The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Dimmability

Stock-Photo-Dimmer
LEDs
and CFLs. To the untrained eye, they might just seem like comparable alternatives to the incandescent light bulb. But when you dive a little deeper, you’ll find that they’re very different. That’s just what we’re doing in this blog series – you can view the whole series here.

Dimming. In a world where customization is king and energy-saving is of ever-increasing importance, dimming lets you have both. Putting your lights on dimmers saves electricity, using 10% less power when you dim the lights just 10%. (And more if you dim them lower.) Dimmers also let you tailor the lighting scheme to whatever you’re doing.

But, are LEDs and CFLs any good at dimming? Turns out there’s a bit of a discrepancy… (more…)

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The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Instant On

LED
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? (more…)

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The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: On/Off Cycling


LED Hanging
Here’s another post in our series about the differences between LEDs and CFLs. So far we’ve covered everything from efficiency to safety. Click here to see the whole series.

Turns out, if you use CFLs and LEDs in the exact same way, they’ll react differently. Sometimes, the results can be damaging.

It’s a common myth that turning your fluorescent lights on and off frequently will increase your energy bill. While CFLs do use more energy to start up, it’s only equivalent to lighting the same lamp for a few extra seconds.

What you’ll need to watch out for is the price of replacing that CFL.

The rated life of a CFL, like all fluorescent lamps, can be dramatically reduced if the lamp is cycled on and off frequently.

The rated lives of LEDs, on the other hand, aren’t affected if you turn the lights on and off on a regular basis.   (more…)

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The Difference Between CFLs and LEDs: Low Temperature Tolerance

snow machine trail
This post is part of a series written to help you understand the differences between the popular CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) and the newest kind of light bulb: the LED (light emitting diode). You can browse the entire series here.

Depending on where you plan to use your light bulb, you may need to consider how it will react to the space’s temperature.

For a chilly area, like outdoors in a cool climate or inside a refrigerator/freezer, an LED will work best for you.

LEDs love cold environments. In fact, using them in places with cooler temperatures may even make them last longer – beyond their standard rated lives. 

CFLs, on the other hand, require a lot of heat to initially turn on. When you operate them in below-freezing temperatures, you’ll have a hard time even getting them to start up.

So why do LEDs thrive in cooler temperatures? (more…)

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The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Rated Life

Clock
This post is the third in a series focused on identifying important differences between light emitting diodes (LEDs), the light source of the future, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), the light source of the present. To check out the rest of the series, click here

When deciding which light source to choose, one of the most important factors you should consider is how long the light will last.

A longer-lasting light bulb means you won’t have to spend as much money on replacement light bulbs, and you won’t have to waste time and energy on maintenance and upkeep.

In general, LEDs last about 10 times as long as CFLs. An LED’s rated life can vary between 25,000 and 60,000 hours. The rated life of most CFLs varies between 6,000 and 15,000 hours. (more…)

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The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Mercury

Image via PeriodicTable.com
Image via PeriodicTable.com

This post is the second in a series on important differences between LEDs and CFLs, two of the most popular energy-saving light sources on the market today. You can read the first post about efficiency here.

Mercury is a toxic substance that can attack the brains and nervous systems of humans. CFLs (and all fluorescent lights) contain small amounts of mercury, LEDs do not. In the long run, this makes the LED a much safer, low maintenance light source.

Why do CFLs contain mercury? 

The mercury, when excited by an electric current, helps the CFL generate light. This small amount of mercury, barely enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, poses no threat to your health as long as it remains contained within the light bulb’s glass envelope. You only need to worry about it if the light bulb should break.

To safely deal with your CFLs, take them to an EPA approved recycling center. You can learn more about the importance of recycling CFLs in this blog post: Don’t Toss That CFL In The Trash.

What to do if your CFL breaks…

If you wind up with a broken CFL in your home, follow these steps for safe cleanup and disposal: (more…)

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