Be Bright About Your Lights: Comparing Incandescent, CFL, and LED Lights.
When choosing a new light source, there are a lot of factors to consider. Which one is the brightest? Which is the cheapest? How often do they have to be replaced?
Unless you happen to be an electrician, weighing the pros and cons of all your lighting options can be a daunting task. Not to worry—we’re here to shed some light on the differences and help determine the right light for you.
Incandescent: The Original Bright Idea. The iconic incandescent bulb symbolizes bright ideas. In 1879, Thomas Edison discovered he could direct electrical current through a filament to produce light. Incandescents have been popularly used throughout the past 140 years, in everything from high-end chandeliers to Easy-Bake Ovens.
Incandescent lights tend to have a short lifespan of only a thousand hours, rendering them not all that cost-effective. What’s more, they’re not all that energy efficient either, a con for both the environment and your electric bill. On the bright side, they are known for having excellent dimming abilities.
Compact Fluorescent, the Next Generation. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are a miniature, improved version of the fluorescent tube lights that used to flicker and hum in school and office ceilings. Both operate by an electrical current exciting mercury vapors, thereby producing ultraviolet light. The phosphor coating on the bulb then absorbs the invisible UV light, and converts it into bright, visible light.
CFLs are much more energy efficient than incandescent lights, so they are more cost effective too. These lights tend to have a lifespan of 6,000 hours—six times as that of an incandescent bulb. However, CFLs are still known to flicker, and there may be a delay turning them on.
Given the mercury content of these bulbs, CFLs are not the greenest choice for the environment, and are not disposable. Instead, they must be recycled through EPA-approved systems.
The Future in LED. Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are those tiny indicator lights on your stereo and dashboard, among other places. They also can be used collectively to emit bright light, as in screw-in LED bulbs or fixtures. Essentially, these lights function by electrical current passing through a semiconductor.
LEDs come in a wide range of styles, color temperatures, lumens (brightness levels), and are compatible with sensors and timers. They are incredibly energy efficient, with a lifespan of about 40,000 hours. That, combined with the absence of mercury, make them a very green option for the environment.
LED’s have the reputation of being more expensive, but lately at Aspire, we’re finding that LEDs are the same prices as CFLs. As a bonus for those in our area, Duke Power Company may offer rebates for LED installation. And if we come in and give you an estimate for LED lighting – we give you information about the rebates, and will even process them for you!
Aspire in the Spotlight. Are you getting bright ideas for your home or business? We’d love to shed some light on the right kind of lighting for your remodel or new construction. Give us a call, and let’s talk. Whether you need incandescent, CFL, or LED, we’ll help you make the best choices for the lights in your life.