NEW YORK (AP) -- A new option to light the way, even as 100-watt bulbs disappear from stores because they were energy hogs? You can now get LED bulbs that roughly match the 100-watters for size and brightness, but use far less energy.
Until recently, your only alternative was a compact fluorescent bulb, which has several drawbacks compared with light-emitting diodes. Most people see the light quality as less pleasing, and the bulbs contain a small amount of mercury that's released if the glass breaks. LEDs, by contrast, don't contain any volatile, hazardous substances and are durable. They also last longer.
Osram Sylvania says it's shipping the first batches of its Ultra LED bulb to some Lowe's stores. The bulb uses 20 watts of electricity and costs $50. It's slightly larger than a regular 100-watt bulb, so it may not fit in all fixtures. Osram claims 25,000 hours of use, or more than 20 times the lifespan of a standard, incandescent bulb.
Competitors aren't far behind. Royal Philips Electronics plans to start selling its own, slightly brighter 100-watt-equivalent LED bulb at Home Depot's website starting in a few weeks for about $55. Startup Switch Lighting Bulb Co., with its unusual liquid-filled bulbs, plans to start selling 100-watt equivalents late this year or in January.
The federal government banned the manufacture of regular 100-watt bulbs on Jan. 1 as a consequence of new energy-efficiency standards.
75-watt bulbs will be banned at the start of next year, and 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs at the start of 2014.
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