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New bulbs revolutionizing lighting choices

September 3, 2012

Recent ratings from Consumer Reports show some outstanding new choices among light bulbs, especially those that replace 60 watt incandescents. Both light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescents (CFLs) continue to improve.

If you have a group that is interested in a presentation about lighting choices from Cool Cities, including Consumer Reports ratings and real examples of bulbs (plus a few free bulbs), contact and ask about Lighten Up! This is part of the valley-wide Save a Ton campaign.

A recent CR survey shows that about 90 percent of Americans have now tried CFLs or LEDS, with almost 75 percent continuing to use CFLs and 26 percent using LEDs. Only 7 percent have switched back to using only incandescent bulbs.

Philips bulbs are big winners among LED producers with a 60 watt equivalent bulb for about $22 and a new 75 watt equivalent bulb costing $40. Both are dimmable, can be used outdoors if not exposed to moisture, and are rated to last over 22,000 hours. Another highly rated LED is the $24 EcoSmart A19 60W Bright White 400674 Dimmable (Home Depot) , which is dimmable, can be fully enclosed and works with a timer

Perhaps the most interesting new bulb is the Philips L Prize LED, winner of the US Department of Energy’s L Prize competition for bulbs that meet high standards for brightness (940 lumens), cast warm light evenly, last at least 25,000 hours, are highly accurate in rendering color, use 10 watts or less, are dimmable and can be assembled or partially manufactured in the US. The L Prize currently costs a whopping $50, but the price could come down dramatically in the next year.

At this time, CFLs remain the best buy, particularly the EcoSmart 60 Watt Soft White 423-599 ES5M8144 (Home Depot) at under $2 per bulb. This bulb works in a fully enclosed fixture and can be used outdoors if not exposed to moisture

IMPORTANT CAUTION. Bulbs that lack the government Energy Star rating or testing from a group like Consumer Reports may have serious problems. One example is the MiracleLED Un-Edison 60W Equivalent Frost which is being sold for about $28. Although the manufacturer claims that this bulb can replace a 60 watt incandescent, it actually produces less light (359 lumens) than a 40 watt bulb, and the light itself is at the blue end of the spectrum. Buyer beware!

Look for the Energy Star label or similar testing before assuming that a bulb is a good choice.


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