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LED vs. CFL Lightbulbs

Learn the difference between LED and CFL lightbulbs in this Howcast video featuring Alegre of Green and Greener.


Hi, from Amber Ember Living. Here today to talk about light bulbs. There are three basic light bulbs that I'm going to talk about. Incandescence, CFLs and LEDs. So, the first bulb is the incandescent bulb. Also known as the Edison bulb, a technology that has been around for a really long time.

They provide a beautiful light, but if you've ever touched an Edison bulb, you know that it gets very, very hot. That's part of why it's energy inefficient, is it's taking all of this energy and it's turning a small percentage of it into light and it's turning a huge percentage of it into heat which is not efficient. It also can add to your energy bills because if you're in an office environment where they use a lot of incandescent bulbs, it can make the space hotter which will then require you to run your air conditioning more.

CFL bulbs are kind of the middle of the road. They're much more efficient at turning energy into light. They still will get a little bit hot, but they last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs and they use a lot less energy to put out the same amount of lighting or lumins [SP] as it's called.

The third type of bulb are LED bulbs which are some of the most recent technology. LED stands for light emitting diodes. LEDs are amazing in that they last a long time and for a very small amount of energy they put out a great amount of lumins and they very rarely get hot. I say very rarely because at the really high professional end those can get hot, but for the ones you and I are using in our house or business not so much.

So, a little bit of comparison here when thinking about these three different types of bulbs. Now, I'm going to use round numbers, but they're basically on point. So, an average incandescent bulb will last about 1,000 hours. An average CFL bulb will last about 5,000. So, five times longer than an incandescent bulb. An LED bulb can last anywhere from 20 to 25 to 50,000 hours depending on quality.

That's one of the things about LED bulbs. There is a huge range in terms of quality, so pay attention to that because the good bulbs can last 50,000 hours. The not as good bulbs will last 20,000 hours, but either way that's still 20 to 50 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb. So, yes whereas an LED bulb might cost $30, it's going to last you 50 times longer than that incandescent bulb which you're going to have to replace 30, 40, 50, 60, times to equal that one LED bulb. Plus incandescent bulbs tend to break a lot easier than LED bulbs. So, there's also that to factor in.

Also in terms of energy use, an incandescent say it uses 100 watts of energy. That same bulb for the same amount of light in a CFL will use about say 25 watts of energy but for an LED bulb it'll use about 10 watts of energy. Well, how does that translate? Well, let's say you're spending $100 a year on one incandescent bulb. If you had a CFL bulb you'd be spending about $25 a year for that same amount of light you'd be using a lot less energy. If you had an LED bulb you would be spending $10 a year on that same amount of lighting. So, you see there's huge cost savings here.

So, whereas CFL bulbs and LED bulbs do cost a little bit more up front, they are going to last you so much longer. They are going to cost you so much less money to operate and to replace and they are much better use of resources in terms of energy which is something we're always thinking about with green living. How can we use our resources most efficiently. They are so much better than incandescent bulbs.

There you go. Go out and get you some bulbs and one really important tip. The one place I don't recommend having CFL bulbs is in bathrooms. CFL bulbs burn out really quickly when you turn them on and off for short periods of time. You only want to have your CFL in locations where they're going to stay on for 15 or 20 minutes or longer. Also be sure to dispose of CFL bulbs properly. We're going to talk more about that later, but it's considered household hazardous waste, so check with your municipality about where you can recycle or dispose of CFL bulbs properly. Thank you.

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