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CFL vs. LED: The Battle Continues

It’s no secret that incandescent lights are on their way out—they’re incredibly wasteful, have relatively short lifespans, and are much better at producing heat than light. This leaves us with two alternatives: LED and CFL bulbs. And while CFL bulbs have been steadily gaining traction in many homes in our area over the last several years, some experts see them as little more than a stopgap measure before LED lights become more commercially viable. So what’s the real story? Should you go out and buy up all the CFL bulbs before they’re phased out or should you hold out for LEDs?

Comparing CFL and LED Lights

The US Department of Energy put together an extremely thorough, 50-page analysis comparing LED and CFL bulbs, which we definitely recommend checking out if you’re interested. In our comparison, we’ll be looking at the following aspects of CFL and LED bulbs:

  • Energy efficiency and costs
  • Environmental impact
  • Light output
  • Other important facts

Note: unless otherwise noted, our comparisons are based on using 30 bulbs simultaneously. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what distinguishes CFL and LED bulbs and which you should install in your home:

LED Bulbs CFL Bulb
Energy Efficiency and Costs
Average lifespan: 50,000 hours 8,000 hours
Watt use per bulb (compared to a 60 watt incandescent bulb) 6 – 8 watts 13 – 15 watts
Annual kilowatt consumption 329 KWh 767 KWh
Annual operating costs $32.85 $76.65
Environmental Impact
Contains toxic materials? No Contains mercury
RoHS compliant? Yes No – contains mercury
Annual CO2 emissions 451 lbs 1051 lbs
Energy Use per Light Output (in Lumens)
450 4 – 5 9 – 13
800 6 – 8 13 – 15
1,100 9 – 13 18 – 25
1,600 16 – 20 23 – 30
2,600 25 – 28 30 – 55
Other Important Facts
Sensitivity to low temperatures? No Yes – may not work under -10 F or over 120 F
Sensitive to humidity? No Yes
Harmed by on/off cycling? No Yes
Instant on? Yes No
Durable? Yes – hard to break No – breaks easily
Heat emitted 3.4 BTU/hr 30 BTU/hr
Failure modes Not typical May catch fire, smoke, or emit odor

Thanks to DesignRecycleInc.com for the information in this chart!

Based on the chart, the clear winner seems to be LED bulbs. And it gets even better—Phillips is expected to release a new LED bulb that gets 200 lumens/watt, more than twice as good as the best LED on the market today. If that bulb performs as expected, it could allow LEDs to declare a decisive victory over other options.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of LED lights, don’t wait—call Kolb Electric today!

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