CFL vs LED – Differences + Which to Choose

When decorating or brightening up your outdoors, you don’t want to be burdened with huge power bills witnessed with incandescent bulbs. A great advancement in bulb technology has led to production of CFL and LED bulbs which boast great energy efficiency and longer lifespan. Let’s get down to the difference between CFL and LED bulbs to help us determine the best for your outdoor lights.

For many years, incandescent bulbs have been lighting up the world. One major downside with these bulbs is higher energy consumption. They generate a lot of heat which consumes more energy. For this reason many households have immensely switched to LED and CFL light bulbs.

LED vs CFL Light Bulb Differences

Energy efficient LED and CFL bubs have taken the market by storm due to their ability to conserve energy and longer lifespan. However, there is still a notable difference between the two bulbs which may make you prefer one over the other. The following are their main differences:

LED Light BulbCFL Light Bulb
BrightnessLED light bulb emits about 72 lumens per watt. This makes them the brightest compared to the rest.CFL light bulb emits about 60 lumens per watt which place them the second in brightness after LED
EfficiencyGenerates the lowest amount of heat which makes them the most energy efficient light bulbs.Generates low amount of heat as compared to incandescent which makes it to conserve energy.
LifespanThe average lifespan of LEDs is about 25,000 hours. This is approximately 3 years of not replacing your bulbs.Average lifespan of CFL bulb is about 8,000 hours. This is close to one year of service without need for bulb replacement.
ToxicityLED bulb does not contain toxic elements and can safely be disposed of in landfills.CFL bulb contain mercury which is a very toxic element to humans and animals. Require special handling.
VersatilityLEDs can withstand extremes of temperatures which gives them advantage when used outdoorsSensitive to weather elements and should be covered when used outdoors.
LightingLEDs emit light in a specific direction without producing heat which makes them highly energy efficient.Emits light and some heat in all directions which reduce its efficacy.

Light Emitting Diode Light Bulb (LED)

LED stands for light emitting diode. A diode is a semiconductor material with two terminals (an anode and a cathode), through which current flows in one direction only. Silicon is an example of a metalloid material that only allows electric current to flow through under certain conditions of temperature or pressure.

LED lights produces light when current is allowed to flow through a semiconductor material. These are the most preferred forms of lighting today and they can be used in endless applications such as outdoor landscape lighting, in automobiles and industrial setup.

LED lights pros

The following are advantages of LED bulbs

  • An LED bulb has a longer lifespan approximating to 50,000 hours. This is 42 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs and 13 times longer than halogen lights.
  • LEDs have the highest energy efficiency compared any other type of lights. They consume 80 percent less than incandescent lights and 75 percent less than halogen bulbs.
  • LED bulb run much cooler without producing much heat, this greatly increases their longevity and makes them ideal option for cold temperatures.
  • They produces little to no IR or UV radiation that is known to damage fabric and furnishings
  • Light Emitting Diode bulbs does not contain harmful gases or toxins that can endanger your family members.
  • They produce quality and directional light and can be designed to produce a wide spectrum of visible light colors.
  • They are less expensive to operate and maintain due to less energy costs and longer lifespan

LED Bulb Cons

Using LED bulbs come with the following downsides:

  • LEDs are relatively expensive to purchase but the costs are usually recouped by many benefits they offer.
  • Most of LED bulbs are not dimmer compatible
  • They produce more of a blue light than incandescent lights. Blue light can affect your sleep quality and it’s also attractive to bugs.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp. This type of bulb produce light when an electric current is sent through a tube containing argon gas and a small of amount of mercury. This generates invisible ultraviolet light that stimulate fluorescent coating on the inside of the tube, which then produce a visible light.

Compact fluorescent light was designed to replace an incandescent light bulb. Giving the same amount of light, CFL bulb use one-fifth to one-third the electric power used by incandescent light and last eight to fifteen times longer.

CFL Bulb Pros

  • CFL bulbs are energy efficient. They use 50 to 80% less energy as compared to incandescent light bulbs.
  • They are cost-effective. The cost of purchasing CFL bulbs may be higher but this is compensated with low energy bills and less replacements which makes them less expensive in the long run.
  • Compact fluorescent lights come in various sizes and shapes which make them adaptive to different settings.
  • They play a big role in reduction of carbon emission. If everyone was to replace all their incandescent bulb with a CFLs, there would be less need to burn fossil fuels for production of electricity and this will lead to less amount of greenhouse gases.

CFL Bulb Cons

  • Most CFLs cannot be used with dimmer switches. Be sure to check on the packaging before using them on a dimmer switch.
  • The lifespan of a CFL light bulb can be reduced if you keep turning them on and of frequently.
  • CFLs require protection from elements when used outdoors. You will need to get deeper in your pockets to cover them.
  • These bulbs does not provide a focused beam of light. They are therefore suitable for ambience only.
  • CFLs light bulbs contain mercury, a toxic element to humans and animals. This calls for extra care when handling them during disposal or when broken.

Which is better for landscape lighting?

Both CFL and LED light bulbs are great for conserving energy and at reducing running costs. Looking at their features, LED lights last longer, are more energy efficient, and safe whether indoors or outdoors. This makes LED the winner of the challenge.

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