Efficient incandescent light bulbs: available now

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the technological advances being made with regular old incandescent light bulbs. What do you know, they’re already on the market. Head over to Amazon.com to stock up on Philips Halogena Energy Saver light bulbs in a variety of wattages and configurations.

Some caveats:

* the bulbs are about 30% more efficient than incandescents — the 70-Watt Halogena is equivalent to a 100-Watt standard bulb — but still not nearly as efficient as CFLs
* Nor are they as cheap as CFLs. At about $5 per bulb, they will pay for themselves in reduced energy, but the savings aren’t as dramatic
* Their lifespan isn’t as long as CFLs, although individual users tend to see a lot of variation with compact fluorescents anyway

The good news is that the bulbs come on instantly, are fully dimmable, contain no mercury, and emit the warm sort of light that people are used to. The Times says that the bulbs use a reflective coating made by Deposition Sciences, one of the companies profiled in our previous blog post. Manufacturers are also testing the claims of researchers who last spring demonstrated that blasting bulb filaments with lasers could greatly increase their efficiency.

For now, the Phillips bulbs are only available at Amazon, Home Depot, and a few other online retailers. Has anyone tried them out? Do they work as advertised?

On a related note, for anyone wondering why light bulbs matter, President Obama had some remarks on the new lighting efficiency standards just last week:

> The first step we’re taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lighting. Now I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses. Between 2012 and 2042, these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants.

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  1. Jitney - July 8, 2009

    My question is how long do they last. The trumped up claims of length of use for CFLs is stunning by how wrong it is. That short life span also impacts its efficiency and its cost and the savings of energy too. Come on people DEMAND an investigation…just don’t jump to the next worst thing…

  2. Dirk - July 8, 2009

    …you should jump to the next BEST thing instead…LED’s!

  3. Tom Harrison - July 8, 2009

    I have some on order with Amazon (currently out of stock). I purchased 5 R-20 dimmable reflector floods for my kitchen, which is currently stuck with incandescent. They were $6.99 each, compared to $4.50 or so for standard models.
    I am a big proponent of CFL bulbs — they make a huge difference in energy usage, and if you buy wisely, they do last, their light is about the same as incandescent, and they achieve full brightness in a few seconds. However, it’s hard to buy good ones because the market is flooded with junk that fails all of those tests. Shame on the retailers and manufacturers that have killed the CFL for most buyers. (Hint: buy the warm white GE bulbs available in many retail outlets)
    Further, CFLs don’t have (good) dimmable options, nor (good) flood or spotlight options — my kitchen uses R-20 dimmmable spot or flood bulbs in the ceiling and my living room has PAR-30 floods.
    LEDs are not there yet as a replacement technology for incandescent — as far as I know, you simply cannot buy an LED that replaces a 75W or 100W incandescent bulb.
    So if Philips has a good interim solution that improves efficiency significantly, it’s a good thing. LEDs are coming, and when they arrive they have the promise to completely change our lighting situation. Until then, interim solutions will do.

  4. Geoffrey Forman - July 8, 2009

    Available is a relatives term. Although they are listed as items that Amazon sells, they are not yet available.

  5. Adam Stein - July 8, 2009

    Huh. I think that New York Times article might have created a run on them (either that, or this blog is more widely read then I thought). They were in stock yesterday, I swear! A google search might turn up some more online retailers that have them, and I think they might be on the shelves at Home Depot.

  6. Eric - July 8, 2009

    While not an exciting technology like LEDs. I am going to be buying these for my fixtures with dimmers which are my only ones I haven’t switched to CFLs. Thanks for the heads up on these!

  7. Patrick Diamond - July 8, 2009

    I purchased four of these lightbulbs two years ago. It is true that they give off the same amount of light while still using 30% less energy. They are very expensive, but I still wanted to try them out.
    They give off a yellowish ting of light. Personally, I have some CFLs that give off better light quality than these lightbulbs. However they dim very well. I have them on dimmer switches in my bathroom and kitchen and they work quite well.

  8. Adam Stein - July 8, 2009

    Patrick, are these the same bulbs that were available two years ago? I can’t quite figure out if this is an updated version in the same line, or what. The Times article seems to indicate that the technology is new.

  9. scribbiln - July 8, 2009

    I’m completely satisfied with my CFLs and don’t know why people knock them. I bought GEs, following my practice of only buying brands (of anything) I know I can trust, and they have performed flawlessly. The light quality is much, much better than the standard bulbs they replaced, and the six small CFL bulbs I have in my dining room fixture work just fine on a dimmer. I installed a total of 19 CFLs at the same time, more than two years ago, including three that are in outdoor fixtures, and not one has let me down in any way.

  10. Josh - July 8, 2009

    the lifespan of any light bulb, including cfl’s, solely depends on the kind of use they get. if you’re flipping them on and off constantly they will give out sooner. but by far cfl’s are far superior to incandescent bulbs and they are always making them better I’ve had mine installed for 2 years and not had one go out. i only have 2 of the 10 in my house that have to “warm-up”

  11. Monika - July 8, 2009

    As an electrician, I love this thread…
    LED direct-replacement bulbs are already on the market, but I haven’t tried them yet:
    http://www.earthled.com/
    You’re looking at $40 for a 60w equivalent LED bulb.
    There are other LED bulbs out there, just make sure you get bulbs that have an authentic UL mark on them; they’re safer if they’ve been tested by Underwriter Laboratories.
    Here’s another article, with some good info:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/led_bulb_replac.php
    Phillips should be putting out direct replacement LED A-style bulbs in September:
    http://www.lighting.philips.com/gl_en/news/press/sector/2009/gls_phase_out.php?main=global&parent=4390&id=gl_en_news&lang=en
    (GE has LED PARs, not sure if Phillips does.)
    I haven’t tried the Halogena yet, but I’ll get them the next time in I’m in Home Depot.
    As for CFLs, I use them in spaces like hallways, porches, basements, work areas, but I prefer not to use them in most living areas, and my customers feel the same. The reason is simple, fluorescent light is colder to the eye, therefore less like sunlight. Incandescents are warmer and “feel” better to people. These Halogena bulbs seem a promising compromise.
    Here’s an interesting factoid for you about LEDs: bcs they don’t give off UV rays, they don’t attract bugs. Think of the bonuses there!
    Happy energy saving,
    Monika

  12. Rene LeBlanc - July 8, 2009

    As stated by other users, I use CFLs in all applications that don’t use a dimmer, but the unfortunate truth is that our house has MANY lights that require a dimmer.
    The “dimmable” CFLs we have tried are vastly inferior to conventional light bulbs and really don’t work well enough for general usage in these applications. We need a completely dimmable CFL or other high efficiency alternative.
    Regarding LED lights, I did replace our 500 watt swimming pool light with an LED pool light that has an output rated as equivalent to a 400 watt incandecent bulb, and the LED only consumes 37 watts of power! The down side is that the least expensive source I could find for this still cost about $200 for one pool light.

  13. Don - July 8, 2009

    I’ve personally had mixed luck with the CFL’s. I’ve found some nice yellowish spectrum lights that work for my lamps in the living area that are on 3-4 hours every night. However, the 4 CFL’s I put in the bathroom (which gets much more switching on and off over short periods) have all failed within 1-2 years. Netagive payback on those puppies :(
    For that bathroom I’ve fallen back on 3 rather dim LED lights from Sam’s Club (listed at 40W equivalent, but that’s a stretch) and a single incandescent. The combination of white LED light and warm incandescent is nice, as is the instant-on of both LED and incandescent, although I of course am not happy knowing that one incandescent is pulling a lot of power.
    Anyone have advice on a workable efficient light for a bathroom application?

  14. Jitney - July 8, 2009

    Thanks, I know I need to go there (LEDs) but I am not finding any information that they keep working long enough to be cost effective. I am tired of being ripped off in the name of conserving anything.

  15. Sandy - July 8, 2009

    I use CFLs in the living room – the right lamp shades provide the perfect room lighting. I try not to except any excuses for not using CFLs!
    Thanks for info on the other options. The CFLs did not last a full 2 years in the bathroom, as have all our other CFLs, no doubt due to the frequency of switching on/off.

  16. Rene LeBlanc - July 8, 2009

    We have been very satisfied with the CFL lights we bought at Home Depot. They create a very nice warm quality of light and so far they seem to hold up very well.
    However, as I stated before, we have many lights that we need to operate on dimmer switches, and the CFLs just don’t cut it in this application. These lights are most often operated far below the rated wattage, so just having the dimmer switches allows us to only use the brightest settings for short occasions when we need the full lighting.
    The LED pool light came with a ten year estimated life time. Since we only occasionally swim at night, I have hopes it will outlast that estimate. In general, I have high expectations for LED life. They operate at very low temperatures and don’t cause the kinds of deterioration high heat tends to cause.

  17. Noreen - July 8, 2009

    Don-I recently purchased a lovely energy star bathroom vanity light fixture made by Progress Lighting that uses pin-type GU24 spiral CFL bulbs. It cost $235, about $100 more than the identical fixture that uses incandescent bulbs and is NOT energy star rated. However, the light turns on instantly and emits a normal warm glow so I am happy with my purchase. I will probably have to special order replacement GU24 bulbs since I have not seen those pin-type bulbs in the main home improvement stores. I suggest you peruse the internet lighting suppliers and search for energy star fixtures. The selection is not as large but hopefully will improve…

  18. kcm - July 8, 2009

    I want one of these. Sooo pretty for a lightbulb!
    http://tinyurl.com/dh6evd
    but I’d better find a way to light up the whole house with it, because one is all I can afford!

  19. Halogen ica - July 9, 2009

    I’ve used Osram halogen energy savers, both as standard bulbs and reflectors. Here in Sweden they don’t cost much more than standard bulbs when you buy them in shops so I’m guessing Amazon charges extra for the service. I’m very happy with them and can’t tell their light from standard incandescent (since it IS incandescent).
    I also have a Philips Master Classic halogen energy saver with infrared coating and integrated transformer. They save 50% energy. I’ve reviewed these and other energy savers on my website. http://greenerlights.blogspot.com/2009/06/energy-savers.html
    Patrick Diamond, of course halogen lamps give a slightly golden-white light, as do all incandescent lamps at 2700 Kelvin since they are black-body radiators. If they were brighter, the light would be whiter.
    Preference for warm or cool light is usually a matter of personal taste and often differs between men and women, and between people living in tropical vs temperate climate zones. And all incandescent/halogen light has perfect colour rendering capacity (CRI 100) – unlike standard CFLs which are usually mediocre in this regard (CRI around 80) with have visible gaps in the spectrum. Check for yourself with the back of a CD and/or a manufacturer catalogue.

  20. Geri - July 28, 2009

    The product from Philips we have been using (I think about a year) is called EcoVantage. I have a concern about the mercury in the CFL although we do use them. I did not like the CFL when I sat under it to read but it didn’t bother my husband. We also put the Philips bulbs in the bathroom because that light is always on and off. If this is the same bulb, we like the quality of light.

  21. Tom Harrison - July 28, 2009

    I received my bulbs recently (Philips Halogena, R-20 floods, marked 40W = 75W) and installed them. They look exactly like regular bulbs, they perform exactly like regular bulbs (color temp, dimmable, size, etc.) … and use a lot less electricity.
    They are not CFL — they are less inefficient incandescent bulbs. CFL’s use about 1/4 to 1/6 as much electricity as standard incandescent for a given light output — these use a little more than 1/2. However the Halogena bulbs do things that CFLs don’t, so they are a good option where no practical other option exists today.