Improved Bulbs

Deciding which lightbulb to buy has gotten a lot tougher.

One told us, "No, I have no idea what the difference is between CFLs and LEDs."

Another said, "I don't really know the difference."

Consumer Reports tests both types and says LEDs have some real advantages.

Here lightbulbs are turned on and off every two minutes. Some CFLs burnt out. But all the LEDs are still going strong after 200-thousand cycles.

And unlike CFLs, some LEDs can be dimmed as low as an incandescent bulb.
Another plus - they come to full brightness instantly.

Consumer Reports also tests lightbulbs' brightness and color temperature in this sphere. A computer analyzes the results.

Dan DiClerico with Consumer Reports says, "We found that some LEDs have the same warm glow as incandescents."

But not all LED bulbs are stellar. This Miracle-LED claims to be equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. But it's not as bright as a 40-watt bulb. And while it's long lasting, it gives off a strange bluish-white light.

With all LEDs, the big disadvantage is the price. Many cost 20 dollars or more per bulb.

Dan explains, "LEDs are more expensive, but they're designed to last so long - 23 years or more - that you'll likely save about $130 over their lifetime."

So which LEDs are best? Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated two - this EcoSmart from Home Depot that produces a white light and this 12-point-5-watt Philips that has a warmer, yellower light. Both cost around $25.

Consumer Reports says prices of LEDs are coming down and are expected to continue to drop. And here's another plus. Unlike CFLs, LEDs don't contain any mercury. That means cleanup is easier if a bulb happens to break.

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