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CFL or LED Light Bulbs?

  • Jan 17, 2011
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CFL and LED bulbsSo, which makes more sense, using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs? The short answer is both.

CFLs are a good short-term solution for replacing incandescent light bulbs and cutting down energy costs by as much as 80-percent. LED bulbs are a long-term solution that will most likely take over the lighting market several years down the road.

CFLs are now readily available to consumers from hardware stores or general discount stores such as Wal-Mart of Target. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed a few weeks ago has mandated that CFLs be used in all government facilities in order to save energy.

CFLs do have some inherent problems, however, such as they contain mercury and need to be handled with care. If a CFL is broken, it is recommended that windows to outside air be opened for at least 15 minutes and the room evacuated. Disposal of CFLs is also an issue since they have to be handled as hazardous material and cannot be put into the recycling bin.

LEDs have been in use for a while on digital clocks, watches and car dashboards. They are also now being used in desk lamps, art galleries and Christmas lights. LED bulbs can use 20 to 50 times less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last for 20 years.

In terms of replacing incandescent bulbs, LED lights do not currently meet cost or technical requirements, but this is most likely to change in the next couple of years as research develops.

So, if you want to make a different now, switch to CFL bulbs. But, keep your eyes open for LED bulbs as they are coming down the pike, as they say, and will change the way we all illuminate our world.



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Kevin Green ()
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About this topic


A light-emitting-diode lamp is a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. The term "LED lightbulb" is also colloquially used. "LED lamp" may in general refer to conventional semiconductor light-emitting diodes, to organic LEDs (OLED), or polymer light-emitting diodes (PLED) devices, although OLED and PLED technologies are not commercially available in 2010.

Since the light output of individual light-emitting diodes is small compared to incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps, multiple diodes are often used together. In recent years, as diode technology has improved, high power light-emitting diodes with higher lumen output are making it possible to replace other lamps with LED lamps. One high power LED chip used in some commercial LED lights can emit 7527 lumens while using only 100 watts. LED lamps can be made interchangeable with other types of lamps.

Diodes use direct current (DC) electrical power, so LED lamps must also include internal circuits to operate from standard AC voltage. LEDs are damaged by being run at higher temperatures, so LED lamps typically include heat management elements such as heat sinks and cooling fins. LED lamps offer long service life and high energy efficiency, but initial costs are higher than those of fluorescent lamps.

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