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Lightbulb Wars LED vs Fluorescent

In the battle of the bulbs, will LED or fluorescent come out on top? Mr. Electric will be the judge of this light bulb showdown. Learn which bulb is best for you.

When it comes to choosing replacement light bulbs, everyone knows CFLs and LEDs offer a more efficient, longer lasting lighting option. But given the choice between the two, fluorescent light vs LED, which one comes out on top? In this battle of the bulbs, Mr. Electric will help you decide which bulb is best for you.

Which Bulb is Better? LED vs Fluorescent

Like car headlights, the best bulb relies on your intended use.

  • LED Bulbs
    • Pros:
      • More efficient, LEDs use about 50 percent less energy than CFLs.
      • Long lasting, with a lifespan 25-times longer than an incandescent.
      • Do not give off heat as a byproduct.
      • LED bulbs are hardy, and don’t break as easily as CFLs.
      • LEDs are available in a wide temperature range, unlike CFLs.
      • LED bulbs are now available in a broad range of color tones, from blue-white to warm, orange hues and even specialty shades, allowing customers to achieve the perfect lighting look from task lighting to art display.
      • LED bulbs can be dimmed more easily than CFL bulbs.
      • Unlike CFLs, LED bulbs work well in colder temperatures, and are commonly used in commercial refrigerators/freezers.
      • More technology: LED smart bulbs can be programmed, change color, sense motion, and even play music via built-in speakers.
    • Cons:
      • More expensive, though their longer lifespan offsets the higher initial up-front cost.
      • Contain heavy metals, which offsets the ‘green’ aspect of the bulbs.
      • Can worsen symptoms of light sensitivity/photophobia, especially when light bulbs in the blue-white color spectrum are chosen.
    • Ideal Applications:
      • Light fixtures that are used for an extended period of time, and those that see repeated use, such as fixtures in kitchens, baths, living/family rooms, outdoor/porch lighting.
      • Hard-to-access bulbs, such as those in fixtures on cathedral ceiling and in bug-ridden outdoor light fixtures.
      • Holiday lighting, allowing you to attach multiple strings of lights together without any breaker tripping consequences.
  • CFL Bulbs
    • Pros:
      • Less expensive than LEDs.
      • Use 40 percent less energy than incandescents (about 10 percent more than LEDs).
      • Lifespan 10-times longer than an incandescent bulb.
      • Can be better for those with light sensitivity/photophobia, as the temperature of CFL bulbs is warmer than white-blue toned LEDs.
    • Cons:
      • The color tone of CFLs can wash out the surrounding environment, and cause eye strain.
      • Take several minutes to ‘warm up,’ and perform poorly in cold temperatures, taking an extended time to reach full brightness.
      • CFLs emit ultraviolet radiation as part of operation.
      • CFLs break more easily than LED, and pose a risk of mercury exposure.
      • Bulbs must be carefully and properly disposed of due to mercury content.  
      • Not dimmable.
    • Ideal Applications:
      • Because of the unique look of CFLs, they are ideally used in canned or recessed lighting, encased within concealed fixtures.
      • Institutions/scenarios where cool lighting tones are needed, such as hospitals and airport terminals, tend to use CFLs and fluorescents.
Lasting Bulbs, Lasting Implications

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that widespread adoption of LED lighting by 2025 will reduce electricity demands on the grid for lighting by 62 percent, eliminating 258-million metric tons of carbon emissions, and reduce the need for adding another 133 power plants, saving the U.S. over $280-billion. Will you contribute to cementing this future with your next bulb purchase?

Stop battling with ancient incandescents in your home. Next time you need to switch, upgrade to more efficient LED or CFL lighting tech. Brighten up your home and the earth’s future with the help of Mr. Electric today.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.