GE plans to phase out compact fluorescent light bulbs

GE has announced that it would stop making and selling compact fluorescent light, or CFL, bulbs in the United States by the end of the year.

Just a few years ago, the compact fluorescent light was the go-to choice for customers seeking an inexpensive, energy-efficient replacement for the standard incandescent bulb. But as the light quality of LEDs improved and their cost plummeted, manufacturers and retailers began shifting their efforts in that direction.

Now, industry giant General Electric is saying farewell to the compact fluorescent light, or CFL. The company said it would stop making and selling the bulbs in the United States by the end of the year.

“Now is the right time to transition from CFL to LED,” said John Strainic, chief operating officer of consumer and conventional lighting at GE Lighting. “There are so many choices that a consumer has for one socket in their home that it’s overwhelming. This will help simplify that.”

Compact fluorescents were the first big energy-saving alternative to standard incandescents, which no longer meet government standards for energy efficiency in the U.S. and many places abroad. But consumers complained of the harsh quality of light of early models. They can also be slow to warm up and difficult to dim, and they contain trace amounts of mercury.

LEDs were more expensive, with bulbs often running $30, but the technology found fans who said they offered better light quality. Prices dropped steadily, falling well below $5 for a basic bulb last year, in part because of government regulations making it easier for them to qualify for generous discounts.

As a result, customers have been migrating toward LEDs.

Retailers have also been moving away from CFLs, Strainic said. Those include giants like Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart, which have fewer CFL options on shelves, he said.

For now, the GE move applies only in the United States.