The goal of this article is to explain the differences between LED and CFL bulbs. The most important difference is that CFL light bulbs use more power than LED light bulbs. The reason why is that CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs emit light by creating heat. The problem is that only 10% of the power used is turned into actual light. The other 90% of the power is lost as heat. A LED bulb requires significantly less power to generate the same amount of light.
To understand completely the differences how CFL bulbs vs LED work is quite complicated. However, the basics are that CFL bulbs work through an electric current being sent down a tube that has argon and mercury gas in it. This electric current generates an invisible ultraviolet light that activates a fluorescent coating that is in the bulb, creating a visible light. LEDs work through the flow of electrons in a semiconductor material.
Many governments are trying to have consumers switch from CFL to LED in order to reduce power needed to light homes. The only negative to LED bulbs vs CFL is that they can cost more initially. LED bulbs are actually cheaper to operate over the full lifetime of the bulb as they consume significantly less power. For example, a CFL bulb would need 14 Watts to run, while an LED bulb would only need 7 Watts to run. With today’s energy prices, the total operating cost of CFL bulbs vs LED bulbs might be $100 vs. $20.
For brightness, current LED bulbs are better in terms of brightness. However, many consumers have negative opinions of LED bulbs based on older LED technologies. Current LED bulbs are omni-directional, which gives the same effect as CFL bulbs. Some consumers may still say that they like CFL light bulbs brightness better. Consumers should make a test of the most modern LED vs CFL bulbs in order to make their own decision.
Other advantages of LED bulbs are that they are smaller size bulbs, and they also do not contain toxic mercury. The amount of mercury in a CFL bulb is extremely small; however, those consumers with children might want to have a mercury-free household. LED bulbs are also less fragile than CFL bulbs. LEDs can be dimmed, but CFL bulbs cannot be dimmed.
More comparisons of LED bulbs vs CFL is that LEDs are more easily retrofit in existing sockets than CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs need some sort of electronic powering device and longer tubes. Another more controversial comparison of LED vs CFL bulbs is that CFL bulbs produce UV light, which can damage cells. LED bulbs, however, do not produce UV light of any kind. LED bulbs are also safer in terms of generating less heat and would be less likely to burn by touch than CFL bulbs.
Overall, modern LED bulbs seem to be significantly better than CFL bulbs; the only real negative of LED bulbs is the upfront cost.