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Comparing Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

April 8, 2014 | 1 comment

Two high-efficiency commercial lighting options have hit the market in the last few years: CFL (compact fluorescent) and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting.

These energy-saving bulbs may cost more upfront, but they typically last longer than their counterparts and can make a positive impact on utility bills. When you factor in maintenance and replacement savings, CFLs and LEDs both offer benefits. How do you decide which is best for your commercial building?

The Lowdown on LED Lighting
Due to their long lifespan, LEDs have been used for years in electronics (digital clocks, calculators, remote controls, and other devices with indicator lights). LED lighting is now being incorporated into commercial building environments – first in task lighting, display lighting, step lighting, and signage applications, but most recently in low-bay and high-bay applications. Dimmable LEDs are also available.

Unlike CFLs or other energy-saving lightbulbs, LEDs don’t suddenly “burn out” the way traditional bulbs can. Instead, they grow dimmer as they get older. Their expected life is based on how much it takes for the LED light to lose 30% of its initial light output. LEDs offer a directional light source, which means they emit light in one specific direction.

In terms of energy savings, LED lighting not only generates light more efficiently, according to ENERGY STAR, but can also reduce HVAC costs because it doesn’t emit much heat. A 13-watt LED has approximately the same light output as a 100-watt incandescent

LED-style bulbs are also more durable than other lighting options; they don’t have fragile glass shells or filaments that could shatter. They can stand up to being dropped, jarred, or bumped into.

Quick LED facts:

  • $30-$40 per bulb
  • 25,0000-50,000 hours
  • Not sensitive to extreme temperatures
  • Do not contain mercury
  • Turn on instantly
  • Quick on/off doesn’treduce lifespan

Keeping Up with Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
CFLs use about 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb. A 22-watt CFL has approximately the same light output as a 100-watt incandescent, according to EarthEasy. Compact fluorescent bulbs are relatively inexpensive, but aren’t as energy efficient as LEDs. They are most cost-effective and efficient in areas where lights are on for long periods of time, according to the U.S. DOE.

In commercial buildings, CFLs are commonly used for task lighting or down lights. Dimmable CFLs are available. Because compact fluorescent bulbs are sensitive to extreme temperatures, they should be installed in open fixtures when used indoors. If they’re placed in an enclosed fixture, the heat created may decrease the bulb’s life. Unlike LEDs, CFLs emit light and heat in all
directions.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs aren’t as durable as LED bulbs. They’re likely to break if they are dropped, jarred, or bumped into.

Quick compact fluorescent facts:

  • $2-$15 per bulb
  • 8,000 -15,000 hours
  • Sensitive to extreme temperatures
  • Contain mercury
  • 30 seconds to 3 minutes to turn on completely
  • Quick on/off can reduce lifespan

Which do you use in your facility: CFLs or LEDs? How did you decide which to choose?


1 Comment


  1. Stromversorgung
    May 5, 2015

    I have been slowly replacing the lights at home with LED bulbs and after a few months I found out that there is a difference in the bills we pay. I don’t think I was even realizing what was the amount of electricity we were using for lights. So far I would say LED lights are durable, easy to maintain and environment friendly, so there is a reason they are more and more wide spread on the market.


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