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July 13, 2015

With New LED Light Bulbs, Be Careful Watt You Buy

Filed under: Electronics,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:13 am

  Light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are poised to become the bulb of choice for many shoppers. With a recent price drop announced by GE, it is predicted that LED light bulbs might in coming years make compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) obsolete.

But not all LED bulbs are created equal.

Here is a conventional incandescent 60-watt bulb and its CFL equivalent:

60-watt incandescent     cfl

The conventional 60-watt bulb has a life of about 1000 hours, and is rated at 870 lumens (the brightness or amount of light it gives off). But the CFL uses only one-quarter of the electricity (15 watts), lasts eight times longer, and produces slightly more light — 900 lumens — at least initially. That CFL cost a dollar or less.

The new GE bulb, called the GE LED Bright Stik, comes in packs of three at Home Depot for $9.97.

GE Bright Stik


While it uses one-sixth of the electricity of an incandescent, and a third less than the CFL, it only provides 760 lumens of light versus 870-900 lumens for the other two. It also provides a paltry 15,000 hours of life — short for an LED.

It appears that GE has sacrificed longevity and light output for a lower price. Compare the specs of some of its competitors:


60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb Comparison
“Conventional” refers to bulb shape

As you can see, prices and specs vary widely. The point of this comparison is to show that you shouldn’t assume that all LED bulbs of a certain wattage equivalent provide the same amount of brightness or have the longest possible life.

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  1. While this is great information to have, I’m not sure it is a “mouseprint” as they clearly show all the details on the front of the package.

    Comment by max — July 13, 2015 @ 8:03 am
  2. Looking around online, it seems that 870-900 lumens is fairly bright for a 60 watt bulb (or equivalent). That’s because the incandescent 60-watt you showed is a clear bulb, while most consumers are more accustomed to “soft white” bulbs that dim and diffuse the light somewhat. It looks like about 800 lumens is more standard for 60 watt incandescent bulbs.

    Comment by cmadler — July 13, 2015 @ 8:28 am
  3. 15000 hours is still 15 times that of a conventional incandescent bulb. Over the LEDs lifetime I would need to replace the 60 watt bulb 15 times as well as using 1/6th the amount of electricity. Mouseprint should be showing that even with the reduced lifetime of the GE LED bulb, its still a huge bargain when compared to an incandescent bulb.

    Comment by mario — July 13, 2015 @ 9:06 am
  4. I don’t think I ever assumed that all lightbulbs were the same whether I was using incandescent or other. Manufacturers cannot be trusted to that kind of standard…especially when light bulbs have a large range in price. Please, do not expect discount store bulbs to last long (they don’t).

    Comment by Wayne R — July 13, 2015 @ 9:06 am
  5. Edgar, rather than point out this “mouseprint” – which is actually in large type and on the front of the packaging – why not call attention to the Lighting Facts label? It’s in rather small print and usually found on the back of the package. That’s were consumers can get good information about the bulbs before making a purchase.

    Edgar replies: You and the others have made good educational points about calculating the savings that alternative light bulbs provide over time, and the need to check all information on the packaging, sometimes on the back, to help make the most informed buying decision.

    Comment by morlamweb — July 13, 2015 @ 10:23 am
  6. I’ve never gotten the promised life from CFLs or LEDs. If I was, I wouldn’t be replacing them all the time. And, sometimes at great expense. It’s time to start tracking the life of these bulbs and making claims on the warranties.

    Comment by Vero — July 13, 2015 @ 11:50 am
  7. A friend of mine has been buying and using LED bulbs for some time.He says they don’t last as long as promised.Says Home Depot stopped exchanging the bad ones and told him he had to send to the manufacturer.This is same as CFL bulbs.They don’t last as long as promised but are better than in the past.I guess that LED bulbs will get better over time.Sticking with CFL for now,that I got for about 14 cents apiece with Edison utility subsidies.

    Comment by jrj90620 — July 13, 2015 @ 12:12 pm
  8. I totally agree with Vero regarding the claimed life of these bulbs. I have purchased named brands CFL bulbs & they “blew their fuse” way before the listed lifespan. At the beginning, I would contact the manufacturer to get a replacement but it was a hassle: forms to fill out, emails, phone calls, etc. So I stopped doing that after 2 times. Also, after a while, I stopped keeping track to how long the bulbs have been working, nobody does that. But for sure, they died within 3 or 4 years with no where near the usage. Then I read that to get close to the stated life out of CFL bulbs, you should keep it on at least 25 min each time & not turn it on & off. That’s impractical in real word situation like in the kitchen & bathroom. The new LED bulbs, as I’ve read, do not have this restriction. I’m hoping they lasts longer but I also don’t think any bulbs get close to the marketing claim for lifespan. They are just that: marketing claims.

    Comment by Tristan Thomas — July 13, 2015 @ 12:17 pm
  9. Anyone know why CFL’s don’t retain their lumens as they age? The incandescent bulbs seemed to.

    Comment by Cecily — July 13, 2015 @ 2:01 pm
  10. I highly recommend reviews on Amazon by “NLee the Engineer”. They actually test many of these bulbs, including how much electricity they actually use versus what they claim. Many actually reduce power consumption and brightness as they stay on and get warmer. Some cheap ones generate so much RF interference that it stops garage door remotes from operation. Many claim to be dimmable but aren’t really, and emit humming sounds when dimmed.

    Comment by Roger — July 14, 2015 @ 11:38 am
  11. In recent years I’ve had to replace 4′ T-12 fluorescent bulbs more frequently than when I first bought this house. I think this must reflect a manufacturing issue, which could be deliberate or unintended. These bulbs have gotten a lot more expensive also. I bought a yellow cfl bulb for my front porch light, paid around $8, it but it was suppose to last seven years. When it burned out in 18 months the manufacturer, Feit, sent me a new one free of charge. It burned out in three weeks, so I just said to heck with it.

    Comment by Bob R — July 14, 2015 @ 12:59 pm
  12. re: Bob R

    Most cfl bulbs are designed to be mounted base-down. With the base up, the electronics that power the bulb gets damaged by the heat. Many porch fixtures have the base up. Not a good configuration for a cfl.

    Comment by bobl — July 15, 2015 @ 9:50 am
  13. Just a thought: CFL’s contain mercury, and if you break one, you have to leave the house for 15 minutes, etc., etc. Just another thing I take into account when purchasing.

    Comment by Ambar — July 18, 2015 @ 9:50 pm
  14. I also purchased a yellow CFL bulb for my outside porch light. I paid less than $10.00 for this bulb and it has been going for almost 5 years now. I never shut this light off, it goes 24/7. The only time it was off was during a power outage this Spring. It seems that if left on they do last a long time.

    Comment by Clarence Cadeau — July 30, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

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