Comparison of LED with Incandescent and Fluorescent lamps


  • Incandescent lamps (light bulbs) create light by running electricity through a resistive filament, thereby heating the filament to a very high temperature so that it glows and produces visible light. A broad range of visible frequencies are naturally produced, yielding a pleasing warm yellow or white color quality. Incandescent light however, is highly inefficient, as over 98% of the energy  input is emitted as heat. A typical light bulb produces about about 15 lumens per watt. Standard light bulbs are relatively inexpensive and have a typical lifespan of around 1,000 hours. They work well with dimmers. Most existing light fixtures are designed for the size and shape of these traditional bulbs.



  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s) work by passing electricity through mercury vapor, which in turn produces ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light is then absorbed by a phosphor coating inside the lamp, causing it to glow, or fluoresce. While the heat generated by fluorescent lamps is much less than its incandescent counterpart, energy is still lost in generating the ultraviolet light and converting this light into visible light. If the lamp breaks exposure to hazardous mercury can occur. Lifetime varies from 1,200 hours to 20,000 hours for compact fluorescent lamps.




  • LED Lamps LEDs are based on the semiconductor diode. When the diode is forward biased (switched on), electrons are able to recombine with holes and energy is released in the form of light. LEDs present many advantages over traditional light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime (less replacement costs), improved robustness, smaller size and faster switching. They are cool to the touch and do not contain any mercury or other hazardous substances. LED lamps are a new technology, making them relatively expensive. However, in the longer term this investment will lead to larger reductions of your energy-bill.


Comparison Chart

 LED Lights vs. Incandescent Light Bulbs vs. CFLs

Energy Efficiency

Incandescent Light Bulbs Fluorescent (CFL) LED
Life Span (average) 1,200 hours 8,000 hours 50,000 hours
Watts of Electricity Used(equivalent to 60 watt bulb).LEDs use less power (watts) per unit of light generated (lumens).  LEDs help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and lower electric bills 60 watts 13-15 watt 6 – 8 watts
Annual Operating Cost. Average household has 30 bulbs in operation.  Statistic represents the usage of the 30 bulbs for 5 hours per day. $361.35/year $84.32/year $42.16/year
Environmental Incandescent Light Bulbs Fluorescent (CFL) LED
Carbon Dioxide Emissions (Carbon Footprint).Lower energy consumption decreases: CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide, and high-level nuclear waste.For this example we will use the average watts used for LED lights and CFLs that compare to a 60-watt Incandscent light bulb for comparable light output. The time frame will be 5 hours/day for 365 days/year for 30 bulbs per household. 4405 pounds/year 1028 pounds/year 514 pounds/year
Contains the TOXIC Mercury. A silvery-colored poisonous elemental metal that is liquid at room temperature. No Yes – Toxic for your health and the environment. No
RoHS Compliant (Reduction Of Hazardous Substances).The maximum concentration limits on hazardous materials used in electrical and electronic equipment. Enforced by the European Union. Yes No – contains 1mg-5mg of Mercury and is a major risk to the environment Yes
Important Facts Incandescent Light Bulbs Fluorescent (CFL) LED
Sensitivity to low temperatures Some Yes – may not work under negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit or over 120 degrees Fahrenheit None
Sensitive to humidity Some Yes – canhave a higher failure rate in more humid climates/weather. No
On/off Cycling.Switching a CFL on/off quickly, in a closet for instance, may decrease the lifespan of the bulb. Some Yes – can reduce lifespan drastically No Effect
Turns on instantly Yes No – takes time to warm up the Mercury to achieve maximum light output. Yes
Durability Not Very Durable – glass or filament can break easily Not Very Durable – glass can break easily Very Durable – LEDs can handle jarring and bumping
Heat Emitted.Incandescent bulbs emit large amounts of heat which can increase air conditioning costs and energy consumption while using air conditioning. 85 btu’s/hour 30 btu’s/hour 3.4 btu’s/hour
Possibility of Mechanical Failure Some Yes – may catch on fire, smoke, or omit an odor Not typical
Minimum Light Output Incandescent Light Bulbs Fluorescent (CFL) LED
Lumens Watts
Measures luminous flux or total packets of light produced by a light source The unit of power.The amount of energy transferred in one second
250 25 04-Sep 3
450 40 Sep-13 04-May
800 60 13-15 06-Aug
1,100 75 18-25 Sep-13
1,600 100 23-30 16-20
2,000 125 28-40 20-25
2,600 150 30-55 25-28
Streetlight 90 LED 250W Mercury-vapor
Light source 1W LED (90pcs) (OSRAM)HQL 250W
Central luminance 15-16Lux at 7m 15-16Lux at 7m
Beam angle 120° 150°
Life Span 100,000 hours 15,000 hours
Energy consumption per year 442kWh /year 1068kWh /year
Ultraviolet hazards No ultraviolet emission Emits ultraviolet
LED Streetlight Mercury-vapor Streetlight
  Lumen OSRAM HQL Lumen
28 LEDs – 28W 2300 50W~80W 1800~3800
56 LEDs – 56W 5000 80W~125W 3800~6300
112 LEDs-112W 10000 125W~250W 6300~13000
168 LEDs-168W 14000 250W~400W 13000~22000