Angie's List: The ugly truth of the LED bulb

Posted at 1:03 PM, Jan 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-25 14:03:41-05

The most common alternatives to incandescent light bulbs are CFL's and LED's. CFL's only need one-fifth to one-third the electricity of incandescent to produce the same amount of light and last about ten times as long. But because they're different, you may want to hire an electrician.

"They start up initially, but takes them awhile to warm up," said lighting designer Don Dragoo. "So, to reach those optimum light output it's going to take a couple of minutes."

LED's are up to 85 percent more efficient than incandescent and 10 percent more efficient than CFL's.

"A lot of the LED's require a special type of dimmer. People who are replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs have to be cognizant of the requirements of replacing that dimmer with a specialty dimmer that works in conjunction with the LED's."

While energy-efficient light bulbs last longer, they do cost more than incandescent. But Bob Nuss of Good Cents says that's not so bad in the long run.

"When you look at total life of that bulb versus what you paid for that bulb versus what the amount of energy that bulb is using, these are much cheaper. So the tradeoff there is if you want to keep your old incandescent light bulbs you're going to pay more and change them out more. They are going to create more heat in your home as well."

Lighting is one of the top energy users in the home so when shopping for light bulbs check how much energy the bulb uses because that will have an impact on your electric bill.

"Look at the mission of the light bulb. What are you using it for? If you're just trying to get general light out of it, then I go with the bulb that uses the least amount of energy."

If you're looking to switch over your light bulbs, but can't make them work in existing lamps or fixtures, Angie's List recommends consulting with a licensed electrician or lighting professional.