The Best Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Energy-saving bulbs can be harsh; these winners cast a warm, inviting glow.

Best for pendant lamps: n:vision Soft White G25 (14 watt), $10 for two.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours (or about six years).
Why it outshone the rest: This globe-shaped bulb looks great in a hanging fixture and casts a soft, flattering light that, one tester said, is “ideal above a dinner table.”
To buy: homedepot.com.

Best for track lighting: TCP Springlight BR30 (14 watt), $14 for two.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours.
Why it outshone the rest: Testers liked the “easy on the eyes” pinkish tone that stayed consistent from the get-go. (A few other bulbs got lighter or darker as they warmed up.)
To buy:  springlightstore.com.

Best for floor and table lamps: GE Energy Smart 60 Dimmable (15 watt), $11.

How long it lasts: 10,000 hours (or about 7 1/2 years).
Why it outshone the rest: Most bulbs were too dim to use under a shade―but not this one. Although it’s bigger than a standard bulb, it will fit most shades.
To buy:  acehardware.com.

Best for task lamps: Sylvania Daylight Extra (13 watt), $5 each.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours.
Why it outshone the rest:
The clean, white light will “illuminate your desktop without giving you a headache.” It took just 15 seconds to reach full brightness (some took 80).
To buy:  sylvania.com for store locations.