led or cfl which is better for lighting
If you’re still on the fence over which energy-efficient alternative to choose, you’re running out of time. Incandescent bulbs are being phased out and will be a thing of the past by next year. Since lighting our homes accounts for about one-quarter of our electric bills, the new energy-efficient bulbs are going to save us money in the long run. But which should we choose?
LED lights last longer, so even though you’re paying more at purchase, you buy fewer bulbs over time. These bulbs fit in standard light fixtures with no adaptor necessary. LED makes very nice lighting for effect and decorative purposes.
LED lights generally cost more to buy than CFLs, but manufacturing technologies are lowering these prices continually. These lights are directional, meaning they are excellent for lights under cabinetry, but not as suitable to table lamps. Some of the newer LED lights come with diffusers, which helps some.
CFL, or compact fluorescent, is simply a mini version of a standard fluorescent light bulb, However, these bulbs fit in standard light sockets without any adaptor. The light appears much like the incandescent light we’re used to, and looks nothing like the harsh lighting we associate with offices or school buildings.
The primary disadvantage to CFL lights is the mercury contained in the bulb. This is ordinarily not a problem, but if the bulb breaks clean up is a hassle. Mercury is a dangerous heavy metal, and proper cleanup and disposal of CFL bulbs is critical. Never put a used CFL bulb in with the rest of your trash. Contact your local waste management company to learn how to properly dispose of used CFL bulbs.
Making Your Decision
Most people make the decision between LEDs and CFLs with their pocketbook. LED costs more at purchase, but lasts longer. CFLs are cheaper, but if broken become not so convenient very fast. Other people decide that CFL lighting is closer to what they’re used to and therefore choose these bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs as they blow out.
Both are efficient ways to light your home, and both work with all the sockets, lamps and fixtures you already own. If you enjoy a directional light for reading, cooking, or working at home, you might prefer the LED bulbs. For general home lighting, such as illuminating a room, CFL might be best.
Of course, you can always use a combination of these technologies in different parts of your home according to the lighting needs in different rooms. This is also a good way to compare the lights to decide. Try some LEDs in the kitchen over your workspaces and over the home office desk. Use CFLs in the living room and bedroom lamps. In time, you may develop a preference, or find you like one for certain applications and the other for other activities.
LED Light Bulbs Vs. CFL Light Bulbs: Which is Best for us?
Before we had LEDs, there were compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs for short. CFLs are fluorescent lamps that emit light from a mix of phosphors inside the bulb, and were designed to replace incandescent lamps (a lamp that produces light as a result of being heated). When compared to an incandescent bulb producing the same amount of light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eight to fifteen times longer. Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain toxic mercury, which complicates their disposal. In many countries, governments have established recycling schemes for CFLs and glass generally.
A light-emitting diode, or LED for short, is a lamp that emits light in a very narrow band of wavelengths. Because of this, LED’s are far more energy efficient than incandescent or fluorescent lights, which emit light in a much wider band of wavelengths. LED’s produce light that renders a color similar (but not identical) to natural daylight, which is measured on a scale called CRI, or Color Rendering Index. CRI’s range from 0-100, 100 being identical to natural daylight. Typical LED’s are around 70-95 CRI, but it is not recommended to put anything indoors below 75 CRI. Like incandescent lamps and unlike most fluorescent lamps, LEDs come to full brightness without need for a warm-up time.
So how much more efficient are LED’s?
On average, an incandescent bulb may last around 1000 hours, while a fluorescent (CFL) bulb producing the same amount of light (in Lumens) may last around 8,000 hours, and an equivalent LED bulb may last around 25,000 hours. Because of their efficiency, LED’s are generally more costly, but the energy saved on your electric bill pays off when compared to incandescent bulbs.
When looking at a 60-Watt incandescent bulb, the price of running that single bulb for 20 years (based on 6 hours per day) is $360. The price of running a 60-Watt LED equivalent for the same amount of time is only $72. So while an incandescent might only be around $1.00/bulb in comparison to $10.00/bulb for the LED, think about how much you would save by replacing every bulb in your house!
The 20-year savings on replacing a single candescent bulb with an LED would be $288, but when you multiply that by (as example) 20 light bulbs in your home, you’re saving $5760 in the long run. If you have even more, lets say (as example) 40 light bulbs in your home, you’re saving $11,520 over 20 years. That’s $576 dollars a year!
While these numbers are estimates, it is clear that LED’s are the most energy efficient option for light bulbs on the market, and the savings from switching out your old incandescent bulbs can keep some extra dough in your pocket.