Difference Between Incandescent, CFL, and LED Bulbs at Home
I grew up using incandescent lights at home. Those usually round, warm bulbs that all of a sudden stop working after a while. Being the only child for a long time, it was my job to change them whenever they die and I remember doing it a lot as years went by. Yes, they are cheap, but this was what we’re stuck with before CFL and LED lights were introduced. Now that we have these three types of bulbs to choose from, which would be the best to use in our homes?
As mentioned previously, using an incandescent bulb will require you to keep on replacing it with new ones every once in a while. A quick Wikipedia search tells us that an average life for this kind of light is 1,000 hours. Compare this to a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) which has 8,000 hours of average life and LED which lasts around 30,000+ hours on the average and you’ll begin to see the difference and put things into perspective.
So why don’t we all just use LEDs and spare ourselves from changing the lights every so often?
The reason why some people still stuck with incandescents and CFLs and didn’t make the immediate jump to LEDs is because they were quite expensive when they first came out here in the Philippines — if we remember correctly it was about Php1,000 to Php1,500 a pop. Comparing that to the Php30 price of normal lights, it seemed like a better deal for most households during the time.
The good news is, prices have dropped since then due to competition and still continues to be cheaper. Today you would be able to buy an LED light at a local hardware store for around less than Php200.
Let’s take this Firefly LED light as an example. For Php160, this 6.5W bulb that’s comparable to a 12W CFL and 60W incandescent lights promises to last for 15,000 hours or up to 10 years (of course, depending on your usage). If you are to use an incandescent light bulb with 1,000 hours of average life, you would more or less need to change it about 15 times of Php30 each – resulting to Php450 of total monetary costs, plus the time needed to make the trips in buying them. Keep in mind that this is just for one light bulb and a common household has about 10-25 lights in total, depending on the size of the house.
Now that we’ve cleared out the lifespan and pricing of these lights, let’s take a look at their performance and characteristic differences.
Due to the use of a wire filament being heated to produce light, the incandescent bulb reaches high temperatures which are enough to burn the skin but is also what’s sometimes needed for other applications like incubators, heating reptile tanks, or lava lamps.
CFLs or fluorescent lights were designed to replace incandescents and are way cooler, temperature-wise. The main drawback of these lighting tools is that they contain mercury inside and is very much hazardous for both the human body and environment when the bulb breaks. These things also have a slight delay when turned on and takes a while to reach its brightest level.
LEDs, on the other hand, turn on without delays and is a lot more durable than the previous two. Apart from being cheaper in the long run, some LED lights have the capability to be dimmed. This is also the case for some CFLs but dimming standard ones have been proven to be inefficient and can shorten the lifespan of the bulb.
Below is an easy-to-read comparison chart of key differences between the three bulbs that were shown above:
|Incandescent (Php31.50/100W)||CFL (Php70/9W)||LED (Php160/6.5W)|
|Frequent on/off cycling||Some effect||Shortens lifespan||No effect|
|Turns on instantly||Yes||Slight delay||Yes|
|Durability||Easily breakable||Easily breakable||Durable|
|Sensitivity to high temperature||No||Yes||Some|
|Sensitivity to low temperature||No||Yes||No|
|Sensitivity to humidity||Some||Yes||No|
|Hazardous materials||None||5mg of mercury per bulb||None|
|Replacement frequency for 30,000 hours*||30 times||4 times||2 times|
|KWh of electricity used over 30,000 hours||3000||270||195|
|Cost of electricity (@ Php12.4877/KWh)||Php37,463.1||Php3,371.679||Php2,435.1015|
*Not exact figures, but more of an estimate.
As you can see, the Php30-worth incandescent bulb might at first seem more affordable when compared against a Php70 CFL or Php160 LED light but in the long run, would only mean more effort in replacing it and definitely more expensive as it consumes more electricity (based on the effective rate from kuryente.org.ph).
In conclusion, should we be using LED lights in our homes? For us, the answer is a resounding YES.