The EcoSmart Soft White, formerly sold as the N:Vision brand, is rated as one of the best compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs in many of the reviews we found. Reviews say that this bulb provides light that's a bit more yellow than the warm-colored light from standard incandescent bulbs and less blue than harsh fluorescent lighting. The EcoSmart Soft Whites, available exclusively through Home Depot, are smaller than many bulbs, so they fit in most lamps and have a standard base. Reviews say they perform well in reading lamps and through lampshades. The 14-watt version is as bright as a 60-watt incandescent light bulb. All CFL bulbs contain some mercury, but the EcoSmart Soft Whites are certified to contain between 2.3 and 3.5 milligrams of mercury, less than the 5 milligrams considered acceptable for CFL bulbs. The EcoSmart bulbs also fare well in tests of longevity, earning an excellent rating for life span in one long-term comparison test. There's a nine-year warranty and a means of replacing defective bulbs (if you call a toll-free phone number). However, if you need a light bulb to use with a dimmer, reviews recommend the Philips Halogena Energy Saver (*Est. $12 for two) as the best halogen light bulb.
We found lots of feedback for the EcoSmart Soft White CFL bulb, though all of it predates its branding change from N:Vision (reports say that the bulbs are identical). The best review is at ConsumerReports.org, which conducts ongoing independent testing of CFLs. The EcoSmart CFL is tested along with nine other brands in the latest roundup. Popular Mechanics magazine tests the EcoSmart Soft White against six other compact fluorescent bulbs and one incandescent bulb. We found good coverage in The New York Times, the environmentally oriented website Grist.org and in two blogs. Lighting expert Don Klipstein offers a detailed discussion of EcoSmart CFLs for use in lamps and upright lighting fixtures.
ConsumerReports.org conducts ongoing testing of CFLs. This latest roundup includes 10 brands of CFLs, each tested in an independent laboratory for life span, durability after frequent on/off cycling, light quality, brightness, color temperature and warm-up time. The EcoSmart CFL (tested under its former N:Vision brand) is one of those tested.
Review: Fluorescent Light Bulbs, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, October 2009
Popular Mechanics tests seven compact fluorescent light bulbs against a 75-watt incandescent light bulb in lab and hands-on analysis, and there are hundreds of reader comments as well. The EcoSmart (formerly N:Vision) Soft White gets an overall grade of A and is judged "best in tests."
Review: The Best Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: PM Lab Test, Emily Masamitsu, June 2007
3. The New York Times
A panel of New York Times staffers evaluates 21 light bulbs, although only the top six are included in a chart that accompanies this story. Two N:Vision (now EcoSmart) Soft White bulbs place third and fifth in the top six.
Review: Any Other Bright Ideas?, Julie Scelfo, Jan. 10, 2008
Grist.org, an environmental website, compares just four light bulbs in hands-on tests, and reader comments suggest other bulbs. The N:Vision Soft White doesn't get the top pick, but it's considered inoffensive.
Review: Lumen Essence: A Review of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, Katharine Wroth, Dec. 14, 2007
5. Don Klipstein's website
Don Klipstein, a lighting expert who has been reviewing light bulbs for a number of years, offers regularly updated content. Klipstein discusses the N:Vision brand (now sold as EcoSmart) in detail, including updates on Energy Star approval and light quality.
Review: What Compact Fluorescents to Use Where, Donald L. Klipstein, Updated April 2010
Don Rathbun offers informal reviews of CFLs that he's used personally on this blog. He notes that his wife didn't notice when he switched out incandescent light bulbs in their home for the N:Vision CFLs, which are now sold under the brand name EcoSmart. He also mentions that these CFLs operate quietly.
Review: N:Vision CFL Bulb Review -- 23 watts, 2700K, Don Rathbun, July 2008
This is a review of N:Vision Soft White 9-watt bulbs, which are equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent. The article doesn't compare N:Vision bulbs with other brands, but it offers a detailed analysis of the N:Vision Soft White, stating that the price is very affordable and that the bulbs don't flicker when turned on. The review notes that these CFL bulbs are not dimmable, although N:Vision (now EcoSmart) does offer bulbs that are.
Review: N:Vision Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb CFL Review, "Mr. Green Gear", February 2009