Improved LED Lightbulbs

When it comes to lightbulbs, nearly 75 percent of Americans are now using CLFs, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

Far fewer have tried LEDs. They're expensive, but Consumer Reports tests show they're well worth considering.

Deciding which lightbulb to buy has gotten a lot tougher.

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 of 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.

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

So which LEDs are best? Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated two-the EcoSmart from Home Depot that produces a white light and this 12.5 watt Philips that has a warmer, yellower light. Both cost around 25 dollars.

Consumer Reports says prices of LEDs are coming down and are expected to keep dropping. 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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