As LED prices drop, it's time to make the switch

Prices for the long-lasting lightbulbs are getting lower and lower

Published: February 06, 2015 04:15 PM

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New Englanders can brag about their fall foliage. New Yorkers have plenty to boast about too, and we will, given a chance—same for Californians. And is there anything not to like about Hawaii? The one thing they all have in common, along with Alaska and a few other states, is their electricity is more expensive than other parts of the country, according to the Department of Energy. LED lightbulbs are one way to trim your electric bills. Here’s a look at some of the best from Consumer Reports’ tests.

LEDs use about 80 to 85 percent less electricity than the incandescent bulbs they replace. Even so, when LEDs were $50 a bulb not long ago it took years to earn back the money you spent on an LED. But now you’ll find LEDs for $10 and less, and as more LEDs earn the Energy Star it becomes easier to snag utility rebates. The lower the LED price, the faster you earn back the money you spent by saving on electricity. And since LEDs are claimed to last around 23 years and longer, you won’t be buying bulbs as frequently.

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to live where electricity costs around 12 cents per kilowatt, the national average. Replace a 60-watt incandescent, the kind you put in lamps, with an LED and over its claimed life of 23 years you could save about $156 in energy and lightbulbs. That’s based on using it 3 hours a day. If you paid $9 for the LED you’ll earn back that money in 15 months. After that, you’re saving money. A BR30 LED, the type you use in recessed fixtures, that replaces a 65-watt incandescent would save you about $180 over its 23 year claimed life, and at $10 takes about 13 months to pay for. After that, you’re in the black.

LEDs usually don’t burn out; they dim over time. The claimed life you see on the box is an estimate of when brightness will decrease by 30 percent. Some LEDs are supposed to be bright enough to be useful for almost 23 years when on 3 hours per day. But save your receipts. Energy Star LEDs must have at least a three-year warranty, and we’ve seen five- and 10-year warranties.

Great Value 60W Soft White A19

Some top-pick LEDs to consider

60-watt A19 replacements (used in lamps and other general purpose fixtures)
Feit Electric 9.5W, $7
Feit Electric A19/OM/800/LED, $7.50
Philips A19 11W 60W Soft White 424382, $12
Philips SlimStyle A19 Soft White, $7
Great Value (Walmart) 60W Soft White A19 Dimmable LED, $9

65-75-watt BR30 replacements (ideal for recessed and track lighting)
Great Value (Walmart) 65W BR30 Soft White Dimmable LED, $11
Feit Electric BR30 Dimmable LED, $9
Philips SlimStyle BR30, $14 

For more choices, check our lightbulb Ratings. They tell you how bright a bulb is and what color light it casts. You’ll see what the claimed life is and whether the bulb is good at casting light in all directions, if that’s what it’s supposed to do. We tell you if the LED is dimmable and more. You’ll also see CFLs in the Ratings. For more information, read, "How to find an LED lightbulb that fits your fixture."

Kimberly Janeway  

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