GE announced on Monday that it’s dumping compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in favor of LEDs. Once a low-cost option for those looking for something more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, CFLs are now competing with LEDs, which are even more efficient and have dropped in price dramatically over the past few years. While GE will still make incandescent and other types of bulbs, it’s phasing out CFL and hoping to put LEDs front and center.
One reason is that proposed Energy Star regulations for next year could make it harder for CFLs to qualify for the rating, John Strainic, chief operating officer of consumer and conventional lighting at GE Lighting, told The New York Times. Because the bulbs contain mercury, some states prohibit residents from throwing them into landfills, and that could mean a trip to Home Depot or other facility to drop off burnt-out bulbs if the garbage collector won’t take them along with the recycling.
When it comes to life span, LEDs also have CFLs beat, with the former lasting up to 25 years, while CFLs max out at around 10. GE and other companies are also making LEDs perform all sorts of cool tricks, like changing color throughout the day to match circadian rhythms. Sony added a Bluetooth speaker to its LEDs to play music, and the Li-Fi concept would use the lights’ flicker to transmit data, instead of radio waves or cables.
When they first came on the market, lots of people thought LEDs were harsh, and there was no 100-watt equivalent. Then there was the price. While LEDs have gotten less expensive than the $60 some were going for in 2012, they’re still pricier than every other type of bulb. You can find 100-watt equivalents for $10, but you can get a four-pack of CFLs for that. And when you start adding in features like microphones and cameras, the price per LED rises — but you can still get a 60-watt equivalent smart LED bulb from Cree for $15.
Still confused about whether you should make the switch? Check out our guide to switching to LED bulbs.