50 responses

  1. AverageJoe
    December 29, 2011

    Sweet post. I always wonder about the “cross-over point” on one lightbulb vs. another. This clarified it. I have yet to buy an LED bulb. Is the light from an LED substantially different, like it is in XMas ornaments?

    If you weren’t such a good blogger, I’d tell you to go work at the Home Depot lighting department. You might not get rich, but you’d make guys like me with tons of lighting questions happy.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Much better and heavier than XMas lights Joe! And thanks for your vote of confidence! Home Depot, here I come! :)

  2. krantcents
    December 29, 2011

    I switched over to CFLs a couple of years ago. I think I save $5-10 per month. By now it has more than paid for itself.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Good to know KC!

  3. Six Figure Investor
    December 29, 2011

    Wherever there’s a law, there’s a loophole. This guy is selling incandescent bulbs designed for ‘rough use’, which are given an exemption to the law:

    http://conservativehideout.com/rapidfire/2011/12/05/a-loophole-in-the-incandescent-light-bulb-ban/

    • Financial God
      January 1, 2012

      Thank god! It’s my money, and if I’m not directly hurting anyone else, it’s my right to decide what lighting to use in my own home.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      What’s a law without a loophole! :) Good find SFI!

  4. Little House
    December 29, 2011

    This is some really complete information on light bulbs. I’ve heard of LED bulbs in car running lights and TV’s but didn’t realize I could purchase them for my home lights. They do seem a bit pricey, but their life expectancy makes them much more affordable. Once my CFL’s die out, I’ll have to invest in the LEDs.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Do look for rebates LH. A lot of LED manufacturers provide cash back rebates.

  5. DIY Investor
    December 30, 2011

    Great info. I wonder about the life expectancy and dimmability (word?) of the LED. Are there improvements in the next several years that will make these dinosaurs?

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      That is a good point DIY! Since LEDs don’t have a filament, they don’t conk off like incandescents. The lose their brightness gradually. Hopefully as the price comes down, the technology improves as well.

  6. Roshawn @ Watson Inc
    December 30, 2011

    Great post MC. It was very advantageous to switch from incandescent light bulbs to CFL. We got so much more light, which was huge for us. To be honest, I am aware that it saves money but that wasn’t my main concern. I do like that it is greener though, just like you said. Also, thank you for pointing out the dimmer issue. I wasn’t previously aware of that. Good analysis @MC!

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      I learn’t the dimmer problem the hard way! Had to make multiple trips to the hardware store to get the right bulb!

  7. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter
    December 30, 2011

    Thanks so much for such an informative and educational post. It is very useful and hope many readers find it through web searches.

    We are currently using CFL’s because the LED technology still isnt’ where it needs to be. Plus they are really expensive. I am hoping this changes soon.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      You are welcome Miss T!

  8. Jeffrey Trull
    December 30, 2011

    I have heard that old light bulb story before, actually. Pretty amazing!

    I’m assuming your lifetime cost savings don’t account for inflation? Would make a difference over a 27-year lifespan of the LED bulb, but good savings are still there.

    I’ve already got 100% CFLs in my apartment, and I’m interested in LEDs but the cost is just too high. I hope the price comes down and fast!

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      LEDs are expensive Jeffrey. I only have a few LEDs – bought them during a sale. So far I’m quite satisfied. But in no hurry to replace my CFLs yet!

  9. Barb Friedberg
    December 30, 2011

    I just put some CFL’s in our cathedral ceiling recessed lht fixtures. I figure, even though it doesn’t look that great, they are so high up, I didn’t want to change them again for a long while.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      And you save on your energy bill too!

  10. SB @ One Cent At A Time
    December 31, 2011

    I would continue to use my incandescent and CFL bulbs for as long as they work and wait for the LED prices to come down from current level.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      My new house had 150W incandescents everywhere! I had to replace them to bring down electricity costs.

  11. cashflowmantra
    December 31, 2011

    I wish I could get my CFLs to last for four years. Some of them are OK, but others just don’t seem to go any more than about a year. I need to keep better track. So far, I am not all that impressed.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      The brand matters a lot CFM. I’ve had good experience with Philips CFLs.

  12. Ashley @ Money Talks
    December 31, 2011

    I disagree with a government issued phase out. If the other bulbs are so great then regular bulbs will phase themselves out, it doesn’t take an act of congress to get a product off the shelves.

    Excuse me, I have to go I rewind the tape in my walkman.

    • Jeffrey Trull
      December 31, 2011

      Ashley, I think the first part of your comment is serious (right?)

      I’ll assume it is and say they’re not phasing incandescent bulbs out because the new bulbs are just “better” in terms of a product. They’re outlawing the bulbs that are more harmful to the environment (at least in terms of the energy they require to use them).

      I would liken it to the banning of leaded gasoline. Unleaded gasoline isn’t “better” as a product, it’s simply much, much less harmful in terms of the air we breathe (and airborne lead has dropped by 90% since the ban was enacted).

      • Financial God
        January 1, 2012

        Invalid comparison. Leaded gasoline directly harmed others and either a ban or a surcharge was an appropriate response. Incandescents have no direct harmful impact on others. Sure they use electricity, but so do 1000 other things.

        It’s up to the consumer to make that choice and if there is a problem with the way that the electricity is generated, that’s a problem that should be addressed at the utility level. Attacking incandescents is the wrong scope and harms me as a consumer, as the light given off by CFLs makes me physically ill.

    • moneycone
      December 31, 2011

      To add to Jeffrey’s comments, think about electric and hybrid cars today. There are incentives to buy clean fuel vehicles (like tax credits, use of car pool lanes, free parking at metered parking spots etc) which makes adoption of these technologies more widespread which makes companies put more resources on developing more efficient engines.

      The government plays an important role by offering these incentives and steering development.

      The first hybrid rolled out in 1917 by the way. By no means a recent invention! But since there was no incentive to develop this further it took almost 90 years for car companies to get back to this technology!

      If there are no incentives to further develop LEDs or CFLs, companies in China will continue dumping $0.99 bulbs in the US and people will continue buying them.

      The technology is there, for it to become more affordable, more people will have to adopt them and what the bill does is to hasten this adoption.

  13. 101 Centavos
    January 1, 2012

    I need to stock up on more 60W incandescent bulbs. I use two of them in reflector lamps to heat the water pipes in the well house, to keep them from freezing in cold temps. CFLs and LEDs are useless for this application.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Funny you should mention this 101C! Most traffic lights in major cities have been replaced with LED lights and the biggest complaint is that when it snows, the heat produced is not enough to melt the snow that accumulates! This wasn’t an issue with incandescents. I do not know if or how they solved this issue.

  14. BeatingTheIndex
    January 1, 2012

    Great post MC, the led bulbs are too expensive for my taste and the CFL ones need a few seconds before they produce maximum light. Will stock up on those Incandescent as I think Canada as well has a phase out plan. Right now 50% of my bulbs are CFL, until the technology improves I don’t think I will hit the 100% mark soon.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Some of the newer ones are almost instant starts Mich. You should give them a try.

  15. Untemplater
    January 1, 2012

    Happy New Year MC! Oh wow I didn’t know they are actually phasing out Incandescents this month. I use CFLs in most places and measure the size of my current bulb before I go to the store now b/c I’ve had to return a few in the past because they were too big to fit. That’s cool that LED bulbs are coming out and that they don’t have the toxins that CFLs do. -Sydney

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Size is a big issue with CFLs. The surface area of CFL is directly proportional to its power. Hopefully a solution will be found soon.

      Happy new year to you too Sydney!

  16. Financial God
    January 1, 2012

    This is a great, comprehensive post, Money Cone! I personally hate CFLs and I’d only use them in a garage or a place like that, and I think that a ban on incandescents is retarded. Controversial viewpoint? Maybe, but consumers will switch when they decide that it’s worth it. Maybe I prefer the light quality of incandescents, and maybe I don’t mind the heat they throw off cause it’s cold where I live ;)

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      Technically there isn’t a ban on incandescents. In fact the bill does not even mention incandescents. The bill require bulbs of certain wattage to produce a certain amount of light measured in lumens.

      If some innovative company can manage to do that, incandescent will continue to live on!

  17. retirebyforty
    January 2, 2012

    I have one LED desk lamp. We actually use it as a baby light and I like it a lot. Most of our other bulbs are CFL and I’m happy with them too.
    Hopefully the LED bulb will get cheaper soon.

    • moneycone
      January 2, 2012

      I’ve just started investing in LEDs RB40, and so far loving it!

  18. Buck Inspire
    January 2, 2012

    Your wealth of expertise never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for “enlightening” me. :) Happy New Year!

  19. Darwin’s Money
    January 2, 2012

    I love innovation and competition to bring down the price. I’m not an “early” adopter, but a medium-term. I’m finally buying an iPad3 in the spring, and I’ll buy more efficient bulbs after they come down further in price. I’m not too worried about losing a few bucks over the next year in electrical costs vs paying an arm and a leg now to be the first one to have the hottest new bulbs.

  20. Hack – Smart Money Hacks
    January 3, 2012

    What a detailed post! I hadn’t realized the difference between the types of bulbs. Definitely a reference article – thanks!

    Hack

  21. Squirrelers
    January 3, 2012

    Great, comprehensive post. The numbers that jumped out at me were related to LED bulbs: 27.39 year lifespan? Wow! Buy one, and you might not have to get another until you have grandchildren…

  22. LaTisha @YoungAdultFinances
    January 3, 2012

    I’ve heard of LED tvs but I never knew that I could buy an LED lightbulb. I’m definitely all for paying up front for cheaper energy usage and lower longterm costs. Replacing those other bulbs could make the costs even out over time.

  23. Christa
    January 4, 2012

    I should go for the LED bulbs, but every time I need new bulbs, I reach for the mid-priced CFL. Oh well, I’m still getting some energy cost savings!

  24. 20′s Finances
    January 4, 2012

    I too am going to use my CFL’s until they die (in a few years). At this point, I may consider getting LED’s, especially if the price goes down a bit more.

  25. Hunter – Financially Consumed
    January 5, 2012

    I appreciate your comprehensive presentation on the three bulbs. I have to confess that I’m an early adopter. Our house doesn’t have many IC’s, in fact the oven and fridge are the only two I can think of. I like the new bulb style LED’s that disperse the light better than the highly directional spots that were first available. I have a 4.5 watt LED out front above the garage, and I keep it on all night without stressing about the power bill…not that the CFL it replaced kept me awake. Sorry, rambling here.

  26. Aloysa @ My Broken Coin
    January 5, 2012

    Interesting! We use the middle light bulb in most of our home lamps. I always wondered how much we are actually saving and if those bulbs are really that eco-friendly. Now I know! Great comparison and explanation. It made me thing that maybe we need to switch to the more expensive one.

  27. Kris @ Everyday Tips
    January 6, 2012

    I am going to start hoarding incandescents. CFL bulbs are horrendous- I think many couples may break up when they see what their significant other really looks like in that horrible CFL lighting…

    I don’t know as much about the LED bulbs, but if the lighting is like the CFLs, then all the more reason for me to start raiding Home Depot and Lowe’s.

    • Financial God
      January 8, 2012

      Loved this reply! I do believe that LEDs are much better than CFLs at color spectrum reproduction. There is a reason why the CFL lighting is horrible — the color spectrum is very unnatural and spiky. I go into more detail in a followup post I published today.

  28. Brad Buscher
    January 6, 2012

    As rising energy costs and environmental concerns become increasingly important factors in consumers’ and businesses’ purchasing selections, fluorescent lamps and CFLs are an ideal solution. CFLs emit approximately the same amount of visible light as incandescents, but they last 8 to 15 times as long and provide significant energy savings. The use of more efficient lighting options, such as CFLs, is one of easiest and lowest-cost ways for the nation to reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases. However, these lamps are fragile and, upon breaking, they release mercury vapor that can be detrimental to handlers’ health—from those involved with handling new bulbs to people involved with storing, packaging and shipping used lamps.

    Mercury-containing lamps need to be recycled properly. Fluorescent lamps should be taken to a recycling center or placed in one of a variety of containers that are marketed for transportation of fluorescent lamps and CFLs, however, many don’t provide sufficient protection against mercury vapor emitted from broken lamps. Using a proven packaging design is vital to ensuring the safety of people who handle these lamps, as well as maintaining their green benefits. Read about a recent study that tested several packaging configurations here: http://vaporlok.blogspot.com/2010/05/layers-of-protection-packaging-used.html

  29. Dennis
    April 4, 2013

    So the cost of LED’s has come down. I started getting CFL bulbs as early as 1991, when they were much bulkier and more expensive than they are now (and were better built). During most of the 1990s and 2000s, I was virtually 100% CFL. They did run cooler, and most of the time the bulbs did last longer.

    However, they were not perfect. As early as 2008, I started watching LEDs. Back then, I decided against them as they were still very expensive. Also, the light output was much lower. But that changed, as LED technology got better. So, just as the 100 watt incandescent bulbs were going out, I got my first LED.

    At that time, they were the snow cone style. Which worked fine with me, since the lamp was intended to put out light into the room from above. Less wasted lumens meant more usable light where I needed it. The only down side was the weight of the bulb. Later in 2012, I got several more LEDs, and placed a few in fixtures where they were mixed CFL and LED (more than one bulb). And that was the end of the CFL for me, as the light of the LED was much better.

    For those still holding out, technology has improved more. EcoSmart makes good LED’s–their bulbs now look something like a flying saucer when turned on, and work real good even if the plastic lens feels a bit cheap. Cree makes good LEDs, and their new bulb is low priced, yet looks like the old incandescent at only 9.5 watts for a 60-watt replacement. The Switch bulb works in enclosed fixtures but is very expensive.

    I do not regret moving to LED’s. Especially since I learned that CFL bulbs emit styrene, phenol, and naphthalene when working properly. I also learned that they emit dirty electricity that can ruin electronics and is bad for your health, their isolated blue is bad for your health, they cannot be turned on and off frequently for additional savings, they emit UV-C light (not the UV-A and B found in sunlight), and they often fail with a fire. I also do not miss the heat generated by incandescent lights, which makes extra work for the air conditioner and can ruin fixtures. Good riddance to both, especially those death bulbs (CFL).

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