Compact fluorescent light bulbs are great for energy savings, but their other stated benefit–lasting longer than incandescent bulbs–often doesn’t live up to the half-decade advertised on the package. Sometimes that’s the user’s own fault, for using bulbs in a way that diminishes their lifespans.
Popular Mechanics compared an incandescent bulb to seven compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to see which was brightest performer. The light emitted was rated after participants examined “colorful objects, faces, and reading materials.” The good news? Every CFL outperformed the incandescent bulb.
The results surprised us. Even though the incandescent bulb measured slightly brighter than the equivalent CFLs, our subjects didn’t see any dramatic difference in brightness. And here was the real shocker: When it came to the overall quality of the light, all the CFLs scored higher than our incandescent control bulb. In other words, the new fluorescent bulbs aren’t just better for both your wallet and the environment, they produce better light.
Compared to incandescent bulbs, CFLs use up to 75% less electricity, last ten times longer, and save up to $30 over the life of the bulb. Though each CFL had its strengths and weaknesses, the overall winner was the N:Vision Soft White bulb. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER