LED Light Bulbs Review: What’s Available Now?

In the coming year to 18 months, a range of vastly improved LED light bulbs will become available to consumers. The LED light bulbs currently on the market are best-suited for task and accent lighting, but they offer a promise of better, more affordable, general use products to come. The following reviews of these three LED bulbs are typical of the units that can be bought at this time. Prices and light output vary widely, but all speak to the vast potential of LEDs for long-lasting, energy-efficient home illumination.

ZetaLux 7

The ZetaLux 7-watt LED light bulb by EarthLED will, according to the company website, "cost only $2.00 to run 8 hours per day for an entire year." With equivalent illumination to a 50-60 watt conventional, incandescent bulb, the ZetaLux is best used for down lighting. By design, light comes out of the top of the bulb with "no light . . . directed below the bulb where it is not used." At $39.99, and with a claimed operational life of ten years of eight-hour-a-day use, EarthLED calculates the total cost of ownership of this bulb at $59.99. Thirty incandescent bulbs would be required to achieve equal performance, at a total life cost of $206.20.

EcoLED 1x10

EcoLED produces a 1x10-watt LED light, which it claims will replace a "100-watt regular bulb." The rated life of the unit is 50,000 hours, which the company says will save the user "$450 in electricity over its life while reducing C02 emissions by over 9,000 pounds compared to regular light bulbs." Like most bulbs in this generation of LEDs, light is directed only out of the top of the unit. The listed regular price for the bulb was $129, with a web special sale in December 2009 of $99.

CC Vivid Plus

The C. Crane Company offers a $12.49 CC Vivid Plus LED bulb with "low light output . . . acceptable for reading, task, or accent lighting." Drawing 2.5 watts, the bulb's 36 LEDs produce around 60 lumens, which is extremely dim for home lighting. (A single 60-watt, frosted incandescent bulb, by comparison, would put out around 550 lumens.) The CC Vivid Plus has a rated life of 20,000 hours. Carrying a two-year limited warranty, the bulb cannot be used with dimmer switches.

The Future of LEDs

The availability and usefulness of low energy light bulbs will advance by leaps and bounds in coming months. As an example, Sharp has developed a line of nine LED bulbs for home use currently available in Japan only. These products overcome many of the limitations of current LEDs. Priced from $40 to $82 each, the Sharp bulbs carry an operational life of 40,000 hours. The brightest bulb in the series can replace a 60-watt incandescent and comes with a remote control to vary the bulb's output in a light range from warm white to cool daylight.

Like any innovative product in its first generation, LED bulbs carry drawbacks for early adopters. Many of the less-expensive products emit a cool, blue light that is much dimmer than the comparative wattage might suggest. Traditional incandescent lights offer a warmer, yellowish light to which people are accustomed, making the LEDs appear even stranger and less useful. With improvements in color tone and directionality, however, these bulbs, which contain no hazardous chemicals like the mercury found in compact fluorescent bulbs, will offer long-life with superior energy efficiency.

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4 Responses to “LED Light Bulbs Review: What’s Available Now?”

  1. John Wilder Says:

    Thank you Rana Williamson for mentioning our company in your article. However comparing the two high end LED bulbs to our entry level LED bulb would not be a fair comparison for the LED bulbs our company produces. A better choice for comparison would be our GeoBulb II or GeoBulb-3 LED bulbs.

    The GeoBulb II (cool white): 446 lumens, >180 degree beam angle, 30,000 hour rated life for the LED’s and a 3 year warranty for $49.95 each. The GeoBulb-3 (cool white): 520 lumens, >180 degree beam angle, 50,000 hour rated life for the LED’s and a 5 year warranty for $99.95 each (a price drop to $69.95 for these is expected soon). Both of these bulbs are UL listed and FCC approved. We also make available on our website independent lab testing results for these bulbs (LM-79 LED standards).

    According to a document published by the US Department of Energy, luminosity can vary depending on the make and model of the 60-watt incandescent bulb. In their studies they have found the total lumens can range from 340-1010. This means the LED bulbs from all of the above companies fall within this luminosity range. Please note that all of the LED bulbs covered in this article and in this response are not usable with dimmer switches.

    To further help your readers, when shopping for LED bulbs with a color that matches their needs they should look for Kelvin rating. The following is a basic guideline for Kelvin rating (color temperature):
    8000-8500 Blue-Violet
    5000-5500 White-Blue (sunlight)
    3000-3500 Soft White
    2500-3000 Yellow

    John Wilder

  2. Rana Says:

    John, thank you for clearing up that point of comparison. It’s difficult as these new technologies emerge to sort out all the factors and get the right apples to line up with the right oranges. I’m personally extremely excited about LEDs and plan on incorporating them into my home in months to come (and my ears did perk up at that price drop you mention.) Also, thanks for providing those Kelvin numbers. From my own experience I know that make a tremendous difference in selecting the correct low energy bulb for the envisioned purpose.

  3. greenconsumer Says:

    LED bulb reliability – HIGH FAILURE RATES

    The life span of LED bulbs is vastly overstated by the manufacturers and vendors. Some of the bulbs I have purchased only lasted two weeks at no more than a couple hours use per day. Very disappointing (maybe 30 hours lifespan).

    I am a big fan of LED lighting. Choose a bulb that fits the application (lumens and color) and you will be happy. Unfortunately many manufacturers and vendors overstate (I’m being kind here) their products specifications.
    I have purchased 45 LED bulbs and have had mixed reliability.
    The good news – some are very reliable. I have five LED bulbs outside that have run dusk to dawn for two years with no problems.
    The bad news – some bulbs are VERY unreliable. VERY high failure rates.
    I purchased 12 of one type LED bulb and 12 out of 12 have failed (8.5W product 47856 from LEDLight.com). 100% failure rate. To make matters worse they are refusing to replace them now.
    Beware of LEDLight.com. This company is selling products that they know are defective. No support for failed LED bulbs. These bulbs are very expensive ($20 – $105) and in some cases last only two or three weeks. They refuse to replace defective bulbs. LEDLight.com is selling known defective products and has bad customer service.
    ledlight.com, LED, problem, fail, failure, burnout, quit, reliability, unreliable, review

  4. John Foster Says:

    These lights put out an AMAZING amount of heat for their low wattage. If you live in a warm area where you use air conditioning a good part of the year, any savings in electricity produced by the low wattage of the light may be cancelled out by your air conditioner working overtime to cool off the heat produced by LED lights. Compact fluorescents, on the other hand, produce almost no heat.

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