Why is LED lighting more energy efficient?

What makes LEDs more energy efficient than other types of lighting? LED lighting uses a completely different physical process than previous lighting technologies, and this is what makes it more efficient.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs heat a piece of metal to a high temperature so that it glows white hot. Unfortunately, a lot of energy is lost as heat, as you can easily notice by putting your hand near an incandescent bulb.

Fluorescent Bulbs

Fluorescent bulbs actually operate by two physical processes in sequence. The first of these happens by running an electric current through mercury vapor, which causes the mercury atoms to emit ultraviolet (UV) light. This light is not visible, so fluorescent lamps require another step, and this is where fluorescence comes in.

Fluorescence is the process where a material absorbs light of one color and emits light of another color. In the case of fluorescent lamps, a material coating the bulb absorbs the UV light and emits visible light. This process is more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs because there is no need to heat a material. However, because it is a two-step process where each step is not perfectly efficient, its efficiency is still limited.

Another issue with fluorescent bulbs is that the mercury they contain is hazardous, and has to be disposed of properly.


LED stands for light emitting diode. The diode is the physical object which emits light. This is a one-step process, which helps explain why LED bulbs are more efficient than fluorescent bulbs.

The material at the at the heart of an LED is a semiconductor. This material is able to directly absorb electric energy and emit light, which also helps keep efficiency high.

LEDs are not perfectly efficient. Their efficiency depends largely on the type of semiconductor material used. Scientists are constantly exploring new semiconductor materials to improve LEDs and provide better energy efficiency.

If you have any questions about LED lighting, please feel free to contact us.