LED Technology on the Rise: Why LED Light Bulbs are Slowly Gaining on CFL Light Bulbs


Your two out of three or so main options for powering on your lamps and other light fixtures are LED light bulbs and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs. With the phase out of incandescent light bulbs effective in 2014, the bulb that was in existence since the 1800’s, Congress has made it mandatory that US manufacturers produce a bulb that is more energy efficient for consumers. So, will you choose LED or CFL when the incandescent bulbs are no longer on the shelves of Home Depot?


A few years ago, consumers were predominantly purchasing CFL bulbs because they were cheapest over the LED light bulbs. You could spend upwards of $100 dollars for one LED light bulb back then. But today, with the increase in LED technology and the obvious longterm cost efficiency and energy savings, more production of LED light bulbs have brought down the costs dramatically.


LED green and red lights have been around for decades. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s when three scientists discovered the blue hue of LEDs. Professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura won the Noble Prize in 2014 for their incredible invention, which led to the creation of the white LED light we see on some of our computer screens and televisions. The white LEDs then became the basis for the creation of our LED light bulbs, which later replaced 25-40W incandescent light bulbs. Only a few of these were on the market. Then, in 2009, the Philips Lighting North America company was able to produce a replacement of the 60W incandescent light bulb, which sparked much interest from other companies to manufacture LED light bulbs. Fast forward a few years later, the prices of LED light bulbs dropped, and consumers were picking them up off the shelves.


For comparison, a two-pack (two light bulbs) of the Phillips brand 8.5W (60W equivalent of an incandescent bulb) non-dimmable LED light bulbs cost $4.97 at Home Depot. A comparable Phillips brand 13W (60W equivalent of an incandescent bulb) non-dimmable CFL light bulb four-pack (four light bulbs) costs $4.97. That’s $2.49 per bulb for the LED and $1.24 per bulb for the CFL. Obviously there is an up-front price difference, but the longterm cost and energy efficiency outweigh that of the CFL bulb.


First of all, the LED bulb mentioned above (one) uses 85% less energy compared to your standard incandescent light bulb. The CFL bulb mentioned above (one) uses 78% less energy compared to your standard incandescent light bulb. Second, the LED light bulb has an estimated yearly energy cost of $1.02, based on a usage of 3 hours a day. In comparison, the CFL bulb has an estimated yearly energy cost of $1.57, based on the same usage of 3 hours a day. LED light bulbs contain no mercury, whereas the CFL light bulbs do, creating more difficulty to dispose of and clean up. Not to mention, LED light bulbs can last years longer than CFL bulbs.


Because of the rapid decline in price of the LED light bulb over the past few years and its energy savings and longterm cost benefits, it’s very possible we will see an increase in consumer preference for the LED light bulbs over CFLs. The ever-changing technology we see in today’s society has influenced the lighting market drastically already, and will make it easier for us to change our purchasing decisions in the future.