Light Bulbs : Ratings of Sources

Updated January 31, 2014
In this report

Light Bulbs: Ratings of Sources

1. Recommended Lightbulbs,, October 2013
Credibility: subjects 48 light bulbs, including CFLs, LEDs and a couple of halogen bulbs, to "life testing." The process includes cycling them on and off repeatedly until they reach 3,000 hours of use. 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.
2. Good Housekeeping Light Bulb Reviews, Good Housekeeping, January 2012
The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests 28 energy-saving light bulbs, grading each one from A to F. To evaluate longevity, bulbs are set to blink on and off at 15-second intervals over a long period. Testers also rate the bulbs' brightness, light distribution, warm-up time, efficiency and light quality. Editors give the highest overall ratings to six LED and halogen bulbs, but they say CFLs offer the best value.
3. CNET LED There Be Light: We Pick the Best Bulb Upgrades for Your Buck, CNET, Dec. 20, 2013
CNET names its top picks for the best LED bulbs to replace outdated incandescents. Ry Crist provides only a brief one-paragraph write-up for each, but there are links to detailed reviews based on hands-on observation. Reviewers assess the bulbs' light output and quality, design, cost and high-tech features. Recommended bulbs range from a basic 800-lumen bulb for $13 to a $199 color-changing system that syncs with a smartphone.
4. The New York Times New Reasons to Change Light Bulbs, The New York Times, March 20, 2013
Technology columnist David Pogue tests six brands of LED light bulbs in his home, and reports on their light quality, appearance and value. The tested brands range from standard soft-white bulbs from 3M and Cree to gimmicky systems that let you control a whole bank of lights remotely and even change their color. Pogue recommends the Cree bulbs for their "superior design and low price" -- as low as $6 each.
5. Good Bad Bulbs – Fluorescent Lighting & LED Lighting,, Oct. 26, 2013
Blogger Dan Rathbun reviews energy-efficient light bulbs based on his personal experience, usually with just one bulb. There aren't many reviews here, and there's no direct comparison between brands. The most recent favorable comments cover the Cree BR30 LED Floodlight, which Rathbun calls "my new favorite bulb;" the Cree 60-watt Replacement LED; and the Philips A21 LED 17W. Reviews are brief, and touch on light quality, shape and value.
6. Popular Mechanics Cree's LED Replacement for the 75-Watt Bulbs You Can't Buy Anymore, Popular Mechanics, Dec. 6, 2013
David Agrell of Popular Mechanics reviews the Cree 75-watt Replacement LED, introduced in December 2013. He notes that it's fully dimmable, produces a warm white light, comes with a 10-year warranty and "could save you $170 in energy costs over its 23-year lifetime." Its one drawback is a $23 price tag, but Agrell says the bulb is expected to earn Energy Star certification, qualifying it for rebates that could cut the price significantly.
7. Apartment Best of the Bulbs: 2013 LED Light Bulb Buyers Guide, Apartment, June 14, 2013
This popular home blog presents a roundup of 10 LED bulbs and their most appropriate uses. Blogger Vahan Baladouni names the Cree 60-watt Replacement LED Soft White as the best overall, thanks to "its combination of modest price, wide availability, impressive 10-year warranty, recognizable light bulb shape, even cast of soft-warm light and bright 800 lumens output." However, there's no indication that Baladouni personally tests any of the bulbs.
8. MIT Technology Review Cree Introduces an LED Bulb Edison Would Love, MIT Technology Review, March 5, 2013
Energy blogger Martin LaMonica reports on the 2013 introduction of Cree's 60-watt Replacement LED bulb, which he says "mimics the traditional incandescent bulb design in every way -- except its inefficiency." The Cree bulb has the iconic light bulb shape, but with the addition of a rubber coating on the glass dome to resist shattering. LaMonica says the bulb he installed produced similar light output and distribution to a traditional incandescent.
9. The New York Times Basking in a New Glow, The New York Times, Feb. 12, 2014
The New York Times' "Pragmatist," Bob Tedeschi, provides an update on the light bulb scene. Along with the federal mandate to phase out incandescent bulbs comes a new hurdle for retailers and buyers alike. Tedeschi walks consumers through the process of buying new bulbs with the help of industry professionals.
10. Light Bulbs,, As of February 2014
Credibility: doesn't have nearly as many light bulb reviews as Out of more than 1,400 products, only a handful earns strong reviews from 100 users or more. All of the recommended products here are LED bulbs and Cree is the clear standout, taking three of the top four slots. We also found one recommendation for EcoSmart LED bulbs. A few CFLs earn high overall ratings, but from fewer users.
11. LED & Other Light Bulbs,, As of February 2014
Credibility: has a limited selection of light bulbs, and those it sells tend to have fewer reviews. We found only one product with more than 80 ratings: the Insignia A19 800-Lumen Dimmable LED. Owners give this bulb 4.5 stars out of 5 overall, with praise for its light quality, brightness and value. The most common complaint is that the bulb heats up, something an LED shouldn't do.
12. CNET Light Bulb Buying Guide, CNET, Oct. 3, 2013
The light bulb buying guide at CNET is the most detailed we've seen. It doesn't recommend specific products, but it does cover the pros and cons of the four basic bulb types -- LED, CFL, incandescent and halogen -- in exhaustive detail. There's lots of information here about how to measure a bulb's brightness, color temperature, color rendering index and automated lighting options. The article also goes into detail about the new efficiency standards for light bulbs.
13. Light Bulbs,, As of February 2014
There are more than 125,000 listings for light bulbs at, including CFL, incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs. LED and CFL bulbs receive the most feedback here: We found about a dozen products in these categories with more than 200 reviews and high overall ratings. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are not nearly as popular; only one incandescent bulb gets high average ratings from more than 100 users.
14. Light Bulbs,, As of February 2014
Like most sites, has more user reviews for LED bulbs than for any other type. However, among the bulbs that get 4 stars out of 5 or better, only a handful has more than 25 ratings. Most of the recommended bulbs are from Utilitech, a brand sold exclusively at Lowe's.
15. CFL Bulb Review: Best CFL Bulbs to Replace Incandescent,, Tom Harrison
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. Some of the GE bulbs Harrison recommends are no longer available, and the others now have different model numbers.
16. GE Develops LED Light Bulb That Lasts 17 Years,, April 15, 2010
David Saetang, a writer for PCWorld magazine, discusses the pros and cons of the GE Energy Smart LED bulb but doesn't conduct any hands-on testing. GE claims the bulb lasts up to 17 years, and its odd, spiky design helps distribute light better than older LED bulbs do. Its biggest drawback is a hefty price of $40 to $50, but Saetang says the bulb will pay for itself over the years in energy savings.
17. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Key Product Criteria,, Not dated
This page outlines the benefits of using light bulbs bearing the Energy Star label. Linked pages explain the exact Energy Star requirements for light bulbs -- in both performance and packaging -- and explain in detail how CFL and LED bulbs work. There's also a link to an interactive "Choose a Light Guide" that can help you select the best type of CFL for a particular use.
18. Popular Mechanics Which Light Bulb Should You Pick to Replace Your Incandescents?, Popular Mechanics, Not dated
This slideshow compares three types of light bulbs users can choose to replace outdated incandescents: halogen, CFL-halogen hybrid and LED. The article explains how each type works and discusses light quality, energy use, lifespan, cost and environmental impact. However, it does not mention any specific brands or make recommendations.