I have a few skeletons in my closet. This year I have to confess I have been ordering my LED bulbs direct from China via Ebay.
One of the current problems with LED bulbs is that they are more efficient than CFLs, but to an even greater degree, they are more expensive. So if you compare a 10 watt CFL to a 10 watt LED bulb, the CFL bulb will be less expensive and probably give better light but the LED bulb will last longer and should be mercury free. Who need mercury vapor floating around inside a thin glass shell above their heads? Its really kind of unnerving when you think about it.
This summer we have a new comer. Philips has introduced a new LED bulb that won the L Prize. Its supposed to look like a 60 watt bulb, last over 20 years and reduce watts consumed by 85% so depending on your electric rates it should save around $160 in its life time. Looks good yes? There is a down side. The bulb costs. Depending on where you get it, it could cost anywhere up to $60. Home Depot is selling it for $49.97 in our area. Over all if you want a reliable LED bulb, its a win.
Let us compare the winner of the L Prize with my dirty laundry and a CFL.
|Philips Award Winning LED bulb||LED corn light bulbs from China||CFL from EcoSmart|
|940 lumens||950 lumens||900 lumens|
|10 watts||10 watts||14 watts|
|30,000 lifetime hours||50,000 lifetime hours||10,000 lifetime hours|
|Assurances: contains mercury||Assurances: None what so ever.||Assurances: mercury vapor|
|Cost: $25-$60||Cost: $10.45||Cost: $2 with subsidies|
If you look at lumens per watt over the life time of the bulb versus money spent, the corn lights from China are the best option cost wise (assuming the full 50,000 hour life) with the CFL coming in a close second and the Philips bulb lagging far behind. Im not suggesting that everyone start ordering LED bulbs from China. All three will pay for themselves with energy savings. Im skeptical that my LED corn light bulbs will really last 50,000 hours. They are a year old now and could fry next week. They might also contain nasty things I dont know about. I am however disappointed that years of testing and a ten million dollar pize offered by the US government couldnt produce anything better. So much for US leadership.
CFL subsides are anywhere between $3 and $20 per bulb depending on where you live and who you ask. This also makes it obvious that the US needs to start phasing our CFL subsidies if LEDs are going to make it to where they need to be soon. Keeping the cost of CFLs so low will stall LED development. Subsidies need to be shifted to LEDs now. If the subsidies are removed from CFLs, they lag far behind LEDs and incandesces in cost performance per unit over time.
Ordering bulbs from China has made LED lighting more affordable. I am somewhat cynical and suppose the LED bulbs I could buy at Home Depot are probably also made in China. Most of the CFLs are made there too. Please dont worry, Im finding other ways to subsidize my local economy.