I’ve been buying modern forms of light bulbs for almost 15 years now. So when someone asks me, “Are LED light bulbs worth it?” or “Do LED lights really save you money?” I can answer the question. I was more accepting of CFL bulbs than most, but I had some reservations about them. On the other hand, I really like LED bulbs.
LED light bulbs have saved me a lot of money over the years, and they have quite a few advantages besides the money they save you every month on your electric bill. I thought LED light bulbs were worth it five years ago, and I really think so now.
My front porch lights sustained damage in a recent storm, so I looked to replace them. Costco offers the Altair 837016 for about $38, and it has two energy-saving features: It turns itself off if it’s light outside, and it uses LEDs that deliver 950 lumens while consuming 10.5 watts.
And they do it while looking like $40 lights. You can also buy them from Amazon if there isn’t a Costco near you.
Later this week, Philips will be releasing a new, cheap LED bulb at an introductory rate of $5 for a pack of two. They are 800 lumen bulbs, equivalent to a 60w incandescent in light output, use 8.5 watts to give off an impressive 94 lumens per watt, and have a color temperature of 2700K that’s comparable to a soft white incandescent.
Sound good? It ought to, but there’s a catch. Often there is.
So I took the plunge and bought a package of the Ecosmart 40w equivalent soft white LED bulbs last week. As long as you’re aware that it’s not dimmable–let me repeat that, it’s not dimmable–it’s a really good bulb, especially at $10 for a package of two, assuming no local subsidies.
For $5 each, you get 450 lumens of soft white light while consuming only 6 watts of power.
Now that I’ve had a couple of LED bulbs burn out, I can actually give an LED bulb longevity report.
I’ve been buying LED bulbs since 2010, and now I’ve lost three of them. It’s a little disappointing, but two of the bulbs were Philips 420240 bulbs, which are no longer on the market. The first 420240 failed completely within a couple of weeks of getting it, and I exchanged it for a Cree. The second 420240 lasted a shade over two years. Clearly the 420240 just wasn’t a very good bulb, and it accounted for my first LED bulb mortality.
My other failed bulb is one of the early 40W equivalents I bought at either Lowe’s or Home Depot in 2010 or early 2011. So I got about four years out of that one, which is better than Philips at least.
There’s a lot of talk about compact fluorescent life expectancy. I actually tracked my CFL lifespan. Here’s what I found.
I noticed this week that a compact fluorescent bulb in the kitchen had burned out, so this week I bought an LED bulb to replace it. I started writing the dates on bulbs back in 2008 so I could track how long they last. This particular bulb was dated 1-2011. So the bulb lasted 3 years, 8 months. That’s a lot better than a standard incandescent light bulb. I suspect I may have had CFL bulbs last less time than that, but I know I’ve had bulbs last longer, too. The most recent bulb I replaced prior to this one was from 2008.
If your CFL bulbs are burning out early, here are some tips. They work. Remember, my bulbs lasted three years or more.
I have about 16 CFL bulbs left in the house now, and I’ll continue using those until they die. I have around 28 LED bulbs. All in all I prefer LED; they give more lumens per watt, tend to reach full brightness faster, and generally give off a better quality of light, but the biggest advantage–an advantage they have over incandescent bulbs as well–is the complete lack of ultraviolet light so they don’t fade the paint on your walls or the stuff hanging on your walls. Supposedly they don’t attract bugs either, but that seems to not be entirely true. Still, cutting down on ultraviolet light and saving money are good things.
Cree joined Phillips in offering an LED bulb in the 1600-lumen class, suitable for replacing 100W incandescents. The Cree bulb costs $5 less than the Phillips competitor, in unsubsidized markets. (Many utilities subsidize energy efficient bulbs because it’s cheaper than building more power plants. Really.)
I own several Cree 60W equivalents and I’m very happy with them. They’ve been dependable, the price is reasonable, the quality of light is outstanding, they turn on instantly, and, believe it or not, they’re designed and built in the United States.
Now that Cree has four different bulbs at different ratings and three different price points, I weighed the pros and cons of each. Read more
I spied a 3-pack of LED globe bulbs at Costco last week, priced at $20. This is a ridiculously good price on LED globe bulbs–typically I see them at $15 apiece at the home improvement stores. After verifying that, I picked up a package to try out on my next Costco run. While they aren’t the best LED bulbs I’ve seen, they’re easily the best deal I’ve seen on LED globes, and I’ll be buying more of them. Read more
LED lighting seems to change constantly. I read about Cree’s LED bulbs a good 12-18 months ago and they sounded too good to be true. In a way, they were, because you couldn’t buy them anywhere. The wait is finally over–they’re finally available, though only at Home Depot. I tried out their 800-lumen (60W equivalent), 2700K, 9.5W bulb, which currently costs about $13. It’s a good bulb that lives up to the hype.
My latest lighting experiment is a 900-lumen bulb from G7, which is rated at 9 watts and priced at around $16. It’s advertised as equivalent to a 65W incandescent. I’ve had two of them for about two months now, and my initial impressions are favorable overall.