An Energy Saving Light Bulb That Lasts 45.6 Years

Consumer Reports just released its ratings of CFL and LED bulbs. I’ve always been a fan of these energy saving light bulbs. In my 99 Painless Ways to Save Serious Money eBook (free to subscribers of our newsletter!), replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs is high on the list. These eco-friendly bulbs reduce our carbon footprint, fatten our wallets, and lengthen the time between bulb replacement. Now there’s a bulb that lasts up to 45.6 years! I’ll get to that bulb in a moment, but first a reality check about CFLs and LEDs.

For a long time there were three problems with these bulbs. First, the light given off by these bulbs looked funny. As soon as we walked into a room with a CFL bulb in our house, we could tell something wasn’t right. And if they are cold, it can take what seems like an eternity for a CFL bulb to fully illuminate. Second, CFL bulbs contain a trace amount of mercury that can be a real problem if the bulb breaks. And third, they are expensive. LED bulbs can really set you back. Some replacement LED bulbs can cost as much as $40!

Fortunately, the technology behind these bulbs has gotten a lot better. According to Consumer Reports, here are some of the improvements with today’s CFL and LED bulbs:

    GE Energy Smart SAF-T-GARD Spirl 60-Watt

  • Less Mercury: As noted above, one big downside to CFL bulbs is that they contain trace amounts of mercury. If the bulb breaks, you must be very careful in how you clean up and dispose of the bulb. Today, CFL bulbs have 60 to 75 percent less mercury than they did in 2008. And even better, some CFLs, like the GE Energy Smart SAF-T-GARD Spiral CFL, have a protective coating that helps contain glass and mercury if the bulb is broken. Also, Lowes and Home Depot will accept CFL bulbs for recycling once they burn out.
  • Most LEDs give off bright light: Consumer Reports found that most LEDs met their claims. They light up immediately, even in cold temperatures, and they are as bright as incandescent bulbs. As an added bonus, they don’t contain mercury and are great for dimmer switches.
  • LED’s Last Forever: Most LED lights last from 20,000 to 50,000 hours! Assuming you burn the bulb for 3 hours a day, that means you won’t be changing the bulb until sometime between 2029 and 2056.
  • Both CFLs and LEDs save money: These bulbs will save you money in two ways. First, both use less energy, saving your money on your electric bill each month. And second, while these bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they last much longer. So in the long run, you save money on bulbs, too. Of course, the big question is how long will it take you to make up the cost of the energy saving bulbs, particularly LEDs. What Consumer Reports found is that you can recoup the cost of a CFL in about a year. For LEDs, however, it takes about four to ten years to break even. But because these bulbs last so long, you end up saving a ton of money over time.

What About that 45.6 Year Bulb?

So what bulbs last over 45 years (assuming a burn rate of 3 hours per day)? There are several LED bulbs that should last 50,000 hours. One popular choice is the Sylvania 78642 – LED8A/DIM/F/830 Dimmable LED Light Bulb. It costs $29.99 from Amazon, and it should last longer than you own your home (so be sure to take it with you when you move!).

The ratings by Consumer Reports will be coming out in its October magazine. If you don’t subscribe, you can get a good price on the magazine through Amazon. You can also subscribe online, which is what I do. Finally, I’ll leave you with a video by Consumer Reports that gives you a glimpse into how it tested these bulbs:

Topics: Smart Spending

10 Responses to “An Energy Saving Light Bulb That Lasts 45.6 Years”

  1. I think the worries about mercury are a bit over blown.

    There was an email about the mercury in CFL’s floating around a few years ago that claimed that a broken CFL required haz mat crews to deal with but it was total fiction.

    Its true that there is mercury in CFLs and you should be careful when disposing of a broken bulb. But the amount of mercury has always been very small and never posed any grave danger.

    Let me put it another way. There is over 100 times as much mercury in a old fashioned thermometer than in a CFL. The typical American probably eats more mercury in Tuna per year than they would ever be directly exposed to via CFLs.

    Plus if you’re really worried about mercury then you should do what you can to reduce electricity consumption. About half our electricity in the USA is from coal power plants and coal power plants are the number one source of mercury in the environment.

    • When I bought my house 13 years ago I put CFL’s in all the light fixtures. Some of them only lasted a few years but most of them are still running strong now.

      I do think some of the cheapo CFLs tend to die faster. But theres also some randomness in how long they actually last. Old style incandescent lightbulbs aren’t much different in this respect, occasionally you’d get one burn out in a couple weeks and others seem to last forever.

    • In my parent’s house, they have had several CFL bulbs last less than a month. Most last only around an year. It may be an issue with older light fixtures. Until the CFLs start lasting longer, they do not always save money. Haven’t tried the LEDs yet.

      • Bill Poster

        CFL’s don’t last as long if they are turned on and off frequently. So, for example, they may not be worthwhile for a bathroom.

        I bought two LED spots – both lasted less than 3 months before burning out. I would therefore be skeptical about claims of 40+ years. Wait until consistency improves and prices come down.

  2. I have 3 of these exact bulbs in 3 fixtures on the same switch. 2 are still good, one died in less than a year. LED’s themselves can last thousands of hours, if they are not overdriven, but the circuitry that converts the 110vAC to a few DC volts usually fails first. Typically, the capacitors, in my experience.

Leave a Reply