Maybe All the Skepticism and Paranoia Over New Light Bulbs Is Justified

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Perhaps there are legitimate reasons to be suffering from a new phenomenon called “light bulb anxiety”—the fear of not being able to get traditional incandescent bulbs as new regulations literally phase them out of the marketplace.

Reports have surfaced of consumers hoarding old-fashioned bulbs, which are increasingly being replaced in homes, offices, and businesses by more energy-efficient LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. Why are some people reluctant to buy into the new technology? The reasons vary: There are those who just prefer the warm glow given off by classic incandescent bulb; there are those who are crying conspiracy and refusing to go along with this or pretty much any government mandate; and there are those who are a bit skeptical that the pricier new bulbs actually save money.

LED and CFL bulbs cost more than traditional light bulbs, but the higher initial cost winds up saving users in the long run because the newer bulbs use less energy and last longer. LED bulbs can last 25,000 hours (22 years of usage!) before being replaced. Or so manufacturers claim.

To wit, a Consumer Reports post asks an interesting question: Unless a manufacturer has actually kept a LED light burning for 22 years—and nobody has, the technology’s not that old—how can anyone state with certainty that it’ll really last that long?

Some claims seem to be overblown. In some CR tests, certain bulbs died before hitting 3,000 hours.

As for the folks stocking up on bulbs because they don’t like the underwhelming light provided by the new energy-efficient bulbs, there seems to be even more justification for hoarding as time goes by. According to CR:

Another challenge is that unlike an incandescent, which fails abruptly, an LED’s light usually fades over time until it becomes too dim for use—that’s when the light’s output has diminished by 30 percent.

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