Friday, February 3, 2017

TorchStar LED Lights at Amazon: Lost in Translation

I have made a trial purchase for evaluation of this new LED disk light from TorchStar . Best pricing and service is via Amazon . Discovery is by search of LED Disk Light, at

At 800 lumens, these are brighter than my immediate need, of hallway, closet and over-bath/shower, where I have preferred 475 lumens 4" Glimpse lights. The need has been satisfied until now for nearly all of my customers, by 60 to 100 watt incandescent bare bulbs, and their CFL equivalents up to 26 watts. The wish with ever-lasting LED lights is of draw less than 9 watts, with no thought of dimming. I find the 4" Glimpse a perfect match in the (useful) downward illumination from a now-history 100 watt incandescent. In a closet, the bare bulbs were banned as awful fire hazard and/ or head-butt injury risk, and yet new homes even, are built with cheapest porcelain lampholder fixtures demanding at-risk bulbs.

I am about to say awful things about the TorchStar luminaires, that arrived promptly. Before getting down to business, add one more aside, that I have perhaps found my wished-for improvement upon 4" Glimpse of about the ideal 500 lumens unit of light for eight-foot ceilings, in another offering seen in the above Amazon search. It is GetInLight 4 Inch LED Disk Light with Surface Mount or Recessed, Soft White 3000K, Matte White Finish, ETL Wet Location Listed, IN-0301-1-WH . It is 550 lumens, and I have one on order. I need a dozen for my job-in-progress, but have learned caution. Another option for the job is purchase of 4" Glimpse directly from Lighting Science . Glimpse lights are back and somewhat-reasonably priced, but are unimproved over three years of rapid advances in LED technology.

Now, about those TorchStar lights!

It is a decent package, but wasteful where never sold in stores, and not even directly by the importer. It is not the contractor pack I wish and sometimes find, of all-recyclable least volume.

Read the Lighting Facts label:
800 lumens
13 watts

I care only about the 4" J-box installation, and report important graphic error. 

Here are all of the box contents, with disassembly as needed for installation. The rim is pried from the light engine assembly and lens. Then rotate the lens to separate from the cast-metal light engine body with its box-mounting keyholes. The useful keyholes are those not visible, behind white plastic inserts that are pushed out from the body back-side. Do not fail to reapply the covers of the 3.5"-spaced junction box keyways, as darkness would show through the lens. Covers are important too for stopping light-seeking bugs guiding by stars as up. The covers still leave tempting space for tiny bugs. Without covers, expect crickets even, The bug-admission path is mainly via unsealed can lights or junction boxes open to dark above-ceiling spaces.An ungasketed rim-to ceiling interface won't let out much light, but can be a bug path. The distance between rim and ceiling forced by the gasket, is ugly. Gaskets will often be discarded, and not missed. 

Missing instructions and the wrong second graphic confuse a first-time installer. Printed instructions translated in English have needless deficits.

Damning comment? Here comes worse.

Look at the tiny single diode producing all 800 lumens output. Look at the ugly needlessly-visible keys that engage the rim to the light engine. This setup is for illustration only; the lens is not detachable through the rim.

The lens opening is 107.25 mm diameter. 
The diode yellow phosphor is 0.27” diameter.
The diode is 8.8 mm diameter, 60.8 sq mm area.

800 lumens output is 13.2 lumens per sq mm diode luminance vs. ideal 1.0, an order of magnitude more-glaring than is necessary. The array luminance is affordably less than 0.5 lumens per sq mm with diode dispersion, and it is here that the TorchStar is most cruel.

I am so disappointed where lights suitable to me are becoming less available despite progress with LED design. I rejected Nicor DLS4 upon glare complaint by a customer, returning an inventory, as defective. Next, Lowe's stores went really-nuts in glare, with their Utilitech 0752125 replacement of low-glare 900 lumens Sylvania 70732. Then Cost Less Lighting discontinued their low-glare lights and stopped selling online. My current customer will be inconvenienced with an array of old lights while I seek a suitable light, preferably of about 500 lumens. Accepting that lights hereafter might best come via Amazon, and that Amazon is growing its offerings, I have discovered GetInLight offerings , and believe they have decent glare numbers. The 4" light has diode luminance of 2.36 lumens per mm2, and array luminance of 0.22 lumens per mm2.  I am ordering all sizes. GetInLight LEDs will be the subject of my next blog post.

The values of diode luminance and array luminance for the TorchStar are insanely large. Contrast this fact, to TorchStar web site assertion:

My eyes see insane brightness and dancing dots within a two-inch circle. My standard for photo comparison, a Canon digital photo without flash, shows a spread glare center, unlike the photo above, perhaps with detail obscured by a bright flash.

See too, the ugly lens-mount keyways.

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