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Choosing a 60-watt lightbulb for a quarter, $1.50 or $40

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Home Security Updated: September 20, 2011 - 9:20 AM

A lot of people still get crabby about the switch from incandescent to spiral CFLs and the newer LEDs. FYI, as many as 22 incandescent bulbs, including 40 watt appliance lights and 3-ways, will still be sold after the ban. Consumers can still use their incandescents and stores can still them, but manufacturers can't make the most inefficient ones.

Lightbulbs used to be an easy purchase--choose brand name or the store brand. Either way it was cheap and the products were all basically the same regardless of brand. The main difference was that some burned out more quickly. Then the spiral CFLs came along and the color, brightness, warm-up time and longevity were practically an unknown unless you spent a lot of time reading labels and staring at retail light displays.

Now the new LED bulbs cost $20 to $60 for a single bulb and they suffer from some of the same unknowns. That's why Consumer Reports has to compare and contrast even the ordinary lightbulb.

Here are some of its findings from the October issue.

If you want a cheap 60 watt CFL rated highly for brightness, rapid on, short warm up, and good light distribution, try the EcoSmart 60 watt soft white (423-599 ESSM8144) available at Home Depot and other stores for $1.50 each. It can be placed in an enclosed fixture inside or outside but it cannot be dimmed or used in a timer or motion detector. If you want one that works in an electronic timer or motion detector, try the Feit Electric EcoBulb Plus 60W ESL13T/5/ECO for about $2 a bulb. Menards usually carries Feit.

 

If you're willing to spend a lot on the new LED bulbs, try one of the Philips Ambient LED 60 watt bulbs from Home Depot for $40. I bought one about a year ago and really like it. Consumer Reports gave it its highest rating in the 36 bulbs tested. Most of the LEDs I've tried take a second to light but there is no warm-up. They are at maximum brightness immediately. If you want to experiment with one LED bulb, this is the one. It's dimmable and can be used in an outdoor fixture that is covered but not fully enclosed. Because it creates a little heat, putting it in an enclosed fixture will shorten its life. (By the way, LEDs contain no mercury.)

 

The Philips Ambient is supposed to last 25,000 hours. That means they will take four to 10 years to pay for themselves, but LEDs save $65 to $400 in energy use over the 18-46 year life span of an LED compared to an incandescent, said Consumer Reports.

If you're looking for highly rated floods, refectors or post lights, the article reviews some of them too. I was happy to learn that today's CFL bulbs now contain 60 to 75 percent less mercury than in 2008, according to Consumer Reports.

Any other early adopters who want to comment on LEDs?

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