By 2014, the Energy Independence and Security Act will effectively ban incandescent light bulbs from US households. And no matter how many bulbs you're hoarding, the stockpile will eventually burn out.
So the industry has high hopes for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are comparable in efficiency to compact fluorescents, but without the harsh light and disposal hassles. The 3M LED Advanced is one of the early products to hit the consumer market. It's supposed to last for a quarter century. Will you want to live with it that long?
What Is It?
A 60W equivalent light bulb what runs on light emitting diodes, not super-heated tungsten filaments or charged fluorescent gas.
Who's it For?
For now, early adopters. But soon, when incandescent bulbs are no longer available, everybody.
At first glance, it looks like a traditional incandescent. But if you look closer, you'll notice that the traditional frosted glass dome has been replaced with a vented, opaque globe surrounding a hive of LEDs controlled by a small PCB. It screws into the same standard Edison sockets as conventional bulbs and CFLs.
Depends. How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb? But seriously, folks — the Advanced Light turns on instantly, plays well with dimmer switches, and, depending on which model you get, the bulb with output either 3000k soft white light or 5000k cool white light.
The Best Part
Used in indoor lamps for about a month, the light performed nearly identically to the incandescents that it replaced.
The current $US25 price tag means repopulating my home's 14-some-odd light fixtures with these would run me $US350. Here's hoping 3M's claims of a 25-year service life and low operating costs are accurate.
This Is Weird...
It doesn't get hot. Like, at all. Even after being left on continuously for seven hours, it can easily be unscrewed and held in a bare hand.
- Instant on, instant off.
- Works with dimmer switches.
- Fits in all Edison sockets that accept an A19 bulb.
- Also available as a 40W equivalent.
- The 25-year service life is based on 27,500 total hours of life, and the operating costs are based on three hours use per day.
- The Advanced Light is significantly heavier than an incandescent. While that lends a sense of sturdiness, you still wouldn't want to drop it.
- It's built in the good ol' US of A.
Should You Buy It?
They're pricey, sure, but so were CFLs when they first hit the market. Given that these don't suffer from the same accelerated burn-out that CFLs do under heavy use — and they suck down just a quarter of the power that a traditional 60w incandescent would — the Advanced Light should be a good investment.
Besides, even at $US25, they're still way cheaper than the $US60 Phillips Hue. Unlike the Hue, however, 3M's LED Advanced Light doesn't appear to be available locally in Australia. Although there's nothing stopping you from importing them.
• Light tech: LED • Power draw: 13.5W • Output: 800 lumen (60W equivalent) • Light temperature: 3000K or 5000K • Weight: ~450g • Price: $US25 RRP