Are you turned off by the sluggish light-up times of energy saving light bulbs? Our latest lab test results suggest that this problem may be fading, but it all depends on how good the bulb is.
The most common type of energy saving light bulb, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), have been plagued by frustratingly slow warm-up times in the past – as many of you have shared in previous light bulb-themed Conversations.
The bulb in my bathroom is one such excruciating example. During the mini-test I conducted last night, it was over a minute before it emitted anything more than a dull orangey light.
Our rather more scientific, lab-based test findings, however, do make for better reading. The top performing CFLs are brighter, able to withstand being switched on and off 30,000 times and give out a fair amount of light immediately after start-up.
LED bulbs still king
During our tests, we checked how bright the bulbs were when first turned on, and then at intervals to ensure measured brightness met what was promised on the packaging. Our Best Buy CFL light bulbs didn’t drastically dim after 5,000 hours – the equivalent of five years’ use – and emitted good levels of light.
Start-up times still aren’t great, though. The worst performer emitted no light at all after three seconds. And even the best CFLs only achieved less than half their claimed brightness when they were first switched on.
For instant bright light, you’ll need to turn to more advanced LED lighting – but be prepared to pay a premium for it.
How much for a light bulb?!
The two LED light bulbs we tested were in a league of their own when it came to efficiency and providing immediate light.
But you’ll have to shell out at least £20 – and for one, nearly £40! – to bask in the LED radiance of these bulbs. Energy efficiency savings aside, that’s a lot of upfront cash to shell out on a single light bulb, particularly when we’ve become used to the likes of cheap ‘three-for-a-pound’ supermarket offers.
Your light bulb bugbears
Overall, it looks like energy saving light bulb technology has improved and it’s good to see more candle and rounded bulb-shape varieties available too.
Yet, as the next phase-out stage for 60W traditional light bulbs beckons, other small but significant daily usage problems remain for many of us – like the potential incompatibility problems posed by dimmer or timer switches, for example.
Personally speaking, until the price of LED light bulbs come down, it looks like I’ll have to wait for my CFL light to fully kick in after switching it on. Though I’ll certainly be pickier when I have to choose a replacement. Are you willing to pay more to enjoy instant, long-lasting light?
If you’re a Which? member, you can view the full test results of our Best Buy light bulbs here.