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How to save $130 with LEDs

Sept. 10, 2012
The magazine Consumer Reports recently concluded that the best LED lamps could save consumers $130 over their 23-year life span.

The magazine Consumer Reports is well known for exhaustively testing consumer products, and LEDs are no exception. The magazine recently released the results of its latest efforts in light bulbs where LED bulbs from EcoSmart, GE, and Philips got what it terms significantly higher scores than most compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).

One conclusion: Consumers won’t save money by switching from CFLs to LEDs until LED prices drop. But if you are replacing incandescent bulbs, CR says that even at $25 per bulb, the best LEDs can save consumers about $130 over their 23-year life-span.

Consumer Reports also says it found good LED bulbs that cost $25 to $60, though not all LEDs were top performers.

The full report and complete ratings of lightbulbs are available online at ConsumerReports.org and in the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports.

CR testing also revealed a number of inexpensive CFLs from EcoSmart, Feit, GE, Sylvania, and Utilitech ranging in price from $1.25 to $18.00 that all worked well. Overall, the magazine said, switching to CFLs can save consumers around $60 in energy costs and replacement lightbulbs when replacing a 60-W incandescent bulb.

In LED bulbs, the magazine gives its highest ratings to the EcoSmart A19 bright white 400674 Dimmable LED carried by Home Depot stores and which costs around $24. Also getting high marks is the Philips AmbientLED 12.5W 12E26A60 which goes for about $25.

In the CFL category, CR liked the GE Energy Smart SAF-T-GARD which is in the $7 to $13 range. Ditto for the EcoSmart Soft White 423-599 ES5M8144 which is around $6 and can be found at Home Depot. Even more economical is the Feit Electric ECObulb Plus ESL13T/4/ECO, a CFL that goes for about $10.

The biggest beef people have with CFLs and LEDs, says CR, is the price — 23% of those the magazine surveyed complained about the cost. However, it’s not the only drawback of these lightbulbs. And not all LEDs perform equally. One LED, says CR, was dim, emitted a ghastly, bluish light color and others couldn’t cast light in all directions.

The full report can be found at the Consumer Reports site, but you'll need to buy a subscription to gain access to all the details: http://www.consumerreports.org/

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