I finally got around to picking up an LED bulb and decided to give it a quick review when compared to the CFL and incandescent light bulbs I still have in my house.
I’m one of those people who, despite all the logic that says that LED bulbs are cheaper to run and last longer than any other light bulb, still have some pretty big reservations about spending more than $20 for a single light bulb. I happened to end up with a gift card and a coupon to Lowe’s a few days ago so I went ahead and picked up a few things I’d been wanting, including a relatively small 430 Lumen LED light bulb that is supposedly the equivalent of a 40 watt incandescent bulb. Here’s a quick review of the LED light bulb that I picked up:
The LED bulb I picked up is an “Utilitech Pro” bulb which is a brand of bulbs that is distributed by the Feit Electric Company. They’re usually on the less expensive end of the LED bulbs that are out there but they still aren’t cheap. You can pick up this particular Dimmable LED 40 Watt Equivalent light bulb from Amazon.com or you can go out to your local hardware store and hunt around for a deal. The Home Depot’s Eco Options aisle features a number of LED bulbs as does Lowe’s. I decided to judge the bulb on three criteria:
LED Appearance When Turned Off
I really don’t think those curly CFL bulbs look that neat or impressive when they are turned off. Many CFLs now have a plastic cover to make them look more like a “regular” light bulb, but some still don’t. The LED bulbs mostly go out of their way to look like regular bulbs with a glass dome, though there are obviously some where you can see that the they are clearly an entirely different design. When you compare this LED bulb with an incandescent bulb you notice several things. First, the base has a long metal ridged sleeve on it. That’s basically a heat sink that’s used to cool the bulb off. It looks high tech and it generally won’t be visible in most ceiling or wall light fixtures, though if you’re using a light fixture with large glass globes it might be noticeable. The base is metal so it adds a good deal of weight to the bulb as well. Incandescent bulbs are light and cheap feeling compared to the heft of this LED bulb.
Appearance When Turned On
Obviously the type of light that is given off from a light bulb is key. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed to find that the light coming out of this particular LED bulb was brighter than that of a regular incandescent and slightly less white than that of a normal CFL. It was a pleasant bright light and one which had absolutely no hint of a flicker. The bulb is advertised as a “Soft White (Warm Light)” bulb, but it still has some sterile white feel to it when compared to another “soft white” 40 white incandescent bulb. If I had to guess I’d say it puts out the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb or so, though it only uses 7.5 watts. Not a bad bid of energy savings there at all!
Felt Heavy Duty: I liked the weight of the bulb because it screwed into my light fixture solidly and it didn’t feel as though it was going to break or twist out of the base.
It’s completely dimmable and works quite well on a regular dimmer with no buzzing or flicker whatsoever. I’ve tried dimmable CFL bulbs but always felt as though they didn’t work well, flickered a lot and were generally just lousy. The LED bulb dimmed very well and almost went down as far as the incandescent, though at the lower levels the bulb light looked a lot more grey than warm white.
Cool To The Touch
Yes, CFL light bulbs burn “cooler” than incandescent bulbs, but they can still get quite warm to the touch. The dome of the LED bulb never even really gets warm, though the metal heat sink around it does. Even after running for an hour the amount of heat given off by the LED’s metal sleeve was nothing compared to an incandescent bulb.
I have to admit, I’m pretty much sold on LED bulbs for my house. I’m going to start buying them to replace the incandescent bulbs when they burn out and I might even begin taking out some of the CFL light bulbs I have before they stop working. At $10 – $20 per bulb I don’t think I’ll go out and buy a case of them, but I might just pick on up every month or two or when a sale comes along.
Overall, LED light bulbs appear to be a good alternative to more traditional bulbs as well as CFL light bulbs. Only time will tell if they really catch on, but I would strongly suggest you pick up one for yourself and give it a try. If can’t find anything in your local stores for less than $20 then I suggest you trying shopping for an LED Light Bulbs online because you can often get them for a good 20% – 40% off the retail store price.
And just for review purposes, this LED bulb has the following info on it:
Brightness: 430 lumens
Estimated Yearly Energy Cost (3 hours per day usage): $.90
Life (3 hours per day usage): 22.8 years
Light Appearance: 3000 K (pretty far on the warm side)
Energy Used: 7.5 watts
Initial Cost: $15
Total Cost for Lifetime of Bulb: $15 + $20.52 = $35.52 for 22.8 years of use.
A 40 watt incandescent bulb will only cost about $.50 to buy and will last about a year with 3 hours of use a day. I’m going to take the same math that I used when I compared LED Christmas lights vs. regular Christmas lights and I come up with an approximate cost of (.04 Kilowatts x $.19 per KWH) = $.0076 per hour run for a regular 40 watt bulb.
When I run the LED bulb through the same scenario I get (.0075 Kilowatts x $.19 per KWH) = 0.001425 per hour of use. Nice. Now let’s extend that out over 22 years (24,090 hours of use at 3 hours per day) just to be fair to both bulb:
|Bulb Type||Initial Cost||Energy Costs||Total Cost|
|Incandescent 40 Watt||$.50 + $10.50 repurchasing bulbs each year||$183.08||$194.08|
|LED 7.5 Watt||$15.00||$34.33||$49.33|
So this LED bulb can save you $144.75 over 22 years of use! Now multiply that by all the light bulbs you have in your house and you have some pretty substantial energy savings!
Have any of you already made the switch to LED bulbs? Do you recommend any specific light bulb brands over others? Let us know in the comments!