Consumer Reports releases light bulb ratings

Consumer Reports has published its ratings on the new lighting technology facing consumers, and concluded that both CFL and LED bulbs have overcome many problems that challenged earlier versions of these energy-efficient bulbs. The full report, available for Fans on Consumer Reports' Facebook page, focused on the 60-watt equivalent of the standard incandescent bulb, testing both CFLS and LEDs. It concluded that CFLs save money faster due to their low cost.

Consumers typically take less than a year to recoup the cost of most CFLs, according to Consumer Reports tests, while LEDs can take four to 10 years to pay for themselves due to the high cost of the bulb. Also, CFLs now have less mercury. The amount in the bulbs, Consumer Reports tested, has dropped 60% to 75%, compared with already low levels they found in 2008, without affecting performance. Nevertheless, spent CFLs should be recycled. Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe's and some ACE Hardware stores will accept used bulbs.

LEDs, the newest choice, carry the highest price. The best LEDs were still as bright as the incandescent they replaced, yet only half were as bright as promised. Consumer Reports found that all LEDs reached full brightness instantly, even at frigid temperatures, providing warm white light that was unaffected by frequently turning them on and off. Energy use matched or exceeded claims. LEDs are supposed to last 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or about 18 to 46 years when used three hours a day. Nearly all the LEDs were still burning brightly after 3,000 hours, and only four of the 100 LEDs stopped working.

Consumer Report’s recommended picks include three that were also evaluated by 19 Consumer Reports staffers in their homes, the Philips AmbientLED 12.5W (60W) $40 for table or floor lamps, the EcoSmart LED Downlight 10.5W (65W) dimmable (sold at Home Depot), $50 for recessed or track lights, and the EcoSmart PAR38 Bright White (75W) dimmable LED (sold at Home Depot), $45 outdoor flood light.