A closeup of a square shaded lamp with the lightbulb on

The Best & Worst Light Bulb

I finally found it: a light bulb that performs just like the beloved 60-watt incandescent.

And I am very, very unhappy.  Angry.

Because this pack of bulbs costs me $4 to buy but will lock me in to spending an extra $300 over the next decade.  And that’s not the only downside.  Let me explain.

I walked in to one of my local big box stores recently to feed my DIY habit and stopped cold when I saw a new display heralding GE* 60w Soft White light bulbs.  The display was the very first end-cap in the entire store, prominent and eye-catching.

The endcap of store aisle shelves filled with 60w soft white light bulbs

I wandered over to take a closer look. I did not need light bulbs, but I am on a quest to find the perfect 60-watt equivalent soft-white LED bulb that dims and looks just like the beloved (and first to be regulated out of existence) 60w incandescent bulb. Since the packaging looked unfamiliar, I wanted to know if this bulb would be different than the 18 others I tested just a few months ago.

And this new bulb is very, very different.

A four-pack of the LED bulbs I chose a few months ago cost me about $48.74 to purchase, energize, and replace over ten years. These new bulbs cost $340.31.

Say what? These cost $4 to buy but will ultimately be seven times the ten-year cost of my previous favorite? And use six times the energy? Why??

Because this new bulb…is the old bulb.

It works just like the old incandescent bulb because it is the old incandescent bulb.

I will not go in to the political reasons why the energy-hogging, landfill-filling, wallet-emptying planet-decimating light bulb is now available for sale. I will say that this bulb is not back on the shelf for your benefit. It’s back on the shelf to take your money, require more power plants and make a political statement.  You pay and you lose.

Sure, it dims great and feels great today. But I beg you: buy the better LED bulb instead. Then send me the money you saved so I can buy new shoes. We’ll both feel better.


*They’re not really GE. GE no longer makes light bulbs, but they sold the trademark. I have no idea who is actually making this bulb.

Cover photo by our own Kate Ciambella, lighting design specialist.

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