Lighting CFLs / LEDs

Being Green Means:

The compact fluorescent light bulb revolution nearly occurred back in the early 1990s. When CFLs first hit the market in force, consumers bought them in large numbers — but they hated them for 3 reasons:

  • The bulbs were too big for many fixtures
  • They were expensive (up to $25 each)
  • They threw a dim, antiseptic light that paled next to the warmth of good old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.


Now, a new CFL revolution is at hand. The bulbs have been redesigned, and the government & retail giants are pushing hard for the bulbs. Wal-Mart hopes to sell 100 million CFLs by the end of the year. In California, a legislator recently proposed banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs in the state by 2012.
All the old benefits of CFLs are still significant — more so, in fact:

  • They can use less than one-third the electricity of incandescent bulbs of equivalent brightness.
  • Last up to nine years.
  • The new bulbs are smaller and far cheaper (about $5 each) than their predecessors.
  • More powerful than ever. Top-end 24-watt bulbs promise brightness equivalent to that of a 150-watt incandescent.

What to Look for: According to Popular Mechanics

  • Color temperature: The lower the color temperature, the warmer the light. Warmness (red) or coolness (blue) can be measured in degrees Kelvin by a chroma meter.
  • Lumens vs. lux: Manufacturers use a complex process to measure lumens, the total quantity of light emitted by a bulb.
  • Watts and efficiency: All CFLs use about 70 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. The average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs — replacing that number of 75-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs would save $180 per year.
  • Phosphor: This chemical compound lines the inside of CFL tubing. When excited, it converts ultraviolet radiation into visible light. The chemical composition of the phosphor determines the color temperature of the light emitted by the bulb.
  • Mercury: According to the EPA, CFLs contain an average of 5 milligrams of mercury, which increases the bulb’s efficiency. But that also means you can’t just trash them—CFLs must be properly recycled. Visit Energy Star or Earth 911 for disposal instructions.
  • Beyond Fluorescent with LEDs: Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are tiny yet powerful sources of light that are even more energy efficient than CFLs. Manufacturing LEDs that produce light equivalent to a 60-watt bulb is expensive, however. One bulb can cost as much as $75.

The Top 6 CFL (Compact Flourescent) Light Bulbs - (Review by Popular Mechanics)

(1) Sylvania Double Life

(2) N:Vision (3) Westinghouse Natural Light
(4) Philips Marathon (5) MaxLite MicroMax (6) Sylvania Daylight Extra

Light-Emitting Diodes (LED’s) are solid-state semiconductor devices that convert electrical energy directly into visible light.

The inside of an LED is made up of various semiconductor materials.
Advantages of using LED technology include:

  • High-levels of brightness and intensity
  • High-efficiency
  • Low-voltage and current requirements
  • Low heat
  • High reliability (resistant to shock and vibration)
  • No UV Rays
  • Can be easily controlled and programmed


GEOBulb3, Warm White

LED PAR Spotlight

Pharox 3

The Bottom Line Comparing Costs
The best way to compare the three types of bulbs is to calculate their costs over 30,000 hours of usage – the lifespan of a single LED bulb.

Standard incandescent bulbs The CFL used here has a lifetime of 1,300 hours, so we would need 23 bulbs over the period of this study. You can purchase a single incandescent of this type for $0.34, total cost for bulbs over 30,000 hours would be $7.82.

      • As it uses 60 watts, over a period of 30,000 hours, an incandescent bulb would use 1,800,000 watt hours, or 1,800 kilowatt hours. At the current approximate price of $0.10 per kilowatt hour, you would have to pay $180.00 to run an incandescent bulb over this period.
      • Thus, the total cost of a 60 watt incandescent bulb over a 30,000 hour lifespan is $187.82.


CFL bulbs The CFL used here has a lifetime of 8,000 hours, so we would need 3.75 bulbs over the period of this study. I was able to purchase a single CFL for $1.24, so our total cost for bulbs over 30,000 hours would be $4.65.

      • As it uses 13 watts, over a period of 30,000 hours, a CFL bulb would use 390,000 watt hours, or 390 kilowatt hours. At the current approximate price of $0.10 per kilowatt hour, you would have to pay $39.00 to run a CFL bulb over this period.
      • Thus, the total cost of a CFL bulb over a 30,000 hour lifespan is $43.65.


LED bulbs The LED bulb used here was the GeoBulb3 and has a lifetime of 30,000 hours, so we would need only one bulb over the period of this study. Unfortunately, that single bulb has a cost of $74.95.

      • As it uses 7.5 watts, over a period of 30,000 hours, an LED bulb would use 245,000 watt hours, or 245 kilowatt hours. At the current approximate price of $0.10 per kilowatt hour, you would have to pay $24.50 to run an LED bulb over this period.
      • Thus, the total cost of an LED bulb over a 30,000 hour lifespan is $99.45.

The Best Deal Right Now...
Clearly, given the current market conditions, CFLs are the best bargain at the moment for our home lighting needs.

Better Lightbulb Contest

In May 2008, the Department of Energy announced that it would award $10 million to the first company that developed a solid-state lamp that could replace a standard bulb.
Among the criteria: The lamp can use no more than 10 watts to create the equivalent light of a 60-watt incandescent bulb; the color of the light output must mimic that of today’s incandescents; and the bulbs must last at least 25,000 hours, as much as 25 times as long as today’s standard bulbs.
In addition to the lighting specs, the company must also manufacture at least 75 percent of the value of the lamp in the United States, and package the product in this country.

Bulb America.com


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