Quick Reference: Light Bulb Comparisons

    LED, CFL and Incandescent bulbs

Power Consumption

We have grown accustomed to measuring the bightness of a bulb in terms of wattage, which is really a measure of the power the bulb draws. Brightness is actually measured in lumens. LED lights have the ability to use less power to produce the same brightness as an incedescent bulb. A 100-watt incandescent bulb for instance, produces 1,600 lumens of brightness, while an LED could do the same brightness only using 16 watts, consuming a lot less power.

Light Color

Pay attention to the Kelvin number of the LED packaging. The color of a light is measured in Kelvins. For reference, an incadescent bulb has a "warmer" yellow light in the 2,700 Kelvin range, while a flourescent has a much "whiter lighter" in the 4,300 to 4,700 Kelvin range. See Kelvin table to right.


The LED industry thinks $10 is the pricing sweetspot where most people will start trying the technology, leading to mass adoption. The price will decrease the more people adopt it. The prices for LED bulbs in the 60-watt brightness category are expected to level off at about $5.

Approximate Cost

Light bulb projected lifespan50,000 hours10,000 hours1,200 hours
Watts per bulb (equiv. 60 watts)101460
Cost per bulb$35.95*$3.95$1.25
(*) Decreasing
KWh of electricity used over 50,000 hours5007003000
Cost of electricity (@ 0.10per KWh)$50$70$300
Bulbs needed for 50k hours of use1542
Equivalent 50k hours bulb expense$35.95$19.75$52.50
Total cost for 50k hours$85.75$89.75$352.50

Equivalence: Light output and Wattage

Light OutputLEDsCFLsIncandescents
4504 - 58 - 1240
750 - 9006 - 813 - 1860
1100 - 13009 - 1318 - 2275 - 100
1600 - 180016 - 2023 - 30100
2600 - 280025 - 2830 - 55150

Feature Comaprison

Frequent On/Off Cyclingno effectshortens lifespansome effect
Turns on instantlyyesslight delayyes
Heat Emittedlow (3 btu's/hr)medium (15 btu's/hr)high (85 btu's/hr)
Sensitivity to high temperaturesomeyesno
Sensitivity to low temperaturenoyesno
Sensitivity to humiditynoyessome
Hazardous Materials none5 mg mercury/bulbnone
Replacement frequency (over 50k hours)1 - 2540+

LED Light Colors (Kelvin Temperature Scale)