4 old 60 watt light bulbs in the back of one new led A19 light bulb in the front with orange background

We’re in an era whereby saving even the minutest joule of energy matters. When we discuss LED bulbs, we’re talking about the revolutionary lighting technology that optimizes every amp of current the bulb receives. So why are LEDs a must-have?

LED bulbs use about 50 percent less energy than CFL bulbs and 75 to 85 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last up to 10 times longer than regular lightbulbs. Their lighting is also brighter than the other light bulbs. LED bulbs are, therefore, the ultimate energy saver.

You must care about having the best lighting fixtures if you’re reading this. This guide will explore why you need LED bulbs over conventional incandescent and halogen light fixtures in your home.

Let’s get started!

What are LED Light Bulbs, and How Do They Work?

Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are not your average bulbs, as they apply a unique mechanism to produce light: diodes.

Specifically, the bulb produces light when an electric current passes through its diode, which is a type of semiconductor.

How about compact fluorescent (CFL) and incandescent light bulbs? Well, these apply a somewhat outdated principle.

Rather than a diode, they feature a filament. We can consider them the ultimate heat chambers and not really proper bulbs.

a hand in the middle of the picture holding up a lit up LED light bulb with a garden in the background
LEDs use a diode, which makes them superior to older light styles with a filament.

When you turn on an incandescent bulb, the filament must first heat up due to its electrical resistance before emitting light.

Consequently, the bulbs convert only 10 percent to light, transforming the remaining 90 percent of the energy to heat energy.

Therefore, LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient and cooler than other bulb types as they do not primarily rely on heat.

Let’s explore the different types of bulbs you’re likely to come across.

Halogen Bulbs

These bulbs generate light by heating a filament, just like incandescent bulbs. Although they consume less energy than incandescent bulbs, they are still less energy-efficient than CFLs and LEDs.

a closeup of a halogen bulb with a blue background

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

These bulbs have a longer lifespan and need less energy than incandescent bulbs. Still, they contain mercury (the toxic element we use in thermometers) and require more time to warm up.

A CFL bulb stacked on a pile of cash and coins, indicating the savings provided by using this energy-efficient light bulb

Incandescent Bulbs

These traditional light bulbs have been around for over a century. They produce light by heating a filament inside the bulb, emitting light.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

These bulbs are the most cost-effective and durable solution on the market. They have a 25,000-hour lifespan and create light using semiconductors.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs

Consider these bulbs in places where you require a lot of light, such as floodlights and streetlights. They use less energy than incandescent bulbs but not as little as CFLs or LEDs.

a forklift driving in a warehouse with metal halide light fixtures lighting up the aisle it's in
I used to retrofit many commercial buildings with metal halide light fixtures and bulbs in them with my previous company.

Metal halide has traditionally been used for areas where you need a ton of lighting, like in warehouses, parking lots, stadiums, tennis courts, and large retail stores.

We now retrofit metal halide with LED, saving about 70-80%+ on energy.

What Distinguishes LED Lighting from Incandescent and CFL Lighting?

It all comes down to their working principle.

When you turn on an incandescent bulb, the energy passing through the glowing filaments produces heat and light.

In contrast, when you turn on an LED, the passage of electrons creates photons, which produce nearly no heat.

Other differences are as follows.


Generally, LED lights are more compact than incandescent and CFL lights. As a result, these light sources are easy to use in tight spaces and when you need a smaller light source.


LED lights can either be dimmable or not. If you want a dimmable light, go with incandescent light. However, it can be more challenging to dim a CFL.

Color Temperature

LED lights can give off different shades of white, ranging from warm to cool white. Incandescent bulbs give off a warm white light, while CFL bulbs can give off either warm or cool white light.

Three varieties of light temperature, including warm white, daylight, and cool white
LEDs can achieve various color temperatures to set the mood!


LED lights are more durable than incandescent and CFL lights. They can withstand shock and vibration better and are less prone to breaking like incandescent bulbs.


CFL bulbs will have the “curly-cue” look to them, much like it’s wrapped around itself. LED’s will also have a bit more of an intense light source, and often you can see the actual circuit board with the individual diodes, like in the comparison picture below.

a lit CFL light bulb with a black background on the left, and a bunch of LED bulbs sitting on a table on the right
CFL’s (on the left) are slowly being phased out due to the superior nature of LED technology these days.


Cheap is expensive, so acquiring the cheapest bulb on the market may cost you a fortune in electricity bills. You may find that LED lights are initially more expensive than incandescent and CFL lights.

But in the long run, they can save you money due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan.

Cold Temperature Performance

Looking for lights to use in cold weather? LEDs are your best bet.

If you use LED lights, they will work better in cold temperatures than incandescent or CFL lights. They can also turn on and reach their full brightness faster in cold environments.


LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours, incandescent lights only 1,000 hours, and CFLs around 8,000 hours. In real life (and in my experience), plan for about half the stated wattage (numbers listed above here). They never seem to last as long as the label states, but LEDs still outlast CFLs by miles.

You have many years of use with LEDs without considering replacing your light bulbs.

Moreover, the overall electricity use for lighting during this span will be pretty than if you went old school with incandescent bulbs.

Environmental Impact

You should choose LEDs over mercury lamps, CFL lights, and other conventional lights on any day if you truly care about keeping the environment clean and safe for posterity.

LED lights have remarkably little to no waste. Not only do they not contain mercury or other harmful substances, but they also generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime.

Heat Output

If you buy a bulb, you’re primarily investing in a product that significantly improves the lighting rather than yielding joules upon joules of heat.

LED lights perfectly fit the bill of excellent and versatile light sources as they primarily produce very little heat compared to incandescent and CFL lights.

This makes them safer and more comfortable to be around.

The Benefits of LED Lighting

Suppose you’re an industrial or commercial business interested in reducing energy usage and costs. In that case, LED lighting could be an excellent option for you. Here are some advantages of LED lights:

Energy Efficiency

You can make your lighting more energy-efficient by using LED lights. To measure how energy-efficient a lighting source is, look at the useful lumens it produces.

This tells you how much lighting the device produces for each watt of power it uses. We only looked at how many lumens a light bulb produced in the past, but not all are useful. LED lights produce fewer wasted and more useful lumens than other types of lighting.

Let us perform a simple arithmetic to show how LED light can be energy efficient:

Assume you have a 100-watt incandescent light bulb that you use for 10 hours per day. That means you use:

100-watt x 10 hours in one day = 1,000-watt-hours or 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).

If you were to switch to a LED light bulb that consumes only 20 watts and you use it for the same 10 hours per day, your energy consumption would be:

20 watts x 10 hours = 200 watt-hours or 0.2 kWh.

That means you would use 80 percent less energy with the LED bulb than with the incandescent bulb.

These statistics show how many watts energy-efficient light bulbs use in comparison to traditional lights.

Here is a table to compare the energy usage and cost of operating CFL, incandescent, and LED bulbs over a year, based on using the bulbs for three hours per day:

Bulb TypeEnergy Use (kWh/year)Average Operation cost

The data above shows that if you use your bulb for three hours a day, you can save $26.30 per year using LED instead of CFL and $97.30 per year using LED instead of incandescent.

Lengthy Life

LED bulbs last longer than other bulb types because of their components and how they produce light. They have a longer lifespan due to the following:

● Energy efficiency

● Low heat levels

● Durability

They can withstand proper and improper usage and still last thousands of hours longer than other bulbs.

Minimal Radiant Heat

Old light sources, such as incandescents, produce light by heating their filament. An LED bulb yields light through electromagnetic energy when it’s powered.

Thus, unlike incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs use electricity to produce light directly rather than using heat to create light. As a result, LED bulbs can work at a much lower temperature.

Enhanced Environmental Performance

LEDs are more environmentally friendly than traditional lighting solutions like fluorescent or mercury vapor lights. In addition, LEDs are free from mercury and do not necessitate special handling during disposal, eliminating potential problems.

High Intensity and Brightness

You can rely on lumen output, rather than wattage, to gauge the brightness of LEDs and other energy-efficient bulbs. This is because LEDs can produce a very high level of brightness.

This brightness level is nearly double that of CFL and almost nine times that of incandescent bulbs. LED’s (in real life), can actually be very tricky. From my experience, the stated lumen output can be low, but to the naked eye (once the lighting is actually installed), it appears to be much brighter.

Lumen output on paper is not pound-for-pound the same between all the different technologies, but know that LED puts out a ton of light compared to their stated wattage and lumen output.

Flexible Design

LEDs are very tiny, about the size of a pepper grain. You can use them in almost any situation because of their small size.

For instance, you can use them to illuminate shop floors or even football stadiums.

You can create bulb-like structures by grouping them, as seen on Christmas lights and other outdoor decorative lighting fixtures. To make a line or series of LED lights, like a string of holiday lights, connect many of them.

Directional Lighting

The way LEDs direct their light makes them perfect for task lighting and recessed downlights. You can use them to reduce energy consumption.

Instead of radiating light in all directions, LED lights only give illumination in a specific direction. This feature makes them highly efficient in terms of energy consumption.

None of the light is wasted or absorbed by diffusers and reflectors, which can prevent more than half of the light produced by a bulb from escaping.

Capabilities for Dimming

LEDs can operate effectively under a wide range of power, from roughly five to 100 percent.

On the other hand, certain types of lighting, such as metal halide, do not perform as well when their intensity is reduced.

Sometimes, it may not be possible to dim them at all. LED lighting is the opposite.

When you operate it at less than full power, it works more efficiently. This not only increases the bulb’s lifespan but also reduces your energy usage and costs.

Instant Lighting

LED lighting is the best option if you want a light that you can turn on and off hastily.

If you use a metal halide light, you should be prepared for a warming-up period. Incandescent lighting sources also have a shorter lifespan if they are frequently turned on and off.

However, this is different for LED lights. Frequent switching does not negatively impact LED lights; they have a longer lifespan and perform better.

The Capacity to Work in Cold Environments

Cold weather is not kind to conventional illumination sources. For instance, fluorescent bulbs need a greater voltage to start up as the temperature lowers and their light output decreases.

The case is different for LEDs; they perform five percent better in cold environments.

What to Consider When Choosing an LED Light Bulb

Most people switch from old lamps to energy-efficient LED bulbs as they seek to reap the efficiency of these lighting fixtures.

Consequently, manufacturers are on a crazy overdrive, producing many different models of these bulbs to satisfy the demand. Unfortunately, this means the chances of landing on a low-class LED fixture remain high.

Nonetheless, you can optimize the chances of landing top-quality LED bulbs by considering the following features.

The Base of the Light Bulb

Light bulbs primarily have a screw or pin base. In addition, LED bulbs are available in various types, with pin or screw bases.

Closeup on a homeowner's arms who's swapping an incandescent bulb for a LED light bulb in a hanging ceiling fixture
The more lumens a light has, the brighter it is.

You do not have to replace the fixtures with LED lights when replacing incandescent or CFLs.

However, you should ensure your LED bulb is compatible with the fixtures of the initial light bulbs.

Light Output

A greater wattage for the old light bulbs implies the bulb will be brighter.

This assumption is due to the correlation between the amount of energy the bulb draws and the brightness the filament produces.

Nevertheless, wattage only illustrates the amount of energy the bulb draws, but lumens (lm) is the actual measurement of brightness.

Therefore, a higher number of lumens implies that the bulb is brighter.

Read the light bulb package, compare the lumens and choose a bulb with your desired brightness level.


Unlike old incandescent bulbs that usually have a yellowish shade, LED light bulbs are available in various colors.

The most popular colors are warm and cool white light, and their color temperatures vary.

a modern looking graphic diagram of orange colors to white and bluish on the range, indicating different Kelvin color temperatures in lighting

If you want a warm feeling, go for LED bulbs with a color temperature of approximately 2700K. And if you want a cooler light similar to daylight, consider a bulb with 5000K and above.


The purchasing cost of LED bulbs is slightly higher than traditional ones.

For instance, a 10-watt LED bulb can cost $2.50, while a 14-watt CFL and 60-watt incandescent costs $2.40 and $1.25, respectively.

However, LED bulbs are durable compared to other light bulbs. You should be ready to spend more during acquisition, knowing that the bulb will save you money in the long run.


Some LEDs are dimmable. Therefore, if you wish to purchase a bulb that can adjust its brightness, go for the dimmable version.

How to Switch from Traditional Light Bulbs to LED Bulbs

  1. Select your desired bulb.

First, you need to determine the type of base your fixture takes and then choose a bulb based on that specific base.

Next, examine the brightness levels and color temperatures, and select the one that suits your desired room appearance.

Finally, remember to check the various styles of LED light bulbs to get something that is aesthetically pleasing.

2. Installation.

LED bulbs fit perfectly on initial fixtures, provided you have chosen a bulb with a suitable base. In particular, you install LED light bulbs the same way you would for traditional lights such as CFL and incandescent bulbs.


LED light bulbs are incredibly energy efficient. They use over 50 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last much longer.

If you still need to switch to LEDs, it’s time to do so as soon as possible.

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