EcoSmart LED light teardown

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3990 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3990 Articles

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Home Depot is now selling a $20 EcoSmart LED bulb — it’s dimmable, even! Margery Conner, of Electronics Design News, got one and went medieval on it to figure out what makes it tick — or in this case, glow.

I love this process of deconstructing a piece of hardware, looking up the datasheets for the components, figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of the design, etc. Here’s a bit of what she learned:

Not the usual intense light sources we’ve seen in other LED lights: These are large surface-area LEDs that make for a very pleasant diffuse light source. And the light only requires two of them to put out 429 lumens at 8.6W.

Well, I couldn’t find a manufacturer’s label, but there is an apparent part number; AM6L1, and the part looks like an LED array, meaning that, rather than a single emitter, the LED packages up several tiny LED chips in one package and covers them with a single phosphor. It’s a good choice to use such a diffused light source – no pixilation.

The e-cap (just partially visible to the right) is potential weak link and this design uses a good-quality part. Compared to other LED lights, this one has relatively little hand-soldering. As we know from Geoff Potter’s research, solder joints are the Achilles’ heel of LED lighting reliability. Going with a highly-integrated LED driver part like the LM3445 in itself gets rid of a lot of solder joints.

If you enjoy these sorts of teardown investigations, stay tuned…. We have a contest coming up to challenge you to peer under the hood of some of your gadgets and tell us what you discover. [Thanks, Tim Slagle!]

Home Depot’s $20 EcoSmart LED light: What’s inside?

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