In its latest tests, Consumer Reports has given LEDs from EcoSmart, GE and Philips significantly higher scores than it gave to most CFLs – but admits that most users won’t save money by making the switch.
The up-front costs of LEDs can be prohibitive, the magazine said, but other factors such as lower energy use and instant brightness could persuade users to make the switch. LEDs also are not affected by being frequently turned on and off.
The biggest problem people have with such bulbs is price. Some 23 percent of those surveyed by Consumer Reports said that LEDs and CFLs cost too much. The most recent round of Consumer Reports tests found good LED choices that cost $25 to $60. And even at $25 per bulb, the best LEDs can save consumers about $130 over their 23-year life-span, versus incandescents. Consumer Reports’ tests also found “plenty of fine, inexpensive” CFLs from EcoSmart, Feit, GE, Sylvania, and Utilitech ranging in price from $1.25 to $18.00. Overall, switching to CFLs can save users around $60 in energy costs and replacement lightbulbs when replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb, Consumer Reports says.
Not all LED bulbs in the Consumer Reports tests were top performers. One cast a “ghastly, bluish light color” and others couldn’t cast light in all directions.
A Department of Energy study released in July found that LEDs have a slight environmental edge over CFLs and a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting over the lifetime of the products.
LED Manufacturing and Performance found that that the energy these lighting products consume during operation makes up the majority of their environmental impact, compared to the energy consumed in manufacturing and transportation.
The report also found that CFLs have a slightly higher environmental impact than LED lamps on all measures except their contribution to landfills. The aluminum contained in an LED lamp’s large aluminum heat sink causes a greater impact on landfills because of the energy and resources consumed in manufacturing.