Incandescent, CFL, or LED – Which are Better?

by | Nov 28, 2023 | 0 comments |

When the time comes to replace your organizations lightbulbs, the choices can be overwhelming due to the constant advancements in lighting technology. Some bulbs even respond to sound waves, and there are claims that certain bulbs can combat harmful bacteria, though ongoing studies are needed to validate such assertions.

Before selecting the replacements, it’s crucial to consider environmental impact and energy consumption. An interesting fact: LED bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lighting.

Your options for lightbulbs generally fall into three categories:

  1. Incandescent Bulbs:
  • Old-fashioned bulbs, familiar to many from their upbringing.
  • Not very energy-efficient and have a short lifespan.
  1. Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs):
  • Recognizable as “spiral” bulbs.
  • Energy-efficient but less so than LEDs, with a shorter lifespan.
  1. LEDs:
  • Highly energy-efficient while maintaining the look of incandescent bulbs.
  • Recommended for most commercial lighting applications due to their energy efficiency.

If you don’t see your current type of lighting and would like to read a comparison between them and LED, you’re in luck! We have an entire blog feed dedicated to LED vs Other Lamps. No matter your current lighting or even the type of facility you are in we have a comparison for you. Click here to find your LED vs Comparison.

Commonly Asked Questions about LEDs:

What are LED Lightbulbs?


LEDs are technically not lightbulbs but light-emitting diodes—tiny semiconductors wrapped in plastic to protect them and focus the emitted light.

LEDs function as semiconductor devices featuring two terminals that facilitate the unidirectional flow of current. Current enters through an anode (+) and exits through a cathode (-). Unlike traditional lightbulbs, LEDs lack wire filaments.

How Do LEDs Differ from Incandescent Bulbs?


Unlike incandescent bulbs that use filaments to produce heat and light, LEDs use electrons to create photons, resulting in visible light. LEDs generate almost zero heat and consume less energy than incandescent bulbs.

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Can You Reduce Energy Usage with LEDs?

LEDs are highly energy-efficient, using approximately 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Lowering the power level can further enhance energy savings, and their longer lifespan reduces maintenance costs.

Are CFL Bulbs Energy-Efficient?

CFL bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, being around 70% more efficient once they reach full brightness. However, they are not as efficient as LEDs and have a shorter lifespan.

Do LEDs Cost More Than CFL and Incandescent Bulbs?

While the initial cost of LEDs is higher, their energy efficiency leads to long-term savings. As demand grows, LED prices are dropping. Replacing bulbs with LEDs can result in significant annual energy savings.

Within a CFL, an electrical current passes through a tube containing argon and a minimal amount of mercury vapor. This process produces unseen ultraviolet light, stimulating a fluorescent coating (referred to as phosphor) on the tube’s interior, subsequently emitting visible light.

Although CFLs experience an initial warm-up period that consumes energy, once they achieve full brightness, they are approximately 70% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Nevertheless, when compared to LEDs, CFLs exhibit lower efficiency and a shorter lifespan.

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Do Lightbulbs Differ in Quality?

CFLs were the preferred option due to their broader light beam. This is changing as LED technology continues to advance. LEDs emit a warmer broader light that is suitable for almost all applications.

LEDs and CFLs are more energy-efficient than incandescent lighting. This is determined by the wattage necessary to produce a specific amount of light. A 1,000-watt bulb uses the same amount of energy, regardless of the type, but the light level varies between LED, CFL, and incandescent fixtures.

Do LEDs Help Businesses Save Money?

Despite the higher initial cost, LEDs offer substantial savings in energy efficiency. A simple calculation demonstrates the potential savings and energy efficiency for each bulb type—LED, CFL, and incandescent.

Incandescent bulb: Operating a 100-watt incandescent bulb for a full year consumes 876 kWh of energy, resulting in an electricity cost of $131.40. Additionally, it’s important to note that bulb replacement, likely needed monthly, adds to the overall expense.

CFL bulb: A 25-watt CFL bulb can match the brightness of a 100-watt incandescent bulb while utilizing only 216 kWh of energy annually. This translates to an energy cost of $32.40, and the bulb replacement frequency is expected to be around twice a year.

LED: Achieving the same luminosity as a 100-watt incandescent bulb, a 16-watt LED bulb uses only 140 kWh of energy throughout the year, resulting in an electricity cost of just $21. Remarkably, a single LED bulb can last the entire year without the need for replacement.

What Should You Do with Your Old Lightbulbs?

While LED bulbs are safe to dispose of in the trash, it’s recommended to recycle them. CFL bulbs, containing mercury, and should be taken to a hazardous waste center for proper disposal.

LED Retrofit Savings from Action Services Group

Ready to make the transition to LED lighting? Do you have questions about what LED lighting will work best for you? Contact Action Services Group to start your energy-efficient lighting project today by calling 610-558-9773, emailing [email protected] or schedule a call that fits your needs by clicking the button below.

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