Better known for its modest prices, unassembled furniture and meatballs, Ikea is making the switch from CFLs to LEDs. Not only will the Swedish home furnishings giant be illuminating all its stores with light-emitting diode bulbs by 2016 but the retailer will only sell that type of bulb as well. LEDs are pricier than CFLs but prices are coming down and Ikea expects its prices to be lower than most.
"LEDs use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, last twenty times longer, and do not have mercury [as CFLs do]," says Mona Liss, a spokesperson for Ikea. "We see LEDs as the future of lighting for all of us." The global initiative affects all 38 U.S. stores. Ikea phased out incandescents in 2010 and will discontinue selling the CFLs and halogen bulbs now on its store shelves. For now it will retain its CFL recycling program, even for bulbs that weren't bought there, says Liss.
In past lightbulb tests, Consumer Reports found that Ikea's Sparsam Energy Saving porch bulb, model number E26 GSU111 50060609, was the lowest scoring CFL of the batch, earning an overall score of 22 out of 100. Five of the 10 bulbs failed before 3,000 hours. But the latest list of Energy Star CFLs and LEDs includes Ikea CFLs. Bulbs bearing the Energy Star must meet stringent standards that are independently verified. Energy Star also matters if you're looking for utility rebates, so check EnergyStar.gov for updates.
Ikea's current LED lineup includes replacements for lower-watt incandescent bulbs—15 to 40 watts—costing $10 to $13. We haven't tested them yet, but our Ratings of dozens of CFLs and LEDs include 40 to 50-watt replacements. If you'd like something brighter, see the results of the tests of replacements for 60-, 75-, and 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
As for Ikea's promise to sell the lowest priced bulbs, prices have been dropping but LEDs remain expensive. Most we tested cost $24 to $60 before rebates. But many experts we've interviewed estimate that they'll cost $10 or less in two to three years for 60-watt replacements, the most common bulb. Even at $25, the best LEDs can save you about $130 in energy and lightbulbs over their 23-year life, compared with an incandescent. But here's the thing, not all LEDs are good. Our tests found dim bulbs, ghastly light color, and LEDs that can't cast light in all directions. To avoid being put in a bad light, consider our LED recommendations or buy Energy Star qualified LEDs.