After 12,500 hours of testing energy-saving LEDs, most of the lightbulbs in the labs at Consumer Reports are just as bright as they were after 3,000. What does 12,500 hours mean to you? That's like saying you bought an LED 11 years ago and used it every day for three hours. But not all LEDs still shine brightly in our lab. It was lights out for an EcoSmart from Home Depot.
Our ongoing tests of LEDs found most continue to provide the same brightness and if the color of the light was warm to start with, it's still warm. The bulbs' ability to accurately show the colors for, say, an apple or art remains the same; that's known as the color rendering index or CRI. And if an LED was unimpressive after 3,000 hours of testing, rest assured it's still unimpressive. That's the case with the GeoBulb 3 A19 Soft White LED, $25. This 50-watt replacement wasn't bright in our initial tests and is even dimmer now, scoring poor in brightness.
As for the EcoSmart, it replaces a 75-watt incandescent and is designed for accent or security lights. In our tests four of the 10 went out before 12,500 hours so we no longer recommend them. The model number is EcoSmart PAR38 ECS 38 Bright 75W 866194 Dimmable LED. It's supposed to last 50,000 hours, but consider this. The first to fail lasted the equivalent of eight years and would save you about $50 in electricity and replacement bulbs. The others lasted the equivalent of 8.3 to 11 years. At $33 this LED paid for itself after three years.
See our Ratings of dozens of LEDs and CFLs for energy-saving replacements for incandescent bulbs. We've footnoted which LEDs were tested to 12,500 hours. Two of these are recommended—a Philips 60-watt replacement for lamps and ceiling fixtures and an EcoSmart that replaces a 65-watt flood or reflector bulb in a 6-inch can.
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