Consumer Reports: Best CFL & LED bulbs

Don't Waste Your Money

The lights are about to go out on the last of the incandescent bulbs.

Popular 60- and 40-watt bulbs will no longer be manufactured come January. But resist the urge to run out and hoard.

Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say energy-saving bulbs are better than ever.

Why you should stop buying incandescents

"Incandescent bulbs are really only cheap if you never turn them on, Consumer Reports says. They cost about eight dollars a year to power. And that's compared with only $1.70 for an LED or CFL," said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, of Consumer Reports.

Most CFLs cost under $3. LEDs are more expensive, $20 to $30 a bulb.

"But even at that price, they still save you about $125 over their lifetime on electrical costs and on the cost of replacing bulbs," said Lehrman.

And LEDs have advantages.Why buy LED

        -LED's can last for decades, more than twice as long as CFLs.

       -LEDs light instantly, unlike CFLs that can take 30 seconds or more to reach full brightness.

       -Many LED bulbs are dimmable. Most CFLs are not.

Mark Thielking with the Energy Improvement Corporation has switched to LED lights throughout his home.

"The light's great. The turn-on time is very quick, and the fact that I don't have to change bulbs very often is even better," said Thielking.

Consumer Reports has tested more than 750 CFLs and LED bulbs. The lab measures warm-up time, light distribution, and how long the bulbs last.

The best LEDs outperformed the CFLs on all counts

Best Buys

For 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports named two $20 LED bulbs "Best Buys" - one is the 3M LED Advanced Light.

The other is the Utilitech Warm White LED, which is sold at Lowe's. A smaller 40 watt version is just $10.

Both produce a white light that's dimmable.

If you can't bear to spend $20 on a light bulb, consider CFLs instead. Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated Walmart's Great Value Soft White CFL. It costs $1.25 a bulb.

And earlier this year, Consumer Reports tested the $10 Cree LED bulb from Lowe's, giving it a good rating.

To help you find the right bulb for every room in your house, Consumer Reports has developed a comprehensive guide, which is available at:

As always, don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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