Latest LED lightbulbs offer differing benefits

FRESNO, Calif.

While the most popular 60-watt size can continue to be made until 2014, Consumer Reports has been testing alternatives, including one of the newest choices - LEDs.

LED bulbs are very expensive- anywhere from $17 for some table lamp bulbs to more than $60 for some floodlights. However, Consumer Reports calculated that even with an LED's high cost, you can still save $100 or more over its life compared with a standard incandescent.

Consumer Reports says that LEDs have some distinct advantages over CFLs. They reach full brightness instantly, and some are also better at dimming. LEDs also last longer. Some in Consumer Reports' lab have been burning continuously for almost 9,000 hours.

But not all LEDs are good at distributing light. The Sylvania 60-watt Ultra LED shines most of its light up toward the ceiling. It doesn't give you much light to read under.

Far better for table or floor lamps is the $40 Philips Ambient. It's the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb and claims to last almost 23 years. And for outdoor floodlights, try the EcoSmart Par 38 for $45. It promises to last even longer.

If you replace an incandescent bulb with an LED, Consumer Reports says it will take four to ten years before you recoup the costs and start saving. CFLs cost much less and will save you money much sooner.

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