Mr. Saver Sees the Light!

Mr. Saver here today to talk about my latest obsession, LED light bulbs.  Several years ago, our house was lit almost exclusively by incandescent light bulbs.  As compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) became more affordable, I replaced nearly every bulb in our house with a CFL.  This switch from incandescent to CFL saved us about 20% each month on our electricity bills.  A purchase that pays for itself in about a year — what could be better than that?

While the savings were certainly impressive, CFLs have some significant drawbacks:

  • their quality of light is not quite up to incandescent standards,
  • they emit some UV radiation, and
  • they also contain mercury.

I kept hoping for a better alternative to come along.  A few years ago LED bulbs started appearing in the marketplace, but they were ridiculously expensive and emitted light that was directional — a good attribute in a spot light but not acceptable in a standard household bulb.

Fast forward to today, and I am delighted to report that LED bulbs have matured to the point where they

  • are reasonably affordable,
  • are about 25% more efficient than CFLs (e.g. a 60w equivalent LED is 9.5w vs. 13w for an equivalent CFL), and
  • put out beautiful omni-directional light.

As an added bonus, LEDs seem brighter than comparably rated CFLs.  For example, I have replaced 60w equivalent CFLs with 40w equivalent LEDs and the LEDs still seem brighter.

Over the past month, I have tested three different brands of bulbs and have proceeded to replace about three-quarters of the CFLs in our home with them.  The three brands I have tested are Cree, G7 and SunSun.  All three are available from Amazon, but be aware that you can buy the Cree from Home Depot for less than its Amazon price.


CreeCree bulbs work well anywhere (including enclosed fixtures), but I find they work best in table and floor lamps, as well as ceiling fixtures where the bulbs sit parallel to the ceiling.

Pros:

  • No startup delay (just like an incandescent)
  • Offer omni-directional light equivalent to an incandescent
  • Are dimmable
  • Are rated for both indoor and outdoor use

Cons:

  • Most expensive of these three brands
  • The LEDs within the bulb are somewhat visible (the LEDs form a ring within the bulb which makes the bulb look a bit unusual if you look directly at it)

Sunsun – The low-price leader, SunSun’s 40w equivalent bulbs can be had for only $5.99 at Amazon.  These bulbs offer good omni-directional light but their coverage is a notch below the Cree.  This bulb excels in wall and ceiling fixtures where the bulbs are visible.  I currently have five of these in two bathroom fixtures and they look like normal incandescents plus the quality of light is phenomenal.  SunSun also offers a 60w equivalent bulb for $9.99 that offers similar performance.

Pros:

  • Price!
  • Cannot see internal LEDs which makes them a great choice for fixtures where bulbs are exposed
  • Are dimmable

Cons:

  • Slight startup delay
  • Not rated for outdoor use or use in a fully enclosed fixture

G7 — The G7 bulb I tested is similar to the SunSun bulb but is a bit more expensive.  Like the SunSun, it offers good omni-directional light but the coverage is not as good as the Cree.  It does put out a very pleasing light but given its higher cost and similar characteristics, I cannot recommend it over the SunSun.

Pros:

  • Cannot see internal LEDs

Cons:

  • Slight startup delay
  • Not rated for outdoor use or use in a fully enclosed fixture
  • Not dimmable (the model I tested anyway)

If you still use incandescents in your home, strongly consider trying out a few LED bulbs.  The energy difference is dramatic enough that, in many instances, your energy savings will cover the cost of the bulb in about a year.

If you already have CFLs, it will likely take much longer to earn back the cost of the LED bulbs, but switching may offer you some non-financial benefits such as improved quality of light and no UV emissions.  As you may have gathered, LED bulbs really speak to Mr. Saver’s inner nerd, which — as Mrs. Saver would attest — is never far below the surface.

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5 thoughts on “Mr. Saver Sees the Light!

  1. economiesofkale

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 LED bulbs aren’t quite mainstream here yet, but I did manage to find them on the website of a hardware store for around $10-13 (the CFLs are about $6). I have all CFLs at the moment and will be moving in February so it’s not worth it for this place, but I will definitely think about them for my next place (I swear every house I move into seems to come with incandescent bulbs!).

    Reply
    1. healthfulsave Post author

      I am thinking of giving a few LED bulbs for Christmas. A number of people in our life are at that point where they are trying to unload stuff, not acquire more things they can’t use.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: End of the Week Wrap-Up | The Healthful Saver

  3. "No Pension, Will Travel!" with Cheryl & Paul

    Thanks for this helpful review. We have some LED reading lights, which work pretty well. My first attempt to try a regular 40W replacement still has us laughing – it’s hard to find the light-switch to turn it off! I have been glancing at the LED selection from time to time wondering whether I might try again now that there is more selection, but things still seem pricey. Your post has encouraged me to look harder.

    Reply
    1. healthfulsave Post author

      I am particularly enjoying the light quality in the bathroom – nice for getting ready, make-up etc. LED is a great choice for those rooms that seem to have lights left on frequently (kids!). My husband has an engineering background and really throws himself into this kind of data! I also appreciate not having the UV from the lightbulbs right next to my head on the living room end table lamps.

      Reply

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