GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL 13W Review

Updated January 31, 2014
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GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL 13W
Bottom Line

The GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL 13W is the best overall value we found in a compact fluorescent light bulb. Less than $2 each when purchased in a multi-pack, it produces 825 lumens of warm light, nearly 10 percent more than a 60-watt incandescent. Reviews show the light is well distributed, but the bulb is also slow to warm up. The biggest complaint from many users is that the bulb wears out quickly.

Performance

Good light output. The Energy Smart bulb puts out a warm light similar to that of an incandescent bulb (2,700K). Most users like the light color, although a couple of reviews describe it as too cold or too pale. In professional tests, the bulb gets mixed results for light distribution: Lab tests show that it sheds light evenly, but users are dissatisfied with the way the light is spread. Testers and users are also split over the bulb's warm-up time. Editors at Good Housekeeping have no complaints, but many users say the bulbs take too long to reach full brightness.

ProsEnergy Star-rated, Warm, bright light, Good light distributionConsNot dimmable, Wears out quickly, Somewhat slow to warm up

Value

Disappointing lifespan. The GE bulb is inexpensive and efficient, using only 13 watts of power. However, both professionals and owners are disappointed with its longevity. Although the bulb is rated for 8,000 hours of use, lab tests show that it wears out much faster if it's switched on and off frequently. This problem affects all CFLs, but it's particularly noticeable with these GE bulbs. The majority of complaints among Amazon.com users focus on the bulb's lifespan: One owner reports having five bulbs wear out over a two-year period. However, most of these reviews are for an older model of Energy Smart bulb, so newer ones may perform better.

Our Sources

1. Good Housekeeping

GE Energy Smart CFL Light Bulb, Editors of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, January 2012

The GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL earns a B grade in tests at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. Lab testing shows that it casts bright, even light, but consumers don't like the light pattern. The bulb's biggest downside is that frequent on-off switches greatly shorten its life.

2. Amazon.com

GE 13-Watt Energy SmartTM - 8 Pack - 60 Watt Replacement, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014

We found about 600 reviews here for the GE Energy Smart Spiral CFL 13W, spread across multiple pages. Users give it 4.1 stars out of 5 overall for its warm light and low cost. Their biggest complaints are that it warms up slowly and wears out quickly.

3. FivePercent.us

CFL Bulb Review: Best CFL Bulbs to Replace Incandescent, Tom Harrison, October 2010

Tom Harrison, a software developer and green blogger, recommends GE Energy Smart bulbs as the most reliable brand of CFL based on his own experiences. Although Harrison says he has "tried a lot of bad bulbs," he doesn't name the other brands or explain how they were inferior.