LEDs to the Rescue? Not So Fast – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com

There is an industry consensus that solid-state LED lights will play an increasingly important role in energy reduction programs. Light-emitting diodes use as little as one-tenth the power of an incandescent bulb, produce pleasing light and last for up to 20 years of normal use. So the prospects for light sources powered by LEDs looks to be, well, bright.

LED lamps are already used in street lights, office buildings and, less frequently, homes. Inventor Dean Kamen recently lit an island and the structures on it solely with LED products.

But even as strong an LED booster as the Department of Energy, which maintains its own Web site on solid state lighting, cautions that the road to the LED revolution will be rocky, littered with products that don’t perform as advertised and delayed by an inability to surpass the output of today’s conventional lighting sources.

Simply put, many of the LED products now available are not worth buying.

That’s evident even to the most casual observer who can see off-brand and poorly assembled LED replacement bulbs for sale in the nation’s largest home improvement chains.