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Consumer Technology LED V.s CFL

Published on September 1st, 2011 | by Elizabeth Smyth


LED vs CFL — Which Light Bulb is More Efficient?

September 1st, 2011 by  

When it comes to lighting our homes, we are encouraged to switch outdated incandescent bulbs to more energy efficient alternatives. And, most often, these alternatives are LED and compact florescent lights (CFL).

The decision between the two is often based on some variation of the following assumptions: LEDs are more efficient than CFLs. LEDs also cost more than CFLs but they last longer, so you’ll make up the initial cost over the lifetime of the bulb.

Since about 74% of US houses have at least one energy efficient light source in them, I assume this internal discussion happens quite often in the lighting aisles of home improvement stores. So, are these assumptions about LED vs CFL really true?

–> Also recommended for you: Energy-efficient Lighting Market in Europe to 2020 – LEDs Emerge as Key Growth Sector due to Price Discounting and Phosphor Shortages Restricting CFL Production

To determine whether a residential LED bulb is more efficient than a comparable CFL bulb, energy efficient commercial lighting manufacturer Precision Paragon [P2] conducted a small comparison in “real world settings.” That is, the performance output of the bulbs was calculated in a residential setting and not in the controlled environment of a laboratory.

The reason for the distinction between the “real world” and the lab are the components that must work together to turn electricity into light. In a lab, which can be controlled for the best possible conditions, light can be generated at optimal efficiency. Because manufacturers are able to utilize components that are made to work together, they can claim to produce results with greater efficiency.

For instance, a leading LED-chip manufacturer announced they had achieved an efficiency of 231 lumens per watt in an LED chip. However, this was conducted in a lab where technicians were able to use lighting fixtures capable of producing such high output. In the “real world,” this LED-chip manufacturer does not sell a LED lighting fixture with a claimed efficiency over 75 lumens per watt. Therefore, among other factors, consumers would not be able to produce as high efficiency in their own homes.

The Comparison of an LED Bulb versus a CFL Bulb

For the study, P2 used two roughly equivalent CFL and LED lamps that would commonly be used in the home. Representing LED — the Philips AmbientLED 12.5W A19 Indoor Bulb — and representing CFL — the GE Energy Smart 13 Watt bulb, a fairly common bulb available in most any department or hardware store.


When comparing the two on paper, the efficiency of the bulbs is nearly identical, within 0.5 lumens per watt. However, with the “real world” being taken into consideration, there are certain environmental and consumer factors that make a case for both.

One factor is cost. If your primary concern is price, the CFL would be a better choice. Although the CFL has a shorter lifespan, even if you replaced the CFL three times to achieve an equivalent lifespan to the LED, you’d still have only spent $2.58 in comparison to the LED’s $45 initial purchase price.

Another factor is location. If the fixture you’re mounting the bulb in is in a place where it’s a hassle to change, that $40 difference might be worth not having to deal with it for the expected 20+ years of normal usage you’ll get out of the single LED.

The bottom line is that in a household setting, where optimal components and ideal conditions cannot be controlled,  the LED and CFL light bulb are very close competitors. The decision for one over the other should be made based on the goals of the project and you may even require a mix of technologies to meet those goals.

Source: [P2] Is LED The Most Efficient Lighting Technology?

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About the Author

is a writer for Precision Paragon, an energy efficient commercial lighting manufacturer and a leading source for lighting retrofit solutions.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Do you realize that you’re commenting on an article written in 2011?

    Things have changed….

  • Dan Leary

    This is not correct, you can get $5 led bulbs at Lowes, and the lowest cost CFLs I have seen were about 2 dollars. Check your facts next time.

  • jp

    old article LED lights 800 lumens 9.5 watts bulb cost less then $20. Everything else same

  • Steve Schnurbusch

    I compare the recessed LED to the recessed CFL here. It’s hard to tell the difference so it’s ok to mix and match.


  • Praveen Singh

    LED lights are way better than CFL bulbs. Ya, I am not denying that LED lights are costlier than CFLs but, LED lights ( http://www.corvi.com ) provide more efficient lighting and use less energy. LED lights are more durable, take no maintenance and stay life long.

  • sasboy

    I have only Compact Fluorescents at my home, with only two LED which I purchased several years ago. My electricity bills are quite low, in the $ 40-60 per month range, unless I have to use air conditioning extensively.
    I thought of replacing all my CFLs with LEDs when I noticed the latter are now openly available at the local Home Depots and Lowe’s. Except I noticed that the LEDs do NOT save a huge quantity of energy compared to the CFLs. Both use about 15-20 percent of what a conventional incandescent light bulb typically use.
    Switching from incandescents to CFLs and LEDs makes economic and environmental sense, but switching from CFLs to LEDs does NOT, in my view.
    Of course, if I intend to buy new light bulbs ( which I seldom do due to the CFLs being so reliable ) I will keep LEDs in mind. But that is ahead of me for now.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’m in the same position. All my bulbs are CFLs and I’ve got a half dozen spares in the closet. Picked them up for $0.50 each.

      If I every run out of CFLs I’ll give LEDs a try. But seeing how my oldest CFL is now over 15 years old and still working I may actually skip the LED generation and go straight to whatever gets invented next.

  • Mike

    Please note the date of this article. Since then Led Technology has improved and they are cheaper nor and even more efficient.

  • As far as cost over time goes, your calculations are more or less right on the bat. The biggest consideration though when choosing between CFLs and LEDs, and the main reason why LEDs received a lot of R&D support lately, are the environmental concerns. The principal drawback CFLs have is their mercury content and significant UV radiation emissions, yet both are necessary for it to light up. You might want to check this article in our blog, and its corresponding video, for more information http://www.illustralighting.com/blog/led-vs-cfl-vs-incandescent-a19-light-bulb/. Hope it helps.

  • zrcalo

    You can actually buy LED lights on ebay from china for less than a dollar each with $3 shipping.

    …..they’re actually cheaper than CFL’s they’re just newer. Hell you can buy LED ones right now, name brand, at home depot for $15 a pop. That’s far less than $45.

    price is droppin’ like flies.

  • I was just looking at LED bulbs to replace my CFLs and my jaw dropped. I mean I lose a little lumens and save a smidge on electricity (that .5 watt mentioned) and saw the price tags. It is just not worth it YET the US govt says by 2020 to 2022 they will ban the CFL due to the Mercury. So, just like E15+ ethanol, it is being forced down our throats. The only place I really see it as beneficial is in the outdoor security lights in winter since CFLs hate the cold but at 95 dollars per bulb I would rather use a flashlight when needed.

    • I haven’t seen anything about banning of CFLs. Could you pass along a link?
      LEDs may outcompete CFLs in some uses already. They will likely run CFLs out of the market eventually. But CFLs are certainly a better option (if price is the only consideration) is many cases still.

  • Newer LED lamps are now much better. The prices recently just dropped by 50%. So LEDs are looking better, and better. In 3-5 years they will be the lighting technology of choice. Also look into the multi-color LEDs these things can do things that other light sources can only dream of. A multi-color RGB LED can produce any color in the rainbow, and the color can change at will. Now this is way cool! If you want a bright red ligh, no problem. How about a bright blue-green? Maybe a bright yellow? Or maybe you want a white with just a touch of cool blue or green? Yes, Yes, Yes LEDs could be the perfect light.

  • Greg Emerson

    A 13 watt bulb uses 44% more power than a 9 watt bulb. So if you don’t need the extra lumens of a 13 watt bulb, the 9 watt device will save considerably.

    A decade+ ago I replaced all my incandescents in my fixtures with 13-14 watt cfls. But now I am slowly replacing them, once they burn out, with 9 watt devices where it makes sense – like outdoor fixtures, hallway fixtures, and so forth. In all I estimate I’ll save several dollars a year for each bulb. Multiply it out and that saves me an easy 50$ per year. Not bad considering that it costs me nothing more and that I lose nothing.

  • Pingback: LED vs CFL vs Incandescent Bulbs–Cool Video Exhibit | GreenBusinessOwner.com()

  • Guest

    A friend is helping me to make a lamp using wine bottles for decoration purposes. Incandescent lights are out of the question since they heat up too fast therefore making the bottle hot. Is it safe to use CFL light bulbs inside a wine bottle? Or would LED be a better choice? BTW, we cut the bottom part open. Thanks

    • Bob_Wallace

      CFLs don’t like to get hot. It shortens their lifetime.

      A lot of complaints about how CFLs didn’t last as long as they were supposed to seem to come from people who put them in ceiling “cans” where the heat can’t escape. I’m still using an 16-18 year old one in a table lamp where it gets good ventilation.

      I’d definitely go with LEDs.

    • You would want to go with LEDs. However you may want to epoxy them to the glass to help draw the heat away. Yes LEDs do get hot, but they are so small, that’s why. An LED can easly fit up into the mouth of the bottle, so you don’t need to cut the bottom.

  • Bigbird2254

    Just a quick refresh. I’m a Master Electrician and have been in the business for 39 years. We use CFL’s in our plant corridor lighting and compared to R30 flood lamps they are great, but they do not last as long as what the manufacturers claim. On average they last for 1.5 to 2.5 years versus 6 to 9 months for R30 incandescent. We are experimenting with LED’s and so far they are great and give the correct lighting required. As for the 10 year life cycle for a CFL, if you leave it on all the time or don’t turn it on very often then I’ll give you that. As for warm up times of CFL’s from what I see “Totally unacceptable in my books”. My Led in the stair well going to my basement is instant and the 2 CFL’s at the bottom of the stairs aren”t brite enough to move forward for at least another 45 seconds then you have enough light to move and not stumble. I did hear that there is a manufacturer of LED’s and they are selling for around $5.00 each, I haven’t had time to check this claim out but it is very enticing. And as I stated once before CFL’s are bad news for anyone with LUPUS.

    • I’m a bit shocked by the warm-up time of your CFLs. I’ve got all CFLs where i live and they turn on immediately, no delay.

      $5 LED: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/15/cheap-led-light-bulbs-under-5/

    • Bob_Wallace

      Your 1.5 to 2.5 year CFLs – are they installed in ceiling cans or other fixtures which trap heat? Heat can kill CFLs.

      And when you state that lifetime, is that for ‘always on’? I’ve got two CFLs in my living room which burn ~4 hours in the summer, 6-8 hours in the winter, and they are about ten years old.

      My oldest CFL, well over 15 years old now, is slow to come on. I don’t notice any warm up period with my newer CFLs. There might be a brief period before they reach full power but it is, at most, brief.

      When you consider that for normal use your eyes are going to be dark adapted, you pupils dilated, your photorecepters unbleached, when you decide it’s time to add some light the initial bulb strength is going to be more light than your eyes are ready to deal with.

      If you’re going from a very bright room to a dark one, turning on a CFL as you enter then you might notice a warm up period. But as long as you don’t need to read fine print immediately upon entering, it’s not clear why a brief warm up would be problematic.

  • Skydive269

    I started puting dates on my CFLs and was dissappointed to see most did not even come close to lasting as long as they should of. Also. Price on LEDs is coming down so fast. This article is outdated. I work in a medical facility and we cant use CFLs in an MRI suite. But we can use LEDs. We had to do extensive testing to make sure they did not produce “noise” on our images. Over that time, the price dropped significantly. There are nice LEDs available ofr under $20. Some as low as $12. Check them out. They hit max brighness instantly and have a nice color spectrum..

    • Bob_Wallace

      I find these reports of short CFL life strange. All my lamps use CFLs and all my CFLs are now around 10 years old or older. I’ve never had a CFL burn out.

      Is there a significant problem with quality from different manufacturers?

    • Yeah, we’ve written about some of these. There’s one as low as $5 now.

    • On the lifespan (in years): could it be diff because of the number of hours they are used?

  • Peter B. Master Electrician

    I have an LED flood in my stair well going to my basement and at the base of the steps I have 2 CFL’s. Before I even hit the first step down the LED is at full light. 9 steps later I’m in the basement and I have to wait another 30 seconds before I have 50% of the full light from the CFL. That’s the first strike. Strike 2 is the fact that my wife suffers from LUPUS. The CFL’s I have had to be mounted in a pot light with a special filter so that It won’t trigger a LUPUS Flare. As a result 90% of my lighting is still incandescent. As a bulb burns out I am replacing them with LED’s expensive as they are because the CFL’s can in effect eventually kill my wife with a flare. I love the LED’s I just wish the price would drop quicker.

  • Savit Kasturia

    i feel one should go for led since its enviremental friendly moreover governments should contribute to reduce the cost & make it effective

  • Apptlead

    It also seems you are not looking at the rare earth materials going in the lamps that has not only increase CFLs and Linears 20-30% in the last few months but they will increase another 50% by end of next year. This is a squeeze that the chinese is really enjoying and getting us to buy more LED’s.
    gary B

  • Esky

    I’ve read that LEDs are suitable for frequent on-off usage, like for the bathroom, without its lifespan being drastically shortened. CFLs, on the other hand, aren’t designed for such usage, and burn out well before the estimated 8,000 hours.

    Traditional fluorescent tubes have efficiency of around 70~90 lumens per watt, and newer starter-less, instant-on mountings make them even better than ever, for places with room for its installation. The main downsides are probably its length & un-contemporary design.

  • Anonymous

    House building codes require heavy wiring for lights, This is very expensive to buy to install. LED lighting if done properly, and D.C. from Solar or Wind charged power supplies, could be remarkably cheaper, lighter and much cheaper, easier, to install!
    A New World is evolving! The oler American Dream notions are being broken down daily, even by foreclosures, astounding mortgage payments, horrendous city taxes, rediculous upkeep costs.
    Expect off-grid folks to use D.C. Solar and Wind sourced power for LED lights, sewage generated methane to power generators and yield household heating at the same time, as in Germany. Passive Solar advantages in house design, earthen wind breaking, heat retaining walls, Geothermal heat storage, super-insulation, even Straw Bale walls for over R-60 insulation ratings, reducing heating, cooling bills. Expect yards full of chickens, aquaponics for veggies, fish, composting communal anaerobic sewage digestion for metahe gas, top soil building fertilizer – as Japanese do now. look to GMo’ed veggies, bug proofed, more vitimins, bigger higher yields, shorter seasons, exteneded seasons, drought resistant varieties, all for the common man, all for the growing masses of “Unemployables” in North America. Expect products like these from China, not the “Big Business” U.S. – they will be working hard at farming the Moon, photographing Mars, stairing out into the Universe, looking for Aliens, new enemies and preparing for imaginary wars there as have never happened in all history.

    • Rickgetts

      Thats the problem with my America today …… When we did look to the future, we developed whole new industries,. I.e. The Internet, space , the moon. Think about it before we “went to the moon ” the world was pretty much heading for another fight for world ruler. Since then America has had nothing but good times , then the bubble busted in the late 90’s.. Now we are at a place where we have lost our way . We need to become that America that had the drive and the want to be the first on the moon. That can’t change . But with the major problem of energy we need to focus on almost everything you touch on. Again today and now that’s our ” first to the moon ” and we losing badly …..

  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh

    Good post. I like it. Yes. CFL has an added advantage of spread light compared to LEDs. LEDs can best suit for unfocussed lighting like cloth,jewllery shops,for reading etc., On the other hand CFL has revolutionized lighting in saving power and life of the bulb too.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  • Maheshrathi26

    it is no cost effective

  • Green Force Curacao

    People, the point should not be whta the price is, the point should be what can it mean for the planet, and there is where LED is the best choice. CFLs contain mercury and represent a great hazard for the environment and human health once they break or are disposed off improperly.
    In thrid world countries you can buy both, but there is no proper disposal of the waste, therefore the mercury represents a direct danger for all life near any disposal place used for these lights, usually landfills.

    • Anonymous

      Mercury is an insignificant problem. The bulbs can be safely recycled and most people are rarely going to break a bulb. Even bulbs in landfills are less likely to pollute than the coal which wasn’t burned because the CFLs used less electricity.

      People should make decisions based on what is best for the planet, but most won’t. The way we save the planet is to come up with technologies which are better for the planet, cause no decrease in lifestyle, and cost less.

      • Guest

        bob, mercury is a very significant problem. people do not even *know* how to dispose them probably. i don’t know where you live, but even in the super-duper liberal northwest people think “oh well, i replace them so rarely, i can just toss them in the garbage…”

        and the solution isn’t always in the free market. many products were banned due to containing bio-accumulative toxins like PCBs for example – products which were market-viable! look up how people suffer from anthropomorphic mercury pollution and you’ll see this is severe and most importantly, global (that is, pollution from, say, illionois, will cause trouble in alaska!). i would love mercury to be highly regulated.

        and due to the stated above, i actually prefer incandescents to CFLs (heresy, i know) because I know that 90%+ of my power source is hydro and only 1-2% is coal.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Give me a break….

          • John

            He owned you, deal with that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, he just showed that he doesn’t understand the amount of mercury released by burning coal.

            If we used CFLs and but them in landfills when they burn out we would be far ahead in terms of avoid coal.

          • John


            The fact that you reject the fact that mercury is dangerous is ridiculous. CFL’s contain mercury, people are exposed to danger.

            You got owned, deal with it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, John. I totally understand the danger that mercury brings.

            I understand that larger amounts of mercury are more dangerous than smaller amounts of mercury.

            I understand that mercury spewed into the air around us and settling out on the ground is more dangerous than mercury buried in the ground.

            I also understand why you think I got owned. You don’t know much about burning coal, CFLs, and mercury. Let me copy something over for you…

            “About 50 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants. When coal burns to produce electricity, mercury naturally contained in the coal releases into the air. In 2006, coal-fired power plants produced 1,971 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity, emitting 50.7 tons of mercury into the air—the equivalent amount of mercury contained in more than 9 billion CFLs (the bulbs emit zero mercury when in use or being handled).

            Approximately 0.0234 mg of mercury—plus carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—releases into the air per 1 kwh of electricity that a coal-fired power plant generates. Over the 7500-hour average range of one CFL, then, a plant will emit 13.16 mg of mercury to sustain a 75-watt incandescent bulb but only 3.51 mg of mercury to sustain a 20-watt CFL (the lightning equivalent of a 75-watt traditional bulb). Even if the mercury contained in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute 4.65 more milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime.”


          • John

            Yep, and now you are contraduicting what you claimed before: “Mercury is an insignificant problem. The bulbs can be safely recycled
            and most people are rarely going to break a bulb. Even bulbs in
            landfills are less likely to pollute than the coal which wasn’t burned
            because the CFLs used less electricity.”

            And he killed your argument when he said 90%+ of his power source is hydro and only 1-2% is coal.

            You got owned, deal with it.

            CFL’s are bad, you have a better option in LED.

          • Bob_Wallace

            John, you seem to think that commenting is some sort of contest. That is not how we run things here – we’re into sharing and learning.

            Since CFLs greatly reduce the amount of mercury released from coal and many CFLs will be recycled the problem of mercury in CFLs is an insignificant problem. Even the ones tossed in the garbage will see their mercury heading into sequestering in a landfill.

            BTW, I totally stand behind what I wrote both times. You must be reading in something that isn’t said.

            I totally agree that LEDs are a better option. But the fact that CFLs are so much cheaper than LEDs means that people without the up front money for LEDs have a very usable option for lowering their electricity use.

          • John

            Yes, and now you blame me for showing how you contradict yourself. In fact, you are just stating that you refuse to be into sharing and learning.

            Mercury is a problem. Mercury is found in CFLs. The fact that mercury is found in other “things” and result in buring other things is irrelevant to the fact that mercury is found in CFLs and is dangerous.

            You argument is along the lines that you pay a small amount of tax compared to the total tax income from your country, therefore you do not need to pay tax or you tax is insignificant. If you repeat insignificance for your neighbor and his neighbor, etc. then you end up with zero income tax income for your country.

            How do you know that the total cost of ownership of a CFL is cheaper than a LED?
            People tend to compare the initial cost (the purchase price) as the only deciding factor. That is flawed reasoning and that is what needs to be addressed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            John, you’re becoming quite tiresome.

            I stated that CFLs are cheaper which ” means that people without the up front money for LEDs have a very usable option for lowering their electricity use.”

            I said nothing about lifetime cost. Although since LEDs are $10 and up while CFLs cost less than $1 the lifetime costs are likely to be very close.

            As for mercury, If you don’t understand why CFLs are an improvement then read again. Continue to reread until it sinks in.

          • John

            Yes Bob, you base your drivel on claims and not facts.

            Let me guess, you are a CFL sales man trying to flock your disgusting mercury products. Good luck, I’m not buying. LEDs are a much better option in every category (yes even price if you look at the total cost of ownership). FFS, they even awarded the 2014 Nobel price to a few Japanese scientists for the blue LED.

            Come back when we can deal in fact.

  • sola

    LED bulb form factors (spot, omni-directional…etc) and plug types have been growing at a huge pace here in Europe recently. Nowadays, you can find LED solutions for virtually every lighting scenario.

    High performance LED bulbs (with big lumens) are still not very widespread and are expensive, but they are coming down in price. You can solve lighting problems with low-lumen bulbs but you have to carefully design the placing/number of fixtures.

    Although, I have some well performing CFLs in my house (the expensive ones), a lot of my CFLs have stopped working after a very short lifespan (usually the cheapos). Often without any reason (not often switched, no low temperature, not enclosed). My personal experience that there is no point in buying the cheapest CFLs. You usually simply loose money with them because they never reach a fraction of their promised lifespan.

    None of my LED bulbs have stopped working yet, not a single one (although most of them are cheap Chinese ebay imports). I have been using them for years.

    My bet is definitely on LEDs, I will buy them in every case when it is possible to use them.

  • sola

    A quality CFL for $0.86, comparable to LED? Well, I should move to the US :)))

    Here in Hungary, the cheapest CFL (with horrible light quality and bad warmup time) cost about $2. Quality CFLs which have virtually no startup time and provide quality light cost around $10.

    A typical quality CFL will have a lifespan of about 10K hours. I have seen several LED bulbs with 50K hours. This is a 5x difference in lifespan, not 2-3.

    As A G-M said CFL lifespan is dependent on a lot of factors. You place it in an enclosed fixture? There goes your lifespan. You switch it on/off often (corridor). Bammm, there goes your lifespan. You try to use them near zero C temperatures? Ooops, the long lifespan is gone.

    Most of these problems are nonexistent with LEDs.

    Sorry, but this comparisson bleeds from many wounds,

    • Anonymous

      But if you’re buying a bulb for the lamp beside your chair….

      And that’s where a CFL or LED is going to return the most savings. The lamp that gets used most/for the most hours.

      (Because our utility company subsidizes the price of CFLs we can buy them for $0.50. Just to rub it in…. ;o)

      Have you checked Amazon Europe? They off CFLs at great prices in the US.

  • Bad Andy

    Don’t CFL’s also contain mercury?

    • Anonymous

      A tiny amount and of no consequence unless you tend to stumble around drunk or have out of control children/pets. I’ve lived with CFLs for almost 20 years and have yet to break one.

      If you do happen to break one it’s not a serious problem, just clean up the mess, put it in a plastic bag and air out the room.

      Infants would be most at risk around a broken CFL. If you’ve got very small children then spending extra for LEDs might make sense.

      When (eventually) your CFL burns out take to a proper recycling point. I think Ikea takes them. I don’t know for sure as I have not yet had one burn out. (Most burn outs seem to be from putting them into tightly sealed light fixtures where they overheat.)

      I suspect that in the near future LEDs will evolve to be superior to CFLs, but I’m not convinced that we’re there yet. I’m off the grid and if I could get as much light for half the watts then I’d pay extra, but that small savings would not matter if one were buying cheap grid power. Lifetime savings could make them a better buy, but buying a round of CFLs to use for the next couple of years while LEDs improve and drop in price might be the ‘value buyer’ solution.

      • Guest

        It’s not a problem if you personally break one. The problem is in the improper disposal (where you can assume they all get broken) and the emissions on a global level.

  • A G-M

    Where do you find an CFL 13W lamp for that price????
    Best price that I know is about $2.

    What about CCT and CRI?
    Cheap CFLs are usually terrible in that respect.

    What about dimmability?
    You did chose the most expensive LED version with almost perfect dimming options.
    Dimmable CFLs are much more expensive!

    What about the influence of switching on the lifespan?
    Switching behavior of CFLs is terrible, especially cheap ones have a dramatically reduced lifespan when switched very often. – This can cause a reduction of the lifespan by 80-90%.
    You need special (expensive) versions if you use it in a corridoe or stairways where the are switched on and off very often!

    Sorry, but this test is not fair and the research is catastrophic.
    At the same time a very reputable consumer protection test center tested several replacement options in this class and the winner were LEDs

    Do you need more information…

    • Anonymous

      Yes, please provide it! 😀

    • Anonymous

      Well – right now – an 8 Pack of 13W CFL’s is $9.99 at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/GE-13-Watt-Energy-SmartTM-replacement/dp/B000NISDNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318884318&sr=8-1

      And, if you take a look at CamelCamel’s Amazon price tracking tool, it looks like that same item has been as low as $3.99: http://camelcamelcamel.com/GE-13-Watt-Energy-SmartTM-replacement/product/B000NISDNU

      To get the article’s quoted $0.86 price – that pack would have to be $6.88 – and it’s certainly been lower than that in the recent past.

      Of course – the bigger issue is that even if you paid a bit more for your CFL’s, they’re not going to be anywhere close to the price of a LED bulb. In fact – if we’re looking at printed lifespan numbers – you’d have to be paying $15+/bulb for a CFL before LED became the more economical choice.

      But – like the article, and your comment said – there’s more to consider than just cost.

      I just wanted to chime in that while you make some very good points, it’s a bit of a stretch from those points to “this test is not fair and the research is catastrophic.”

    • Cool_pants2000

      yes please email me cool_pants2000@yahoo.com i am trying to start up a business selling LED T8 tubes to buildings. thank you much.

    • Rick

      I could not agree more , currently there are led bulbs much cheaper than 45 bucks , try 12.50 that will replace any standard cfl spiral, incandescent, CLASS A bulb, and you are dead on with cheap CFLs with the problem in china more and more manufactures are using sub grade crap …. And the watts used ……don’t seem right … My a19 uses like 10 watts .. LED will become standard , just as fluorescents over took incandescents , I call BS on this …

      • we’ve got a new (short) post up comparing these: http://cleantechnica.com/2012/05/25/cost-lighting-infographic-guess-wins/

      • Simon

        I don’t think it’s fair to say that China is the cause of the poor quality bulbs being produced. I think it’s more of the fact that consumers aren’t willing to pay more and manufacturers want to maximise their profits more than anything else, leading to a lower quality bulb being made. China is simply producing what the world demands; cheap goods of a reasonable enough quality. I’ll bet that if you paid more, there wouldn’t be any problems coming up with higher grade products.

        • Jenna

          Exactly! People love to blame it on China, but if we, as consumers, were prepared to pay for the materials –and labour!– higher quality materials could be used. People go on about quality control – yes, that also takes money, and even with the abominable sweatshop wages manufacturers pay them.

    • Rawad

      Hello, Thanks for the very useful information. i am quite interested in LED technology and I am sure that it will be a leading one. But I really want to know more details about LED advantages as compared to CFL in particular because it is a tricky issue. Can you please email me to rawad_chams@hotmail.com for more justified scientific info… Thank you.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Not clear re: your request.

        Are you asking for more CFL vs. LED information?

        LEDs last longer, use a bit less electricity, are dimmable (some CFLs are), last better in closed light fixtures, deal better with frequent turn on/off cycles, reach full intensity faster. And don’t have the (not really important) mercury issue.

        I’m guessing that as LED prices fall CFLs will fade away. Don’t know any advantages of CFLs over LEDs except that they distribute light more evenly, along the lines of incandescents and LEDs are more directional.

        Or are you saying that you’ve got more info?

        If so, add it in. We share here…. ;o)

  • Anonymous

    As you note, LEDs are not cost competitive with CFLs. However, LEDs offer a number of user advantages, including better quality light, no warm up times, less lifespan sensitivity to frequent on and off cycles, and fewer (although still some) disposal concerns. LEDs are a great choice for anyone willing to pay a little more for these features. As they come down in price, they will become a great choice for everyone.

    • Anonymous

      Warm up times for CFLs are now so brief that we can put that difference aside for almost all applications.

      “Better quality light”, I’m not so sure about that. LEDs have a directionality problem. Both LEDs and CFLs offer choices in white balance.

      LEDs are probably a better choice for applications such as ceiling fixtures where heat build up can shorten CFL lifetimes.

      I’m disappointed that LEDs didn’t test out better in terms of lumins per watt. Hopefully other manufacturers can get more out of the technology.

      • Anonymous

        Warm up times are very brief for standard A-type CFLs, but CFLs for downlights still take a long time to reach full brightness.
        The light quality is a big difference. As one measure, very few CFLs (and virtually none of the cheap ones) have a color rendering index of over 85. LEDs like the CREE LR6 have a CRI or 94, and many others exceed 90. On a purely subjective level, many people hate the look of CFLs in demanding lighting areas like the kitchen, but can’t distinguish between incandescents and LEDs.
        Agree about ceiling fixtures. It is the best use for LEDs right now.
        LED Lumens per watt are also going up. Take a look again in 6 months and the performance gap will be wider.

    • Anonymous

      it isn’t little more. It’s a lot lot more. I don’t have just one CFL in my house i have around 20-25 CFLs. factor that into cost and the difference isn’t worth paying for.
      20 CFls cost ~ $17
      20 LEDs cost ~ $900 if you use the $45 LED mentioned in this article.

      • Anonymous

        Totally agree. If cost is the only concern, it is not even a contest. On the other hand, some people avoid CFLs because of the light quality, while even several hundred dollars for LEDs might not be much in the context of, say, a kitchen remodel.

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