LED Vs. CFL in our Home

LED Omnidirectional "Bulb"

Better to use an LED than curse the power company. That may not be the original saying, but it works pretty well for today. We've had good luck with CFL 'bulbs' around the house, yet technology marches on and LED lights are becoming better and cheaper. I just replaced two failed CFL's* with new LED '60 Watt Equivalent' bulbs. CFL's would have been cheaper to buy, but I'm betting on the longevity and other benefits of LED.

LED household bulbs have several advantages over CFL bulbs including 3-4+ times longer life, much quicker start-up and good cold temperature start up, they have a smoother color spectrum, and contain no mercury. LED's are also better suited to flood and spotlights than CFL. Recently, LED's 'bulbs' with an omnidirectional light pattern have come on the market. The main drawback of LED's is their higher purchase price. Also, some LED's are not suited to use in enclosed light fixtures due to heat buildup.

Based on Consumer Reports reviews, I chose a national hardware store's "house brand" of 13.5 Watt LED bulb with 3000K color temperature and 850 Lumen output. Due to the "not for use in enclosed fixtures" warning I moved two functioning CFL's to the kitchen and put the new LED bulbs in open sconce fixtures. So far the new LED's seem to have a good color spectrum, light up immediately and cast light evenly. I'm not going to replace all of our CFL's today as each LED bulb was ~$20 plus tax. But, I'm optimistic that LED bulb prices will continue to drop as quality and versatility improve.

Do you still love incandescents?

While buying the LED's I had a conversation about light bulbs with someone at the hardware store. This person was buying several packs of 100 watt incandescent bulbs before the purchase deadline. Unfortunately, I didn't find out why the 100 watt incandescents were so important to this person. If you are still buying and using general purpose incandescent bulbs, please tell us why in a comment below.

* I disposed of the failed CFL twisty bulbs in a designated bin at the same hardware store where I bought the new LED's

More Info:

EnergyStar.gov - Light Bulbs

Popular Mechanics - Ultimate Light Bulb Test: Incandescent vs. Compact Fluorescent vs. LED (includes incandescent, CFL and LED spectral power distribution curves)

IEEE Spectrum magazine - Are Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs Really Cheaper Over Time?

ConsumerReports.org - Lightbulb buying guide

Consumer Reports 2011 Guide To Lightbulbs (free .pdf for Facebook fans)

Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs

LED Vs. Halogen at Sundown

"Better to light a candle than curse the darkness"