LEDs Dethrone Compact Fluorescents as King of Eco-Friendly Lightbulbs

Never mind that twisty compact fluo­rescent. The new energy-efficient way to light your home is with LEDs. An upcoming crop of bulbs draw 12 watts or less, edging out a typical fluorescent, and they have a more conventional shape, contain no mercury, and last at least 25,000 hours, three times as long.

They're among the first LED bulbs as bright as a classic 60-watt incandescent (about 800 lumens), and they address past problems with LEDs, such as bluish light, overheated chips and too-concentrated beams. Launch the gallery to find out how they'll do it, all within a 130-year-old form.

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Warm Glow, Cool Bulb

Unpowered, this 806-lumen bulb looks unusual—yellow plastic, thick metal grooves—but activated, it glows just like an incandescent. The yellow phosphor coating turns its LEDs' blue light a warm, uniform white, and the grooves, which separate the LEDs inside into chambers, help steer the light in many directions and dissipate heat. Philips 12W EnduraLED
Price not set (est. $60; by winter)

All-Over Light

GE’s design casts light in nearly all directions because its heat sink, made of thin aluminum claws, leaves most of the bulb exposed, and a diffusive coating scatters light. The first model will be a nine-watt substitute [shown here] for a 40-watt, 450-lumen incandescent; an 800-lumen version, using about 12 watts, is planned for next summer. GE Energy Smart 9W LED
$40–$50

Accurate Colors

Sylvania's 810-lumen bulb aims to make objects look vibrant, whether they're dark red or plain white. It packs several red and mint-green LEDs, creating a broad-spectrum light. Its lower half, a heat sink with big airflow openings, limits its rays' reach but keeps LEDs cool. Sylvania Ultra A Line
Price not set

Dropping Costs

LED bulbs that exactly mimic the popular soft-white, 60-watt incandescent could cost $60. This 770-lumen one has slightly less-warm and less-omnidirectional light, but it costs about half as much. Lighting Science Group Definity 9W LED A19 (60W equivalent)
About $30 (avail. fall)