You’ve installed the floors, had your walls painted in the perfect colour and had all the major furniture elements delivered, and now the next task on your list is lighting. While browsing the market for lighting fixtures you’ve noticed that they are usually two available options – LEDs and incandescent lights. Perhaps you think: “Both are the same and provide light, so what’s the big deal?”.
The truth is, the choice of lighting can affect many things from your home’s electricity bills to the temperature, and even design. And before you browse a store selling home improvement products like lighting, it could help to know exactly how LEDs and incandescent lights differ. Depending on what your priorities are, you will probably discover that one works better than the other.
How Are LEDs Different from Incandescent?
When we think of a lightbulb, most people imagine the traditional incandescent bulb. This type exists since Thomas Edison patented his invention back in 1879. Incandescent bulbs have threads that glow, providing heat and light when energy flows through them. LEDs, on the other hand, have a much shorter history and are the newest lighting technology. They work by the principle of electrons that move to create photons (the light we can see.) Photons don’t generate almost any heat and are more stable than the threads in incandescent bulbs.
Facts in Favour of LED Lighting
A new LED light can last for 50,000 to 100,000 hours or more in use. That’s certainly a very long time. On the other hand, the typical lifespan for an incandescent bulb is about 1200 hours.
LEDs are also considered the most energy-efficient option compared to every other commercially available lighting technology. They use up to 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Remember this when you’re in the home improvement products section and check an LED bulb box. When installed, you’d also notice that these lights waste very little energy in the form of heat. They emit light directionally over 180 degrees vs. 360 degrees. This means there are far fewer losses from the need to redirect or reflect light.
Electricity bills can be a problem, so if you can find a way to reduce them, it’s definitely great. That being said, if LEDs don’t need much energy to provide light and last for a long time, does that mean that they good for saving money? Let’s see. A 100-watt incandescent bulb working for a full year would use 876 kWh of energy, which would cost $100+ in electricity. Don’t forget that you’d also need to replace the bulb, presumably about once a month.
But in the case of LEDs, it would only take a 16-watt bulb to emit as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb, and it would use only 140 kWh of energy for one year. The electric cost would be about $20. Plus, an LED light would last for the entire year if not longer. Things are quite clear, I think.
When it comes to colours, LEDs are designed to provide the entire spectrum of visible light colours without having to use any traditional filters like it’s the case with traditional lighting solutions. They’re smaller than most lights (even smaller than incandescent). This allows them to come in an unlimited number of fixture types from downlights and uplights to spotlights and strip lighting.
Facts in Favour of Incandescent Lighting
I’ve mentioned many advantages, so you might think that LED lights are perfect. Sure, these lights are an excellent choice, but there are several downsides that you should keep in mind if you decide to buy LEDs. For one, LED lights are quite expensive. This is perhaps the biggest downside that many people will find as an issue. Compared to LEDs, incandescents are quite affordable and are available everywhere (in a big range of voltages, current and light inputs).
Incandescent lights have a great ability to provide warm temperature colours. This makes them perfect for setting the mood and creating a warm and cosy atmosphere. Many people prefer incandescent bulbs because they provide a feeling resembling candlelight. However, in order to pick an incandescent lightbulb that offers this, you need to consider its CRI (colour rendering index). This is especially important if you want to use it as accent lighting for artwork. The highest CRI value is 100, and the higher the rating the better the colour. Luckily, incandescent lights stay above 95 which is considered an acceptable rating.
When it comes to home fixtures, incandescent bulbs are very wasteful energy users. They convert less than 1/20th of the energy they use into visible light. The large majority (about 90%) is lost as heat, which may also increase the load on your air conditioning unit. So, even though these lights are cheaper, they will cost you far more money in the long run. So, if an LED light seems a bit pricier at the home fixtures store, it’s a far better investment.
Considering all of this, over time LEDs will replace incandescent lights since they are efficient, long-lasting and provide better light. Hospitals, schools and commercial buildings are already investing in these types of lights because of their durability, low maintenance and low electricity bills.