What’s the Difference Between LED vs Incandescent Lighting: A Guide

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Sep 14th 2018

One lasts between 1,000 and 2,000 hours. The other can last anywhere from 20 to 50 times more!

You read that right. In the battle of LED vs incandescent lights, the former outranks the other in terms of hours of life. That’s because LED (light emitting diode) bulbs can light up your world (sorry) from anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 hours!

That alone should already make you want to switch to LEDs ASAP. But that’s not the only benefit of doing so.

Aside from their longer-lasting service life, they also differ from other lighting products in terms of safety and durability. They also have an energy consumption advantage.

What exactly is the difference though? Also, does the initial cost make LEDs worth it?

Keep reading as we answer these questions and more!

LED vs Incandescent: The Difference in Technology

Did you know that the size of one diode in an LED is the same as that of a fleck of pepper? As small as they may be in size, quality LED light bulbs shine brighter than their incandescent counterparts.

Size and brightness aren’t the only differences though. They also differ in the following aspects:

Light Production

Incandescent bulbs use electric current to heat a tungsten filament. They use enough electricity to create heat that makes the filament illuminate. Simple, yes, but quite energy-consuming.

In LEDs, the light production process is more complex. They still use electrical current, but the bulbs pass this through a diode rather than a filament. When the current exceeds the voltage, that’s when it emits light.

Heat Generation

You may have tried touching one of these bulbs soon after you turned them off. Hot, right? That’s because these bulbs release as much as 90% of energy in the form of heat.

Because LED converts little energy to heat, you don’t have to worry about experiencing the same accidents as with incandescent bulbs. LEDs also combine various colors (red, green, plus blue) to give you that white light.

Illuminating Direction

When it comes to incandescent light direction, you need to use objects such as deflectors with incandescent and other lighting systems. That’s because their light spreads out. In fact, some of these bulbs may only reflect half of the light generated, with the rest staying in the fixture.

LED lights come out in a specific direction. This then minimizes the need for light-trapping objects like diffusers and reflectors. In other words, you get the most light from LEDs.

When They Go Out

Another good way to differentiate between incandescent vs LED is lighting hours.

Say you have incandescent bulbs throughout your home. You have them lit for at least five hours every day.

With their 1,000- to 2,000-hour lifespan, that means you’d need to change them after 200 to 400 days, or in about seven to thirteen months. If you use them for longer periods of time, then you’d need replacements sooner.

Now, consider the average number of hours you can get from LEDs. Even if you had them shining for 10 hours a day (for example, you work from home), they won’t burn out for up to 2,000 to 5,000 days! That’s somewhere around the ballpark of 13 years!

If you stick with incandescent lights, you would have to replace them 14 to 28 times within the same lifespan of one LED. That’s a lot of time and hassle you could have saved yourself from if you made the switch to LED.

The Upfront Cost

If LED is so amazing, why are households in the country still using more traditional options like incandescent and CFL?

The primary reason is because LED, with all its amazing technology, started out quite heavyweight in the price section. For instance, in 2009, only about 400,000 of these lights saw use in the U.S due to price constraints.

But as researchers continued to study and improve upon the technology behind LED, they saw many opportunities to reduce its cost. Nowadays, super-efficient LED lights are as much as 85% cheaper than their predecessors.

Granted, LEDs still aren’t as cheap as your regular $1-incandescent or $2-CFL. But if you take the time to research, you’ll find deals and offers that’ll cut back your costs when buying LEDs.

The Long-Term Cost

The saying “You get what you pay for” applies to your lighting systems too. If you want energy efficient, safer, and longer-lasting bulbs, then consider investing a bit more money for LEDs.

LED vs CFL vs Incandescent

The CFL we mentioned above refers to compact fluorescent light bulbs. They’re more energy-efficient than incandescent, as they use only about a third of energy that the latter does.

However, these lighting products require more energy to light up when you first turn them on. They then need to regulate the electricity (the function of the ballast).

Because of this, you’ll notice that CFL bulbs don’t light up right away or are dim at first. In some products, the process only takes about half a minute. Others, for up to 3 minutes.

On average, they only cost a dollar more than incandescent. This has given rise to their popularity. Note though that many of the CFLs you’ll find in the market today have some mercury, a chemical that can harm your health and the environment.

This should already tell you that LED still leads the pack, despite being the costliest option.

Final Pro Tip Before Replacing Your Current Light Bulbs

Let’s say you want to renovate and are thinking of lighting upgrades or changes. Now that you know more about LED vs incandescent (or LED vs CFL), you’re gearing towards the former.

Before you start replacing everything though, it’s best you take note of how many light bulbs you need and want to change. If you have the budget, then by all means, switch all your traditional bulbs with LED ones. If you can’t replace them all at once, you can do it one by one, starting with the areas you need the most artificial light in.

Want to start your green lighting renovations ASAP? Then please feel free to connect with us! You may also want to check our blog for more lighting tips and tricks like this.

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