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LED Vs. CFL Lighting. Which Will You Choose? January 10, 2011

Posted by bowmanlamps in compact fluorescent, LED lighting.

Shopping for light bulbs can be challenging. Not so long ago, you went to the store and bought an incandescent light bulb.  But those have been deemed energy inefficient, and many will be banned from stores in 2012 – which leaves us selecting from an array of approved energy-efficient alternatives.

Although there are many options to choose from. Two forms of energy-efficient lighting seem to dominate the market as replacements for the old incandescent.   Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) or light bulbs have the bigger share of the market, while LED bulbs are gaining in popularity.  So what are the differences?

A CFL is a miniature, twisted version of the straight fluorescent tubes commonly used in office and retail settings.  Many are designed to screw in to standard incandescent fixtures. When gas inside a CFL is excited by electricity, it produces an invisible ultraviolet light. The UV light then hits a white coating inside the CFL, producing light you can see.  

The advantages of CFLs, according to ENERGYSTAR®, include:

  • Provides the same amount of light as an ordinary bulb, but uses about 75 percent less energy
  • Generates approximately 75 percent less heat, cutting home cooling costs
  • Lasts up to 10 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb (Anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 hours of use.)
  • Saves about $30 in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime
  • Allows for different color temperatures (color) for differing applications
  • Quality CFLs give off pleasing, wide-spread general light at reduced energy costs compared to standard incandescent light bulbs.

The disadvantages of CFLs include:

  • A minute amount of mercury is included, which requiring careful clean-up and disposal
  • Low-end, low-price bulbs often flicker, and burn-out quickly
  • Higher initial cost than incandescent bulbs
  • Not all CFL bulbs are dimmable. Use CFLs labeled for dimming
  • Most photocells, motion sensors and electric timers are not designed to work with CFLs. Always check with the manufacturer  or check the box for compatibility
  • CFLs require a warm-up time before reaching full brightness. The time varies from a few seconds to minutes, depending on the manufacturer.

LEDs, or Light Emitting Diode light bulbs, are “the new kid on the block” for residential and commercial lighting. Instead of giving off light from a vacuum (like an incandescent bulb) or a gas (as in a CFL), LEDs use Solid-State Lighting technology, or SSL.  LEDs produce light while electrons move around within its semi conductors.

LED advantages include:

  • No  mercury or other  harmful elements are in a finished LED
  • Extremely low energy consumption (LEDs use 8 watts to produce 60 watts of light.  A CFL uses 14)
  • LEDs last an estimated 25 to 30 years, or 50,000 hours
  • Contain no glass and are difficult to break
  • Excellent for rapid cycling, vibration, and hard-to-reach applications.

LED disadvantages include:

  • High cost, which will be recovered by long life and energy-savings, but it still deters many purchases.
  • LEDs are often more direction oriented in light output, which may be ideal for a recessed can, but not your reading lamp.

So there you have it –some plusses and minuses of LED and CFL lighting.  Choose the ones that best meet your needs and wallet.



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