How to choose between LED lights and fluorescent lamps

November 18, 2014

Great — your corner light is burnt out. With incandescent bulbs going by the wayside, are you sure about what type of light bulb to screw back in there?
What’s the difference?
Light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulbs are the longer-lasting type of bulb of the two and the easier fitting option (you don’t need an adaptor, for example). Many consider them to be the future wave of lighting. However, they’re the pricier option. They also work better as a targeted light (e.g., in a closet) as opposed to working in a lamp in the corner of your living room, though some lights now have diffusers as well.

Other qualities include:

  • Cooler to the touch than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
  • Have a long lighting life of approximately 60,000 hours
  • Eat up less power than fluorescents
  • They emit a brighter blue-white light, instead of asofter,yellow light
  • They turn on fast, emitting light instantly

CFLs are the softer type of lighting we're more familiar with, however, there’s mercury inside the lamp’s bulb. This dangerous metal makes disposing of these types of lights tricky — you can’t just throw them in the trash. (You may have to contact a hazardous waste company or have a community clean-up day to get rid of them properly.) They’re also the cheaper option of the two.

Other qualities of CFLs include:

  • The tubes are hotter to the touch than LEDs
  • They are more fragile lights since they’re made of glass and are empty inside
  • Fluorescents have a moderate lighting life — approximately 10,000 hours
  • They can take a few minutes to get up to full illumination
  • They don't dim

How do I know what works for me?
It may come down to the question: What are you trying to light? If you’re looking to light up a room you might want to choose the softer CFL light, while a more targeted or directional light (e.g., the light over your sink) might be better off with an LED. It might take a bit of experimentation to see what you prefer, but you'll surely find the right light.

How to choose between LED lights and fluorescent lamps
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