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LED bulbs have a bright future as GE phases out production of CFLs

By Shawn Knight · 18 replies
Feb 2, 2016
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  1. General Electric (GE) has announced that it'll begin phasing out production of compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) light bulbs in the US this year in favor of its light-emitting diode (LED) counterpart.

    CFL bulbs have been around since the mid-80s but didn't really gain popularity among consumers until roughly a decade ago. Despite being praised for their efficiency compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, GE says consumers had multiple complains regarding CFL bulbs such as the fact that they didn't work with dimmers, flickered and took a while to heat up. Others, meanwhile, weren't fond of the "harsh" light they put out and the risks associated with their use of mercury.

    With CFL bulbs soon out of the picture, GE is putting its full weight behind LED bulbs.

    As you may know, LED bulbs are even more energy efficient than CFL models, thus saving you money in the long run. They also have a longer lifespan (some claim to last nearly three decades), are better for the environment and are more durable than their predecessors.

    LED bulbs have been around for a while now but only in the past few years have they become affordable enough for mainstream consideration. In fact, GE says LEDs now account for 15 percent of the 1.7 billion bulbs sold each year in the US. By 2020, the company anticipates LED bulbs will be found in more than half of all light sockets in America.

    Have you made the switch to LED bulbs yet? If so, what were the motivating factors behind your decision? For me, it was the projected cost savings and their long lifespan (in that order).

    Lead image courtesy Chones, Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,257   +3,672

    LED bulbs are a great idea and in certain applications they are proving to be very valuable. Unfortunately, my own experience with bulbs for residential applications has not been good. The bulbs are fragile, particularly against power spikes and vibrations. They simply need to be built to be more enduring. A light bulb that only lasts 2-3 years, but has a price point of $6 - $15 isn't worth the money or effort. Popular names like GE, Sylvania, and a few others have been used here and all have failed. No doubt part of it is because of my local power grid and the fact I live not too far from a military installation that has regular artillery training. That being acknowledged, the previous incandescent bulbs lasted to their projected life span and further, the LED and CF bulbs have not.
    bob333 and alabama man like this.
  3. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    Bought over 100 traditional incandescent bulbs before they stopped selling them. Cost 30$ and no need to buy a new lamp for the rest of my life. They are easier to recycle and as it's below 0°C most of year here all excessive heat is used anyways. Like the color of the light too, led's light is too "cold" for me.
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,164   +1,583

    I'm happy with LED bulbs. Almost all of the lights in my house are now LED.

    Most of them are 800 lum daylight because that it what my wife likes. We got those ones at a good price at CostCo, 10 pack for $25 USD.

    I do like them a heck of a lot more than CFLs. You don't have to worry about mercury if they break, and no warm up time. I can't speak much for incandescents since it has been a while since I've used them. Ummm I guess they work great in easy bake ovens.
    rpjkw11 likes this.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    Some of my house uses them and the rest half still uses CFL and florescent strips. I have over 60 light bulbs in my house and property not including the floodlights and the reason I bought 20 of them is because I picked up two boxes of 10's for about $30. They're Philips branded and they seem OK, I haven't had one fail on me yet but by the same token I haven't noted any difference in my power bill yet.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  6. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 993   +71

    With the price of LEDbulbs becoming more and more affordable, I have completely switched all the CFL bulbs to LEDs last year.

    With the same advertised rating I have measured that the LED bulbs draws less power. However, I do find the CFL bulbs appear to have better lux (not lumens) than the LED bulbs counterparts. I do not have a lux meter, but I definitely feel that the lights from the CFL bulbs have a slightly wider coverage.

    It may also be the reflector housing that's causing the issue, since it was designed for CFL bulbs. or the make and model of bulbs that I chose. all in all I would still recommend everyone to switch to LED when their CFL bulbs went kaput.
  7. GE full-spectrum incandescents here LOL since it's GE that's going LED

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,699   +786

    My wife and I just bought a house so we went 100% LED bulbs. Crap I spent too much money on it but I am happy with the result. Every bulb I got was the CREE brand 100W equivalent, and I have dimmer switches on most of them. I have most of them set to about 50-70% output, but when I need more light I just turn the dimmer all the way up. We're really happy with it, and love the instant-on compared to the CFL's. I've only got a few dollars saved per month on my electric bill so technically, it will take that full 20-30 year life span for the bulbs to pay for themselves. But the other advantages help swallow the pill. I just hope they last.
    rpjkw11 likes this.
  9. HugsNotDrugs

    HugsNotDrugs TS Rookie Posts: 16   +9

    LEDs flicker much worse than CFLs as LEDs don't have any persistence of light output when power is interrupted, ie. between AC power phases. The new IEEE standards on acceptable flicker are causing big problems for the lighting industry who can't seem to supply steady DC power to LEDs at low cost. Instead they adopt a high frequency flicker invisible to most, but causes neurological symptoms like headaches in many. High frequency flicker also causes problems for film.

    LOTS happening in the industry right now. LED is excellent tech but requires high quality DC power conversion from AC that is so far absent from vast majority of bulbs.
  10. lazer

    lazer TS Addict Posts: 235   +56

    In reality, the low energy light bulbs do not save that much money for the consumer. If a home owner has an airconditioner or electric heater plus a refrigerator plus a washing machine plus an electric dryer then his percentage of his electrical bill that is based on the lighting is small and therefore so is the savings.

    Remember when you go to sleep, go to work or go out, you turn off the lights, but not the refrigerator. Most refrigerators use quite a bit more electricity than the lighting.

    Add to this the other appliances and you will get a clearer view of the percentage that lighting uses.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,266   +4,933

    I'm inclined not to believe that.

    LED requires a massive power reduction and only operate on DC. Dimmable LED's even require a variable DC supply that is scales with the AC input. Non-dimmable LED's do not scale DC with AC and causes problems in the voltage reduction when AC drops below a specific voltage.
    If there was no DC power conversion you wouldn't be able to stay in the same room. You think gaming on a low frequency monitor is bad. That would be nothing compared to an LED on 60hz AC current.
  12. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,376   +72

    Dumb. Flourescent bulbs cost one tenth as much. Flourescent bulbs were supposed to last 5 years, and I've never seen one last more than a year with very little use. Don't believe the lifespan.
  13. HugsNotDrugs

    HugsNotDrugs TS Rookie Posts: 16   +9

    Hey Clifford,

    You can find unrectified LEDs operating on 120v at 60hz, usually cheap Christmas lights. They obviously exhibit visible flickering.

    Vast majority of bulbs used pulse-width modulation to reduce light output by flickering it on and off at high speeds. Hardly any use constant current reduction for dimming. I wasn't really referring to dimming. That's a whole other barrel of worms. Even most non-dimmable LED bulbs have big problems with flicker.

    The problem isn't the reduction down to lower voltage but rather supplying constant, clean, steady power. This typically requires a capacitor which is subject to fail under the high temperatures that many high output LEDs operate at.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  14. DAOWAce

    DAOWAce TS Booster Posts: 292   +42

    Do LED bulbs actually heat up like the old types?

    I mainly want them for the power savings and maybe heat reduction, but everything else about LED bulbs seems like a big drawback. Harsher light (unless they're designed differently than normal LEDs) and flickering, specifically.

    We've been using CFLs due to power savings vs the old incandescent (15w vs 100w is a no brainer), but want to move away due to reports that even normal use of CFL bulbs causes a toxic release from them.
  15. hood6558

    hood6558 TS Evangelist Posts: 353   +110

    I started buying LED bulbs a couple years ago. At first the Cree ones with the rugged/rubbery coating on glass, but they were too expensive ($15-$20 each). then some Phillips plastic ones for about $10 each. More recently, Great Value from Walmart, plastic, $2.88 each, same 20+ year life expectancy. I've never had one burn out yet, not even the Great Value 40w in my shop's drop light (been dropped a dozen times already and still going strong). The main reason I like them is their longevity. I got tired of constantly replacing bulbs around the house, and now at these low prices, it's cost effective, if they last even 5 years. Time will tell...
    rpjkw11 and cliffordcooley like this.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,779   +3,906

    You know, I believe the most toxic substance in CFL bulbs is mercury. If you'll take a moment to google "Minamata Japan", you'll know just how toxic mercury can be........, when you put it into water....., and after it goes through several food cycles of concentration.

    OTOH, the idea that enough of it is, "creeping through the glass envelopes of of your light bulbs to kill or maim you", is one of the most laughable,. histrionic, gems of pure FUD I've heard in a long time. We used to play with that crap bare handed in grade school. I still have only one head, as does my son.

    The issue with CFL bulbs lies 99+% with the disposal of the spent bulbs, as mercury is one of those ROHS issues. It's very difficult to recover and prevent from getting back into the water supply. And now we're right back at Minamata. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_disease
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  17. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,974   +1,174

    Migrating from CFL. Hope lifetime is somewhat accurate, spent too much otherwise.
  18. OssieListon

    OssieListon TS Rookie

    Every bulb I got was the CREE brand 100W equivalent, and I have dimmer switches on most of them.
    I have most of them set to about 50-70% output, but when I need more light I just turn the dimmer all the way up.
    We're really happy with it, and love the instant-on compared to the CFL's. I have most of them set to about 50-70% output, but when I need more light I just turn the dimmer all the way up.
  19. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +116

    Cree keeps getting more market share every day.
    We got rid of all our cfls a couple years back when they were discovered to be a fire hazard and we had one shoot flames out of the base, since then we are 100% led household. When we started, the bulbs were $25.00 each, and are now even cheaper.
    We have about 60 bulbs total in the house and yard.
    All the bulbs have since been upgraded again to smart bulbs. I love being in control of everything from the sprinklers to the thermostat and garage door to the lights from anywhere I travel. I can look around the property and in the house while I am at the mountain property, and vice versa.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016

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