Comparison of Light Bulb Prices
Incandescent bulbs are much cheaper than CFLs

A few days after Christmas 2007, I decided to visit a few local stores where people might reasonably shop for light bulbs, just to compare the claims made by different Compact Fluorescent bulb (CFL) manufacturers and see how much more expensive the fluorescent bulbs are, compared to ordinary incandescent bulbs.  I visited Target and Wal-Mart in Cedar Hill, Texas, and Home Depot and Lowe's in DeSoto (on the border with south Dallas), Texas.  Here is a summary of my findings:

Power consumed "Equivalent"
light output
Price Claimed
Store Manufacturer Notes
13 W 60 W $7.98 10,000   $47 Lowe's Sylvania  
14 W 60 W $6.98 8,000   $36 Lowe's Sylvania  
23 W 100 W $5.98 10,000   $77 Lowe's Sylvania  
30 W 100 W $8.98 6,000   $42 Lowe's Sylvania  

19 W 75 W $6.97 10,000   $56 Home Depot N:Vision  
23 W 100 W $6.97 10,000   $77 Home Depot N:Vision  
30 W 120 W $8.97 10,000   $90 Home Depot N:Vision  

10 W 40 W 2/$8.44 8,000   $36 Wal Mart GE  
13 W 60 W $3.44 8,000 5 $38 Wal Mart GE  
13 W 60 W 2/$8.44 12,000 8 $74 Wal Mart GE (2)
26 W 100 W $11.77 10,000 6 $74 Wal Mart GE (1)
42 W 150 W $8.44 12,000 8 $130 Wal Mart GE  

10 W 40 W $4.99 8,000 5 $24 Target GE  
11 W 40 W $7.99 6,000 4 $17 Target GE  
20 W 75 W $9.92 8,000 5 $44 Target GE  
26 W 100 W $12.99 10,000 6 $74 Target GE (1)
42 W 150 W $7.49 12,000 8 $24 Target GE  

(1)  Dimmable bulb.
(2)  Packaging says, "New!  Smaller size fits more fixtures."

Estimates of CFL lifetime, shown above, are the estimates shown on the product packaging, and in my opinion, are greatly exaggerated.  Estimates of energy cost savings are based on a rate of 10¢ per kilowatt-hour, and do not take the higher cost of the CFL (versus incandescent) into account.

It should also be noted that at these same stores, incandescent bulbs are very inexpensive.  Generic store brand 40-, 60- and 75-watt soft white bulbs are sold in a box of four for 77¢ at Target and 74¢ at Wal-Mart.  In the latter case, that's 18½ cents apiece.  If you want genuine G.E. bulbs, expect to pay $1.29 at Target and $1.03 at Wal-Mart.  Thus in some cases, a CFL equivalent of a 75-watt bulb is 37 times the price of an ordinary 75-watt incandescent bulb.  ($6.97 ÷ 18½¢ = 37.67)  The higher initial cost offsets the CFL's "energy savings" considerably, especially if the CFL fails before the end of its projected lifetime, which it will.  If the CFL dies after only 5,000 hours, you have saved nothing.

Hardware stores like Lowe's and Home Depot sell incandescent bulbs by the case, and some of these industrial grade bulbs are designed to last a long time.  If you know where to shop, there are also incandescent bulbs available that are designed for use in traffic signals or on radio towers, where replacement is quite a difficult and risky chore.  (I speak from experience.)  These bulbs cost more than consumer-grade bulbs, but they usually last several years, unless struck by lightning or bullets.

Prices were observed on December 29 and 30, 2007, at stores in DeSoto and Cedar Hill, Texas.

Please note that while I have made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of the information found here, and while I naturally intend for the information on this page to be accurate, beneficial and informative, I do not guarantee that this information is without error, nor do I make any other representation, certification, warranty or guarantee that the information on this page is accurate, complete, understandable, verifiable, correct, and completely free of technical inaccuracies, factual errors, or typographical errors.  In particular, I make no guarantees that prices specified are accurate or that the prices shown are typically found in other areas of the country, or that the prices will not go up or down by the time you finish reading this paragraph.  In fact, some of the products shown above are already on sale, at slightly lower prices, but I have no idea how long the sales will last.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2020 by Andrew K. Dart

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Created January 15, 2008.

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