CFL's vs. Halogen vs. Fluorescent vs. Incandescent vs. LED

When it comes to choosing the right light bulb, knowing the differences between them, can be helpful in guiding your buying decision. Now that you know what an LED is, I bet you’re wondering how they compare to traditional light bulbs like fluorescent, CFL’s, halogen, and incandescent. Check out our color temperature guide! 

LED Light Comparison Chart

Annual cost of operation based on 800 lumens for 2 hours per day at $0.16 per kWh



Bulbs can vary regarding their light output. A light bulb’s brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen, the brighter the light will be. In order to measure the efficiency of a light bulb, it’s most effective to compare brightness (lumens) to power (wattage). Traditional incandescent light bulbs emit about 15 lumens per watt. So, to reach a brightness of 800 lumens, incandescent light bulbs will require 60 watts to power the light.

Halogen light bulbs are slightly more effective, with 25 lumens per watt. CFL’s or fluorescent light bulbs emit 60 lumens per watt. LED’s, however, are the most effective of all, with a whopping 72 lumens per watt. This means that for around 10 watts of power, an LED will be just as bright as a 60-watt bulb.

Did you know that...

Some CFL’s and LED’s can be equipped with energy-saving features, like sensors and dimming controls? Check out our Lighting Control Guide to Learn More!



Bulbs can also vary in power, which is measured in wattage. The higher the wattage, the more energy the bulb uses to emit light. Notice in the chart above that traditional light bulbs generally have a wattage between 40 and 100 watts. Compared to an LED, that’s almost 20% more energy being used to power each light bulb.

More Energy = More Money!

When purchasing light bulbs, it’s recommended to consider a more energy efficient light bulb. While LED light bulbs are the most energy efficient, fluorescent, CFL, and halogen light bulbs are an effective alternative.

Heat Emission

Heat Emission

Did you know that about 90% of the energy from incandescent lights bulbs is wasted as heat? Not only do LED light bulbs generate less heat, but they use less power in doing so. Although it’s possible for any electronic device to produce a certain amount of heat, LED light bulbs emit lower temperatures than incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. They do this through their fins. Fins are a surface feature that allow the heat to disperse from the base of the light bulb. Traditional incandescent light bulbs do not have this feature. Therefore, after only a few minutes of being turned on, an incandescent bulb is too hot to touch. LED light bulbs, on the other hand, can remain cool after hours on being on. Learn More about the Thermal Components of LED’s.



Light bulbs can also vary in lifespan. LED technology has taken energy-efficiency to the next level, with their ability to last up to 25,000 hours. That is 34 years of never having to change a light bulb. Traditional light bulbs, like incandescent light bulbs have a lifespan of about 1.4 years, or 1000 hours. Halogen Light bulbs can last up to 4.2 years, and CFL’s can last up to 14 years. Converting Lifespan Hours to Years



Unlike Fluorescent lights and the popular CFL light bulbs normally found in commercial spaces, LED’s do not contain mercury. In the case that a fluorescent bulb breaks exposing the mercury gas, it could cause potential harm to those close to it. Mercury can pose a great threat to young children and can spread to other parts of the building. Because LED’s do not contain mercury or any other toxic chemicals, they are safer to handle when broken. LED’s are a more environmentally friendly choice.

Operating Costs

Annual Cost of Operation:

Let’s say you are currently using 20 incandescent light bulbs at 60 watts to light a small commercial building, for an average of 12 hours a day. This is considering that the lights are to remain on for a full 12 hours. Just by switching to the Halogen light bulbs, your costs can go from $840.96 to $605.49. That is a savings of $235.47 a year. By switching to CFL’s, or fluorescent light bulbs, you can save $630.72 annually. And by switching to LED, you can save up to $698.00.

Replacing your lighting systems doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out our Retrofit Guide to help you make a better decision when it comes to making energy-efficient improvements to your commercial space. Save money By Switching to LED Street Lights!

Bulb TypeCost per Year Savings/Year (compared to incandescent)
Incandescent $840.96
Halogen $605.49$235.47

Did you know that...

ENERGY STAR offers rebates and tax incentives when you make energy-efficient lighting improvements. Learn More!

Make the switch to LED easy when you shop HomElectrical! We carry a wide variety of energy efficient and high-quality LED light bulbs and fixtures to help save you money.
Shakir Williams
Shakir Williams

A true creative with a penchant for the spiritual and natural order. She loves the Earth, almost as much as she loves writing about it.

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