Don’t look now, but if you’ve been sleeping through the CFL lighting revolution, you’re about to miss the boat altogether. Illumination Goliath General Electric says it is getting out of the domestic compact fluorescent light bulb market by year’s end in favor of the generation of even more efficient lights that’s quickly filling the CFL space – LEDs.

Don’t fret if you don’t know that LEDs are “light-emitting diodes” because most of us don’t. Besides, odds are you’re already using LEDs in more places than you might think. Its enough to know that LEDs took CFLs, which when introduced were both revolutionary and revolting to many, to an entirely new level. Far more efficient and virtually heat free, LEDs last seemingly forever. So long, in fact, that people commonly pack up and take their LED lights with them when they move to a new home.


The prices are coming down fast, and LEDs are mostly free of the problems that plagued some of the early generation curly-cue CFL bulbs years ago: A wait time to reach full brightness and constant complaints about the quality of the light itself. Those things have been fixed, but LED technology has blossomed so swiftly that GE took the unprecedented step of penning an unceremonious “Dear John” letter to the efficient if quirky lighting pioneer:

“Dear CFL,

I find myself staring at the paper, not sure what to say. Maybe that’s the problem. Over the years, time has changed us; the light flickered, but we kept our issues in the dark.

You were on again, off again. It was fun and new at first, and I fell head over heels in love. And then it became comfortable – just you and me. Looking back, maybe we let ourselves get too comfortable.

Things change. You know that. And I never imagined this day would come – but I’ve found another. Someone who helps me see my world in a whole new light. You don’t want to hear this, but I need to tell you … I’m in love.

I’m in love with LED.”

There’s more, but that’s the gist of it. Suffice to say GE’s love affair with CFL was short-lived. Despite desperate attempts by some like one-time presidential hopeful and former Rep. Michelle Bachmann with her eye-rolling 2011 “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act” to save an incandescent light bulb technology already being abandoned by manufacturers, U.S. lighting technologies are moving incredibly fast and bringing huge consumer energy savings.

GE’s transition away from CFLs and to LEDs is well under way, with some super-store chains expecting to switch over completely by year’s end. While there are many who are still burning through their stockpiles of hoarded 75-watt incandescents from the 20th Century, resistance, it seems, at least when it comes to lighting, is futile.