Incandescent vs LED Bulbs: Deciphering the Difference

Tips to Help You Decide Which Bulb is Best for Your Home

Up until recently, shopping for light bulbs was pretty black and white. For the last 100 or so years, incandescent bulbs have been the only real choice you had for interior lighting. You’d simply head to the nearest hardware store, pick a wattage that would adequately light up whatever room in the home you needed it to, and then screw it right in. Lightbulbs were cheap, easy to replace, and nobody gave much real thought to their functionality.

Now, however, there is a multitude of lighting options you can choose from. Incandescent light still remains widely popular and used, but is followed closely by Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs.

How Incandescent Lights Work

The science behind incandescent light bulbs is fairly uncomplicated. A filament inside of the bulb is heated using the electricity in your home until it is hot enough to produce light. The actual glass shell of the bulb shields the filament from oxygen so it can reach temperatures high enough to glow without burning out. The bulb is either filled with an inert gas or evacuated – working as a vacuum. Inevitably, the filament inside the bulb will evaporate and ultimately burn out. This is what we often refer to as the bulb “burning out” and is a signal that it is time to replace it.

Over time, however, incandescent lights have proven to be one of the lesser options for interior lighting purposes. While they are in fact cheap to produce, making them affordable for everyday retailers, they have some of the worst energy efficiency available in interior lighting. Around 90% of the energy they consume goes into generating enough heat necessary to produce a minor glow.

Plus, they burn out quickly! The average bulb has about 2,500 operating hours. Before more energy-efficient options existed, this wasn’t really a problem, given how cheap they are. But thanks to advances in interior lighting technology, LEDs, and similar options exist that offer up to 25,000 to 30,000 hours of use! In comparison, you end up spending twice as much time and energy replacing those quick-burning incandescent lights.

Why LED Lights Became Popular

So what makes LED lights the better option? Well, like we mentioned, they have incredible longevity. This is one of their biggest advantages, as it means they need to be replaced much less often. In some ways, purchasing LED lights for your home is an investment. They last roughly ten times as long as incandescent lights, meaning you save more money in the long run.

Another reason for their increased popularity over the last decade is their energy efficiency. Unlike incandescent bulbs which are only converting about 10% of wasted electricity into useful light, LEDs emit very little heat, making them about 75% more efficient. They use a lower wattage system that allows for a similar light source that doesn’t overheat, burn out, or waste a ton of electricity.

LEDs are not only long-lasting bulbs, but they are often made of more durable materials than traditional incandescent lighting housed in transparent glass shells. LEDs can be installed in a number of different shells to suit your decor, lighting needs, and more. However, while the casing may be made of fragile materials, the bulbs within are much less likely to break than their outdated counterpart.

The Bright Future of Lighting

Starting in 2012, new energy regulations passed calling for all light bulbs to use 25% less energy. Despite popular belief, this regulation did not mean that banning of incandescent light bulbs. However, it would require that manufacturers find a new way to produce their bulbs in a manner that would be deemed legal. The new energy saving measures would produce lighting options that could save families up to $50 a year when they replace up to 15 traditional incandescent bulbs.

Naturally, the incandescent light bulb began to phase out, as it was no longer being produced in its original manner or being abandoned in production altogether. Instead, more energy efficient alternative began to pop up, including halogen incandescent lights and LEDs. Instead of measuring your lighting in the wattage you are using, you are instead looking for the number of lumens – the measurement of light produced. A general rule of thumb is to find a light that reaches about 1600 lumens, as this is equatable to a 100w bulb.

LEDs are also naturally directional, meaning emit light at a 180-degree angle by default (as compared to the 360 distribution of a traditional incandescent). This more advanced method of distributing light allows you to focus your light more appropriately within your rooms.

Making the Smart Decision

When it comes down to it, it’s pretty obvious why incandescent bulbs were phased out and replaced with better functioning lights, like LEDs. Even people who want that familiar yellow glow that has been long associated with interior lighting can achieve that with LEDs. In fact, you can choose from a much wider range of light color with LEDs!

So if you are still considering whether it is time to upgrade from those energy burning incandescents, don’t hesitate any longer! Call Lights & More today to speak to one of our qualified lighting consultants to learn about the best options for your interior lighting needs!

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