Through the years, the traditional incandescent light bulb has gone through several changes. In an effort to reduce energy costs, extend life, and increase safety, the incandescent bulb has taken a back seat to fluorescent and most recently, LED style bulbs.

When deciding which is best for applications throughout the home, the consumer must understand how these bulbs work, how long they will last, and how they change the way we perceive color.

The Difference Between Fluorescent, Incandescent and LED Lighting

  • 60 Watt Incandescent: The average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is approximately 1,200 hours or use. A home outfitted with about 30, 60 watt incandescent bulbs uses about 3285kwH per year, resulting in an energy utility cost of bout $328 per year to run. Since the 60 watt incandescent produce about 800 lumens of light, and are almost identical to to the sun’s spectrum. This is why they are widely used in many areas of the home, especially the kitchen and bathroom. In areas where accurate color perception is necessary, incandescent bulbs offer the most “true” interpretation to the human eye, in fact the ability to accurately color match using incandescent bulbs cannot be matched by LED or florescent lighting. These lights can be used in a variety of fixture applications. Always check the packaging to ensure these can be used in 3 way or dimmer fixtures.
  • 13-15 Watt Florescent (CFL): On average, these bulbs can last around 8,000 hours, which is a significant increase in lifespan when compared with incandescent lighting. A home outfitted with 30, 13-15 watt florescent bulbs will use about 767kwH per year, costing the homeowner about $76 per year to run. These bulbs do not use a filament to produce light, but are powered by an electronic current that flows between electrodes at each end of the gas containing tubes. These bulbs are often purchased in a “spiral” design which work well i table lamps, and floor lamps. When using these in a fan, be sure they are well ventilated to extend the life of the bulbs. If hooking these up to a dimmer. be sure to check the packaging to ensure the bulbs can safely work with these fixtures. These bulbs are available in “warm” or “cool” temperatures for different areas of the home. Bulbs described as “warm” are slightly tinted with yellow hues to “mock” incandescent warmth which allo ws them to be used in living rooms, dining areas, and bedrooms. When choosing a “warmer” bulb, it is best to stay between 2700-4100k. When they are purchased in “cooler” temperature, they are tinted with blue undertones for a more “white” light appearance. These temperatures range from 500-6500k, and offer a more daylight glow.
  • 6-8 Watt LED: At the longest lifespan of the group, LED bulbs can last about 50,000 hours. When using 30, 6-8 watt bulbs around the home, the average energy use is approximately 329 kwH per year. This costs the homeowner about $32 in energy utility costs, a significant savings in comparison. LED bulbs are powered by an electrical current which passes through semiconductor material to illuminate the tiny light source LEDs. As the light technology for these bulbs continues to improve, they are becoming more and more like incandescents. Table lamps and stand up lamps are great fixtures to use LED bulbs as they are extremely durable. In addition, areas where lights are on often, such as the kitchen, or areas where bulb changes may be difficult, such as the garage, are great places to take advantage of the significant savings and lifespan of LED bulbs.

For more on LED lighting, check out our article on LED Retrofitting.

For more information on which bulbs will best work where in your home, please contact the professionals with Jackson Electric, Inc.