
attach another short piece on here and have an offset
mount for the swivel. So, I need to join the pieces
of wood at the corner, and, as usual, I’ll use my
screw advance box joint jig. The light holder screws
to this bracket that’s gonna mount to the ceiling
and that allows it to pivot around this screw. The light strip has got
this adhesive backing and I’ll just use that to
attach it to my mount. The LED lights, themselves,
need to run at a low voltage DC, and
for that there’s these converters, here, and you can
just plug the wires in here, into the little terminal strip. And, on the other side is line, and I’ll put my power
cord directly in here. I also keep forgetting to turn
the lights off in the shop, so, I’ve been experimenting
with one of these motion sensor switches. And,
I’ve just wired it in with a cable, and
then that goes to this lamp here. I can
turn it on and off like a regular light switch. But, right now it’s
set to 30 seconds, So, after 30 seconds
of no motion, it should shut itself off. And, then when I come
back in the shop, it turns itself back on. It’s got these two little
adjustable potentiometers to adjust the
motion sensitivity, and how long it’s gonna
stay on, from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. There’s
a couple of things tricky about this one.
It does need to have ground hooked up to
work at all, because it actually drains a little bit
of power from hot to ground, just for it’s own operational
current, and the other thing, for the first 30 seconds
after power is supplied, it won’t do anything, it
won’t switch or anything, and so it’s almost like
it’s running Windows. So, give it a bit of time,
when you install it and turn on the power. And, now after I leave the
shop, the lights always turn off, and when
I come back in, they turn on automatically. I love it.


  • Kiboz2000 says:

    wery informative..tnx

  • etmax1 says:

    drains current from active to ground!!!! that should be a no-no. That would trip earth leakage breakers if you have more than 30mA worth.

  • tuomollo says:

    It is also worth mentioning that:
    – while LEDs last very long, LED 'bulbs' are more likely to fail because of built in transformerless power supply.
    – Led strips are nice because you can use a quality power supply… and even when it fails, you can buy another one. On the other hand, if you use a cheap power supply (or the one that is designed for halogen lights), you will have a stroboscope effect that is very dangerous in workshops. (Cheap 'bulbs' also have this effect).

  • joshua43214 says:

    I am moving my metal shop to the basement, and I just purchased 6 cheap 48", two bulb fluorescent shop fixtures for $13.00 a pop. I have an old box of T12 bulbs, but new bulbs run ~$2.00 a bulb. I have been working under these type of lights for over 30 years, it is not the best, but does a good job of flooding the area with light.
    I have always relied on natural light when I am concerned about color.

    I followed the link to the LED company. $120.00 for the cheapest 4' fixture!
    This makes LED's something like 4 times worse than hybrid cars for return on investment. Outfits like this know that treehuggers are fools, and are charging a super premium by adding the word "green" and laughing their way to the bank.

  • Gene Simonalle says:

    Dude, that was amazing. That was great about the spectrum using the CD ROM.

  • JT Lowry says:

    No earth wire?

  • TabLeft Workshop says:

    That's an awesome experiment, I'm gonna need to do it his with my kids. Thanks for the video!

  • Doug Parker says:

    7:47 …it's almost like it's running Windows. WRONG! Nothing can be THAT bad…

  • Jonathan Seagraves says:

    The whole video is about light quality while most of the shots are horribly overexposed.

  • MechaTama31 says:

    Unfortunately, it seems that they don't sell those retrofit kits on their online store. They only list a few complete fixtures.

  • Tdawg Tesseract says:

    Impressive video! Definitely deserves a like. That looks like a great and easy way to check spectrums!

  • notionSunday says:

    Good video. You got a great life.

  • M Rdr says:

    Thanks for another great video

  • Joe Gravelle says:

    Are the lights daisy chained off one driver?

  • Nicolas Cage says:

    Very cool way to see the light spectrums, and really interesting results!

  • B. Eaton says:

    Cheap LEDs tend to have a poor spectrum, just like cheap CFLs. Look for a CRI of 95 or higher for high quality light, whatever the technology. Natural light would score a CRI of 100. Even 90 is good, but expect to pay for quality and hope the manufacturer has scruples. Nice trick with the compact disc! Everyone has one of those.

  • phrankus2009 says:

    D'OH  ! … All CF bulbs are NOT created equal (not at ALL) …
    You must shop for a high CRI (COLOR RENDERING INDEX) …
    You want a CRI of .91 or above … WITH LONG PERSISTENCE PHOSPHOR.
    Color TEMPERATURE also plays into it … SO … FULL SPECTRUM, LONG PERSISTENCE WITH A CRI of .91 or higher and COLOR TEMP at NOON ? or Sunset ? …
    COLOR TEMP runs from as low as 3,000 degrees KELVIN to as high as 6.500 degrees KELVIN … So  … I chose something like 5,600'K (noonish) . … You must also COLOR WHITE BALANCE (manually) for realistic rendering. … It takes a few hours to research and read and understand this stuff … It is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

  • TomTomazack says:

    you are quite the scientist!

  • CableWrestler says:

    They are called 'Lamps' not bulbs.
    they're also called CFLs; Compact Fluorescent Lamp

  • David James says:

    I hope you don't get a mouse or a rat in your shop. It will run up your electric bill.

  • David James says:

    How is this a scientific test? Perhaps the CD breaks apart the light in a biased way, not in a way representative of how broadband the spectrum actually is. Shouldn't you be using a prism instead?

  • Tom Angle says:

    I like the motion sensor switch idea.

  • Kolos says:

    Scientific approach!

  • Orion Fyre says:

    those are some pretty powerful lamps for being so low-profile. great for tight quarters like yours

  • Jason Rausch says:

    It runs Windows :o)

  • MrDynamitd says:

    We switched to LED's from cf because of the fire hazard risk. We had 2 bulbs burn and melt into the case holding the spiral glass= and left a terrible smell ,and several crack and break , and they don't last over 3500 hours – not 10000 as stated on the package but here in canada it is more efficient to use regular light bulbs in the winter because what light we get from the bulbs is good and we use the "waste" as heat so replacing this heat source is very seldom factored into the savings when choosing cf or led's

  • ELVIN GARCIA says:

    "It doesn't do anything, it's almost as if it's running Windows"

  • travers114 says:

    Hey Matthias, there is a metric that is very handy when choosing light sources, it's called the colour rendering index. Check it out some time. It's a scale of 100, and light sources that give a perfect representation of visible light will score 100. The only lights that do that are burning bodies, incandescents and the sun. All other sources will score less, but it'll give a pretty good idea if an LED or Fluorescent source will accurately represent colours if they score high on this metric.

  • dozer says:

    windows is slow? lol

  • Ernst's Blog says:

    Interesting video! What color temperature do the LED strips have?

  • Sean Flanagan says:

    Great vid, packed with your trademark thoughtful analysis and application. Thank you!
    And kudos to Jim Uno for his generousity; blessings on him and his company.

  • Karl Kelley says:

    Not sure why (maybe it's my physics background), but this is one of the most interesting videos you've done. (Not that your others aren't interesting…just this one was especially so!) LOL

  • J Hayes says:

    You are a genius. Thanks for the great work.

  • RyuDarragh says:

    The spectrum of the "white" LEDs is due to the phosphor. They're actually high power blue with a phosphor that converts some of the blue to a very broad output peaking in the orange part of the spectrum.

  • mactsk says:

    put a servo in that lights and control it's tilt with a potentiometer on your table!!!

  • Lior Singer says:

    wow! great video!

  • Joe Gravelle says:

    I bought a few to convert my garage.

  • carefulfelix says:

    I love the use of the CD as a spectral analyser! Great video Matthias.

  • Igor Naverniouk says:

    Using a CD for spectral analysis is ingenious!

  • Led Zep says:

    Great job
    I have converted my 4 ft fluorescent fixtures to LED as the ballasts fail. I purchased about 50 E27 sockets on ebay. I purchased 100 wat eq led bulbs from home depot and got the Ontario discount. I put 4 bulbs per fixture, so the total cost per fixture to convert was about $15.
    Much better light.

  • Joe Feser says:

    Not sure what you are shooting this with but the quality when you say the CFL are shit at ~2:00 is amazing.

  • Stamatis T says:

    Hi Matthias, greetings from Greece. Another big fan of you and your videos here.
    I've changed most of the bulbs in home and T8 tubes workshop with LED equivalents. Besides the better color spectrum and the economy, you get a major benefit. They have no UV radiation at all. Especially outdoors, they do not gather mosquitoes and other night bugs.

  • Jack Gamboa says:

    Brilliant topic, three different lighting systems compared, effortlessly explained, demonstrated using a CD as a prism! No shitty music, quick pace, well shot, lit and edited. Bravo!

  • Granulated says:

    Why don't you just 'grade' your footage in post ?

  • Latvian Phil says:

    Sort of related to this topic: I have been buying LED replacement lamps for my home for a couple of years now. Probably have put in 15 or so of them. What is a riot is that they advertise a "45 year life" when used at xx hours per day. Well – I have chucked 3 of them so far that have failed in the last year – and they are not on all of the time. I am guessing it is the cheap electronics they put in – and not the actual LEDs. So much for saving money! Great site you have Matthias . . .

  • Ivan says:

    Nice video…beakman 😀

  • He Ka says:

    The motion sensor lighting should be standard in every home.

  • CrackHack says:

    Matthias, I have a confession to make…The first video I ever watched out yours, is the one where you were sucking up yellow jackets out of your shop. I found you to be an odd lot, and almost wrote you off, but, I thought I'd give you another chance, and to my satisfaction! I found you to be not only intelligent, but quite the craftsman to boot! Thank you my friend! And here's to second chances😀

  • Garrett Robles says:

    Sweet! I was wavering on subscribing as I have so many channels I already subscribe to, but I'm a sucker for cool LED info SUBSCRIBED! Keep it up!

  • Andy Bushnell says:

    the metal reflectors absorb a fair amount of light. The strip is more direct.

  • Michael Quigley says:

    I loved using the box with the slit to do spectroscopy on the lights. I had no idea a cd would spread the spectrum so well. More videos like this please.

  • E Smith says:

    This is blowing my mind. This is an unheard of trick with the CD. It's sooo simple and effective. Great video Matthias.

  • techdetech says:

    nice video
    I make also LED Videos

  • Adrian Williams says:

    You now on the official Windows blacklist. Love it.

  • Ayrow says:

    I've had interesting results using LED with motion activation switches.
    For the most part, the LED lights I've used flicker badly when hooked to a motion detector of any kind.
    I have a theory as to why, but I wish you the best of luck with that.

  • Cool h says:

    Thank you for the CD trick!

  • Chris Koss says:

    Another great video!

  • Haunt_Coasters says:

    Companies think LED's produce no heat. Not true. I purchased some LED lights for my basement and they actually burned out quicker than my normal lights because they weren't heat synced. waste of my money

  • Dead Freight West says:

    You could adjust the white balance of your camera to get rid of the green, but I agree: LEDs are the way to go.

  • Joe Blow says:

    The motion sensor works great in practice but did it ever go out on you when sitting still while doing bench work?

  • Tim Ramich says:

    Both technologies use a phosphor to make white light, so they aren't ever going to be much different in terms of how they look.

  • Persona Charles says:

    if you use the CF and spruce you won't have to paint it green!

  • Roller Coaster Maniac says:

    what about classic incandescent bulbs?

  • Devin says:

    When you said you wanted the offset swivel mount I thought you were going to say "but that's for another video" like most content producers would say. Then you cut to yourself making it; what a treat! That is why I liked your video. It is obvious that you have a passion and do this not only for yourself but also for others. Good Luck with future endeavors :D.

    – With great respect, Toast

  • Evert Chin says:

    it is almost like running windows

  • schwabentutorials says:

    Why would it even drain power to ground? Are there no RCD's in canada?

  • Adam Hosein says:

    Got a two questions, what is the average lifespan of these LED strips and how would On-Off cycles affect its lifespan?

  • MSI2k says:

    Almost running Windows hah.

  • Sedokun says:

    Best explanation of CRI I've seen so far.

  • Constant Throwing says:

    Dude you are awesome. Absolutely subbed.

  • Brijesh Chauhan says:

    I have the same motion sensor switch but the I can't get it to auto turn ON after a certain amount of time. I turn it on manually and it shuts off automatically after the preset amount of time, it waits for about a min to check if there is any motion. If there is any motion within one min, it will auto turn on but if not then it will permanently turn off until the next time I manually turn it on.

    It would be good to have it always on auto. Any suggestions?

  • THEtechknight says:

    white LEDs have a peak at blue, because white LEDs start off as blue dies.

  • Mark Holm says:

    When comparing brightness by eye, the green content of the light is dominant, because the human response to light of different colors is highly non-linear and peaks in the green, about 520nm. See Luminosity function in Wikipedia.

    A significant amount of research indicates that blue light, in a fairly narrow range around 475nm is most important for synchronizing circadian rhythms and may be the most important in the various psychological effects attributed to light exposure.

  • Regolith says:

    I'd like to see what kind of spectrum older bulbs put out (pre LED/Fluorescent)

  • Korflog666 says:

    Damn this channel is satisfying.

  • Robert Vernon says:

    I'm interested in the motion sensor switch. Where did you get it, and how much did it cost? Thanks

  • Alexander Simcox says:

    "it's almost like it is running windows…"

  • 2ddw says:

    Got to love it…install some new lights…but…I need some sort of offset swivel…ooooo…another cool project!

  • Just Wondering says:

    Cool test. People who grow weed could check their lights if they knew this trick.

  • MySaw says:

    Excellent information…. I now need to replace all of my CF bulbs… Going to research a bunch of the diy LED video lights.

  • Yonatan24 says:

    Why be reluctant about taking freebies?

    Because of what they'd want in exchange?

  • M Treiser says:

    How many watts are the led ceiling strips?

  • nwimpney says:

    The wood probably looks green because it's not reflecting the red wavelengths that are in the fluorescent light.

  • Joonas Loppi says:

    Dude I always learn kickass shit from your videos! Stay awesome!

  • burritotrap says:

    6:52 really… this is mains just laying on the table. I am questioning the setup, if it is ok to show such a dangerous setup to such a large audience on YT

  • Michael Anderson says:

    Why are there black areas between colors? What is it? Dark matter?

  • Andre Bandarra says:

    Considering installing LEDs in my shop as I get a lot of grief on video from the fluorescents. Does anyone know a good place to buy these style strips with channel and converters here in the UK?

  • LTD Broadband says:

    Thats great, lights go out. I love IT! Made my day

  • LTD Broadband says:

    I am getting into wood working. I am building my self a shop. I am really good with the raspberry pi if you want free help.

  • Gristle Von Raben says:

    This was a very informative video. Thank you for making this.

  • Pythonissam says:

    "because the CF bulbs spectrum are sh*t"

  • Thelonious M says:

    Nice vid Matthias. I like the way you explain things scientifically 2:06 lol. Thanks for confirming my uniformed impression of the light quality coming from CFLs. Are CFLs not also subject to on/off surges (probably not the correct term) which shorten the CFL blub life to that of an incandescent in applications where they are turned off/on frequently?
    btw: why are you making youtube videos? You should be out finding a cure for cancer or putting humans on mars. Glad to have you on youtube though.

  • Erick Acosta says:

    I also like ur videos! But im too broke to donate! 😂 keep it up bud!

  • Will Wyatt says:

    Holy Cow, what genius!!!!!! Using an old CD as a home made spectrum analyzer. No wonder Matthias has 1.2 Million subscribers. What a guy!!!

  • Faye says:

    is this the cri index that flashlights people obsess about?

  • Auto Garden says:

    Did you test some led grow light? eg. mars hydro led , unitfarm led, spectrum king, fluence, etc…

  • MrRoccoMarchegiano says:


  • dene cleal says:

    a person after my own heart, tell it like it is bro, don't hold back.

  • Doug Butler says:

    Wow, look, just wow, nice

  • othello7 says:

    "For the first 30 seconds after power is supplied it wont do anything, its almost like its running windows"

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