A reader recently brought to my attention an LED that he thought may be misleading consumers. The LED in question was the Feit "40 watt equivalent" Soft White LED sold here by Lowes. The problem is, the LED isn't the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent!
EFI.org has a nice comparison of lumen (light) output of different types of light bulbs. According to their table, a 40-watt incandescent bulbs puts out 460 lumens. The Feit LED in question only outputs 340 lumens! That is, it only puts out 74% of the light that a 40-watt incandescent bulb puts out. That is hardly "equivalent", but it is 3/4 the way there...
One of the reviews on the Lowes' website for the Feit bulb says it best:
Don't understand how this is a 40-watt equivalent? This is too dim. An average 40-watt incandescent produces around 500 lumens. The specs on this bulb say 340 lumens- or only about 70% of a regular 40-watt. That makes this more like a 25 or 30-watt equivalent. I think it should be re-labeled to more accurately describe it's brightness. Otherwise, it's fine.
Interestingly enough, both of these lights ARE NOT Energy Star! It seems the Energy Star program has pretty strict requirements for LEDs. Energy Star LED specifications mention nothing about lumen output (keep reading to find this information), but what they do say is:
Has efficiency as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
And I'm assuming that Energy Star measures efficiency by lumens/watt. While it's hard to find on the Energy Star website, the GE 9-watt product announcement (below) does mention that and LED needs to output more than 450 lumens to be considered for Energy Star.
One of the only LED Energy Start 40-watt equivalent bulbs that I've found is one by GE. While this is Energy Star rated, it is currently selling on Amazon for $56, more than 3 times the amount I paid for my EcoSmart LED; however, the GE bulb puts out 471 lumens, which is much higher than the 429 lumens the EcoSmart puts out. But all of this begs the question, if you have $56 to spend, should you buy 1 GE LED that has an Energy Star rating to replace 1 incandescent, or buy 3 cheaper LEDs that you can use to replace 3 incandescents?
I know we're just at the beginning of the LED revolution, but I can only hope that manufacturers can use honest marketing practices. And for the ones that do use honest marketing, I hope the prices of your bulbs come down!