Updated on 04.29.15

Light Bulb Showdown: LED vs. CFL vs. Incandescent

At today's prices, switching to LED light bulbs is finally an easy decision.

switching a light bulb

Efficient LED light bulbs used to cost upwards of $100 apiece. With prices now down in the single digits, it’s much easier to make the switch. Photo: Cree via Facebook

Just a couple decades ago, light bulbs were light bulbs. No matter your budget, you really had only one choice when it came to interior lighting options for your home: Head to the hardware store and pick up some incandescent bulbs, choosing a wattage based on how bright you needed the light to be.

But in recent years, technology has brought us bulbs — namely, CFLs and LEDs — that put incandescent lighting to shame. Not only are these new options more energy efficient, they can also last years, or even decades, longer than the standard light bulb we all remember from our childhoods.

And while prices for LED light bulbs were astronomical when we first covered this topic just a few years ago — upwards of $100 for one bulb — you can now pick up a cheap, 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulb for less than $5.

That’s probably why incandescent light bulbs are being phased out: An almost complete ban on their sale started in 2014 and will take full effect in 2020. Simply put, they waste a lot of energy and don’t last very long.

As incandescent light bulbs around the country burn out for the last time, let’s look at the other options available. Cost will obviously be a factor as you make your decision, but there are other variables you should consider as well.

CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs: What’s the Difference?

Let’s examine the two most popular new light bulb options, CFLs and LEDs, and look at the advantages and disadvantages that come with each.

CFLs: Compact Fluorescent Lights

According to EnergyStar.gov, CFLs work differently than incandescent bulbs in that, instead of running an electric current through a wire filament, they drive an electric current through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. This process creates ultraviolet light that quickly translates into visible light, unlike incandescent lights which put off a warm glow.

The big difference between CFLs and incandescent bulbs is how much energy it takes to use them over time. CFLs use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last years longer than traditional bulbs, and only cost about a dollar more per bulb.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks of CFLs is that it takes a few moments for them to warm up and reach full brightness. That means they’re not ideal in spots where you want lots of light as soon as you flip the switch, such as a dark, steep basement stairway. They also cannot be used with a dimmer switch.

Plus, modern CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which is very harmful to both your health and the environment. That means it’s bad news to break one (here’s how to clean it up safely if you do), and they shouldn’t be disposed of in your regular household trash (here’s how to recycle them).

LEDs: Light-Emitting Diodes

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, were for years most commonly found in small electronic displays, such as the clock on your cable box. Because the light emitted by each tiny LED is directional and fairly weak, household LED bulbs were on the fringe of mainstream technology just a few years ago.

According to the Lighting Research Center, LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed.

What sets LEDs apart from incandescent bulbs and CFLs is just how long they can last. According to Consumer Reports, LED light bulbs can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market.

But that combination of efficiency and durability has historically come at a cost. LEDs cost more money than CFLs and incandescent bulbs. The good news, however, is that their price has dropped considerably over the years.

Where once it was common to pay $50 or even $100 for an LED light bulb, they’re now available for about $8 a bulb on Amazon. IKEA sells its own 60W-equivalent LED light bulbs for just $5, and Home Depot is reportedly running a promotion in May that will discount Philips LED light bulbs to as low as $2.50 per bulb.

Comparing Costs: CFLs vs. LEDs

When most people need to replace their light bulbs, cost is the biggest factor in their decision. But the actual cost includes more than just the upfront price of each bulb you buy; you should also factor in how much each option will cost to operate over the years.

As with most things, it turns out a bit of money spent today can often lead to substantial savings in the long run.

Buying one quality bulb that lasts decades is less expensive in the long run than buying a dozen or more cheaper ones that keep burning out.

And then there’s the cost of the electricity used to light the bulb: Utility prices vary by state and by season, of course, but in 2013 residential electricity customers paid an average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour in the United States. Both CFLs and LEDs use considerably less electricity than traditional bulbs.

Here’s how much each type of bulb would cost to purchase and operate over a 25,000-hour lifespan (about 23 years at three hours per day):

Incandescent CFL LED
Approximate cost per bulb $1 $2 $8 or less
Average lifespan 1,200 hours 8,000 hours 25,000 hours
Watts used 60W 14W 10W
No. of bulbs needed for 25,000 hours of use 21 3 1
Total purchase price of bulbs over 23 years $21 $6 $8
Total cost of electricity used (25,000 hours at $0.12 per kWh) $180 $42 $30
Total operational cost over 23 years $201 $48 $38

As you can see, buying longer-lasting, more efficient light bulbs can really pay off over time. Over a 23-year period, it will cost you over $200 (and many trips to the hardware store) to keep one 60-watt lamp lit with incandescent bulbs. By comparison, it would cost just $48 using a handful of CFLs, or $38 using a single LED light bulb — a savings of more than $150 either way.

How Much Could You Save?

Now consider that those savings are from just one bulb. Think about the number of lights in your house — some fixtures, like chandeliers or ceiling fans, probably even use three bulbs or more. If you replaced 20 incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs throughout your home, you could save up to $3,260 over their 23-year lifespan (and that’s assuming utility rates don’t rise).

Still, you don’t even have to make that big of a commitment to realize some significant savings. Switching just the five most-used lights in your home — for instance, the lights in your living room, kitchen, and entryway, which are probably in use closer to four hours a day — could save you around $44 a year on your electric bill.

Other Ways to Compare CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs

Let’s put cost aside for a moment and look at these lighting options based solely on quality and other important factors. Here are some pros and cons of CFLs vs. LEDs:

CFL Light Bulbs


  • Use less energy than incandescent bulbs
  • Cost less than LED light bulbs
  • Produce extremely bright light that spreads evenly
  • Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues


  • Cannot be used with a dimmer switch
  • Take a few moments to heat up and reach full brightness
  • Contain mercury, a toxic heavy metal
  • Can be sensitive to cold temperatures

LED Light Bulbs


  • Light up immediately, like an incandescent bulb
  • Don’t heat up much at all – they stay cool to the touch even after use
  • Last up to five times longer than CFLs; can literally last a lifetime
  • No sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • Do not contain mercury
  • Some models can be used with a dimmer switch
  • Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues


  • Directional light that may not spread as evenly as other sources
  • Currently cost more than CFLs

CFL vs. LED Light Bulbs: Who Wins?

After conducting research using my own personal experience and expert sources like Consumer Reports and EnergyStar.gov, I’ve concluded that it’s hard to beat the value offered by modern LEDs. Not only are their prices getting more affordable every day, they also lasts up to decades longer than the competition.

With soft and warm white hues that mimic the glow of traditional incandescent bulbs, the ability to use some models with a dimmer switch, and their instantaneous illumination, LEDs are simply a better option around the house than CFLs.

It’s Your Home, Your Choice

The bottom line: Sometime in the very near future, you probably won’t be able to buy any more incandescent light bulbs, even if you wanted to. If you’re not one to embrace change, that might seem rather depressing. However, you do have a few options. You can either:

  • Run out to the score and stock up on a few decade’s worth of the cheap, inefficient bulbs you’re used to.
  • Slowly replace burned-out bulbs with low-cost CFLs, while taking special care to dispose of them properly 10 years down the road.
  • Gradually replace your old bulbs with LEDs that may last a lifetime.

Personally, I would choose what’s behind door No. 3. Prices for LEDs are lower than they’ve ever been (and continue to get more competitive), and they are the most durable, efficient home lighting option on the market. It’s hard to argue against a product that more than pays for itself in energy savings and might last for the rest of your life.

You don’t have to make a huge commitment now. If you want, you can upgrade to more efficient lighting one room at a time, or as old light bulbs burn out. Or start with installing an LED light bulb in a hard-to-reach spot, like a cathedral ceiling fixture, since you won’t have to replace it for many, many years.

There is no right or wrong way to make the switch. But the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start saving.

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  1. Jules says:

    Thanks for this “illuminating” article!

    I’ve been in the process of replacing the incandescents here with CFLs, but the news (at least, the green beats) has been hinting at LEDs for a while. I think we’ll stick with CFLs–at least, until they get the directional lighting fixed.

  2. Michael says:

    Good post. I didn’t realize LEDs were so expensive. Thank you for investigating for the rest of us.

  3. KC says:

    Thanks for the comparison – very interesting and enlightening. I didn’t know much about LED bulbs. But they look so cool, I’d have to take the shades off my lamps so people could see my cool light bulbs – LOL!

    I’m a big reader so I like good lighting. I, too, will be keeping an eye on the price of LED bulbs thanks to your article.

  4. Connie says:

    Awesome post! I’m a huge fan of these long-term cost comparisons for things that everyone uses such as light bulbs. Thanks for a really interesting read!

  5. Gabriel says:

    Great post! Right now I use CFLs for all of my light sources – I feel like the environmental cost is fairly even because of the mercury hazards of CFLs, but I do like the energy savings :)

    I can’t wait for LEDs to become more common. In the meantime, I’m finding different, less expensive ways to be green. My pride and joy is a jewelry and supplies business, where I make beads and jewelry out of paper. It looks quite stunning, if I say it myself :) http://gabrielgirl.etsy.com

  6. Scotty says:

    Great article, fascinating read.

    It would be nice to see more articles on other energy saving products around the home. It would be interesting to see, if nothing else, what the costs of certain things like Solar are these days.

    But this was definitely interesting. Didn’t realize LED bulbs were so expensive, given how cheap they are otherwise. The cost is entirely a production volume issue, once a couple mainstream company’s like GE or Sylvannia come on board, you’ll see the costs drop massively. LED’s are very simple implement, so I think you’ll see costs drop like a rock in the coming months/years.

  7. Kenny says:

    Check this out:

    “now that UK materials scientists have discovered a cheaper way to produce LED bulbs, which are three times as efficient as fluorescent lamps.”

    “A 15-centimetre silicon wafer costs just $15 and can accommodate 150,000 LEDs making the cost per unit tiny. That levels the playing field with CFLs, which many people only ever saw as a stopgap solution to the lighting problem.”

  8. Johanna says:

    I really like these “run the numbers” type of posts. But I think there might be more to think about here. 30,000 hours is an awfully long time. If the light is only on for 3 hours a day (which is typical for many of the lights I use), it will last more than 27 years. What are the odds that sometime in the next 27 years, you’ll want to replace your light bulbs even if they haven’t burned out? Maybe some new and better light bulbs will be developed, maybe the lamp itself will break and you’ll get a new lamp that requires a different power output, maybe you’ll move house and the light bulbs will get lost in the shuffle. Something to think about.

    Also, I have CFLs in my apartment, and they don’t take anywhere near 5 seconds to light up. Could some kinds of CFLs be better than others? (I have no idea what kind mine are – my landlord bought them for me.)

  9. Eric says:

    I think there are some typos in this article… you mention LED and CFL in several places where you really meant “incandescent.” And vice versa.

  10. Ryan says:

    Nice post! I’ve actually been watching that GeoBulb for a long while now. I see that they’re finally actually in stock (as of the moment anyway).

    Nice to see some numbers run with them as well, though I would have liked to see some shots of the room/floor where you were experimenting with those.

    Thanks for the article!

  11. Burger says:

    Here you go, a new way to make inexpensive white LEDs that will be commercialized within a few years: http://newscientist.com/article/dn16496-cheap-superefficient-led-lights-on-the-horizon.html
    I did the math for a large workshop which uses 12 large 100 watt spotlights: LEDs pay off in energy savings within one normal bulb replacement cycle. For some applications LED bulbs already make perfect sense.

  12. Scott says:

    As everyone else has said, “Nice post.” Thanks for doing all the leg work for us. Keep up the informative posts.

  13. Dave says:

    It’s worth mentioning that CFL’s burn out much quicker if they’re turned on/off frequently. For something like a hall closet, or garage, where you only need a few minutes of light at a time, CFL’s might be more expensive than incandescents. I don’t believe LED’s will have this problem.

  14. maggie says:

    I think we will wait for the price to come down quite a bit…I bought one of those true color lights for my detail work on projects, and also one for my mother in law to use in reading. The bulbs are $50 each (I get them on sale!), but I did not buy replacements because the life estimate on them was longer than I expected either my mother in law or I would need the lamps. Life happens, though, and my mother in law knocked over her lamp and broke the bulb. THis is what I would worry about happening to any $119 light bulb I might buy.

  15. Andy says:

    Great article. Watch the typos, though.

  16. Stacey says:

    Dave, I heard the same thing. Apparently, CFL’s are only cost efficient if they are used for 15 minutes or longer, due to the burn-out factor and warm-up time.

    We’ve got CFL’s in all of our major lamps, that tend to be on for at least a half hour – living room, bedroom, office. For the garage, ect. we still use incandescents.

    Great post, important topic. Isn’t it great when we can save money and the environment?

  17. urbantux says:

    Good article, I haven’t seen the comparison to LED bulbs before, I was surprised at the cost of the bulbs, I can’t wait till the prices come down on them though.

  18. Colin says:

    Two points:

    1) It costs money to remove that heat during the summer. A 9000 BT/hr (~2600 W) A/C unit probably would use about 1000 W of power. That can add significant cost (by my mental estimation).

    2) An important factor that you left out is lumens. Different lights have different luminous efficacies. Incandescent is about 2% and LEDs and CFLS are around 10%. Efficacy is *the* reason why street lights are sodium vapor.

    Both these points will change the results of your numbers. Give ’em a try.

  19. Great post, Trent! Thanks!

    Johanna, that’s a very good point regarding the LEDs.

    My CFL’s don’t take 5 seconds to turn on, but they definitely take at LEAST five seconds(and probably longer) to reach their full brightness.

  20. SuSu says:

    Great cost comparison, but I would also like to know about the wastes created in the manufacturing processes and the disposal/recycling processes for each of these as well, to see how they compare. Along with cost, environmental impact is also a factor in making purchases for me.

  21. DivaJean says:

    I haven’t embraced CFLs because of the mercury- and my toddlers propensity to play with lamps.

    Good to know better options are coming down the pike.

  22. JS says:

    Over 27 years will the cost of energy stay at .10 cents/KWH? Where I live, there are already talks about raising electricity prices from artificially subsidized values.

    Good post, though, Lot of effort. Thanks.

  23. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the great comparison. Why not factor in the large upfront cost and see how much the incandescents can save if you would invest the balance of the upfront cost (of the LED bulb) at 5% interest over the 30,000 hour lifespan of the bulb? Just a thought.

  24. Tate says:

    I like this article. I’d like a more scientific description of the light output, but I could look that up.
    Also, being that LEDs are becoming all the rage – and that LED string “Christmas” lights are affordable, I would hope an LED bulb would be 20 bucks this year (2009). I already saw Costco had LED flood lights for something like $20 or so (they were only 45 watt equivalent I think but we are CLOSE and demand is high it seems) .

  25. Sara says:

    Wow, if I had LED bulbs I would live in fear of breaking one! 30,000 hours of light in the trash…

  26. Ian P. says:

    I like the durability of CFLs. If you accidentally knock over a lamp with an old fashioned incandescent, the tiny filament inside will likely break (dislodge).
    CFLs on the other hand can handle getting knocked around a bit. My kids are always knocking over lamps, and the CFL’s seem to really take a beating.

  27. Bill in NC says:

    LEDs work very well right now for task lighting.

    I’m getting ready to replace all my buzzy fluorescent tube under-cabinet lights in the kitchen with LED strip lighting.

  28. Philip in Seattle says:

    Fluorescent lights are my number one migraine headache trigger, and do for countless other migraine sufferers. I’m holding off for next generation LED’s by bypassing CFL’s entirely! No amount of savings is worth more frequent migraines.

  29. The Personal Finance Playbook says:

    Great post. I’ve read before that incandescents produce more heat than light, which, of course is not there intended purpose. I wouldn’t think that it would be a very efficient way to produce heat, either.

  30. Jordan says:

    Thanks for the review. That’s quite a expensive LED Bulb. I personally use CFLs in the majority of my light fixtures.

    I have a small 1watt LED bulb, which I use as my night time desk lamp, basically enough to illuminate my keyboard and desk area. It was $9 on ebay, free shipping. It also claims something like 30,000 hours of operating life, but I highly doubt I’ll get that much out of it.

  31. Kevin says:

    Nice comparison. The only thing that bugs me about the CFLs – and we’ve been using them for a couple of years – is that they seem to last nowhere near the claimed life. I’ve replaced at least half a dozen of them already… and the house is new construction, and the bulbs are GE bulbs. But perhaps my experience is unique.

  32. nickel says:

    I think you’re right that we’ll see major LED price decreases in the near future. Right now, I’d be concerned about bulb breakage as another wildcard factor. If you sink $100+ into a bulb in hopes of saving $50 in the long run, you better be sure you don’t break it. Also, assuming six hours of use per day, 30k hours is 13.7 years. We’ll stick with our houseful of CFLs for now and switch to LEDs as soon as the prices come down into a reasonable range.

  33. Dale says:

    I was in Sam’s a couple of weeks ago and I saw LED lamps for way less than what C.Crane sells them for. I don’t have the exact number but it was on the order of about one third the C.Crane cost. C.Crane isn’t all that cheap on anything they sell.

  34. frugalCPA says:

    Very informative. I won’t go for the LED until they come down in price considerably, but it’s good to know that could be in the relatively near future. Informative, great post!

  35. Adam Z says:

    With incandescents you’re not only paying to cool the heat that came off the bulb, but you had to pay for the heat that came off the bulb to begin with!

    Assuming the LEDs are exactly as bright and that they’re perfectly efficient (both not true, but will work for the sake of argument), then the incandescent bulb is really a 52.5 watt heater, that happens to put off 7.5 watts of light.

    You’re paying once to make the waste heat, once to remove the heat, and if you happen to want to be carbon neutral, twice to buy the carbon credits for the first two.

  36. Karen says:

    According to the packaging, I shouldn’t be replacing my CFL’s for a long time, but that hasn’t been the case. So, I’m not too convinced that a pricey LED will last as long as they claim it will.

  37. Does the incandescent bulb work for 30,000 hours? I thought not, and if not you’d have to replace them more often driving up the cost.

    Did you consider this and I missed it?

    To be really green also have to consider the cost to environment to produce and dispose of and if you use more bulbs, there is more of that issue too.

  38. Nancie says:

    This is a great article except that you paid $120 for your LED bulb. I’ve been buying LEDs for over a year and you WAY overpaid. Also, you didn’t choose a “good” LED bulb for comparison. Let me recommend a better option.

    I suggest you buy the Pharox bulb, which I love! It’s a fraction of the cost of the GeoLED you used. It’s also got a frosted globe and is a “warm white” light. The soft glow of the Pharox is virtually identical to the incandescent, which is why I love it as a substitute or replacement bulb.

    I get my Pharox bulbs on either Eaglelight.com or LEDinsider.com, both of which have excellent prices and offer a 100% money back guarantee. It makes sense to order a Pharox from Eaglelight or LEDinsider and try it out.

    If you’re like me, you’ll love it, and it’s cheap enough that it will blow away the CFL AND the incandescent competition.

  39. Cordately says:

    The city for which I work has replaced all of the traffic signals (over 70 intersections) with LED signal heads. Putting these on meters has netted substantial cost savings over the unmetered monthly payment arrangement with the local utility company for incandescent signal heads. We are also experimenting with LED street lights, but there are still some maintenance issues with those.

    My point is that commercial/industrial scale lighting is going in the direction of LED and is probably the reason why we are beginning to see consumer LED options.

    We have a mix of incandescent and CFL bulbs, and one set of LED task lighting in our home. Our first CFL bulb has traveled with us and been used through 7 apartments and one house over 12 years. It is in our utility room now. Only one of our CFL bulbs has ever burned out.

    We have been pleased with our CFLs and will certainly be happy to try out LEDs when they become more readily available.

  40. Robin says:

    Loved this! Thanks!

  41. Kirk says:

    Personal issues / questions:

    1. My personal experience is that CFLs are not lasting near their claimed life.

    2. Many of the bulbs take a LONG LONG time to get to full brightness and I have had a hard time determining that on the package.

    3. Color temperature is very hard to read by the packaging and seems to be variable.

    4. Be careful with them in ceiling fans as supposedly the vibration can shorten the life.

    5. The dimmer issue with many CFLs is a deal breaker for me in much of our household lighting. How do LEDs do with dimmers?

    Just a personal comment, lighting (and the quality) is extremely important. Its amazing how hard it has been to recreate that soft warm glow of an incandescent.

  42. CanadianKate says:

    The info in comments on this post are almost as good as the post itself!

    I’m having major issues with CFLs lifespan. The first ones I bought did last years, now (perhaps because they are cheaper) they are only lasting 1 – 2 years.

    BUT, from your readers I learn about ceiling fans shortening lifespan and 2 of bulbs that died in less than year were in the kitchen fan/light combo. One of those smoked out (it didn’t just stop working, it started smoking and filled the kitchen with an acrid smell – luckily I had read previously this was a known effect and didn’t panic.)

    As well, the first bulbs were installed in areas where the light was on for long times, now that the bulbs are everywhere, I often walk into a room, flip on the light, find what I’m looking for and flip off the light. So perhaps this is adding to the short-life.

    Since I heat with electricity anyway and live in a place where heat is needed 8 – 9 months of the year (and the remaining 3 months have lonnngggg days so don’t need a lot of lights), I’m hoarding incandescent bulbs (not all stores carry them here because our province is in the process of banning them) and replacing the CFLs with them.

    BTW: I know they say incandescent bulbs only last a fraction of the time but as another poster pointed out, when you are looking at 3 hours of on-time a day, 1300 hours is almost 4 years. And many lightbulbs in my house are on for only a fraction of that time so I have bulbs that are 10 years old and older.

    Finally, it is easy to claim a bulb last 30,000 hours but since they haven’t existed for 30 years, there is no way we can tell if they really will last anywhere that long in real life conditions. Just like CFLs they may start burning out sooner.

    Incandescent is an economical, proven, safe, and long-lasting solution to our lighting needs. I’m not in any rush to walk away from that.

  43. Tom says:

    I think you are shopping for the bulbs at the wrong store. Thinkgeek has them for less than half of the price.


  44. Griffin says:

    I was with you right up until the cost factor for LEDs.

    I buy mine for anywhere from $4-$20, with $20 being for extremely bright lights. Look around online. They sometimes might look a little “funny” compared to incandescent bulbs, but they work extremely well in areas where you simply don’t want to change bulbs often. I’m putting a $10 one in my garage because it’s too high up to comfortably reach and I tend to leave it on because the switch is out of reach as well (so it’s left on a lot).

    For a decent deal on an LED bulb, you will prolly need to look online. I’d list a few sites, but I don’t know if that’s okay or not (email me for more info). They are fairly new to the mainstream US market, so if you go to a hardware store they can be anywhere from $30-$120+ — which is NOT a good deal.

  45. Mom says:

    What an amazing job you’ve done.

    I really enjoyed reading this and found the information to be very useful.

    I’m going to link to this post sometime in the next week so my readers will see this, too.

  46. Julie Andrea says:

    I just replaced my incandescent night light bulbs with LED’s from Dollarama for .. a dollar (of course) each. The LED’s aren’t as bright, but they are fine for a night light. (Yeah yeah .. I know .. I shouldn’t use night lights, but I am afraid / nervous of the dark.)

    I don’t pay my electric bill, it’s included in my rent, but I switched over anyway to CFC’s and I find that they don’t burn out as often as the old incandescent ones.

  47. Sharon says:

    Say, Trent, you can deduct the cost of your LEDs as a business expense… Research,you know.

  48. Mule Skinner says:

    I’ve had several early life failures with CFLs that cost 6 or 7 dollars, so I don’t fully buy their cost advantage. They also dislike a cold environment. If you use it outdoors when the temperature is, say, 0F, it will be very weak.

  49. El Gordo 42 says:

    …about “that soft warm glow of an incandescent.” as mentioned by Kirk (comment #36)
    Here is the comment I made, when I posted a link to the article (on LiveJournal):

    “We have been switching to the CFLs for our home fixtures, just because it sounded like a good idea, eh? We usually get the full spectrum or daylight variety, the light is just so much cleaner. Now a regular incandescent bulb’s light looks like that scary yellow sky before a summer storm.”

    I guess it is a matter of personal preference?

    Anyway, I was quite impressed by the electrical cost numbers, never thought about what an impact they were!

  50. Interesting comparisons. I’m actually shocked at how expensive LED is. I’m sure it will drop rapidly as the technology improves.

  51. Jason says:

    I am so glad to see that incandescent bulbs are losing their popularity. This is evident just by going down the light bulb aisle at almost any store. A large portion of them are taken up with CFLs, and with LEDs coming into play, the traditional, energy-guzzling bulbs will likely be pushed to the bottom corner in the future. Thanks for such a detailed discussion!

  52. Lenore says:

    LOVED this article! I find consumer product evaluations more useful and engaging than book reviews. Also thanks for securing a bulb that cost over $100 for your readers’ benefit. If you bought it, I hope you can return it or that it serves you well for a long, long time. Here’s another topic suggestion: tankless water heaters. I’d love to get an affordable one to save money and reclaim home space.

  53. TheMightyQuinn says:

    Recent I have bought my first CFLs. The color isn’t that bad, but the time it takes to get to full light is a pain! I don’t know why, but that 10+ second wait for full light annoys me to no end.

    The other problem I have is the globe lighting in my bathrooms (I rent.) Each bathroom uses 6 x 40 Watts = 240 Watts. I got some globe CFLs, and the color is unacceptable for a bathroom vanity. I really wish they worked well; I can’t stand wasting all that power!

  54. Chris says:

    Our local Costco has started selling LED flood lights to replace those in our older track lighting. 65 dollars for three, and they replace the 60 watt incandescent equivalent. Also, check with your local power utility as there may be rebates.

    Someone mentioned it also with regard to disposal of CFLs. They contain mercury and are not exactly “great” for the environment when compared with incandescent disposal. I guess it is a darned if you do or don’t: use more power with incandescent bulbs and put out green house gasses, or add to the ever growing pile of mercury polluted landfills.

  55. Yogesh says:

    Just a quik heads up, I have seen LED bulbs in a flood and a warm white @ Sams Club 3 for about $15 @ $5 a pop these should be more viable. In the midwest where I am the CFL bulbs have gotten more expensive over time and not less…I know that California offers a lot of incentives etc which helps them.

  56. Alyson says:

    Great job, Trent! I was going to suggest that you use the warm bulbs in the winter and the cool bulbs in the summer – not for serious – but, you know, if you had to choose. Doze der are some ‘spensive bulbs.

  57. SavingFreak says:

    Sams Clubs are selling LED bulbs for only $7 a piece. this is a far cry from what you are seeing with the geobulb. The down side is the color has not quite been worked out. The best thing I could see most of these for is closets and work stations. I could see replacing all non essential lighting with these bulbs right away.

  58. OneLoveTwoAccounts says:

    I’m a tech nerd too, so I loved this!
    FYI: Home Depo has announced free recycling of CFL bulbs at something like 2000 stores. If you hit their website you can see if there is one near you.

  59. Brian C. says:

    I’ve had several CFLs that burn out after 4-6 months of usage. One even burned out on the 3rd day I was using it. I am not getting anywhere near the claimed 8000 hours lifetime. I don’t fully buy CFLs cost advantage.

  60. L Feldman says:

    It is about time Crane got the Geobulb’s in (six-nine months behind schedule). I have been looking for places to use the bulbs, but my biggest issue is the number of lumens produced. If the Geobulb does indeed produce the needed 800-900 lumens of a 60 watt bulb that will be awsome. The next drawback however is they still need to be in open air fixtures. They will not work in showers or several other areas. Lamps and /or track lighting will be a good start.

  61. Zink says:

    Regarding the ubiquitous worries about mercury in CFLs – you can recycle them for free at any Home Depot store, so ideally there shouldn’t be mercury being added to landfills due to CFLs.

    And 5 seconds to get a CFL to light??? Mine don’t take anywhere near that long. That’s a surprising amount of variance.

  62. Joseph Lyons says:

    What a great article!

    I would think that LED lighting could be a great move in replacing the billions of flourescents already used in office buildings – you know these 4 foot rods of gas and light above most of heads? They put out great amounts of heat and constantly need replacing. If measures were taken to reduce the cost of production for this huge potential market, that could help us individual consumers too!

  63. I replaced a lot of bulbs with CFLs and put in an LED night light because of the cost effectiveness overtime. The night light bulbs we were going through pretty quickly. But the LED only lasted a couple nights as well, as my toddler broke it (not sure why the incandescent bulbs survived him). He broke one of the CFLs too. So doing a cost analysis has to take into account the real lifetime of the bulb rather than just the number of hours it is supposed to be good for.

  64. K says:

    Johanna – I think Trent said they come on right away but they are dim for awhile. In my experience, this is closer to a minute but still not an issue.

    CFL’s have worked well for me and haven’t burned out in the 3 years we’ve had them. We even have them in upside down sockets which isn’t recommended and still don’t have a problem.

    I think the key is for people who’ve had them burnt out, is to keep them in regular lamps. Recessed sockets can make them too hot.

    I’m interested to see what happens to the LED’s in the future.

  65. kz says:

    I’ll admit, I’m totally confused. Trent writes, “My current plan is to use the CFL bulbs for general lighting purposes, incandescent bulbs for focused reading (where immediate light is important), and the LED bulbs will be used in a few very hard-to-reach sockets, since they have a very, very long life span.” Earlier, he also mentioned that it takes 5 seconds for his CFLs to turn on.

    First of all, I’ve never, ever had a CFL take that long, even getting to full brightness. At one point, we had an incandescent and a CFL in the same fixture, and there was just the smallest difference in how long it took to turn on.

    Second of all, even if his bulbs do actually take 5 seconds, can he not postpone his reading for 5 seconds?!? I understand that a high *volume* of light is needed for reading (either overall, or directionally), but I wasn’t aware that it had to be *immediate* unless you are incredibly impatient.

  66. Saver Queen says:

    Some very interesting feedback here!

    Jules – nice pun!

    Kenny – thanks for pointing that out!

    Johanna – good point about 27 years. You’re right – the lamp would much sooner break or become unfashionable before the lightbulb burns out. It makes it seem like a reasonable price, and the frugal buyer is always more interested in value than in cost! although by the sounds of things, we will have a cheaper version on our hands in no time.

    Kz – getting upset over 5 seconds does sound impatient, doesn’t it? It kind of says something about our demand for instantaneous gratification, even if it is lighting we’re talking about.

  67. Strabo says:

    “Johanna – good point about 27 years. You’re right – the lamp would much sooner break or become unfashionable before the lightbulb burns out.”

    Most likely the electronic controller the LED is soldered on would fail long before the chip fails (the 30-100 000 hours usually only apply to the chip). CFLs usually have the same problem if they don’t last that long.

    “1. My personal experience is that CFLs are not lasting near their claimed life.”

    Mine have held up fine until now, even the cheap IKEA ones are going for more than 4 years now.

    “5. The dimmer issue with many CFLs is a deal breaker for me in much of our household lighting. How do LEDs do with dimmers?”

    There are many CFLs available that are dimmable. LEDs are all dimmable without any issue.

    “3. Color temperature is very hard to read by the packaging and seems to be variable.”

    Make sure you buy those < 3000 Kelvin, those are pretty much like normal Incandescent bulbs. The higher the Kelvin number is the more blueish the light gets. The lower it is the redder it gets.

  68. Benton says:

    If you factor in the time and effort involved in 23 bulb changes, it makes the LED even more appealing. It’s difficult, however, to be that forward thinking when you are staring at a one bulb price of $119.

    Great Analysis Trent!

  69. Monk says:

    Led bulbs cost between EUR 10,- to 20,- online

  70. Lucas Krech says:

    Your pricing of LED bulbs could use some further research. $119 for a bulb is a lot. In fact it is far too much to pay. There are numerous options out there for LED solutions that are in fact affordable. You may want to browse through this (http://ledtronics.com/) site a little bit as one starting place.

    Further, the environmental costs of CFL’s, when you consider the back end costs of higher taxes to deal with toxic clean-up from their manufacture and so forth, put the CFL price tag a bit higher. Not to mention the “intangible” costs of harming the world’s water supplies thus increasing health-care costs and so on. This may be big picture long view vs. easily identifiable numbers, but important to consider.

  71. Heather says:

    We bought an LED lightbulb for $10 at an ACE hardware store. It lasted less than 2 months however in a normal ceiling fixture.
    I looked online and I saw several LED lightbulbs for under $15 including Home Depot.

    Perhaps Trent, you could reevaluate your findings using a more common LED bulb?

  72. Jeff says:

    Hi Trent.. have you looked at the ecoleds from Mike Adams? They run a little less on the watts used (0.5) and last longer than the ones in your test (50,000 hrs), they are also much cheaper 79.00.

    Here is a link to their product:

  73. Earl says:

    Walmart in my home town has LED bulbs. Lights of America is the maker. Price is from 7 to 15 bucks. I bought a lower wattage one for security for a out building. Does not put out a surround type light but works. FWIW

  74. Sarah says:

    I loved this post! I enjoy product comparisons and their cost calculations, although it’s hard to satisfy everybody on the pros and cons because we all value different things. I’ve had my eye on LED bulbs ever since I learned about them, but I was waiting for them to come down in price. Thanks to the comments, I think I am going to look online!

  75. Margaret says:

    I’m with the ones who think BREAKAGE. Perhaps your kids aren’t big enough yet to take a notion to play basketball or baseball in the house. Just wait — the time will come.

    I have mostly CFLs, mainly because I hate changing lightbulbs. I find their performance very inconsistent. I have a few light sockets where a CFL will burn out within a few days. After trying a couple, I’m back to incadescents for those, but I was not too happy about those. I have a few rooms where the it takes a long time for the CFL to get to full brightness, and it drives me crazy — much longer than 5 seconds for those rooms. But in some places they brighten up right away (at least as far as I notice).

  76. Marc Rohde says:

    I have migrated all but 6 bulbs in my house to CFL and think their great. One other recommendation that I would make is to buy less powerful bulbs whenever possible. I moved my bedside lamps to a 5w CFL from a 13w CFL and barely noticed the difference, saved a couple cents on the initial purchase, and will save on energy use.

  77. Susan says:

    The life of LED bulbs is somewhat subjective since it is considered ‘burned out’ when the light output is at 70% of the original full output. The light just slowly fades.

    CREE lighting has a great LED retrofit for recessed cans. It has a color corrected white light that compares very favorably with a 65w incandescent flood and a 13w CFL. It is expensive but for this application it is not likely to be broken by klutzes or rowdy kids.

    The mercury in CFLs is much less in the newer bulbs and when you consider the amount of mercury released from coal powered electrical generation, there is a net reduction in environmental mercury when your lighting uses less electricity. Recycle the bulbs if you can. The EPA website has information on what to do if a CFL breaks.

  78. Strabo says:

    “I’m with the ones who think BREAKAGE. Perhaps your kids aren’t big enough yet to take a notion to play basketball or baseball in the house. Just wait — the time will come.”

    Buy CFLs where the gas bulb is again encased in another hard plastic bulb. It’s nearly impossible to break both. Additionally several companies changed their quicksilver in a way so it no longer vaporises if the CFL should break.

  79. nan says:

    i just like to say some thing here as my daughter had a problem with the light bulb that has a swirl on it she was living in a traler and they had been away for some days in the winter and they came back home she did have a computer 9the only plug for dail up) was on this breakfast nook (the one that comes out like a table) they turned on the light and the computer as she was siting at it now the light fixture was above her like the one you have but a single the glass around the light bulb broke and cut her face had to get stiches and it was frighting to her as well but we did not know the name brand of the light bulb cause the landlord put it in and would not tell us well she moved out cause but in the long run i belive it was the light bulb that made the glass break any one have any ideas why it would do that ?? we wnet to a lawer and they could not help us due to the fact we did not know the name of bulb strange huh?

  80. Tom says:


    Looks like there is an added benefit of LED lighting that was overlooked…

  81. Scotty says:

    I think it’s a tad too early to be considering LED’s for full replacement in a home, they’re just too expensive currently, and it won’t take long before they drop in price dramatically

    Right now, the cost issues are just due to very low production of bulbs. Once production ramps up within a couple years, LED’s will be very, very cheap and readily available. In other words, wait a couple years when they drop to under $25/bulb. Then, it’s a whole lot easier to justify buying them. LED’s are super-cheap to make (pennies per diode), so it wont be long before the prices plummet.

    To spend $120 on a single light bulb only to realize the cost savings over a pretty long period of time is a little extreme. 30,000 hours is 3.4 years, assuming the light was left on 24/7. For some lights this might be the case, but only a handful of central lights in my home are on for more than 1 or 2 hours a day. I don’t have any lights that are on for more than about 8, ever. I’d be waiting decades for the pay-off.

    Just wait a year or two until they’re 1/3 or 1/4 the price!

  82. Kym says:

    Where on earth did you get a single CFL for less than $2? I only ever see them for around $4-5 EACH, and my one-bedroom apartment just doesn’t have enough light fixtures to justify paying that much for light bulbs.

    Another issue is, what about vanity lights? Those are my bathroom’s sole source of light, and CFLs (or LEDs for that matter) would be far too bright for this application. Or should I not care about being blinded and be more concerned with overall lighting cost?

  83. Dave says:

    I found a little hardware store in Bellingham, WA, That carries LED light bulbs. They only have 40 watt equivelant in two styles, flood and regular bulbs using the standard base. I bought four flood style to try them out. The way we use lights (read cheap) they work in the fixtures that we have them in. The bulbs cost just over $10.00 each for both styles. I don’tknow how often they restock the shilves with light bulbs once they run out. Home Depot won’t carry LEDs untill the warehouse is empty of CFLs.

  84. Sara says:

    Loved this post… This is some great information and analysis. I also learned a few things from the comments!

  85. Di says:

    We just purchased a ton of CFLs from the 99c store, pack of 2 for 99c at that price we can afford to replace all the bulbs in the house and see how that changes our electric bill, and compare bulb life. The 5 second thing doesn’t bother me at all.

  86. Chuck S says:

    We’ve been using flourescents for maybe 15 years. Now we have 13, mostly CFLs. Recently I replaced one of them. It had been much more than a year since I replaced the last one. However, they apparently burn out much faster in some situations. Maybe the factries in China have bad batches sometimes.

    I’m not thinking about LEDs yet. I have 2 spare CFLs, so I may not need to buy anything for a year or 2.
    There should be a consideration of time value of money – a lot of money now for LED or CFL is worth more that the money saved years in the future. Also, The price of CFLs and especially LEDs are likely to drop in the future. I think that if a light is lit more maybe than 15 minutes a day, the energy savings of a CFL will pay for itself in several years. However, if less than maybe 5 minutes a day, the energy savings will be so small that it will take forever to pay for extra cost of the CFL.
    I think that the law that will ban most incandescents in a few years may consume more resources that it saves. The best efficiency is to use incandescents where they’re the most efficient(less that 5 minutes a day or other reasons) and CFLs where they are (more than 15 mnintues a day). A refrigerator light should be incandescent – it’s lit maybe 5 minutes a day or less and is perhaps too cold for a CFL. I think a CFL would last much longer that the fridge and wouldn’t save enough energy to pay for itself over the life of the fridge.

    I only replaced incandescents when they burned out, so that resulted in the lights that burned the least still being incandescents, which is the right situation.

    There are dimmable CFLs for sale, but the one I saw was about $12 at Walmart.

  87. Trica T says:

    I’m not at all sold on the CFL’s. I think in the years to come we will pay a very high price for using them. Here’s part of an email I received recently:

    “There are plenty of flaws in the justifications for forcing this new technology on all of us, but the one flaw that stands out in the most glaring way is mercury – a very dangerous neurotoxin.

    CFLs contain mercury, so each unit should be disposed of in a hazardous waste collection facility. And because they’re difficult to recycle, you can be certain most of them will be tossed in the trash where they’ll get broken. They can break in your home, exposing you to mercury. They can break in the garbage truck, exposing sanitation workers to mercury. They can break in the landfill, exposing groundwater to mercury. And when the day comes that every light socket in every U.S. home is filled with a CFL, there will be thousands and thousands of CFL bulbs thrown away each day. And the mercury load in our environment will mount and mount and mount…”

    I don’t believe most people are aware of the dangers of CFL’s.

    Just my opinion!

  88. pretty says:

    I had CFL bulbs at my home and I used to suffer from migraine and headache.SO, I have decided to dump CFL bulbs for eco-friendly LED bulbs..

  89. meghna naidu1 says:

    LEDS are little expensive than CFLS bulbs but their advantages are too many TO count, LEDS are safe foe eyes and does not emit any uv rays as in CFLS. I think we should all ban harmful CFLs bulbs and switch on to LEDS …. what say?

  90. Ron Gessler says:

    Great analysis, it might be helpful to point out that even if they say they are, CFL’s are not really dimmable. They burn out quickly in that application. Another situation that causes a shortened life span is frequent turning on and off. They are also not good for lighting artworks, no impact! Use em where you can though and they can only save you time and $. As an art installer / lighting tech I cannot wait for LED’s to come of age. For now the color temps just don’t work and as with the CFL’s they lack impact. Someday……………

  91. Chuck Miller says:

    Not sure if anyone pointed this out but isn’t the GeoBulb a bit of a rip off? earthled has a product called the Zetalux that is actually brighter on a lumen basis and is only $49.99 sure its not $15 but you can almost get 3 units for the same price as one GeoBulb.

    check it out http://Earthled.com

  92. Rich says:

    //These bulbs cost an astounding $119.95 a pop, but they last for 30,000 hours//

    No, I do not believe this is true. The LEDs *may* have a 30,000 hour life, but the base and it’s components almost certainly do not.

    Case in point, they replaced almost all the stoplights in N CA with LED bulbs. When I ran the numbers they looked like a good deal, *if* they worked to spec. They were spec’d at 7 years, not 27 years BTW.

    Now this was way back in 2000-2001 or so.

    Many failed shortly after install and were quickly replaced. For the last 7-8 years most of the fixtures worked fine and no doubt saved quite a bit in electricity and maintenance costs. They do not work when the sunlight hits the LEDs straight on, as happened to one stoplight in the winter on the way home from work, but mostly they worked well.

    They are starting to go out now, some have failed completely, many more have partially failed with odd patterns of LEDs dead. One even has a rough smiley face. I don’t think the LEDs have died mind you, although I can’t verify this, I think the solder connections on the circuit board have failed. Probably because of thermal cycling.

    The point is, even if the LEDs did last 27 years (and they will not), the LED bulb will not, for many well known reasons.

    Note, LED bulbs, like CFLs will require a ventilated fixture as the electronics in the base requires cooling. Most existing fixtures were designed for incandescent bulbs and are not ventilated. Installation in an unventilated fixture will result in premature failure of the bulb same as it does for CFLs, and for the same reason.

    As for LED service life, look at any older car with LED brake lights. Even in intermittent “mostly off” operation after 5 years or so half the LEDs are burned out in many car’s brake lights.

    I also have read of several people who bought LED lights and have reported that they lasted less than a year. My LED nightlights lasted the same, despite the packages claimed 10 year service life.

    Don’t believe everything you read about LEDs, there is plenty of evidence that most claims are marketing and your experience will be quite different.

  93. Steve says:

    Good article, but the new purespectrum technology cfl’s have solved the major issues. Not only are they instant on (for real!), but fully dimmable on a linear regressive basis, high power factor (.976) and longer lived bulbs (10,000+ hours). The amount of mercury to fill the old oral thermometer would require 22 houses filled with purespectrum bulbs to equal that volume. The product is being launched at Lightfair in NYNY at the Javit’s Center the first week in May. The price is half that of current dimmable cfl’s (and these actually work) and all their lights are dimmable.

  94. John says:


    How about a 500 lumen LED bulb for $30? Seems they’ve already reached the price-point the article is looking for!

  95. Rich says:

    Update on the LED stoplights.

    Taking a closer look in the last few days I see that many of the LEDs are significantly dimmer or completely dead, that is, the LEDs are indeed failing.

    I also wonder if they are as bright as they were when installed. I recall thinking at first that they were too bright, but they don’t seem that way now.

  96. Jfidler says:

    This a very good comparison report of the three, unfortunately it did not run long enough. About 6 months ago I was very excited about LED technology and started converting my house to LED lighting. When the first one failed after about 4 months I just figured it was that one in a million that always seems to happen to me, but noooo. In the following two months or so all but 2 of the original group have failed. Only one actually failed at the LED level and it was partial, out of about 38 or maybe 40 individual LEDs about two thirds were dark with the remaining in various states of less than bright.
    With that one exemption all of the failed bulbs had burned out resistors, always the same resistor, the one that reduces line voltage to LED voltage, Humm. Engineer can’t add or there was no engineer…
    The very simple, very reliable, very cool LED should last 100,000 hours and a even simpler resistor should last even longer. All of the bulbs, er, make that units, that I purchased were manufactured by “Lights of America”… So, be careful what you buy, the technology should work but I don’t know who or whom to suggest or recommend anymore as my balloon has burst.

  97. budharley says:

    There is a website with bulbs from several different manufacturers for several different applications — ledlight.com the bulbs are fairly affordable, and listed at around 60,000hrs

  98. Gage says:

    Check out ledgreenlightint.com
    They have lights to replace all kinds of lights without having the directional problem and they are significantly cheaper than the geobulb. They also have a life span of greater than 80,000 hours.

  99. James says:

    I have tried several CFL’s, and have discovered a little mentioned problem. For some reason, the electricity in our home fluctuates occasionally. We have had it checked out, and no one can find anything wrong. We don’t know if it is the power company or our home that is at fault.

    At any rate, the CFL’s also go out when this happens, and then take several seconds to come back up to full brightness. This is more than a nuisance. I was wlking across a room one night when the lights went out almost entirely, and then came back on. I can not read when this happens.

    It also damages the CFL’s as I have had to replace 75% of the installed bulbs. Not a good rate.

    this problem may be limited to situations like mine, but I have had no problems with incandescent bulbs. In fact my older incandescent bulbs are still working, even though my CFL.s have already had to be replaced.

    Let’s hope the LEDs turn out better.

  100. Gerald Hunter, Calgary says:

    As much as the CFL’s are savers, the quality and color of the light they produce remains between
    cool and warm. Fluorescents offer a greater wariety (Currently). Full spectrum, black light etc.
    LED’s are still in their infancy for their usefulness when it comes to light color and variet
    sockets. Lights that are not used frequently
    should be left alone. I am hoping that the light
    Mfg. industry will catch up with the need for variety.Some of the costlier flashlights already
    have powerful but expensive bulbs.

  101. Rebekka says:

    I can’t believe you paid that much for a bulb! I bought an LED bulb about six months for a very awkward spot where I hope not to have to replace it for thirty years or so – it cost $30. And you can now get them for under $15 on ebay

    (I’m not the seller or anything – just wanted to point out that with the reduction in price it means that the cost of running the LED would be more like $40)

  102. Tammy says:

    Our local energy provider, First Energy, just tried a promotion where they would provide each homeowner a “free” 2-pack of CFL’s to lower energy costs. They would deliver them to your home at no cost to you! The fine print of the deal was that there would be a $0.60 charge per month added to your electric bill for the next 3 years. So $0.60 x 12 months x 3 years = $21.60 for 2 light bulbs I can go to the store and buy for $5! NO THANKS, First Energy! Thankfully, Ohio legislation made them cancel the “deal”.

  103. Dave says:

    Good article and I appreciate the cost comparisons. Lately I have been making an effort to purchase LEDS which, as stated, is a very expensive proposition!

    The issue I have, which I feel was glossed over in this piece, is the QUALITY of the light emitted from an LED. All of the bulbs (most in the 2700-300K range) have a cold or dirty gray tone when compared to an incandescent or even a recently purchased CFL. I have purchased from several manufacturers (GE, Cooper, Cree, GeoBulb) and the issue remains. The one fixture that pleased me was a Cree LR6 which is a recessed ceiling fixture and has a reasonable light quality – all my opinion of course!

  104. greenconsumer says:

    I am a big fan of LED lighting. Choose a bulb that fits the application (lumens and color) and you will be happy. Unfortunately many manufacturers and vendors overstate (I’m being kind here) their products specifications.
    I have purchased 45 LED bulbs and have had mixed reliability.
    The good news – some are very reliable. I have five LED bulbs outside that have run dusk to dawn for two years with no problems.
    The bad news – some bulbs are VERY unreliable. VERY high failure rates.
    I purchased 12 of one type LED bulb and 12 out of 12 have failed (8.5W product 47856 from LEDLight.com). 100% failure rate. To make matters worse they are refusing to replace them now.
    Beware of LEDLight.com. This company is selling products that they know are defective. No support for failed LED bulbs. These bulbs are very expensive ($20 – $105) and in some cases last only two or three weeks. They refuse to replace defective bulbs. LEDLight.com is selling known defective products and has bad customer service.
    ledlight.com, LED, problem, fail, failure, burnout, quit, reliability, unreliable, review

  105. IASSOS says:

    I just read through all the comments, and although several mentioned early life failures of CFLs, no solution ever showed up. I think there is an unresolved issue with these.

    In my opinion a five-year guarantee or some such is not satisfactory. After all, who still has that a year later? I want the thing not to fail.

  106. Marle says:

    Iassos, the solution is to read reviews of brands and not buy ones with bad reviews. Amazon.com makes that really easy.

    One commenter above said that she has some fixtures that CFLs burn out in a couple of days in. What’s probably happening is the socket is still releasing some energy and isn’t completely off when it’s off. Incandescents can handle that, CFLs can’t.

  107. Shubha says:


    very interesting review. I am a student at Carnegie Mellon and am going to spend my summer working on LEDs impact on employee productivity or students grades..since till now all the studies i find just compare energy, cost, light etc..

    Any help would be welcome. Do direct me to any useful information you know of.


  108. Vikas says:

    What a great article. I live in India where LED lights are not that popular. Rather it is the CFLs that rule the roost. An IT Company in South India headed by an Ex Infosys guy is replacing all CFLs with LED lights. Since cost is most important for these companies I expect that they would have done some calculations.
    Starbucks is converting all the lighting in its stores to LED and Wal-Mart is using it too. Given that WalMart is focussed on cost above everything else – it suggests that LEDs make compelling financial sense. I did a lot of research and it seems that ‘heat’ that you have mentioned is an important factor. With LEDs the savings in air conditioning costs are very handsome.

    There is excellent information on this site and a lot of good comparisons between LED, CFL and incandescent including the impact of LEDs on Air conditioning. They have done a lot of excel modelling and many their conclusions are very compelling.

    They also have some dope on the link between mercury and CFLs (http://myledlightingguide.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=19) and again their modelling is pretty good.


  109. Josh says:

    I like to say that light buble are cheap at a 99 cent store and they come from china and they give out good light and last longer then America light bubles.So I like to say that why spend all your money on a good light bubble when there is a cheap light buble that do the job for you everyday in office or a home.


  110. Eric says:

    fast forward to 2013, LED light bulbs are now a fraction of what they cost in 2009. Cree has came up with a LED bulb that cost only $10, but with much improved design, color, and omnidirectional illumination.

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