CFL and LED bulbs

Like most people in the US, I’ve transitioned nearly all of the lighting in my apartment from incandescent to CFL over the last few years. I’ve never been really happy with the CFL bulbs though. The ceiling fixtures in my living room, dining room, and bedroom are all on dimmer switches, and of course the CFLs don’t dim. And, while I haven’t really tracked this, I’m pretty sure I’m not getting as much life out of these bulbs as they advertise. Here’s an article that seems to back up that observation. And here’s one from IEEE with some interesting data.

Last week, the fixture in my bedroom started buzzing. (There’s always a little buzzing with CFLs, but this was noticeable and distracting.) So last night, I messed around with it a bit, trying different bulbs, checking to see if everything was screwed in right, and there weren’t any loose wires or anything. No luck. I couldn’t get rid of the buzzing. I thought about calling the landlord on Monday, and having them look at the fixture and/or switch, but I haven’t really had much luck with the landlord fixing stuff that isn’t completely broken. They tend to just make things worse. (I could probably write a few funny blog posts about my landlord’s maintenance guys, but I’ll resist the temptation for now.)

So instead, I decided to go out to Home Depot today and buy a couple of LED bulbs. I picked up two Cree bulbs for $10 each. That’s pretty expensive for a light bulb, but if they really last for ten years, then I don’t mind the price. There’s a good bit of stuff on Treehugger about LED bulbs. I haven’t read it all, but in general, it sounds like the current generation of LEDs should be at least a little better than CFLs, and the next generation of LED bulbs could be a lot better.

The ones I bought did indeed solve the buzzing problem. They work fine, and don’t buzz at all when on full. And they do work with the dimmer, unlike the CFLs, though they buzz a little when dimmed.

I’m writing this post partly as a marker, so if the LED bulbs in my bedroom die, then I can refer back to this post to see when I bought them. If the marketing claims on the box hold up, then I shouldn’t have to change them until 2024. By which time, hopefully, I won’t still be in this apartment!


  1. I myself did not move over completely to CFL as I was waiting to run through my supply of incandescents so I was able to in a few cases to go directly to LED which does seem to be superior. FYI, I believe that there is a variety of CFLs that are dimable though my only dimmer requires really small bulbs, smaller than dimable CFLs. However, I have found that the various CFLs that I have used elsewhere don’t last as long as they should, in fact don’t last much longer than incandescents especially modern incandescents and I believe that I have come across many others making the same observations though of course that is hardly a rigorous study. Regardless, LEDs do seem to claim a longer life than CFLs claim and they are much more environmentally friendly so I started purchasing them about a year ago when with a lot of research it became possible to get full spectrum versions at a reasonable price considering their reputed life span online.

    It was awhile ago that I did this research so I don’t know if these are still the best bright daylight balanced for the best deal but I believe that this is what I got (they have many other kinds)
    And this is where I ordered them from (they don’t seem to carry this model anymore but they have plenty of other stuff that at least used to be at really good prices)


    1. Dan –
      Interesting. I don’t think I saw that brand at Home Depot. Looking at Amazon, they’re about $20 each.


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