Shining a light on improved LED bulbs
Published Thursday, August 23, 2012 4:02PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 7:37PM PDT
When it comes to light bulbs, nearly 75 percent of North Americans are now using CFLs.
Far fewer have tried LEDs. They're expensive, but Consumer Reports tests show they're well worth considering.
Consumer Reports tested both types and says LEDs have some real advantages.
In the test, light bulbs were turned on and off every two minutes. Some CFLs burnt out, but all the LEDs are still going strong after 200,000 cycles.
Unlike CFLs, some LEDs can be dimmed as low as an incandescent bulb.
Another plus is that they come to full brightness instantly.
Consumer Reports also tests light bulbs' brightness and color temperature inside a sphere.
"We found that some LEDs have the same warm glow as incandescent," Dan DiClerico said.
But not all LED bulbs are stellar. One Miracle-LED claims to be equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent, but it's not as bright as a 40-watt bulb. And while it's long lasting, it gives off a strange bluish-white light.
With all LEDs, the big disadvantage is the price. Many cost $20 or more per bulb.
"LEDs are more expensive, but they're designed to last so long -- 23 years or more -- that you'll likely save about $130 over their lifetime," DiClerico said.
Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports rated a 12.5-watt Philips that produces a warm, yellow light. It retails for $30.
Consumer Reports says prices of LEDs are coming down and are expected to continue to drop. And unlike CFLs, LEDs don't contain any mercury, which means cleanup is easier if a bulb happens to break.