Comparing Light Bulb Types

Incandescent vs. the rest

Though you’ve probably heard that incandescent light bulbs - the lighting of choice in American households since the day of Thomas Edison- are a dated and wasteful method of lighting a home, office or yard, you might be interested to know exactly how they stack up to more modern (and often more expensive) technology. In this section, we’ll discuss the hard numbers, the real statistics that can effectively show the difference between incandescent and the rest.

The following chart will give you the facts behind some of the most popular lighting options.

Bulb Type

Wattage

Lifetime (hours)

Watt per Lumen (Efficiency)

Comment

Incandescent (traditional bulb)

60

1,000

15

Low cost, low efficiency

White light-emitting diode (LED)

0.07

10,000

30

Offers color, high cost

Compact fluorescent (CFL)

13

9,000

63

Moderate cost, glow

Cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL)

9.9

40,000

n/a

Extremely long life

High-intensity discharge (HID)

18

14,000

100

Very bright, outdoor use

Still confused? Here are some things to keep in mind when reading the Guide 2 Light Bulbs chart.

Wattage

This is how much energy your light is using. Unless you’re very interested in wasting the most money possible on any given day, you’ll want to keep the wattage of the light bulbs in your home to a minimum.

Lifetime

Quite simply, this is how long each light bulb will last. Typically, a fluorescent light bulb can easily last a few years, although the time it takes before it quits ultimately depends on the cost of that particular bulb. As outlined above, the most expensive cold cathode fluorescent can last a staggering 40,000 hours. That’s over nine years!

Watt per Lumen

This is how we gauge the ultimate efficiency of our light bulbs. Lumen is - you guessed it - the luminosity of a bulb, and by calculating a ratio of used watts per lumen, we can determine the ultimate “fight-to-light” statistic. Keep in mind that the life-cycle is not calculated, nor is the fact that an LED can easily produce a variety of colors without increasing its energy use.

For more information on each bulb type, be sure to check out our designated sections for an in-depth introduction to a host of lighting options.