October 6, 2011
Philips Soft White 57 Watt
This is part of a new wave of Incandescents that com in at slightly lower wattages than their claimed equivalents (to comply with California law requiring grater but not great efficacy). Light quality was best in test, with the classic softness that has made it so hard for us to quit Incandescents. But it did seem dimmer than a full 60. And it’s rated for only 11 moths at three hours per day.
PROS: Price is right. Natural light color.
CONS: Inefficient. A bit dim.
Feit Electric Vintage Style Carbon Filament Bulb
The replica of an early Edison product wins points for aesthetics, with its elongated shape and ribbon like loops of carbon filament. Its perfect if you’ve got lots of antiques or live in a restored Victorian – or if you’re a retro- grunge/hipster. It casts a beautiful, warm light.
PROS: Awesome throwback chic and natural hue.
CONS: Generally sells for three times the retail price.
GE Energy Smart 13 Watt
One of the most popular CFLs on the market, this twister from GE is Energy Star rated, meaning that is claims of lifetime (8,000 hours), brightness (825 lumens), and color temperature (an incandescent like 2,700 Kelvin) have been independently tested. We rated it our second dimmist bulb in our roundup, but the soft white light was the best we’ve ever experienced in a CFL.
PROS: Outstanding light color. Long lasting.
CONS: Undimmable. Like all CFLs, it contains mercury.
Ecosmart Daylight A19 60-Watt Equivalent
Despite a worst in test 700 lumens (claimed) on a 14-watt draw, the EcoSmart didn’t seem particularly dim. And the globelike casing around the coil gave this CFL a nice, even glow. Too bad the light was such a disagreeable blue-grey that we couldn’t wait for the test to be over. It felt like being stuck in a Darren Aronfsky movie.
PROS: The rare bulb that appears brighter than advertised.
CONS: Daylight in name only. Undimmable. Contains mercury.
The first commercially available 60-watt-equivalent LED, this striking bulb has double the life (a claimed 15 years) of a comparable CLF. Our panel ranked it at or near the top for brightness and color of light (a nearly incandescent soft white), through opinions were mixed on its yellow color when the 8-ounce bulb is turned off.
PROS: First-to market bragging rights. Dimmable. Superb light and longevity. Conversation piece.
CONS: Expensive. Slightly odd shape means it may not fit in certain light fixtures.
Switch60 Warm White
The clear winner in terms of aesthetics, the Switch was also the brightest bulb in our test. The warm light it cast was comparable to any incandescent we’ve seen, but it was totter to the touch than any of the others – a function of the liquid cooling that transfers the heat up through the glass – and, at 10 ounces, the heaviest.
PROS: 20,000- hour lifetime. The choice for design nerds and surprisingly brighter.
CONS: Hot and relatively heavy. Ten times heavier than an incandescent.