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IEE Study Shines Light on Top Ten LED Reflector Bulbs
New efficiency standards for light bulbs are now in effect, but how do consumers and facility managers know which bulb is best? When it comes to choosing an LED (light emitting diode) reflector bulb, the job just got a whole lot easier.
To download IEE's white paper summarizing the results, please visit,
IEE commissioned the energy and sustainability management firm Ecova to determine the ten best LED reflector bulbs on the market today. The findings are posted on, a nonprofit which ranks products for energy efficiency.
By “best,” the study sought to measure not only an LED reflector bulb’s energy-related qualities—its energy efficiency, payback period, and lifetime cost savings—but also how it compared with a halogen incandescent reflector bulb in both its light quality (warmth) and its dimming capability. In other words, the study focused on “consumer friendly” and efficient LEDs.
The overall winning bulb? Technical Consumer Products’ 17-watt LED PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) 38 bulb. In comparison with an equivalent 90-watt PAR38 halogen incandescent bulb, this LED bulb offers a lifetime cost savings of $200, produces a soft, warm light similar to a halogen incandescent and dims smoothly. At a cost of $42, the LED bulb has a payback period of 4.1 years and an estimated useful life of 23 years. All ten recommended bulbs will save the consumer money and energy, with lifetime cost savings ranging from $72 to $200.
“LED reflector bulbs are becoming more common,” said Lisa Wood, IEE Executive Director, “and given their higher cost and long life—some LEDs now last up to 30,000 hours—consumers need guidance as to which offers not only great energy savings, but also can give them the light quality that they’ve come to expect from halogen incandescent light bulbs. Our top ten list is a quick, convenient way to identify consumer friendly, efficient LEDs. This helps both consumers buying bulbs and utility companies providing rebates for efficient purchases.”
Evaluation Criteria
The IEE study focused on LED reflector light bulbs because of their large potential for energy savings, and for the very practical reason that reflector light bulbs are often used in hard-to-replace locations, such as recessed lighting fixtures in ceilings.
The study was divided into three categories, representing the three most common sizes of LED reflector bulbs—PAR38, PAR30, and PAR20. To qualify for the study, the bulbs within each category had to:
  • Be on the ENERGY STAR Qualified Products List on or before December 2, 2011.
  • Be available for purchase, either online or through a retail outlet.
  • Produce light within the ‘warmer’ light range of 2700-3000K.
The number of winning bulbs in each category is approximately proportionate to that category’s share of ENERGY STAR-qualified LED reflector lamps. As a result, the IEE top ten list contains five (5) PAR38, four (4) PAR30 and one (1) PAR20 bulbs. Over the next several months, as more lights come into the market, we expect to have 10 bulbs in each category.
“Working with IEE to conduct research on the next generation of LED lighting choices is an important step in Ecova’s utility solutions programs,” said Ted Schultz, senior vice president, Ecova. “We know that consumers expect their lighting to look and act a certain way. By selecting the highest quality products available from both a technical and consumer experience perspective, we’ve helped make it easier for utilities and consumers to make energy-efficient lighting choices that both save money and energy while giving consumers what they want.”
To give consumers a quick and easy way to review the winners, IEE partnered with TopTen USA, a nonprofit that helps consumers find and purchase the most energy-efficient products on the market in categories such as refrigerators, televisions, and computers. In displaying the winning LED reflector bulbs, TopTen USA created its first lighting category. 
“TopTen USA inspires manufacturers to innovate for efficiency by making it easy for consumers to find, buy—and demand—high-quality, energy-efficient products,” said Norman Dean, TopTen USA’s executive director.“ This list of LEDs will help consumers feel at ease in buying something they’re used to paying a lot less for. They will know that in the long run, they will save money, save energy, and have the kind of light they truly enjoy. It’s a step toward transforming the market for lighting.
For more information about the IEE white paper, please contact Adam Cooper, Manager, Electric Efficiency, IEE, 202-508-5551 or
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