Battle of the Bulbs: LED vs. CFL vs. Incandescent
With so many options on the market, consumers need to know what to look for when it comes to lighting. LED has dominated sales and the conversation surrounding energy-efficient lighting in the recent years. LED lights also have the lowest yearly operating cost and the longest bulb lifetime as compared to a CFL or traditional Incandescent. LED lighting is obviously not the only option out there; its design and efficiency represents current lighting technology, but there are still reasons to use CFL and traditional Incandescent.
As the green movement and the topic of sustainability becomes increasingly important, people want to know more about transitioning their home over to LED. Consumers still have many questions about performance, lifespan, energy use and yearly operating costs. In looking to remodel or upgrade, what are the best options? We investigate bulb basics in Gold Medal’s Battle of the Bulbs.
Which Bulb Shines Brightest?
One big consumer concern is brightness. People want to ensure that the bulb they choose will offer appropriate brightness with broad light coverage. We look at a common question: Are LED lights as bright as CFL or Incandescent?
When it comes to brightness you need to consider the Lumens. It’s not the Watts that tell you how bright the bulb is, it’s Lumens. The higher the Lumen, the brighter the bulb.
Current LED bulbs are equivalent to their counterparts, with 800 Lumens in a 12 watt LED bulb, as compared to 800 Lumens in a 14 watt CFL or 60 watt Incandescent. At the low end, a 6-7 watt LED will produce 400-500 Lumen Output, as will an 8-16 watt CFL or a 40 watt Incandescent. At the brightest end, a 25-28 watt LED will produce 2700+ Lumen, and so will a 30-55 watt CFL or a 150 watt Incandescent (veribright).
In the Battle of the Bulbs, the difference between them is more apparent when considering energy and cost efficiency than it is when comparing brightness. They are able to match each other in Lumen Output; the only noticeable difference is in the bulb’s Watts, or energy usage. In other words, you can achieve your desired brightness with an LED, CFL, or Incandescent bulb.
Which Bulb Saves the Most Money & Energy?
When it comes to the most cost effective and energy efficient lighting available to consumers today, it’s good to look at the bulb’s lifespan and the overall cost of electricity used. Although LED’s cost more upfront, they have the longest average lifespan and cost the least amount to use. An Incandescent light will last an average of 1,200 hours, while a CFL looks forward to a long life of 8,000 hours, and the modern LED has the secret to youth with 25,000 total average operating hours. It would take 21 Incandescent bulbs and 3 CFL bulbs to last 25,000 hours. Based on 25,000 hours at $0.15 per kWh, an LED light will cost about $30 to operate, while an Incandescent will be charging towards $200, with around $169 in electrical costs (veribright). At about $6 bucks a bulb, you definitely get your money’s worth with LEDs.
And the Winner Is…
LED lights outperform their competitors in the essential consumer categories. Low cost, maximum longevity, and solid energy efficiency are valuable characteristics of LED bulbs. However, taste and preference often dominate why a consumer will choose a different option. Incandescent lights emit a nice natural color, and when it comes to aesthetics, you may prefer the look of a traditional bulb.
CFLs or Compact Florescent Lights are a more energy-efficient option than conventional Incandescent lights. They have a spiral design that make it compact yet powerful. CFLs were designed to replace Incandescent and Halogen options. CFLs are more energy-efficient than Incandescent, but less so than LEDs. They do have more of the bulb-look and will create a warm atmosphere.
Again, lighting is a personal preference, but consider the key qualities: brightness, cost, energy efficiency, and lifespan the next time you choose a bulb. LEDs are still evolving, but hands down they are the best option on the market and the most wallet and environmentally friendly.
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