Incandescent light bulb ban: The best light bulbs you can still buy
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Incandescent light bulb ban: The best light bulbs you can still buy

Jul 05, 2023

By Brittany Vincent

Updated on: August 9, 2023 / 3:13 PM / Essentials

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If your home is lit with incandescent light bulbs, it might be time for a change.

The production and sale of incandescent light bulbs have officially been banned in the United States because of their low energy efficiency. The rule, which was initially proposed all the way back in 2007, officially went into effect as of Aug. 1, 2023.

If you can't buy and use incandescent lightbulbs anymore, what can you use? There are plenty of great alternatives, but the push is for LED bulbs, which consume less energy and last much longer than their incandescent or halogen counterparts. You may have heard about LED bulbs or "smart bulbs" in the past and made the assumption that they're only for users who want brightly-lit rooms, multi-colored homes and newfangled tech controlled via their smartphone.

True, you can have those things, but it's not a requirement. While you can opt for smart bulbs to connect to your smart home hub and turn them on and off with a single tap on your phone, you can get by with "dumb" light bulbs just as easily. And there are a ton of readily available picks for you to outfit your home with.

Want a light that you can connect to your smart home controls? Or are you looking for a regular, plain old bulb to light things in your home? Look no further than these picks. The best smart lights come with both white and color options, Bluetooth, hub, and smart plug connectivity, and simple installation options. They're reliable, quality fixtures and are your best overall bets for setting up a smart home. Below, find "dumb" bulbs as well as top-rated Philips, GE Cync, TP-Link, and Lifx smart lights.

These energy-efficient 9W bulbs are an extremely affordable replacement option for 60W incandescent bulbs you're still using at home. They shine with a brightness of 750 lumens and come with a stated lifespan of 7 years, so you won't be stuck pulling and replacing them like your old bulbs. They give off a soft, pleasing light and come in a variety of hues and wattage, so whether you prefer a more natural sunlight analogue or a bright white light, you can get a hefty 8-pack of these bulbs and outfit your whole home with them. Dimmable.

Sylvania ECO LED light bulb, $12

These energy-efficient Philips LED bulbs claim to use 80 percent less energy than their 60W incandescent counterparts. They're rated for 10 years, or 10,950 hours of light when meted out over 3 hours a day, meaning you likely won't have a reason to replace these bulbs for some time. They aren't dimmable, however.

Philips LED basic frosted light bulb (16 pack), $31

Need a pack of basic light bulbs? You can't go wrong with this set of seven Cree Lighting 100W equivalent bulbs. They're dimmable, rated for 22+ years of use (over 25,000 hours) and come with a shatterproof plastic bulb. They emit a bright, pleasing daylight-inspired hue, so they'll illuminate your space just the way your old incandescent bulbs would have. And they're pretty affordable, too, for the specs on offer here. They aren't solely for budget shoppers, but they'll surely get the job done for anyone who doesn't mind splurging a bit.

Cree Lighting 100W Equivalent LED Bulb Daylight 5000K (7 pack), $47

The Philips Hue line is tough to beat when it comes to smart lighting. The premium-priced 100W High Lumen series boasts serious brightness, which is especially useful for larger living spaces. Choose from white light or over 16 million shades, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth setup that's simple to control straight from your phone or digital smart home platform. Change lighting effects with the touch of a button, indoor or outdoor. Add the Hue Hub (sold separately) to enable additional options, including timers, lighting scenes and much more.

An Amazon customer called this smart light bulb one of the best on the market: "These are some top of the line smart bulbs. Can you find cheaper bulbs as far as costs is concerned? Yes, you can. But the saying goes, 'You get what you pay for.' And that holds true with these bulbs. If you are willing to invest into the Hue system, you won't be disappointed."

Philips Hue High Lumen smart bulb, $55

GE's Cync Direct Connect smart bulbs are affordable and full-featured lights that come with a wide variety of options. They're a little less bright than other smart bulbs in their price range, at 750 lumens, but they support millions of colors and different features.

Without the need for a hub, they can connect via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi via app to allow set schedules, saved color scenes and some of the simplest setup options you'll find.

An Amazon buyer proclaimed these smart lights as a "kaleidoscope for the hearth": "It has all the colors on the spectrum, and can imitate settings like the flickering of a candle or sunset. The light can be dimmed or enhanced in intensity. These are also rated to last 15 times longer than regular bulbs."

GE Cync Direct Connect smart bulb, $47

If strip lighting is more your speed, this TP-Link smart light strip is a simple, straightforward option that has everything you need to illuminate your room. You'll have access to a kaleidoscopic 1,000 lumens of brightness and 16 million colors. But if that's a bit overwhelming, no worries: It comes with preset color scenes to choose from, right out of the box.

Plus, it's nearly foolproof to set up, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, which means you're covered, no matter which smart home platform you've opted for. These lights are great for adding effects to doorways, entire rooms or the back of a TV to enhance shows and movies.

An Amazon buyer called them perfect: "Couldn't ask for a better setup, the app works flawlessly and the lighting is better than I was hoping. I'll be getting more sets!"

TP-Link Tapo smart Wi-Fi light strip, $35

If you're looking for a no-frills smart light that you can plug in and use within minutes, the Lifx mini bulb is a fantastic option. It boasts a smaller form factor than its brethren, and it offers only white light, but it's impressively bright, with 800 lumens. It connects quickly and painlessly to your Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth, and doesn't require a hub. It's barebones in terms of additional features, but it's so simple and reliable that it may as well be like screwing in a traditional light bulb.

An Amazon buyer was thoroughly happy with the purchase: "I got a top tier, non hub, competitor multi-color bulb that works well. They all integrate seamlessly with Alexa routines including on/off times or commands, sunset/sunrise times, dim down or ramp up brightness rates (e.g. go to 80% in 50 minutes). Quality product."

Lifx Mini White smart bulb, $10

This smart light boasts exceptional quality, with more than 16 million shades, including brilliant white. It's also very simple to set up. Adjusting voice control settings can be done directly from the Bluetooth-enabled app, which lets you manage up to 10 smart bulbs at a time. It boasts a whopping 25,000-hour lifetime. Heavy users can purchase a Hue Hub (sold separately) to unlock additional features, including timers and routines.

One Amazon customer praised this light's response time when used for general lighting or special effects: "I have been able to sequence lightning strikes with sound effects, sudden rapid color changes and a whole set of fun effects. When not being used for effects, these lights illuminate my porch with a realistic yet not too distracting flame effect."

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart bulb, $37

The affordable 4.2-star-rated Wyze Bulb Color is a midrange option that can hold its own against the incomparable Philips Hue smart bulb. It offers 16 million colors to choose from, and a connected Wyze app to adjust scene changes, hue, and lighting temperature control, with no hub or bridge required for additional features.

An Amazon customer praised the bulb for its excellent value and reliability: "These bulbs do everything promised and are very reliable. I've used them for a few weeks and I'm ordering another four pack to use in a second floor lamp in my living room."

Wyze Bulb Color smart bulb, $14

This budget bulb is the cheapest smart light option available, and you get a 2-pack for less than the price of its competitors. It offers 16 million colors and works with both Alexa and Google Home, though it does not support Apple HomeKit.

It does, however, come with a variety of features, including scheduling and routines, without the need for an additional hub. For simple voice-controlled lighting with additional remote setup options, Sengled's bulbs are viable and frugal buys that come with a few of the bells and whistles their competitors offer.

One Amazon customer proclaimed they love these bulbs and that there's no hub required: "Overall, I highly recommend the Sengled smart bulb to anyone looking for an easy and convenient way to control their lighting. It's a great investment that pays off in both convenience and energy savings."

Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED light bulb (2 pack), $14

There are several factors to consider when buying LED light bulbs. Here are a few of the most important.

In April 2022, a new regulation was passed by the Department of Energy under President Joe Biden's administration. The rule requires light bulbs to emit a minimum of 45 lumens per watt. Lumens refer to a specific measurement of brightness. That means there will be no more common incandescent bulbs in production or on sale, as they usually about 15 lumens per watt. In comparison, most LED bulbs offer 75 lumens per watt or more.

Not all incandescent bulbs are impacted. The rule still allows several types of specialty bulbs to stay available for purchase and in production. These include fridge and oven lights, bug lamps, colored lamps, infrared lamps, plant lights, flood lights, reflector lamps, showcase lamps, and traffic signals, among others. So if you need a special type of bulb, it's probably still going to be available.

It's all in an effort to promote energy conservation. The Department of Energy estimates that U.S. consumers could save nearly $3 billion on their utility bills by ditching the older, less efficient bulbs. The transition is also expected to reduce carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next three decades.

The good news is, you don't have to throw out your old bulbs -- they're not illegal to own or use. As long as your current incandescent bulbs are still working, you can keep using them. When they burn out, you can replace them with LED alternatives.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are next on the list for a potential ban. In December 2022, the Department of Energy proposed a new rule meant to double the current minimum light bulb efficiency level to over 120 lumens per watt. If it actually comes to pass by the end of 2024, we could be seeing the same type of ban for CFL bulbs.

Brittany Vincent has been covering gaming, tech, and all things entertainment for 16 years for a variety of online and print publications. She's been covering the commerce space for nearly a decade. Follow her on Twitter at @MolotovCupcake.

First published on August 9, 2023 / 11:23 AM

Related: Sylvania ECO LED light bulb, $12 Philips LED basic frosted light bulb (16 pack), $31Cree Lighting 100W Equivalent LED Bulb Daylight 5000K (7 pack), $47Philips Hue High Lumen smart bulb, $55 GE Cync Direct Connect smart bulb, $47TP-Link Tapo smart Wi-Fi light strip, $35Lifx Mini White smart bulb, $10Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart bulb, $37Wyze Bulb Color smart bulb, $14Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED light bulb (2 pack), $14Brightness: Energy Efficiency: Lifespan: