New light on the best bulbs
Waikato shoppers buying the latest energy-efficient light bulbs should buy a brand they trust after research by Consumer revealed significant variations in quality
Light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) are expected to last up to five times longer than the equivalent compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and up to 30 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
However, testing by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) of 24 LED bulbs found the quality varied considerably between each bulb.
The tests measured power consumption, light output, colour and how close that colour was to the light from an ideal bulb.
Consumer reviewed the testing and calculated how much light the LEDs produced for the electricity they used, as well as how much light they produced for their purchase price.
According to Consumer, the LED replacements for standard incandescent light bulbs showed substantial savings and were five times more efficient.
LEDs use about one-fifth the power of an equivalent incandescent bulb – about the same as a CFL.
While the research found the savings weren’t as dramatic for halogen downlights and spotlights, LEDs were still three to four times more efficient.
A standard halogen downlight costs between three and four times as much to run as its LED replacement.
Although Consumer found in many cases CFLs remained the best choice, LEDs had a number of advantages and the higher price of LEDs was likely to fall in the future.
LEDs last longer than CFLs, which makes them ideal for difficultto-get-at places like high ceilings.
They are also available in a wide range of stylish and high-quality fittings. Compared to most CFLs, LEDs provide full light instantly without any warm up time and many LEDs are also dimmable. LEDs also do not contain tiny amounts of mercury like CFLs.
Sue Chetwin, chief executive of Consumer New Zealand, said while LEDs were likely to be the lighting of the future, some bulbs were currently too expensive to be costeffective.
Consumer believes that LED prices will become more competitive in the years to come.
“Because the purchase cost of the LED bulbs varies hugely, their cost over five years also varies hugely. We think the five-year overall cost becomes unattractive when the LED bulb is priced at more than about $40. It seems certain that LED prices will reduce over the next few years and that will make them more cost-effective.
“There’s a wide range of LED lighting products on the market and tests show they vary enormously in performance.”
Terry Collins, EECA’s products general manager, said the research underlined the importance of buying a brand shoppers trust.
“While LEDs are the most energyefficient light bulbs on the market, like most electrical products, the quality can also vary.
“LED bulbs can qualify for the Energy Star mark, which denotes the most energy efficient products in a category. If a bulb carries the blue Energy Star mark, then shoppers know it will give a good quality light, perform efficiently and last its life as claimed.
ENERGY EFFICIENT: Light bulbs.