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Best Lightbulbs

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Lightbulbs

Best Lightbulbs

We tested 66 lightbulbs to determine the best-performing models. Our expert lab technicians tested each Lightbulb based on the following criteria:

  • Type
  • Actual 3K or 12.5K hr brightness (lumens)
  • Efficiency
  • Actual 3K or 12.5K hr color rendering index
  • Actual 3K hr warm-up time (sec.)
  • Frequent on and off performance
  • Light distribution
  • Claimed life (yrs.)
  • Light color
  • Brightness
  • Warm-up time

Below lists the Lightbulbs that rated best in each of the tests our experts looked for. Learn about how these tests were performed and find out which Lightbulb is rated best when you subscribe.

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Lightbulbs

Best Lightbulb for Type

Whether the bulb is a CFL, LED, halogen (hlgn) or hybrid which is a combination halogen and CFL.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Type has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Actual 3K or 12.5K hr brightness (lumens)

Actual 3K or 12.5K hr brightness (lumens) is the average measured brightness of 10 bulb samples after being life tested.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Actual 3K or 12.5K hr brightness (lumens) has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Outdoor use when used base up, Works with semi enclosed fixture and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Efficiency

Efficiency measures the amount of light produced per watt of energy used. (The more light produced per watt of energy used the more efficient the bulb.)


This Lightbulb which tested best for Efficiency has the following features: Dimmable, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Actual 3K or 12.5K hr color rendering index

The averaged measured color rendering of ten bulb samples. Those closer to 100 will better enable colors to appear the same as if viewed under the light of an incandescent bulb.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Actual 3K or 12.5K hr color rendering index has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Actual 3K hr warm-up time (sec.)

The averaged measured time it takes for ten bulb samples to reach near full brightness. All PAR38 and porch/post were tested at 0 degrees F. All others tested at 77 degrees F.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Actual 3K hr warm-up time (sec.) has the following features: Works with fully enclosed fixture, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Outdoor use when used base up, Works with semi enclosed fixture and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Frequent on and off performance

Frequent on and off performance testing reflects the average number of 2-minute on and 2-minute off cycles each bulb survived.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Frequent on and off performance has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Light distribution

Measures how well a test bulb duplicates the light distribution of an equivalent incandescent bulb.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Light distribution has the following features: Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Claimed life (yrs.)

Claimed life is how many years the manufacturer says the bulb will last based on 3 hours of use per day.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Claimed life (yrs.) has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Light color

Actual 3K or 12.5K color temperature (kelvin) is the average measured color temperature of 10 bulb samples. Those with 2700 K are closest to incandescent bulbs; ones with 3000 K are similar to halogen bulbs.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Light color has the following features: Dimmable, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Brightness

Brightness indicates the brightness (lumens) of each bulb after 3,000 hours of life testing, as compared with the brightness of a comparable incandescent.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Brightness has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.

Best Lightbulb for Warm-up time

Warm-up time is how long the bulb took to reach near full brightness.


This Lightbulb which tested best for Warm-up time has the following features: Dimmable, Works with fully enclosed fixture, Works with electronic timer, Outdoor not exposed to moisture, Works with semi enclosed fixture, Works with photo cell, Works with motion sensor and Pay back time.