The inefficient incandescent light bulb is a thing of the past, and we’re often asked how to choose between CFLs and LEDs. Both bulbs are readily available in a variety of shapes to suit new or existing light fixtures, but they are not created equal. If you can afford the higher up-front cost for LED lights, then that is our top recommendation for sustainability, plus their longer performance life means they pay back that upfront cost over time. If you need each bulb to throw off a lot of light, then CFLs are still your best bet as they are more readily available in higher lumens (amount of visible light emitted from the bulb).
- super long life (22+ years, 25 000 hours) = 2.5 times that of CFL, 25 times that of incandescent
- soft white light is available (2700K or less to get that warm light provided by incandescents)
- instantly on (no warm-up delay)
- mercury and lead free
- quiet operation (no hum)
- emit very little heat and will not fade fabrics or furnishings
- can be dimmed and controlled with sensors and timers
- consume less energy for same amount of light (12W for 806lm in an LED, 15W for 800lm in a CFL, 60W for 850lm in an incandescent)
- CONS: hard to find over 12W (equivalent of 60W incandescent / 800lm), often have yellow lens cap over the bulb to produce a white glow when the bulb is on, this means visible bulbs that are turned off look yellow. However, white cover caps are available on certain models.
- long life (9+ years, 10 000 hours) = 10 times that of incandescent
- soft white light is available (2700K or less), so you don’t have to have that cool blue light the first models provided
- CONS: contain mercury, slower warm-up (light isn’t full brightness immediately), only certain models can be used with dimmers and timers
- consume less energy than incandescent for the same amount of light