3M LED Advanced Light

A brighter idea from 3M?

What can I say about a lightbulb that may outlive me? That I hope I'm brighter?

Seriously, the 3M LED Advanced Light claims that it will last for twenty-five years (based on 3 hours use a day) or 27,500 hours. They warrant it for five years (based on 4 hours a day). The estimated electrical cost is only $1.63 per year (based on three hours per day of use at $0.11 per kWh) compared to nearly over seven dollars a year for a regular incandescent bulb.

Early alternative lights tended to have what we look on as an unnatural, sometimes greenish tint. The new 3M LED casts a warm glow that is similar to an incandescent bulb.

The bulb fits into standard sockets, however, because of its weight (it is significantly heavier than a standard bulb) you can't use it in certain lightweight portable lamps. It went in as a perfect replacement to the lamps we tried it in and did not significantly change the quality of light in the room compared to the incandescent it replaced. Unlike some alternate lighting, the 3M works with a variety of (but not all) dimmers. A list can be found on the 3M Site. The bulb can't be used in a fully enclosed fixture; there has to be at least some opening.

Another difference between the 3M LED and CFL alternate bulbs is that it starts up immediately with no flicker or warm-up. Better, they contain no Mercury.

In other words, the 3M LED Advanced Light is a direct replacement in most cases for the standard incandescent bulb, but offering a more ecological footprint. I'm not in a position to tell you if the bulb will last twenty-five years or not. Check back here later, much later. (By the way, think about how much technology has changed in the past twenty-five years. Do you think there will still be an Internet in 25 years?)

That brings us to the real hang-up of buying these bulbs: the cost. Walmart sells them for 24.88, about ten times the cost of an incandescent. If these are truly better for the environment and last for twenty-five years they are a good investment. The problem is that they require a leap of faith on the part of the consumer in addition to a hefty upfront cost of lighting a complete room. Chances are you're not illuminating your family room with a single 60 watt light. Moreover, they won't take the place of bigger wattages; they just don't make 200 watt LEDs for the home yet. Perhaps a ten year warranty might make us feel a bit more at ease with the price point.

Nevertheless, next time you're thinking about replacing a 60 watt bulb, switching to this new light may be a choice that will put money in your pocket while making for a better planet.