Light Bulbs for Saving Energy and Money

Note: This is mostly specific to North America, somewhat specific to the US.
New file 4/4/2022, update 6/12/2022.

General Purpose LED Light Bulbs that Cost Less

Especially Economical Extreme Efficiency LED Light Bulbs

LED lightbulbs for use in downlights and small enclosed fixtures

Lightbulbs for use with dimmers, motion sensor lights, etc.

Lightbulbs for use in ovens and heating devices

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs For Post Lights and Porch Lights

Things to Avoid

General Purpose LED Bulbs that Cost Less

General purpose LED light bulbs of A19 style (usual shape and size of medium base lightbulbs) are available for low cost at Dollar Tree and at Ikea. Ones at Dollar Tree are now generally available in nominal equivalents of 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt incandescent lightbulbs. My experience so far with the Dollar Tree ones is that they are usually useful for a few thousand working hours before they fail or noticeably fade in light output. Even though this is much less than they are rated for, they are still a bargain because they consume a little less electricity than CFL lightbulbs and about 21-24 % as much electricity as even the improved-efficiency incandescents that became common in 2012-2014 (which are a kind of halogen bulbs) while costing only $1.25 each.

Especially Economical Extreme Efficiency LED Light Bulbs

Ikea's Solhetta series of LED light bulbs have extremely high overall luminous efficiency / efficacy of mostly about 136-138 lumens out per watt in. I know of two exceptions, both of which have higher claimed efficency of 152 or 160 lumens per watt. I tested both of those models, and with the test equipment I have on hand I confirmed at least 138 lumens per watt and was not able to refute the higher claims.

LED lightbulbs for use in downlights and small enclosed fixtures

To decrease problems with heat buildup Light fixtures that have light bulbs enclosed in small enclosures, or that have light bulbs pointing downward (in a base-up position) while being closely surrounded by downlight fixtures, usually have heat build-up issues that are often a problem for LED and screw-base CFL lightbulbs, especially if claimed light output is more than "60 watts incandescent equivalent". I have recently seen Ikea's Solhetta series of LED lightbulbs as consuming less electrical power and producing substantially less heat than all other general household use LED lightbulbs up to and including "100-watt-equivalent" that I have seen so far. The 100-watt-equivalent Ikea Solhetta LED light bulb is so efficient that it has localized heating only like that of 60-watt-equivalent LED lightbulbs that have actual power consumption about 8.5-9 watts.

UPDATE 5/20/2022: Ikea's Solhetta series 60 watt equivalent LED light bulb produces 800 lumens from 5.9 watts, and runs much cooler than similarly bright light bulbs that have actual power consumption ( rate of energy use ) of 8 watts or more.

There is the matter of R style floodlights, that are preferred in most recessed ceiling fixture downlights. I have not paid a lot of attention to this in recent years, and I have been disappointed by lightbulb technologies in general having less energy efficiency in R type and related floodlamps than in other lamp types.

Lightbulbs for use with dimmers, motion sensor lights, etc.

Some LED and CFL light bulbs are rated for use with dimmers, and some are not. Ones that are not rated for use with dimmers can substantially malfunction when used with dimmers, or with electronic switching devices such as motion sensing light fixtures, some electronic timers, and some remote control switching devices. In order for a non-incandescent lightbulb to work better with these electronic controlling devices, the lightbulb should be rated for use with dimmers, or the controlling device should be rated for use with fluorescent lamps, motors, or electronic devices.

LED lightbulbs that are rated for use with dimmers may be mostly bright when a dimmer is turned up enough to get them to turn on, and after these lightbulbs turn on they can be dimmed down.

Most dimmable LED and CFL lightbulbs can't be dimmed by most dimmers to a light level almost as dim as an idling cigarette, while incandescent lightbulbs can be dimmed to cigarette-like dimness. And when an attempt at extreme dimming causes the dimmer to cut out, the dimmer needs to be turned up substantially in order to restart, and then a restarted LED light bulb can be quite bright. However, LED light bulbs that are rated for use with dimmers can usually be dimmed to an extent dim enough to be dimmer than brighter night lights.

Dimmable CFL and LED lightbulbs mostly have not much color change from being dimmed, unlike incandescent light bulbs, which means dimmable CFLs and most dimmable LED lightbulbs can have a "dreary gray effect" when greatly dimmed. There are dimmable LED lightbulbs that have color changing towards orangish when dimmed, for example at least one by Philips that I have seen at Home Depot.

UPDATE 6/12/2022: Do not use CFLs in motion sensor lights, even if they are rated for use with dimmers. CFLs generally start dim and need to warm up, and ones with outer bulbs tend to start dimmer and need more time to warm up.

Lightbulbs for use in ovens and heating devices

Ovens and heating devices in general should have their light bulbs replaced only by ones specified for such use. It is best to use light bulbs of types recommended by the equipment manufacturer. Light bulbs that are claimed to be suitable in such equipment are OK if they are made by recognizeable name brand manufacturers or sold in major chain home centers supermarkets or big stores. Suitable light bulbs of reputable brands are also often available at hardware stores. Suitable light bulbs tend to be incandescent, and are not affected by the US partial ban on incandescents, not even the 2022 expansion of this partial ban. Screw base CFL and LED light bulbs are likely to have their internal ballasts fail quickly in the heat of ovens and the like. The heat of ovens and the like dims LEDs and causes them to age much faster, and CFLs are greatly dimmed by temperature much different from that which they were designed for.

Home ovens typically use a 40 watt incandescent light bulb that has a usual light bulb shape, and that is often marketed as an appliance bulb. It is advisable to be sure a replacement appliance bulb comes with a statement that it is suitable in ovens before using it in an oven. There is a 100 watt commercial oven light bulb that is typically available from major online light bulb stores and suppliers of replacement parts for the kinds of equipment such light bulbs are used in. Some restaurant equipment requires specific light bulbs.

Energy Efficient Light Bulbs For Post Lights and Porch Lights

For post lights and porch lights that take lightbulbs that have "USA-usual" E26 screw base about an inch wide: I mostly prefer 40-watt-equivalent LED lightbulbs that are mentioned as having daylight color and color temperature at least 5000K and actual power consumption (rate of energy usage) no more than 5.5 watts. This cool color typically attracts nighttime flying insects, with exception of LED light bulbs, because LED light bulbs do not produce ultraviolet. Also, I have experienced 5000K / daylight lightbulbs that have 40 watt incandescent equivalence (around 400-450 lumens ) to have "nighttime outdoor illuminating power" like that of 60W-equivalent (800 lumens) incandescent-color (2700K) lightbulbs because the daylight-color ones have more blue spectral content that night vision is sensitive to. This applies even when human vision is in "mesopic mode" that sees color and some sharply fucused images from photopic vision while having "sensation of illumination" mostly from scotopic vision.

There may be a need for these lightbulbs to be rated for use with dimmers in order to not malfunction with electronic circuits that turn off these lights during daytime. If there is a need for a dimmable light bulb with an E26 base in a porch light or a post light, then for that I recommend the Ikea Solhetta series 60-watt-rquivalent light bulbs that are rated as dimmable, and to produce 800 lumens from 5.9 watts.

Where a non-dimmable LED lightbulb that has an E26 base (screw base about 1 inch wide) is acceptable and where there is desire to minimize power consumption while producing as much light as a 40 watt incandescent does, an Ikea Solhetta series lightbulb consumes only 2.8 watts to produce 450 lumens. This one has four "filaments" made of "LED wire".

As for post lights that take E12 / candelabra base light bulbs: If there is no need for light bulbs being used here to be rated for use with dimmers in order to work here, then I recommend here either of two Ikea models:

If there is need to achieve nighttime outdoor illumination like that of a 60 watt incandescent, then I recommend Ikea's Ryet series E12 base light bulb that is rated to produce 450 lumens from 4.3 watts with daylight color and color temperature of 5000K. If a non-dimmer-rated LED light bulb with incandescent-like color and light output of 250 lumens (highish of 25 watt incandescent lamps) is acceptable, then I recommend an Ikea Solhetta series light bulb that is rated to do this with only 1.8 watts of power consumption.

Things to avoid

Avoid CFLs and LED light bulbs from dollar stores, except for ones at Dollar Tree and ones of well known major brands. Ones of brands that are mostly seen at dollar stores other than Dollar Tree tend to produce less light than claimed, sometimes don't last long, sometimes have misstated color, sometimes have worse color rendering properties than usual, and some of these are unsafe.

Written by Don Klipstein.

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