LED vs CFL vs Incandescent vs Fluorescent: Which Shines Cleanest?

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The future looks dim for incandescent light bulbs, the world-changing invention introduced by Thomas Edison in 1879. Part of the blame goes to LED bulbs, also known as light-emitting diode light bulbs. However, the cost can sometimes deter buyers, so they turn to CFL bulbs, also known as compact fluorescent lamp bulbs. CFL bulbs also save consumers money and energy but not as much as LED bulbs over the long term. You may be saying, “But LED bulbs are more expensive than CFL bulbs.” That is true, but have you taken into consideration the lifespan and cost of energy? We’ll go over all the features of incandescent vs CFL vs LED light bulbs below.

LED vs CFL vs Incandescent vs Fluorescent: What’s the Difference?

When I went to the store, I used to buy the cheapest light bulb possible. That’s not the case anymore, though. I discovered a couple years ago that the type of bulbs I purchase make a huge difference. Find out the difference between incandescent vs fluorescent vs LED vs CFL.

LED Bulbs

LED, or light-emitting diode, is a two-lead semiconductor light source. These types of bulbs are Solid State Lighting (SSL), organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and light-emitting polymers (LEPs). LED lights are often more efficient, durable and longer lasting than other types of light bulbs. This is why we recommend you make the transition to LED bulbs throughout your home (check out our favorite LED bulb below).

CFL Bulbs

CFL bulbs are made of glass tubes filled with gas and a small amount of mercury. The amount is so small that an old-fashioned glass thermometer holds 100 times as much mercury as one CFL bulb. Light is emitted when mercury molecules in a CFL bulb become excited by electricity running between two electrodes at its base. The mercury emits an invisible ultraviolet light that becomes visible when it hits the white coating inside the CFL bulb.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs work by conducting an electric current along a filament made of a long, thin piece of tungsten metal. The filament must be heated to temperatures of about 2,300 °C to glow and emit a white-hot light. But the process transforms only 5-10% of the electricity used into visible light. The rest is transformed into heat, which can eventually increase the temperature of a room.

Fluorescent Bulbs

A fluorescent bulb is a low-pressure mercury-vapor gas discharge bulb that uses fluorescent to produce visible light. Mercury vapor is produced when an electric current makes contact with the gas, which produces short-wave ultraviolet light which then causes a coating on the inside of the bulb to light. A fluorescent bulb is more efficient than an incandescent bulb but is less efficient than a LED bulb. For the sake of this article, we have combined fluorescent bulbs with CFL bulbs.

The Features of LED, CFL, Incandescent and Fluorescent Bulbs

There are five big components we suggest taking into consideration while choosing a light bulb. Below we go into detail about what to consider for each category and which bulb is the best. Hint, LED is king.

Energy Efficient

In order of most efficient to least efficient, it goes LED, CFL then incandescent. LED use about 90% less energy than incandescent and CFL use about 75% less energy than incandescent. We would recommend using CFL or LED over incandescent bulbs to reduce your energy usage.

Lifespan

On average, incandescent light bulbs last 1,100 hours, CFL last 8,000 hours and LED last 15,000+ hours. That means for 15,000 hours of usage you would need 14 incandescent bulbs, 2 CFL bulbs and only 1 LED bulb. Not only could you save costs by spending a little more upfront on a LED bulb, but you’d also be reducing your waste.

Environmentally Friendly

Did you know the United States could eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equal to 800,000 cars if each household in the country replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb? PLUS, CFL bulbs aren’t even as environmentally friendly as LED bulbs. Imagine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we could eliminate if everyone switched to LED!

Similar to every other comparison we’ve made thus far, LED is superior. LED light bulbs use less energy, produce fewer toxins, are made from non-toxic materials and are recyclable. They are considered to be Earth-friendly, which obviously makes us happy. 😉

Fluorescent lighting uses mercury which can be dangerous to our environment. While researching for this article, we found a rather scary statistic with the following information. If one 13-watt CFL and one 60-watt incandescent (which are considered equivalents) are lit for 8,000 hours, the incandescent uses four times the energy and four times the mercury.

Cost Savings of LED or CFL Bulb

There are three key elements we took into consideration while determining which light bulbs were the most cost effective: price per bulb, electricity used and lifespan. The table below sums up our findings with one clear winner.
 LEDCFLIncandescent
Watts Used10.5W15W60W
Watt Equivalent60W60W60W
Cost Per Bulb (Average)$5.00$3.00$1.00
Lifespan in Hours15,0008,0001,100
Bulbs Needed for 15,000 Hours1214
Total Price of Bulbs for 13.5 Years$5.00$6.00$14.00
Electricity Used (15,000 hours at $0.10/kWh)*$15.75$22.50$90.00
TOTAL Cost Over 13.5 Years (Estimated)$20.75$28.50$104.00

*In 2016, the average price of electricity in the U.S. was 10.28¢/kWh. Also, we used this calculation to determine the cost.

Heat Production

The amount of heat produced by a light bulb is often overlooked but should be at the top of your concerns while purchasing a light bulb. Not only can they be fire hazards but they can also increase your cooling costs. According to an article we found, tests show that a 100-watt incandescent light burns at 335.4°F, a CFL burns at 179.2°F and a LED burns at 87.2°F. Once again, LED is superior in this category.

Other Comparisons

There are some other elements to consider when choosing your light bulbs as well that we have not discussed. But this short video below does a great job covering these factors, so we strongly recommend you watch it. Find out other differences between CFL vs LED vs incandescent.

Our Favorite LED Light Bulbs: Philips 60-Watt Equivalent

Philips LED Light BulbView on Amazon

If you’re looking for the best deal on LED light bulbs, check out this 16-pack of Philips 60-watt equivalent bulbs. These bulbs are an amazing deal at $22.22 for 16 bulbs. Typically LED’s average around $5/bulb! Philips is a good brand for LED light bulbs and you can get them in soft white or daylight. They use only 8.5 watts of energy and can save up to $62 over the lifetime of one bulb.

Our Favorite Smart Light Bulbs: Philips Hue LED Bulbs

Philips Hue LED BulbsView on Amazon

We love these light bulbs because they last 15,000 hours and are inexpensive compared to other smart bulbs. Philips Hue has models that can change colors and dim too, so they would be fun to adjust for a holiday party or in a kid’s bedroom. Depending on the model of bulbs you select you may need a Bridge to connect them all. This starter kit that we’ve linked to includes the Bridge.

What Happens if You Break a Light Bulb?

CFL bulbs contain mercury, so it’s important to be careful if you ever break a light bulb. First, have everyone leave the room including pets and air it out for 5-10 minutes by opening a door or window to the outside. Pick up the pieces of the bulb and wipe the area with a wet paper towel. Place all clean-up materials in an outside trash can. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water when you are done. Then check with your local municipality to find out if broken bulbs can be picked up with your other garbage or if they must be taken to a specified recycling center.

We recommend putting down a drop cloth when you change a light bulb in case it were to break, this can make clean-up easier.

How to Dispose of a Light Bulb

  • LED – Many LED bulbs are recyclable, so check the packaging beforehand and consider recycling.
  • CFLYou should not toss burned-out CFL bulbs in the trash. Many municipalities offer recycling services, as do retailers such as Home Depot, Walmart and IKEA, although not necessarily at all locations.
  • Incandescent – These are okay to dispose of in your garbage. However, some recycling centers allow these but check ahead of time.

Light Bulb Wattage Guide

If you're trying to transition over to LED bulbs, it can be confusing which wattage is required. We are gradually doing this as light bulbs burn out in our house and I tend to find myself staring at all the light bulb options in the aisle for 5-10 minutes trying to find a replacement bulb. To make it easier for you, check out this table which shows which wattage you should get if you're used to purchasing a certain wattage bulb. For example, if your dining room lights have 60-watt incandescent bulbs, you can replace them with 12-watt LED bulbs which will save you money on electricity and on replacement bulbs in the long run.
IncandescentCFLLED
100-watt23-watt20-watt
75-watt20-watt14-watt
60-watt15-watt12-watt
40-watt10-watt8-watt

Be Eco-Conscious And Save Money With Your Smart Home

Regardless of CFL vs incandescent vs LED, it is still a waste of energy to have lights on when they are not needed. A cool way to deal with this issue is to add some smart home devices to your life. Imagine if you could turn your lights on and off from your cell phone, no matter how far you are from your home! Here’s a helpful rundown of smart light bulbs, in case you want to learn more.

What light bulbs are you leaning towards and why?

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One of Kimberly’s favorite things to do is cook. She is trying her best to be more conscious about the nutrients she puts into her body and enjoys trying new recipes. Kimberly grew up helping her dad with the family garden and hopes to have her own garden some day. She enjoys brightening up her dishes with the food mother nature can provide and enjoys composting her produce scraps.

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FYI gfjvigh
The owl has always made it so easy for us we just have our kids together to make a special special person like a normal girl or family of friends who have no children day or evening because we can not only get people who have to a side or family together or they can miss a little time in and a family and friends or a random dog day and they usually have their kids at all and I can not get to go there for them or to do a thing of stuff for you guys because you have kids you have money.
FYI gfjvigh
Lights are nice
Johan
“…are made from non-toxic materials and are recyclable.”
Sure, if you consider lead and arsenic non-toxic (and don’t forget the plastic).

Then there is the light. Only incandescent (and the related halogen) gives natural light. LEDs (I wont even mention the horrible CFL/fluorescent) have a blue light peak which is degrading tissues in the eye. They also don’t give off much near-infrared light that heals eyes. We won’t be living then, but the kids growing up today will have higher numbers of blind people when they are old.

Also, heat. I live in a cold place, incandescents are great! At least let me have them for heat, where their efficiency is 90% (enough for EU class A). I would have to put more energy into heating with LEDs…

If I’ll find myself in the situation where I won’t be able to find incondescents or halogen bulbs anymore, I’ll switch to candles! (100% stearin or wax, of course)

Tony
I see you mentioned that CFL/LEDs are particularly useful if you are cooling your house, but what about if you are heating your house? You didn’t bother mentioning that problem. Well, I’m here for you:

If you are heating your house with electricity then you certainly lose money by using anything but the cheapest light bulb. It’s literally mathematically impossible to save energy in that situation by using an LED or CFL. It is nothing but a waste of the additional resources it takes to make a LED or CFL. It’s the opposite of environmentally friendly. This applies during any time of the year you are heating your house.

This phenomenon extends to all types of heating (natural gas, oil, etc) and the reality is that you save very little and probably lose money if you switch to CFLs and LEDs. They are great for hot climates, and awful for cold ones. The only way this could change is if the cost of LEDs decreases substantially.

All the energy used by any light bulb turns into heat (even the light, eventually). So your lights also heat your house, if they use less energy (make less heat) then your furnace has to make up the difference. Since your furnace makes up the difference, you didn’t save ANY energy. Whether you save any MONEY is a matter of how much these energy sources cost. At this time, CFL and LED lights cost so much that it’s not worth it. And if your heat is electric, then it’s impossible for them to be better, unless they are cheaper than standard bulbs.

Marc
There are some appliances that need incandescence lamps, not for their light, but for their heat. There was a an Italian oven called “forno dolce” that uses two 100 Watt incandescent lamp as heat source, that had great success.

You cannot replace these lamps by CFL or LED in this oven, as CFL and LED don’t heat!

Myself use incandescent lamp for their infrared emission, for infrared photography (with infrared film). Infrared photography is also used in medicine. We cannot use CFL or LED lamp for infrared photography because CFL and LED lamps don’t emit infrared radiations. Sure, there are infrared LED lamp available now, but human cannot see infrared rays, so both types of lamp have to be used at the same time for that specific use, so what’s the advantage of using energy efficient CFL lamps if they have to be completed with other types of lamp for the whole system to be operative?

At least these people that are pushing for the use of CFl and LED lamps should not have banned the manufacturing of incandescent lamps so that people who absolutely need them can still buy them.

A 100 Watt incandescent lamp is one of the most simple and common thing, If we let these people at the government ban things as simple and harmless as a 100 Watt bulb, where are we going? What is next? Banning paper and pencil for a paperless world?

If people are no more free to buy a regular 100 Watt bulb, maybe it’s time for people to get rid of their government!

Marc
The CFL Scam

The power printed on the box doesn’t include the power used by the electronic ballast. But you use and pay for all the power, both that of the lamp and that of the ballast. To know the real power of the lamp, look at what is printed on the lamp, and multiply the intensity (A) by 120 V. I have just a Sylvania CF23EL/MINITWUIST in my hand, it says:

23W 120V 60Hz 0.34A 3500K

As the power is equal to the voltage multiplied by the current, we can see that 120V x 0.34A = 40.8 Watt, not 23 Watt. 120V here only means “to be used in a 120V grid” (not in Europe 220 Volts grid). 23 Watt here means that the voltage across the lamp alone WITHOUT ITS ELECTRONIC BALLAST is 23W / 0.34A = 67.6 volts. The remaing 52.4 volts is absorbeb by the ballast that uses 52.4V x 0.34A = 18 Watt.

Lamp alone: 67.6 Volts 0.34 A 23 Watt (advertised power)
Ballast alone: 52.4 Volts 0.34 A 17.8 Watt
Total energy: 120 Volts 0.34 A 40.8 Watt (real power used)

(As the ballast is connected in serial with the lamp, the current (Ampere) is always the same in all the circuit, while the volts are added)

Now the grid is not always exactly 120 Volts. Where I live I usually read about 125 volts. That means that the power used by the whole lamp is 125 x 0.34 = 42.5 Watt, the extra Volts and Watts being dissiped into more heat by the ballast, And people complain that incandescent lamps waste energy into heat?
When the voltage increase, incandesent lamps give more light and even becomes more efficient, CFL only becomes LESS efficient!

Marc
With the excuse that mercury is bad for the environment, These ecologists have first banned 1.35 Volts mercury batteries, and there is now no batteries with constant voltage available for photographers to use into some of their cameras.
And now they want to force all people on earth to use CFL lamps that contain… mercury!

The secret reasons behind all this is that tungsten is used to make the deflectors of rockets. By limiting the production of tungsten incandescent lamp, there is more tungsten available for military use.

Another secret is that unlike incandescent lamps that have to much heat inertia to be modulated, while CFL and LED can be modulate fastly and used to generate waves that have influence on people brain. People can be brainwashed by waves sent by the electrical grid to the lamps that emit corresponding luminous waves, these wave entering into the brain by the optical nerve.

Another false excuse is CO2 emission in the atmosphere. They are forcing people to expense a lot of money for “more efficient” vehicles. If emissions were a so big problem, why they don’t prohibit what cause the most of it, such as drive-through restaurant, even drive-though ATM? why they don’t prohibit remote starter? Why they don’t remove annoying all-ways stops where vehicle waste tons of gas for stoping and then restarting uselessly? Why are the circulation lights still not sincronized like in Europe?

I have read somewhere that they are doing all this purposely to make people the more irritated possible, at this time, for political reasons, for the preparation of something that will come later…

Marc
CFL or LED are not more efficient than incandescant lamp, if we look at the whole spectrum. It is not fair to limit the measure of the light produced by a type of lamp to a narrow spectrum of 400 to 700 nm. Radiations shorter than 400 nm (Ultraviolet) and radiations longer than 700nm (Infrared) are not directly visible but are necessary for our health. Infrared rays go deeper into our skin and help the skin regenerate. Ultraviolets rays are necessary to transform fat into vitamin D. Alas! medical doctors and especially people in the cosmetic industry have made so much advertising about the danger of skin cancer due to over-exposure to ultraviolet light that now everybody look at ultraviolet rays as something to avoid at all cost. But Ultraviolet rays also kill germs and fungus. In fact we don’t know how many benefices these invisible rays have, and worse, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT ARE THE DANGERS CAUSED BY THE DEFICIENCY OF THESE INVISIBLE RADIATIONS!
Ultraviolets rays are absorbed by objects that convert them into visible light, a processus called “fluorescence”, so an object don’t look the same color when there are ultraviolet rays and when there are none, and that particularity is not taken into account in the lamp tests. There is in fact no such thing as lamp “efficiency”, we all use and pay electricity for each type of radiations (visible or not visible) the lamp (of any type) emits. To chose to restrict a lamp to a narrow spectrum of 400 to 700 nm so that it appears brighter for it’s Wattage and calling that “efficiency” is only deception.
For comparaison, a microwave oven is also more “efficient” than a regular oven, and like the lamp, the microwave oven has is spectrum restricted to only one wavelength: 2450 MHz. We all know that microwave cooking is not the best for your health, why would a lamp with restricted wavelength be better?
Except for flash lights where power and usage are limited, the better and more secure type of lamp for home usage is still the incandescence lamp and / or the halogen lamp that have the widest and smoothest spectrum.
Uma Kolandai
I am just like Michelle in organic foods greening the planet using LED, CFL
Dave
CFL, LED or incandescent. I have a hobby in electronics and such and can boil it down this way. In terms of being “green”, the incandescent wins. While the CFL or LED may seem to win based on a percentage of light vs heat, any saving here is drastically offset when you consider the manufacturing process and disposal of these items. The standard or incandescent light is made up of glass, a metal base and a metal filament. All of these items are easily and safely broken down and recycled. The manufacture of these “standard” lights are also green, as there is no major hazards in dealing with the materials needed to make the item. CFL and LED’s on the other hand are far less “green” or safe. Your average CLF and LED contains a PCB, this PCB is required to transform the line voltage entering your home into the voltage or current the device need to operate. This PCB is referred to as a driver or ballast, and it drives the voltage. The manufacturing of the drivers alone involve chemicals not found in the “standard” light, and require more chemicals to later recycle, while only reclaiming 10-15% of the raw materials used. In retrospect, 99%+ of the raw materials used to make the standard light can be reclaimed. Power usage, While the CFL and LED are more efficient bases on what the user pays for, this seen saving is not the whole story. To understand the entire power usage you must follow the light from its creation through to its recycling. It is in the sight that the “standard” wins. The power needed to run all the machines required to produce the CFL and LED far out way the small saving to the end user, those machines and the machines needed to recover the hazardous chemicals use far more electric than there are savings per bulb made, and this is assuming that even 50% make it to recycling unbroken. What do you think the odds are in that? CFL and LED may one day take over as being the more green solution, but until these items can be made cleaner, use materials that can be completely recycled as can be with the standard bulb, the standard will remain the ultimate victor in green home lighting.
Unresponsive Script
That all sounds impressive Dave but where are your sources or could you have possibly just made this stuff up? Please stick to your hobby.

And maybe the idea was to reduce the electric grid load primarily rather than every other aspects of a green objective?

Could you be a classic purveyor of false information?

Some points of fact:

CFL lumens per watt are about 4X more with CFL than your old nostalgic Easy-Bake-Oven hot bulb.

The poisonous and carcinogenic PCB’s were used in the old fashion “magnetic ballasts” for linear fluorescents fixtures up to 1979.

It is a dielectric material that insulates between conductors.

And you have the Federal Government REGULATION to THANK for removing it from the new manufacture of anything in the US after 1979. You know one of those terrible and burdensome regulations from the federal government.

Don’t worry though Dave. As part of D.T.’s making America great again, he will be ripping up all these troublesome regulations and bring back one of the conservatives’ agenda most important item— the yearning for the return of incandescent bulb!

Maybe it should be an executive order on the first day of D.T.’s presidency!

And if we are really lucky Dave, maybe D.T. can eliminate the ban on manufacture of PCB’s again! After all it was a really good dielectric!

Maybe we can look forward to more enormous underground dumpsites like the one still oozing out of rocks in road cuts along the Hudson River from corporate model citizen, General Electric.

Make America Great Again! Yea!

Chris Duvall
Incandescent bulbs produce far more heat than CFLs, do they not? A lot of people don’t think about that when comparing the two “energy-wise”. It’s true, CFL’s use less energy, but do you know what uses the most energy in your home? Your heater. So without all that extra heat coming from incandescent lighting and giving you major internal gains, your heater will be running much more often. So maybe incandescent bulbs during colder months and CFL’s during the warmer?
David Hammond
Broken fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can release sufficient mercury vapor to cause poisoning. The Maine Department of Environment Protection conducted experimental trials to measure how much mercury was released when fluorescent bulb or CFLs were broken inside moderate sized rooms. They found that the mercury concentration could reach as high as 50,000 ng/m3 and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a single CFL. The Maine guideline for ambient air mercury is 300 ng/m3. There is at least one case report in medical journals in which a 23-month-old baby developed acrodynia after being exposed to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs.

Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Breakage Study Report. February, 2008. http://www.maine.gov/dep/homeowner/cflreport.html

Tunnessen, W. W., McMahon, K. J., & Baser, M. (1987). Acrodynia: exposure to mercury from fluorescent light bulbs. Pediatrics, 79(5), 786-789.

SensicalNugget
OK, here goes, my cousin lives in Nunavut, and she can’t use CFLs in the winter because it gets too cold. So, incandescent a win. Middle finger to the person who wrote this.

Lighthouse
Efficient in making bright light using few components and earth minerals.Sustainable in being easily locally made as simple safe generic patent-expired products without needing long transport and without needing recycling. Long lasting up to 20 000 hours (as for mining industry), when major manufacturers don’t control the markets.

Incandescents don’t burn coal and they don’t give out CO2 or other emissions.

Power plants might and might not. But even if they do, those power plants would mostly be burning the same coal anyway in their base level night output covering the low demand when incandescents are mainly used.

14 referenced reasons why banning incandescents makes no sense,

including in saving energy for society, on Department of Energy grid data etc

Anonymous
I had no idea that traditional incandescent bulbs were so bad for the environment. My eyes are opened now to the situation! I liked how the article addressed the mercury issue and made me realize how safe it was, because that was the one issue that surprised me about CFLs. (My first thought was, How could they be better when they contain mercury? But it is true, as the article mentioned, that burning extra coal to generate electricity puts far more mercury into the environment.) I would like to read a little more about the other options, LED and advanced incandescent, too.

I have definitely seen those spiral lights at the hardware store, but I never really knew what they were for exactly. I sort of assumed that they were more for office spaces than homes, especially because they cost more. I like that CFLs are available in different brightnesses, and it was interesting reading about how the brightness is controlled by the temperature. Now that I see how much of a difference changing to CFLs can make, I definitely want to play around with the mood lighting all over my house while replacing my incandescents with CFLs.

Kathy Faust
I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials about how GE is making changes to their bulbs so that they are more user-friendly. I love that they are trying to make the lighting from CFL bulbs better. One of my biggest qualms has always been the poor lighting these bulbs give off. I’m glad GE is making this option better for others, but for me, it’s too late.

While it may be extremely expensive to do, we plan to switch all the bulbs in our home to LED. With bulbs costing between $10-20 a piece, it will be something that we do over time, but we feel it’s well worth the cost. Not only do LED bulbs last a lot longer, but they use a fraction of the energy that CFL bulbs use, which means they will pay for themselves over time.

Hopefully, we’ll see a decrease in LED bulbs prices the same way we saw a decrease in CFL bulbs. Otherwise, it’s going to cost several hundred dollars to switch out all of our bulbs. That’s quite an investment. In fact, it’s an investment that I would be taking with me when we move out of our rental. I wonder if my landlord will mind having no bulbs when we move?

Kathy Faust
I wonder if anyone has stopped to think about how perfecting the light bulb has created more waste? We switched all our bulbs to CFL bulbs and will soon be switching to LED bulbs. I guess I’ll probably donate the other bulbs because they’re still perfectly usable, they’re just not the perfect bulb. It’s strange to think that we were perfectly fine with incandescent bulbs for decades, but have made two major changes in the course of a few years. Which brings me back to my point. Is it really green to keep trying to be greener?

Regardless, going green is obviously a great thing, and being able to use even less energy is wonderful. Yet, I just don’t think people sit back and think about how striving for perfection is impacting the planet. It seems to be a constant barrage – “No, get rid of that. This is much greener!” Of course, the companies producing these products don’t care. Many of them are only making greener products because that’s what the country wants – not because they actually care about the environment. I wonder how long LED bulbs will be the “best” way to light your home before something new comes along.

Kathy Faust
It seems like people are always buying into the latest fad only to buy into another one a few years down the road. I’m not saying that CFL bulbs are bad. They’re certainly an improvement to incandescent bulbs, but why did we bother when the technology was already there for us to use LED bulbs? For some, it’s about being green, but for many companies, it’s about staying afloat. After all, if you purchase light bulbs that last 10 years instead of 2, that makes it harder for the company to survive. So why not lure you back into the stores with something better and new?

In all seriousness, we bought into the CFL craze and now we’re looking into switching our bulbs to LED. It feels wasteful to make the change so soon, but since we’re renters, we’ll keep the bulbs until we move and take our LED bulbs and leave the CFLs. Regardless, it seems strange to be investing in something that we thought was a better choice only to be reinvesting in more bulbs. Who knew something that you never really think about could cost so much money? Regardless, it will be nice to use LED bulbs, which seem to give off better light and are much more energy efficient.

an environmentally conscious drifter
We have switched several rooms to CFL. I am trying REALLY HARD to like them, but the light they emit is ugly, dim, depressing, grayish. It completely lacks warmth, and gives the house a kind of cold, spaceship-like quality. Also, I have seen zero money savings as far as the energy bill. I also don’t understand how CFL is supposed to be so great for the environment, when a broken bulb is such a hazard and requires elaborate maneuvers for proper disposal. Maybe there’s hope in LED.

Anonymous
I replaced all of my incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent about two years ago, and my electricity bills have gone down notably during that time. At first, it only seemed like a few dollars per month, but for the number of bulbs I replaced in my house, as time went on there was a notable difference, of about sixty dollars per year or more. Not bad for saving the earth by lowering electricity consumption! By the way, the article was correct to touch on the other advantages these bulbs. People seem to have the mistaken idea that they give off that horrible harsh light and cannot be used with dimmer switches and such, but the new generation of CFLs actually is much more versatile. There are even CFL bulbs that are more bright or less bright based on how many lumens they put out, so you can have your reading light or your perfectly dimmed dining room light. I even put some up in darker parts of my house that were listed as full spectrum CFL, and they are helping my plants grow perkier and greener even though the plants are not as close to a window.

an environmentally conscious drifter
This helped me with my science project.Thanks. ;)-MJR

Chuckles
When I first heard about CFL’s I was excited and enthused about saving money and helping the environment — who doesn’t want these two ends. I went out and purchased a few packages of each and started to replace them in my home. That’s when I realized that the physical size of many CFL’s is an issue. I’ve had cases where a CFL won’t fit in a lamp or a ceiling fixture — Yes, a lamp or ceiling fixture. These are common applications for light bulbs. If the CFL won’t physically fit, it is worthless,right.

The manufacturers need to “fix” this issue. Unfortunately our near-sided Congress has already outlawed the manufacture of incandescent bulbs so we are between a rock and a hard place.

And as long as I’m on it, these bulbs do NOT last longer than incandcents. I had to replace two of the first 6 CFL’s I installed within the first year. Thanks again Congress.

fordknutt
Chuckles is correct, I have had to replace CFL’s w/short lifespans in my home also. Doesn’t matter if they are installed in ceiling can lights, desk lamp, garage light fixture, etc. The CFL’s that are used on a daily basis will be lucky to last 6 months.

Marie
I have to say that the lifespan of these bulbs is getting better. BUT still doesn’t seem to match the advertised number of hours. The best solution I have found is this website called Energyearth.com that offers lifetime guarantees on LEDs and some CFLs. I have NO idea how they can afford to offer this, but I have already had them replace one bulb – amazing!

Jordan
I just built a 3800 sq. ft. home and decided to use all CFL’s and/or LED bulbs. After shopping all my local stores and the internet for several weeks I was more than appalled. To fit every fixture, a total of 127 not including outdoor lighting which is solar, the cost would have been $3,427.73!

I could get the same number of incandescent bulbs for $285.75 by buying jumbo packs of GE bulbs at my local Sam’s club. For the price difference forget about the planet. The entire save the planet rhetoric with CFL’s is double talk because they have mercury in them, how good is that for the planet?

I can take the $3,141.38 difference and invest it something that will earn me more than I will ever see in savings by using CFL’s/LED bulbs.

Karen
The mercury in these is being downplayed. The levels measured in the Maine CFL study show that levels above the workplace limits for acute exposure are possible, even likely . Yes, acute exposure limits to not be surpassed EVER, for the workplace assuming adults, not for children. The workplace limit is 100,000 ng/m3 and the chronic exposure limit for a home are 300 ng/m3 (yes I realize that is a chronic limit).

California is the only one who has a limit for an acute exposure in the home for children and pregnant women. It is 600 ng/m3 for one hour. The Maine CFL study had some levels in the 1000’s for days. They all seem to br comparing the size of the mercury to the head of a pen to show how small it is but this has NOTHING to do with the toxicity of something. The proponents of these things also mislead you with the following comparisons as well.

Comparing it to a thermometers amount of mercury being 500-3000 mg so it can’t be that bad. But they’ve stopped making mercury thermometers and thermostats because they are too toxic and can hospitalize people if not cleaned up perfectly. Also mercury vapor is what is toxic (you could eat mercury and it is basically non-toxic as your digestive system cant absorb much actually 1/1000 absorption) and a thermometer would only evaporate about 50 ug of mercury vapor per hour, being diluted by air as it does, making levels of mercury in air quite low, under 1000 ng/m3, but still dangerous.

A CFL puts many many times this into the air right away because it sprays mercury droplets into the air that evaporate instantly (evaporation rate based on surface area/temp). They also contaminate everything they touch. How can these even be legal without warnings plastered all over them. But some would say “well there are no warnings on tubes and those have been used for years safely”. Well, no they haven’t, people just didn’t know how toxic they actually were until the 2008 Maine CFL study was done. As well, tubes in people’s kitchens are usually covered and tubes are harder to break.

CFL’s fit in lamps and low places that are easily knocked over or accidentally hit. 50 ug of mercury per liter of blood is enough to poison you. A child has 1 liter of blood. There are 5000 ug average in a bulb (but up to 20,000 ug (5-20 mg). These are dangerous and they can contaminate your floor,couch,bedding, clothing, etc. floors in the Maine CFL study emitted mercury for months after a spill. So I think people think that once its visibly clean its safe and it isn’t. Even hardwood floors emitted mercury mercury for weeks after a breakage, so if your child plays there they are being chronically exposed to mercury vapors. As well the mercury vapor recompensed on things in the room, the SCHER report states that children will also be exposed to intake of mercury through “hand to mouth” actions from contaminated dust in the room. I’m not an alarmist when it comes to chemicals, and am actually the one who rolls their eyes when people whine about them, but these things should either carry cleanup instructions, or a big warning that tells you if one breaks you can poison your kids.

Kathy Faust
I’ve tried really hard to like CFL bulbs. We switched all the bulbs in our home, but I’ve not been happy with the results. I’m not sure if we’re saving any money on our electricity bill either, but I know that I don’t like the lighting that these bulbs put off. It’s been something that I’ve been willing to live with though in order to be a bit greener. In fact, it’s one of the simplest things someone can do to start living greener, though it may be a bit expensive.

I do like that these bulbs take much longer to burn out. I also like that there are better styles to choose from than when the bulbs first became popular. I do have a problem with the hazards involved with these bulbs and the disposal methods. After all, it’s much nicer to just be able to toss a burned out bulb than try to find a center that will take them.

Personally, I love the idea of LED bulbs, but wow are they expensive. The good news is they do save a lot more energy than CFL bulbs and give off more light. There’s also no warm-up time and they last even longer than CFL bulbs.