The Differences between LED, CFL, and Halogen Lighting

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Oct 29th 2016

The Differences between LED, CFL, and Halogen Lighting

Not too long ago, the only thing you had to worry about when purchasing a light bulb was what wattage to buy. Unless, of course, you were purchasing a novelty light such as a bulb that could change colors. These days, the task of lighting your home has become a lot more difficult thanks to a wide variety of new lighting options on the market. Of course, it’s not all bad. Newer forms of lighting offer energy efficiency that is simply not possible when using traditional incandescent bulbs. This allows consumers to lower their utility bills even as they reduce their carbon footprint. The problem is how to decide which lighting options best suit your needs. How can you choose between modern LED, CFL, and halogen lights? How do costs and performance stack up? How do you choose between halogen bulbs, CFLs, and LED options like bulbs, strip lights, or LED rope lights, just for example? Here are just a few things you need to know about the differences between these types of lighting so that you can make an informed decision.

How They Work

Although all light bulbs work similarly, it’s clear that they don’t work exactly the same. Some produce different color temperatures, some save energy and money, and so on. It is the different ways in which light bulbs achieve the same effect that makes one better than another. So which one should you choose? It may depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish and how much you want to spend in the process. Either way, it begins with knowing how each type of bulb works. Halogen lights are very similar to incandescent bulbs.  They rely on electricity to heat a filament to the point that it produces light.  This is why these bulbs are so hot. However, halogen bulbs contain halogen gas and a tungsten filament.  Both of these elements allow for a greater output of light with less wattage.  Halogen bulbs, therefore, are more efficient and long-lasting than traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs, or compact fluorescent lights, function by passing electrical current through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. This creates ultraviolet light that interacts with a fluorescent (phosphor) coating in the bulb to make visible light. The process requires less energy than heating filaments.  It can, however, take a few minutes for these bulbs to reach full illumination. Finally, there are LEDs, or light emitting diodes, which are much more complex. Instead of having electricity simply pass through a filament or tube, LEDs rely on a p-n junction that passes electrical current from one semiconductor to another, transferring electrons in the process to create photons that produce light. This is the most efficient process in terms of energy consumption. From a user standpoint, you should note that halogen lights produce the same warm color as incandescent bulbs. You can purchase CFLs and LEDs in a range of color options so that you can have cool or warm tones to the light, as you prefer.

Energy Required

Let’s start with a basis of comparison by looking at traditional incandescent bulbs, such as the fairly standard 60-watt bulb. These produce approximately 800 lumens and most homeowners use them for indoor lighting. For the same relative lumens, a halogen bulb requires roughly 40 watts of electricity, a CFL needs only about 15 watts, and an LED can do the job for roughly 5 watts. The exact number will depend on the product, and lumens are rarely precisely uniform from one type of light to the next. However, you can see immediately that LED lighting options are likely to use the least energy.  This is true whether you’re replacing bulbs or adding LED strip lights to your home.

Lifespan of Product

Again, LEDs take the win in the category of longevity. An incandescent bulb might produce about 1,000 hours of light, lasting approximately one year (if used an average of 3 hours per day); a halogen light can produce about 3,000 hours of light, lasting roughly 3 years; a CFL produces about 8,000-10,000 hours of light (lasting 8-10 years); and an LED could produce more than 25,000 hours of light, lasting 25 years or more. You’ll pay a little more up front for LED options.  However, prices have come down substantially over the last few years. It’s easy to see that you’ll get your use value and more out of them and save a lot of money on both energy consumption and replacement costs over time. In addition, there are now LED bulbs made to fit into standard fixtures.  Now you no longer have to add new LED fixtures to your home to enjoy the many benefits these lighting options offer.

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