LEDs and CFLs are both popular energy-saving light bulbs. But, we consider CFLs the light source of the present and LEDs the light source of the future. In fact, we’ve devoted an entire blog series to explaining that concept, comparing everything from rated-lives, to how each light holds up in cold weather…
They say the good things in life are worth waiting for. But, that’s not the case when it comes to your light bulbs’ start time. When you flip a light switch, you want immediate results. If you’ve been using incandescent lights all these years, you’re probably used to that luxury.
So, you might not expect a CFL (a light bulb more technologically advanced than an incandescent) to take longer to reach its complete light output. CFLs, even the best CFLs, can take anywhere from 1 to 60 seconds to reach their full brightness.
Why do CFLs have this delayed start?
Well, an incandescent light bulb produces light when an electrical current flows through its filament. The filament heats up and glows. CFLs, on the other hand, use a more complex system to produce light. Cathodes within the lamp heat up to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit and pass electrodes from one end of the lamp to another. This excites the mercury vapor inside the lamp, creating UV light. The UV light must then pass through the white coating on the inside of the glass envelope to produce visible light.
So, what about LEDs? Do they have a delayed start?
Nope. LEDs, like incandescent lamps, turn on instantly. They produce light from the simple movement of electrons in a semiconductor material.
CFLs should reach their full brightness in plenty of time to provide you with the light you need, when you need it. But, when you’ve grown too accustomed to instant-start light bulbs, or the CFL’s short lag annoys you, this is just another reason to go LED.