Things have been changing pretty quickly in the light bulb business. In the course of a few short years, Edison’s filament bulbs have become illegal, marginally more efficient halogen bulbs have become the default choice in hardware stores, twisty compact fluorescents (CFL) have pretty much had their day in the sun, and specialty LED bulbs are now inexpensive and available in virtually every shape, size and color.
When I researched residential lighting a few years ago my conclusion was to go with CFLs because they had the lowest operating costs – but you had to tolerate their slow start up and poor colors. Since then LED bulbs have plummeted in price. Moreover, one can buy LEDs that fit virtually every fixture and claim to work in dimmers. So now it’s almost a no-brainer to go with LEDs.
Nevertheless, there are still challenges with LED bulbs. Although they all indicate a 22.6 year lifespan, I have had a number of them burn out already. Not all are as dimmable as they claim. Some of the bulbs are too bulky or weirdly shaped to fit in existing features. And the color of the light is sometimes not as warm as conventional bulbs (which are no longer available). Please Listen Up to this Week’s Energy Show as we survey the real-world advantages and disadvantages of the current crop of LED bulbs.