I’VE ALWAYS been perplexed that the dim-to-warm category of LED lamps has remained so niche.
These light sources mimic the much-loved incandescent lamp by becoming a warmer colour temperature when dimmed.
Typically they go from an undimmed 2700K to a dimmed 2200K by using a mixture of cool and warm LEDs.
Their performance has increased enormously over the last 10 years, but they remain stubbornly hard to get, even in large supermarkets and DIY stores.
I suspect the lighting industry has bamboozled the light bulb-buying public to such an extent that the punters are delighted if they return home with a lamp that fits into the base at all.
The big brands in the niche are the Philips Warm Glow, the LEDvance GLOWdim and Megaman’s Dim to Warm range and pretty good they all are too.
Entering the fray this month is the Chinese-made Light Engine from British start-up Tala, its first dim-to-warm offering.
This is a beast of an entirely different pedigree. Everything about it says I Am A Serious Bit Of Kit.
Instead of the traditional shape, the company has gone for a corn-lamp format.
It’s black, it’s heavy (five times the weight of a standard A-shape) and it’s got 129 surface-mounted LEDs on it.
The largest in the range delivers a stonking 3,000lm. Grrrr.
Happily, it has a performance to match. It dims beautifully, even with some of the crappy leading-edge dimmers we used in our bench test.
It has 66 cool-white LEDs and 63 warm-white LEDs, with the latter dominating while dimmed.
It smoothly moves from 2700K to 2200K while maintaining a CRI of 95 and less than 5 per cent flicker.
The colour rendering is superb (CRI 95) and the rendering of red is pretty good too (R9 65). Efficiency is a respectable 95lm/W.
It’s available in three lumen packages: Light Engines I, II and III deliver 1000lm, 2000lm and 3000lm respectively.
The 11W Engine I has an E14/small Edison screw base, is 104 mm high and costs £40 including VAT.
The 22W Engine II – the version we tested – has a standard E27 Edison screw base, has a height of 146mm and costs £49 including VAT.
The pokey 32W Light Engine III also has an E27 base, is 220 mm high and costs a wallet-busting £60 including VAT.
Its military-style build quality gives confidence to the claimed lifetime of 30,000 hours at L70 B50.
However there’s a couple of things to think about before you order a few for your M1 Abrams.
First, remember that a standard A-shape light bulb is around 110mm high so you’ll need to pretty sure that the Light Engines are going to fit into your luminaire before ordering.
Second, these will work best while completely obscured by a diffuser.
Verdict: Pricey-but-worth-it lamps with top-notch performance.