Making a Case for LED Lights

By 2027, widespread use of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, in the United States could save 348 terawatt hours of electricity, or the equivalent of 44 large electrical power plants, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. LED lighting can be longer lasting and more resilient than most lighting sources available, making well-built LEDs a good substitute for florescent lighting. 

How LED and Florescent Lighting Differ

Compact florescent lamps have gas filled tubes coated on the inside with florescent, known as phosphors. When turned on, an electrical current passes through the tube causing a reaction that creates ultraviolet light. The florescent coating converts the ultraviolet light into visible light. Compact florescent lamps emit light and heat from the tubes in all directions.

Alternatively, LED lights have small light sources known as light emitting diodes and small chips containing semi-conducted materials. The light sources and chips are placed on a heat sink and generally covered by a protective lens. When turned on, electrons pass through the semi-conducting material, which illuminates the light source. The heat sink draws heat downward, away from the light. Unlike CFLs, LEDs emit light in one specific direction.

Energy Consumption Comparisons

While both CFL and LED lights consume less energy than an incandescent light, well-built LEDs may outperform CFLs over time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a CFL can replace an incandescent that is three to four times its wattage. By being able to replace a higher-wattage incandescent bulb with a lower wattage, CFLs save up to 75 percent of the initial lighting energy.

LED lights can consume less energy than a CFL over time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, many residential LED lights use at least 75 percent less energy than an incandescent light overall. The amount of energy use depends on how the LED was constructed. Well-built LEDs can outperform poorly built ones.

Length of Use Comparisons

CFL lights outlive incandescent lights, but residential LEDs last longer than both incandescent lights and CFLs. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that CFLs last about 10,000 hours, or 10 times as long as incandescent lights. By comparison, LEDs last 25 times longer than incandescent lights, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. LED lights also have more durability than most lighting sources, which reduces the odds of the LED light breaking during its lifetime.

Other Considerations

Not all LEDs are created equal. Poorly built LEDs may produce a lower level of light than other types of lighting sources, the light quality can decrease over time, and the color quality can deteriorate. Energy Star rates LED lights. Those that pass testing for light quality, efficiency and power usage receive an Energy Star label. To find the best quality LEDs, look for the Energy Star Label.


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