LED Bulbs Get Cheaper, Better

Small Home Gazette, Summer 2013

LED Bulbs Get Cheaper, Better

Cree LED lightbulb.It’s no secret that I believe the LED (light-emitting diode) bulb is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. (Which, incidentally, was introduced in 1928, at the end of the Midwest’s bungalow era.) I love all things vintage, but I’m willing to compromise if the tradeoff is worthwhile.

When I first wrote about LEDs in this newsletter two summers ago, a 60-watt-equivalent bulb cost $40. They were a hard sell at that price, and I suspect they were sold (in very small numbers) primarily to oddballs like me. As expected, though, their cost has dropped and the bulbs have improved.

LED bulb and package.Recently Home Depot has started exclusively selling an LED made by Cree that seems to hit several sweet spots. A 60-watt equivalent costs “just” $13; it looks more-or-less like a standard, frosted incandescent bulb; it’s dimmable; it’s mercury free, and the light it emits is virtually indistinguishable from an incandescent.

Best of all, it uses only 9.5 watts of energy and is rated to last 22.8 years, based on three hours of use per day. I especially like them in summer because it doesn’t feel like I’m simultaneously cooling my bungalow with central air while heating it with incandescent bulbs. A tip: Be sure to look for LEDs marked “warm white” or a 2700 K color temperature.

For more information, check out the recent Star Tribune article on LEDs at www.startribune.com/newest-led-bulbs-look-more-familiar/214941181/.