LED Bulb Prices Drop by 50%: Is it Enough to Make the Energy-Saving Switch?

By , dealnews Copy Editor

Over the last decade in households across America, the compact florescent light bulb (CFL) has replaced many an incandescent bulb. And while consumers have had to make investments in such an energy-saving switch (of an average cost of $5 per bulb), most folks justify the upfront expense as Energy Star-qualified CFLs can save over $40 over their lifetimes in energy costs, and use about 75% less energy than cheap, traditional bulbs.

In addition to funny-shaped CFLs, LED bulbs too save on energy costs, though the public has been less keen on them, as price points for 40-watt bulbs begin around $20 a pop. But that may soon change as Cree, an LED chips and part maker, introduces a new line of low-cost LED light bulbs.

Already popular with owners of commercial and industrial buildings, Cree hopes that marketing its line of three new LED bulbs to consumers at affordable prices will spark a change in energy consumption behavior. The bulbs, to be sold at Home Depot, come in two output capacities — 40-watt and 60-watt — and are priced from $9.97 to $13.97. Even for the high-end 60-watt day light, that's a savings of at least $7 over other energy-efficient LED lights, which could additionally save energy-conscious consumers hundreds of dollars in electricity and cooling costs over a bulb's lifetime. Plus, all Cree's LED light bulbs come with a 10-year warranty.

And while there are other LED bulbs on the market that are priced to sell (Netherlands-based Lemnis Lighting sells a 200-lumen LED bulb for $5, as we've occasionally seen some notable discounts on more expensive options), there are few LED bulbs on the market with the same specs at as affordable consumer price points as Cree's.

We are all about investments in the environment and love long-term savings, and we're even more interested in saving money now. Cree's line of ultra cheap energy-efficient LED bulbs, while more expensive than incandescent and CFL lighting, fulfill all those requirements and just may be, as the company claimed in trademark, "the biggest thing since the light bulb." But what do you think, dealnews reader? Will you make the switch to energy-efficient lighting? Is there enough long-term savings associated with switching to LED bulbs over CFL? Sound off in the comments below.

Front page photo credit: CEDIA

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Claim: LED and CFL lights save you money over incandescent
Cree 60w LED lightbulb home depot price 4/20/2013 = 13.97/bulb.
LED claims (mfg.)
lasts 25 times longer (vs?)
uses at least 84% less energy
10-year limited warranty.
9.5 Watts
800 Lumens
lifespan = ?
Regular incandescent 60W light bulb is ~.36/bulb (38 bulbs = $14.00)
Energy: incandescent bulbs use 15.8x more power
60 W
830 Lumens, 5000 hours
to really compare, we need the kilowatt/hr and we need the time value of money and we'd have a good comparison. I think that 38 incandescent bulbs would last any of my fixtures longer than I'll be living in the house so it would need to be the energy difference. 9.5W led vs 60W.
Anyone want to do the calculations?
I'm not pro one or the other - I'd just like to have some real comparisons on "savings" rather than take the manufacturers word - my experience with CFL's has made me a skeptic.
My CFL bulbs don't last very long and unless I find some low priced LED bulbs I will return to incandescent bulbs that last a bit longer,preferably a year or more instead of months like the CFL's
I have been replacing the CFLs I bought with incadecents, I hate CFLs and would rather use 100w bulbs with dimmers, timers and motion sensors. CFLs add alot of noise and junk to the powerlines and interfere with home automation, not worth the trouble for their limited savings, lights are a small part of the electric bill. LEDs would be nice but chances are making them cheap means cheap power supplies that will be noisy. I have stocked up years and years worth of incadecents.
More efficient light bulbs and more efficient electric appliances will save money in summer, but not necessarily in winter. In electrically heated buildings, there will be NO savings in winter, because they put out less heat, which will be supplied automatically by the electric heating system. In gas heated buildings in winter, there will be electric savings, but they will be partially offset by increased gas cost to supply the heat that the old bulbs and appliances provided. Remember also that lighting is used less in summer because the days are longer.
Larry Spielvogel, PE
LED light is safer, more reliable, uses less power, is instant-on, works under greater temperature variation and provides more consistent illumination than either incandescent or CFL bulbs. Honestly it's the way to go for standard lamps. I'll still use halogens in my work areas such as kitchen and work bench, mostly for their excellent brightness, and continue to use strip fluorescents in my dining area, basement and garage. But I'll slowly replace everything else.
I outfitted our home with LG 7.5w bulbs from Costco last year. They came in a 2-pack for $16 ($8 each). There are still a few rooms to replace that see only a small amount of usage time each day, and I'll replace them as the cost decreases further.

LEDs bulbs are incredible. This is the easiest energy-efficiency upgrade you can make in your home and they are superior to CFLs and incandescents in every way except for upfront cost. You can choose your "temperature" (color) as well. Lighting account for 11-13% of home energy use in the US, representing significant savings potential.

A year ago I was in a meeting with a representative from Phillips who had just won the L-Prize for their LED bulb, and he told us firsthand how the manufacturers are going to eat costs for a while while the products take off and as we as consumers support them with our purchases, the price will continue to fall. This is an easy fix for your wallet. Buying incandescents is wasteful and poor money management.
Jeffrey Contray (DealNews)
IKEA currently sells a 10W (60W equivalent) LED bulb rated at 600 lumens and a 2700 kelvin color temp. It's warm (about the same as incandescents), dimmable, and costs just $13.99. Quality seems high so far.
Switched to all CFL lighting years ago. Looking for affordable LEDs now, but they've been rare. I'll try these after evaluating the cost factor.
Low power LEDs are still very affordable - look at mini flashlight prices. But LED bulbs with brightness comparable to 40W or 60W incandescents were not available at all until a few years ago, and the prices have consistently been coming down, like any new technology. Government incentives and mandates are mainly serving to increase demand and lower prices.
The link you give is very informative. It compares attributes and costs of different technologies. Because LEDs last about 40 times longer than incandescents, they can already be cheaper in the long run based only on purchase cost. But because the cost of the electricity far exceeds the cost of the bulb, LEDs are far less expensive over the long run (LED $85.75, CFL $89.75, Incandescent $352.50 with their numbers).

This cost difference is in addition to the impact of lower electricity usage on total energy demand, oil/gas/coal supplies, and the environment. LEDs are a huge win, and the price is right at least for replacing bulbs as they die. There may not be good solutions for all applications, but there are for most. I hardly use any 100W bulbs.
Like the CFL bulbs, the LEDs do not last as long as claimed nor are as bright as they state. Given that, however, it is easy to use a higher wattage-equivalent bulb to not only make up the difference but to get more light where once it was prohibited. So those "max 40W" and "max 60W" locations can now use 60/100W equivalent bulbs. LEDs need to have the $10 100W-equivalent as 40/60W ones in most cases are too dim.
Dan de Grandpre (DealNews)
FYI — because I wanted to look it up myself after reading this article — this page purports to list the wattage equivalents for LEDs, CFLs, and incandescents.
According to it, you need at least 6 watts of LED to equal a 60-watt incandescent.

Cree's $13.97 for a 60-watt-equiv LED bulb compares to about $0.42 for an incandescent bulb based on prices at Lowes.com. That's 33 incandescent bulbs for every Cree 60-watt LED equivalent. Just FYI.
What about the brightness? I have found that even 100 watt cfl bulbs are not bright enough. What is equivalent to a 100 watt old incandescent bulb?
LED's were a dime a dozen before the mandate to do away with incandescent bulbs. Now their seems to be some kind of price gouging scheme in the entire LED industry for bulb replacements. Also, why is it that the bulb industry giants seem to be minor players in the LED field?

To answer the question, I am still waiting for reasonably priced LED's from the brands I know.
Already replacing dead bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent) with LED. Glad to hear they are coming down in price.