Incandescent lights produce so much heat, they can burn your skin when touched. They were even used to heat toy ovens sold in the 1960s. That they’re energy inefficient is beyond dispute. On the other hand, fluorescent lights are considered an energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lights. But how do they stack up against LED lighting? Here are six comparisons:
- Fluorescent bulbs emit omnidirectional light while that of LEDs is directional. Fluorescent bulbs radiate light 360 degrees around the tube’s circumference. Only a small percentage of this light is directed to the area directly below (such as at a desk in an office). The rest radiates in less useful directions unless the bulbs are installed inside reflectors, which still scatter some of the light. On the other hand, LED lights are directional in that most of their light radiates in a 110 degree arc. They don’t require the bulky reflectors of fluorescent tubes.
- LED lighting is more energy-efficient than fluorescent bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 12 watt LED light puts out the same lighting as a 15 watt fluorescent light. In other words, LEDs use 20% less power.
- Fluorescent bulbs emit UV light. Fluorescent bulbs emit some UV light, which is hard on the eyes and causes color fading in fabrics. This is wasted energy. LED lighting does not emit UV light. In fact, its light emission lies entirely in the visible light range.
- LED lights last longer than fluorescent bulbs. LED lights last up to 13 times longer than fluorescent bulbs. This means a big savings in maintenance costs.
- LED lights are more rugged than fluorescent lights. LEDs are solid state lights, which are more damage resistant than the fragile tubes of fluorescent lights. Breaking fluorescent bulbs also exposes one to mercury.
- LEDs do not flicker near the end of their life. Fluorescent lights go through a period of flickering before burning out. However, the usefulness of the light ends when the flickering starts.
Finally, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, and may therefore present waste disposal issues.