Sylvania Socket Survey Shows Move to CFL and LED After Incandescent Ban

Halogen, CFL, LED light bulbs

With Federal legislation effectively banning the common incandescent light bulb in a phased approach starting a few years ago, the public uproar made the front pages. But the legislation remained. So how did the country respond to the ever shrinking supply of their favorite 60 watt light bulbs?

Fortunately, for those who want to know, every year Osram Sylvania funds a “socket survey” to find out what kinds of light bulbs Americans turn on each night in their homes. The 7th Annual Socket Survey has just been released.

Here are the findings:

  • 78% of Americans switched from an incandescent light bulb to another technology
  • 22% of Americans stockpiled incandescent bulbs before the supply ran out

Of the 78% of homes that changed lighting technology:

  • 41% started using CFL bulbs in place of incandescent
  • 30% switched to LED bulbs (while 65% of Americans have purchased at least one LED)
  • 7% switched to efficient halogen bulbs

These results indicate that people moved strongly toward more efficient and longer life light sources than simply substituting slightly more efficient, but readily available, halogen bulbs (technically an incandescent technology).

The fact that compact fluorescent bulbs (65 lumens per watt, 10,000 hour life) were preferred over LED (85 lumens per watt, 30,000 hour life) may be due to familiarity with CFLs and lower purchase price. That may change as we are now, in 2015, in the 4th generation of LED bulbs. Efficiency is higher and prices are lower.

The Sylvania survey looked in more detail at American households who bought LED bulbs. The survey asked where the LED bulbs were being used in the home.

Of the 65% of American who have purchase at least one LED bulb:

  • 64% used the LED bulb in traditional fixtures such as table/floor lamps, pendants, track lighting
  • 35% purchased LED holiday string lights
  • 32% purchased LEDs for electronics, including flashlights

The socket survey also asked those who purchased LED bulbs what they perceived to be the five most important benefits of LED compared to the alternatives.

  • 96% indicated lower energy use
  • 94% longer bulb life
  • 93% money saved over time
  • 91% enough light for the task
  • 88% satisfied with color quality of the light

Finally, the survey looked at the demographics of LED purchases.

  • 69% of 18 to 34 year olds have purchased an LED
  • 59% of 55+ year olds have purchase an LED

These results clearly indicate that households in the U.S. put aside their early frustration over the phaseout of incandescent bulbs and, within a couple of years, moved on to more energy efficient, longer life light sources in their homes.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

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