Light Bulbs: Ratings of Sources
After hours of researching bulbs and speaking with experts, reviewers at TheSweethome.com test 18 top-rated bulbs in an alcove with a light meter and a dimmer switch. They evaluated each bulb's brightness on the highest and lowest settings and checked to see if the numbers changed after five minutes. They also tested for light distribution and listened for humming or buzzing noises. Nearly every bulb was acceptable, so their recommendations depend largely on price.
ConsumerReports.org subjects 74 light bulbs, including standard, floodlight and specialty (chandelier) CFL and LEDs to "life testing." The process includes cycling them on and off repeatedly after 3,000 hours in the "on" position. Editors measure how well each bulb holds up and compare that to its claimed lifespan. They also measure brightness, efficiency, light distribution, light color, and the time it takes each bulb to reach full brightness after being switched on.
CNET names its favorite LED bulbs for different uses, such as floodlights and enclosed fixtures, and different features, such as color accuracy and smart technology. There's a brief one-sentence write-up for each bulb here, followed by a link to a full-length review that evaluates design, performance, and value. CNET editors test each bulb and analyze its efficiency, light quality, light distribution, and tendency to buzz or hum.
Digital Trends recommends the best LED bulbs for specific uses. The choices range from an all-purpose white light that costs around $5 per bulb to a $38 color-changing smart bulb that can be controlled via Bluetooth. However, it's not clear whether Hastings has actually tested the bulbs or is just recommending them based on their specs.
LED bulbs are the most popular type at HomeDepot.com. There are more than 1,750 listings for this type of bulb, and several models earn strong reviews from 100 users or more. Bulbs from Philips, GE, Cree, and TCP all earn good user reviews. Some CFL bulbs get good ratings, too, but that's generally based on much less feedback.
Walmart.com offers light bulbs in every category: LED, CFL, halogen, and smart bulbs. However, most of its products don't receive much feedback from users. This site is useful mainly for finding reviews of LED bulbs from Walmart's house brand, Great Value.
There are hundreds of thousands of listings for light bulbs at Amazon.com, including CFL, incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs. Several bulbs have hundreds or even thousands of reviews, but many of them are unusual brands that aren't widely sold in stores and aren't covered in any professional reviews. So rather than look to Amazon for recommendations, we've used this site to find feedback for bulbs that are well-rated elsewhere.
Like most sites, Lowes.com has more user reviews for LED bulbs than for any other type. However, even in this category, few bulbs receive more than a handful of reviews. The only bulb to earn at least 4 stars out of 5 overall from more than 100 users is from Utilitech, a brand sold exclusively at Lowe's.