When comparing different types of light bulbs, these are the factors to take into account:
- What is the cost per bulb?
- How long can the bulb be expected to last?
- What is the variation in wattage for that type of bulb?
- Is it a dimmable bulb?
- How does the bulb produce light?
- How much electricity is needed to produce light?
- What is the bulb made of?
- Is any part of the bulb poisonous or environmentally hazardous?
- Does the bulb get dangerously hot?
- Can the bulb be a fire hazard?
- What fixture is needed to use the bulb?
- If it is dimmable, which dimmer switch will control this bulb?
Let’s compare LED, halogen, CFL, H.I.D. and incandescent light bulbs:
Halogen vs LED
Technically, a halogen light is an incandescent light because they both use a tungsten filament that is heated until it is hot enough to glow, producing light. When the filament is hot enough to glow, the bulb itself gets hot. Without caution, this can cause skin burns and even house fires. In warm weather, the filament bulb can produce enough heat to require cooling the house, adding further electric costs.
halogen lights contain gas, whereas LED’s do not.
LED lights do not use filaments that glow. Instead, they use light emitting diodes. The diode is a semiconductor, which emits light when electricity is run through it. This semiconductor does not have to heat up until it glows. Therefore electricity is not wasted creating heat in order to produce light. This is why an LED light is cooler and safer.
halogen lights last only about 1,000 hours. Halogens go dead with their tungsten filament burns out or breaks. The reason that LED’s have a longer life is that they do not produce light by heating up a tungsten filament.
Take care when buying halogen bulbs since many have pins and need the GU10 fixture base rather than a screw-in base. Read more about halogen vs LED here.
LED vs CFL
C.F.L (compact fluorescent lights) are the spiral bulbs that are often seen in place of the standard light bulb.
It has been widely reported that LED bulbs cost more than C.F.L bulbs, but if you look at the product list in the last section of this article, you will see that this is no longer true, unless you buy the best name brands, such as GE.
C.L.F bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and must be handled with extreme caution if the glass is broken. LED’s, on the other hand, do not contain any mercury or toxic materials.
LED’s come in soft, white and bright hues and are not sensitive to cold temperatures. CFL’s contain a gas that is sensitive to temperature and can be give off as much as 10% less light in cold weather.
CFL’s use 14 watts to produce a 60-watt equivalent, whereas LEDs us only 8 watts. This means that CFLs use twice the electricity to produce the same amount of light as an LED.
CFL’s last about 8,000 hours but LEDs last 25,000 hours – 3 times longer. Read more about LED vs CFL here.
LED vs HID Light Bulbs
HID stands for high intensity discharge. These are a type of incandescent lamp that generates light by means of an electric arc between tungsten electrodes. These electrodes are inside a quartz glass tube or capsule which is filled with xenon gas and metal salts. These lights are sometimes referred to as xenon lights.
Most HID’s are vehicle headlight bulbs, sold in pairs. H.I.D headlights are sometimes used instead of halogen headlights. However, HID’s do not always fit the halogen receptacles. A conversion kit may be needed.
HID’s are brighter than LED’s or halogens but they are also more fragile. An LED has a solid state semiconductor whereas an H.I.D. light has tungsten electrodes and a ballast which regulates the electric current and reduces the voltage.
HID’s come in several colors and can be expected to last 6,000 to 8,000 hours. Read more about LED vs HID here.
LED vs Incandescent Light Bulbs
The incandescent, standard light bulbs are the most widely used and have the greatest variety of styles. Initially, they are less expensive than LED’s but they don’t last as long. So take into account the inconvenience of replacing bulbs, especially those that are hard to reach.
Incandescent lights are very inefficient because they create light when the tungsten filament inside the bulb heats up to white hot. Most (90%) of the electricity is used to heat the filament and only 10% is use to create the light. These lights use 5 times as much power as an LED light that gives off the same amount of brightness.
A close look at the Amazon reviews show that some people find that the GE bulbs burn out too quickly. However, some brands have rough duty with heavy-duty reinforced filaments. Read more about LED vs incandescent here.
Cost of the Various Light Bulbs
Six 9-watt bulbs, the equivalent of 60-watt incandescent bulbs, giving off 800 lumens, not dimmable, cost $9.99 on Amazon ($1.66 each).
Four 9-watt, 60-watt equivalent, dimmable, giving 800 lumens cost $15.99 ($3.99 each)
Four 15-watt floodlights, the equivalent of 100-watt incandescent bulbs, dimmable, giving off 1340 lumens cost $36.80 ($9.20 each).
One 72-watt, 100-watt incandescent equivalent, dimmable, no mercury, giving off 1490 lumens costs $5.49 each:
Four 28-watt, equivalent to 40-watt incandescent, dimmable, cost $10.18 ($2.45 each):
Six 39-watt, 50-watt equivalent, dimmable, floodlights cost $22.49 ($3.75 each):
Four 23-watt, 100-watt equivement, not dimmable, 1600 lumens cost $9.94 ($2.48 each):
Two 14-watt, equivalent 60-watt, dimmable, 850 lumens, cost $7.97 ($3.98 each):
Two 12-volt, H.I.D. bulbs cost $11.99 ($5.99 each)
Two H.I.D. headlight bulbs, 31-watt cost $25.00 ($12.50 each)
Eight, 40-watt, soft white incandescent bulbs cost $8.85 ($1.10 each)
Eight, 60-watt, clear glass, 560 lumens bulbs cost $14.99 ($1.87 each)
Two, 100-watt, rough-duty, reinforced filament, expected to last 5,000 hours, 870 lumens cost $4.70 ($2.35 each)
As you can see, the price of bulbs do not vary widely. Therefore, the other characteristics should be considered more heavily:
LED bulbs are solid state so they are less fragile than the others.
They do not need to heat a filament so they consume less electricity to produce light.
They do not contain mercury or any other toxins.
Overall, the LED lights are a better value than CFL, halogen, HID. and incandescent bulbs.