Pretty soon it will be ‘lights out’ for the incandescent bulb and consumers will be left with two main options for energy-efficient lighting:  LED bulbs (llight emitting diodes or LEDs) or compact fluorescents (CFLs). It wasn’t long ago that LEDs were considered out of reach for the average consumer, but recent technological and manufacturing advances have narrowed the price gap considerably.

And CFLs, while more energy efficient than incandescent, have a long list of issues that make them a less-than-ideal replacement. Still not convinced LEDs are the way to go? This list of the top ten reasons to switch to LED will help you see the light.

Why LED Bulbs Are The Way to Go:

  1. No warm-up required. LED bulbs reach maximum brightness instantly, whereas CFLs take time to warm up before reaching full brightness. This is particularly frustrating if you are using CFL bulbs in dark spaces such as a basement, closet or crawl space where instant light is needed. Waiting for a CFL bulb to warm up to 100% effectiveness can feel like waiting for the sun to inch its way above the horizon. Pretty sure the whole point of electric light was to make that whole process a whole lot more instantaneous.
  2. Say no to hazardous waste. CFLs contain small amounts of mercury – roughly four milligrams per bulb – which means they cannot be thrown away with regular garbage. Instead they need to be disposed of safely, typically at local Eco Stations or recycling centres. It also means broken CFL bulbs require special clean up. When you factor in the extra time spent safely handling, storing and disposing, the benefits of CFLs seem to diminish quickly.
  3. LEDs outlast most major appliances. LED bulbs can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, which is up to five times longer than any other comparable bulb on the market. But what does that really mean? Well, let’s say that, on average, an LED light is on for 6 hours a day every single day. 6 hours x 365 days = 2,190 hours/year. 50,000/2,190= 22.8 years. Most people don’t even own the same vehicle that long! To put it in perspective, the average lifespan of a washing machine is about 14 years. You will have probably spent $2000+ on washing machines long before you have to dish out another $4-6 for an LED light bulb.
  4. Dimmability. By and large, the vast majority of CFL bulbs are not dimmable. In fact, making the mistake of using a non-dimmable CFL bulb with a dimmer switch poses a pretty serious fire risk. Not exactly the result you are looking for when it comes to mood lighting…
  5. Don’t get left out in the cold. Average CFLs are temperature sensitive and have issues working at -20 degrees Celsius or lower. When the sun sets at 4:17pm and it is -31 degrees Celsius with a wind chill, and you are fumbling to find the right key for your front door, you want lighting that is up to the Canadian winter challenge. LED bulbs can be used outside in all seasons.
  6. Drop it like it’s hot. LEDs produce minimal heat at approximately 3.4 British thermal units (BTUs) per hour – they are often still cool to the touch even after use. Compare that to the 30 BTUs/hour produced by CFLs and you can see why LEDs offer more than just cool savings.
  7. Save the most energy possible. When it comes to efficiency, LEDs lead the pack by a mile. Despite the marginally higher upfront cost to purchase an LED, once you factor in energy savings over the lifetime of the bulb, the operational cost is always lower. A 14-watt CFL bulb will need to be replaced (and safely disposed of) three times during the 25,000-hour lifespan of one 10-watt LED bulb. Let’s say electricity costs $0.12 per kWh. That means an $8 LED bulb will cost $38 over its lifespan, versus $48 for a $2 CFL bulb.  
  8. Lower carbon dioxide emissions. Based on an average home’s lighting needs of 30 bulbs, the estimated total carbon dioxide emissions for one year’s worth of CFL bulbs is 477 kilograms (1051 pounds). For LEDs it’s 205 kilograms (451 pounds) per year.  
  9. Issues with on/off cycling. The lifespan of a CFL is significantly reduced if the bulb is frequently turned on and off. Specifically, when tested on a 5-minute on/off cycle, the lifespan of some CFLs may be reduced to that of incandescent bulbs. Some have suggested that CFLs be left on to mitigate this problem, but this would be at the risk of losing energy savings. Alternatively, LED bulbs are not associated with any on/off cycling issues.
  10. Durability. CFLs are considered to be less durable than LEDs because strong vibrations can weaken the electrode that the lamp uses to produce light. Also, CFLs are mostly constructed of glass and much more likely to be easily damaged. On the flip side, LEDs can generally handle jarring and bumping without issue.

About The Author

John Keirstead
John Keirstead
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor my objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in. CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.

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